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Smartphones, other devices get new life at uBreakiFix repair store

First-time independent franchisee puts heavy emphasis on customer service

Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 11:43 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 8:40 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Sandy Bressner – sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Technicians Mark Swistek and Shirlee Morlan repair smart phones at the uBreakiFix electronics repair shop in Geneva. uBreakiFix is at 1096 Commons Drive.

GENEVA – At first glance, the phone repair area of Geneva's uBreakiFix store is akin to a dentist's work space. On Thursday, curly blue wires descended over three of the store's repair technicians at work. They were hunched over tiny gadgets and tools, occasionally usingmagnifying glasses to repair the minuscule and delicate details within different electronic devices.

Store manager and repair technician Brian Good acknowledged that some of the silver tools hanging above him were, in fact, originally made for dentists. Repair technician Shirlee Morlan noted that repair work is done through the process of trial and error, as new types of technology come out.

The store uBreakiFix repairs electronics, including smartphones, tablets, game consoles, music-playing devices, computers and laptops. Jeff Schwartz, owner of the Geneva store, is the first franchise owner who isn't a part of uBreakiFix's internal corporate operation which started in 1999.

"Two years in a row, my kids broke their phone screens, and there was a uBreakiFix in Naperville that I heard about," Schwartz said. "I was looking for something new to do; I was tired of the corporate lifestyle, so I decided to do something on my own and [the store] looked like a perfect fit."

After previous jobs at HP and Allstate, Schwartz was prepared to meld his corporate background with the newly acquired franchising duties. The store opened in the Geneva Commons in October.

Eight months later, the store's staff expanded from two employees to five after receiving larger amounts of customers. Schwartz said they've also accumulated repeat customers.

"[We'll] have a half-hour where nobody comes in, and then all of a sudden [we've] got three or four people coming in at once," Morlan said.

The store provides a price range of $50 to $400 for repairs, in addition to a free diagnosis that customers receive before deciding whether they want their device repaired. A 90-day warranty also is offered.

Maintaining an environment of friendly customer service is important to Schwartz and his employees, who cater to ages ranging from middle-schoolers to senior citizens.

"Customers are our main focus, and we only hire people who are really customer friendly," Schwartz said. "Customer service skills can't really be taught, so personality is key and after that, we can teach [employees] the technical information."

Employees need to balance consistent attention to customer service with the repair work side of their job.

"For most jobs it's not difficult to stop in the middle and go wait on a customer," Morlan said.

Schwartz occasionally does repairs but mainly focuses on bringing in business. He said his newest customer is St. Charles School District 303's iPad repairs.

The store's main entry area is simple – with chairs, a TV and a play area for kids. Back in the repair work space are multiple buckets of electronic parts lining the walls.

Good said dust, water damage and lead are the hardest things to work around during repairs.

"It takes an incredible amount of patience and desire to wonder through," Good said. "We signed up for that."

Looking forward, Schwartz said he's thinking of opening up another franchise or expanding the one he currently owns.

"Overall, it's a very positive experience," Schwartz said. "I can genuinely say I love coming to work every day, which is something I never used to say."

If you go

What: uBreakiFix

When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: 1096 Commons Drive, Geneva

Information: Call 630-402-0171 or visit www.ubreakifix.com/locations/geneva.

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