Interview With Owner Tom Asciolla: Challenges of Running a Small Business in NJ
Q & A Interview with Thomas Asciolla; Owner of Apex Appliance Repair Inc: Challenges of running a small business in New Jersey
What is the most challenging part of running your business in New Jersey?
One of the major challenges we face running a small appliance repair company in New Jersey is trying to keep the costs to the customer as low as possible without sacrificing good quality service.
What is your definition of quality service?
In our industry we have all levels of skilled people, whether it be a handyman, homeowner or a friend of the family who can repair some of the problems you may face, but today’s appliances are becoming very high tech, with the latest technology which is challenging to even the most experienced technicians. We make sure we are educated with the latest technology, we carry the parts you will need to get it fixed fast, we come out the same day, and we back everything with a 2 yr written warranty; it does not get any better than that!
If you could, what would you like to change as a business owner operating in New Jersey?
This is a great question, years ago I could walk into your house and fix 90% of all your appliances for under$100 and make the same profits as if I charged you $200 today. The price of parts, advertising, salaries for quality people, trucks, fuel, repairs, phones, medical insurance, taxes and many other hidden expenses that go into running a legitimate professional service company are always increasing; this makes it very challenging to compete profitably in today’s market.
When should a customer buy new instead of fixing?
This is what sets us apart from all of our competition, say if you have a $500 machine and you need a repair, we look over the machine, ask questions on the history of the machine, we evaluate what is wrong and what it will cost to repair, if it is under 40% of the machines value ($200)and the machine overall is in good condition and it is something that is not too involved we would advise to repair it, otherwise, if it is not something that is the best interest to the customer, we will advise to buy new.
Is it worth it to fix a $450 dollar clothes dryer?
Yes, the cost to repair a common problem, like not heating, not spinning is under $195. When purchasing a new clothes dryer you have to consider the cost of installation which could run up to $100 in addition to the cost of a new one. Would you rather spend $550+ to buy new or $195 to repair it, plus with every repair we do on a dryer we clean out the entire unit to look and run like new again for free.
What sets you apart from you competition?
From the start we have someone answering the phone 24/7, nothing frustrates me more than trying to talk to someone and you get an answering machine or voice mail. It shows our commitment and dedication to our customers that we are here to serve them.
Being a small business, what sets you apart from a larger company like Sears?
They simply cannot compete with our quality of service. Our biggest complaint we here from our customers, is that it takes them a week or two to come out and don’t always keep appointments. They usually don’t keep good stock on their trucks which means a second visit. We come out the same day, with a fully stocked truck and we have locations throughout your service area. All of our Techs live locally in our service area.
What is the most disappointing part of running your business?
Customer awareness. It bothers me to no end when a customer is disappointed with the rates we have to charge. For example, in order for us to send a truck to your home a lot of behind the scenes expenses take place, cost of the salaries of the person answering the phone, advertising, the truck coming to your house, insurance, the Techs salary etc… So when we have to charge you $69 to come to you house and evaluate what is wrong, we honestly make no profits on it, it is just enough to cover our expenses to send an experienced tech with a fully stocked truck to your home.
What is the most rewarding part of running your business?
Repeat customers. I love it when I walk into a house and the customer asks, Tom, how is your son doing? Or how is your family? There is nothing more rewarding than gaining the trust of your customers and that feeling of small town America, I am proud of that and it keeps me in it for the long haul.