Leveraging Apple’s Brand Loyalty
Experimac finds success and a franchise future with an Apple repair and resale business model.
For many years Jim Muir worked a day job while he rehabbed and resold Apple computers on the side. By 2009 it had reached the point where he was making enough money and he thought, “Heck, I might as well start my own business.” So he did. At first he operated out of his garage but then the sheer volume of customers caused neighbors to complain. That led him to open his first Experimac retail location in West Palm Beach, Florida. His services clearly responded to a need.
It seems there were a lot of people clamoring for Apple computer repairs and/or looking to purchase pre-owned equipment. At least 50 percent of American households own more than one Apple device. It’s a brand that sparks incredible customer loyalty. Before long Muir enlisted his four sons to help him keep up with demand and, in 2013, their combined efforts saw Experimac’s sales revenue top $1.8 million.
Enter Ray Titus, CEO of United Franchise Group. He founded Signarama, the world’s largest sign franchise back in 1986. It became the cornerstone of UFG, a thriving entity that includes EmbroidMe, an embroidery franchise, as well as several other successful business-to-business brands and franchise development services.
Aiming for the bull’s-eye
Ray and Jim weren’t exactly strangers. Their children had attended the same school and they went to the same church. They knew each other in passing but that all changed when a mutual friend arranged a meeting in 2012. The friend knew Jim was trying to expand his business and thought who better to connect him with than Ray? That’s when the whole idea of franchising Experimac arose. “Ray looked over the numbers of what Jim was doing in the store and he thought, ‘Man, this is going to be a home run,’” says Brady Lee, Experimac regional vice president.
Ray and Jim are now 50/50 partners in Experimac franchising, while Jim retains full ownership of his original store. “We have a really good mix of franchising experience through Ray and industry experience with Jim so it’s a great situation,” Lee says.
It’s a myth that only technologically savvy individuals need apply to become an Experimac franchisee. “We don’t want our owners in back fixing every piece of equipment that comes in,” Lee says. “We’d really prefer people who are business-minded, good at managing employees and who are sales-orientated. You hire the tech people.” Nonetheless, Experimac provides a comprehensive four-week training program that actually results in the average franchise owner being able to fix device problems about 95 percent of the time.
A nice niche
Experimac is a total turnkey operation. In addition to training, the company helps with site selection, store build-out, financing and leasing, equipment and inventory, advertising as well as ongoing education. “We really do everything from start to finish to get you into business,” says Lee. Based on the success of the West Palm Beach location, Experimac has concluded the best spot for new stores is most likely a strip mall. Ideally it should be situated on a main road with lots of cars driving by to maximize signage exposure and walk-in traffic.
Experimac believes there is a huge potential waiting to be tapped in college and university towns. “College students love the Apple brand but they might not be able to afford brand new equipment. They need a computer and they’re breaking their phones all the time, so being near a college would be a great spot for one of our stores,” says Lee.
Precisely why the resale and repair of Apple equipment is so lucrative can be attributed to Apple Corporation’s disinterest in repairing anything more than three or four generations old. “The average Apple store makes $50 million a year. They don’t need to focus on used equipment and repairs as much as on new products. So we think we’ve found a good niche in the market,” said Lee.
Total investment for an Experimac franchise is approximately $130,000 to $140,000. That includes the franchise fee of $49,500, the total store build-out, the name brand, the right to do business, the training program, furniture, fixtures and all the equipment needed to do repairs. The royalty fee is 6 percent plus a 1 percent national marketing fee. The first franchise is scheduled to open in Sandy Springs, Georgia, this spring with locations in Arizona, New Jersey and North Carolina currently in the works.
“Franchising experience, industry experience … it’s really a great marriage and we think Experimac is going to be very successful,” Lee concludes.
For more information, please visit http://www.experimac.com.