Stemming from COVID-19 and its impact on consumers’ buying habits and manufacturers, there has been a shortage of home appliances for sale at retailers. Notably, homeowners have been forced to wait months to obtain new wares, with two of the most sought after items being deep freezers and refrigerators. As a result, appliance repair professionals across the US have been busier as homeowners seek to extend the life of their existing appliances. Additionally, because things are likely not changing anytime soon, training to become an appliance repair tech with a program like mine could lead to a potentially lucrative career.
Below we take a deeper look at what led to the appliance shortage. Lastly, I offer my perspective on current events as an appliance repair veteran of five decades.
Why is There an Appliance Shortage?
Referenced above, the pandemic sparked an increase in demand for home appliances, especially early on. Homeowners, fearful about COVID-19 exposure and runs on food supplies, purchased pieces, such as deep freezers and refrigerators, that allowed them to buy in bulk and limit the need for grocery shopping. This trend is referred to as the Bullwhip Effect, where a sudden change at the consumer level gets exponentially amplified at the raw material end of the supply chain.
On the supply side, manufacturing around the world remains slow or is completely shuttered. With many appliances being produced abroad, government shutdowns have led to work stoppages and dwindling inventories available for the US market. Coupled with cargo import restrictions, products have become harder to find as a result. Additionally, even if a manufacturer is operational, it may be unable to produce new inventory because its part suppliers are not operating fully or at all.
Likewise, appliance repair pros themselves face shortages when it comes to replacement parts. For example, fast-moving parts, such as belts and fuses, are sometimes back-ordered for weeks. This incident is unprecedented and may be partially attributed to more homeowners trying to DIY their repairs, inspired by available online resources.
An Appliance Repair Pro’s Perspective
Observation #1: As With Previous Economic Slowdowns, Appliance Repair Thrives
Having worked in this industry since 1968 and run a business during two recessions, 1982 and 2008, I can attest to these periods being a boon for appliance repair services. Generally speaking, the appliance repair business holds up well during these slowdowns as people want to fix existing appliances. The present situation’s constraints on the availability of products are an additional catalyst for homeowners to be frugal and stretch what they have already got.
Observation #2: More Qualified People Are Exploring Appliance Repair as a Career
Given the breadth and severity of economic fallout from COVID-19, many people across the US are out of work across different education and job experience levels. Such a unique occurrence and the realities of still needing an income forced some of these individuals to explore new career paths, including appliance repair. Since March 2020, I have noticed an increase in leads coming from more qualified backgrounds than prior to the pandemic. Additionally, my new students demonstrate a degree of enthusiasm for learning I did not see previously.
Observation #3: An Increase in Demand for Appliance Repair Services = Longer Wait Times, But Customers Do Not Mind
As I mentioned before, the demand for home appliance repair services remains higher than normal even six months into the pandemic. My son, Reid, who now runs Raker Appliance Repair, and his team are inundated with requests daily to the point that it is difficult to keep up. To ensure they can continue delivering quality care to homeowners and streamline operations, the company redrew its service area to make it smaller and now tells customers it will be two to three days before a technician can come out. Thankfully, people appear okay with these changes and understand they will face similar issues no matter who they call.
One silver lining to current conditions is that appliance repair pros, with a few exceptions, deliver service when homeowners during the daytime. This change translates to fewer requests to come out on weekends and after business hours. Not such a bad thing for companies!
Observation #4: Now is a Great Time to Get into Appliance Repair
The excess of service calls and a limited number of appliance repair professionals means it is a great time to take up a new career. When it comes to making money, it is a service company’s market; just make sure to quote appropriately and do not short-change yourself. Likewise, if you are training to become a repair professional, you will likely come out the other end finding a job right away.
For those with an entrepreneurial streak, starting an appliance repair company is something worth pursuing. One piece of advice to individuals pursuing this path: Focus on the business side of things as you start out. What do I mean? Do not go cheap when trying to win business; offer exceptional customer care every time; and opt for a $100 minimum per call.