You've decided to start a repair business—great! But you'll have to perform your repairs somewhere. Here are some options to consider:
- On-site: You bring all your tools and parts directly to the customer. This works well for repair work that requires small tools and small replacement parts. However, it can become cumbersome if large or heavy parts and tools are needed for the repair. You can, however, charge a higher price for the repair—call it the "convenience" factor.
- In your vehicle: If you have a car or truck, you could turn it into a mobile workspace for repairs. This adds convenience to the customer, but it might be tricky to implement.
- In your home: The best place to start is in your house. You're already paying for the space, so you might as well put it to good use. Do the repair at your home workshop, but meet with customers elsewhere. Customers will not be comfortable coming to your house.
- A kiosk or stand-alone repair shop: Consider this as an option only once your business is well-established. There's no reason to incur additional overhead costs when you're just starting out.
Part of your success will come from having a safe and effective workspace on which to perform repairs. These workspace tips apply regardless of the path you choose to take.
Having the right tools can mean the difference between a fixed device and an unhappy customer. There is no universal toolkit that will fix every device on the market, but here is a list of a few crucial tools that will get you through your first repairs:
Pro Tech Toolkit: iFixit's version of a Swiss Army Knife, the Pro Tech Toolkit can handle just about any situation when working with smaller electronics. Aside from the 54 screwdriver bits, it contains tweezers, pry tools, and even a suction cup for opening iPhones.
Phillips #2 Screwdriver: The #2 Phillips is the screwdriver used in PC desktop repairs. Pretty much every desktop, of any manufacturer, contains #2 Phillips screws inside. A stand-alone #2 Phillips (preferably with a magnetic tip) is a must-have tool for PC desktop repairs.
Digital Multimeter: There's only one way to test connectivity between electrical components and this is the right tool for the job. Having one handy can prove to be quite valuable.
Magnetic Project Mat: The magnetic project mat makes it easy to keep track of screws, but an egg carton or any other sorting tray can do the same job.
Flashlight: Not being able to see during your repair can lead to disastrous results. Headlamps are an even better alternative for those who don't mind looking a bit silly (or awesome, depending on your perspective) in front of the customer.
Be certain that you have an ESD-safe workspace.
A sturdy, wooden desk is a great surface to work on. Wood is generally non-conductive, so you won't have to worry too much about accidentally electro-shocking the device. It's also readily available all over the world, so it won't be difficult to find in your area.
A more professional alternative to wood is using an anti-static mat along with an anti-static wrist strap. Anti-static mats are robust, yet pliant surfaces to work on. They will not scratch the device as long as there is no debris underneath it, but it will not deform easily with prolonged use.
Lighting sources will differ depending on which country you're located in, where you'll be performing repairs (on-site compared to in-house), and your budget. With on-site or in-vehicle repairs, your best solution is to use a flashlight, and to work during daylight hours.
If you are able to set up a workspace either at your residence or a separate building (and you happen to live in the United States), consider purchasing inexpensive T12 fluorescent fixtures. They give off tons of light and don't cost very much.
Here's everything you need to start a repair business—all in one handy messenger bag.