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Grow Your Business Technology

These (Smartphone) Doctors Make House Calls

phone dr art


There's a nationwide network of doctors who make house calls not only to restore patients to health but also to help consumers save bundles of money.

The patients are cellphones and other mobile devices that have fallen in harm's way. They have battle scars such as smashed screens and other mechanical ills. The doctors are the certified IPC—CIT (certified IPC trainer) and IPC—CIS (certified IPC specialist) electronic circuit technicians of Phone Doctors.

Their specialty is the low-cost repair and replacement of damaged cellphones, one of the major pain points for phone owners.

If you have one of the new-generation smartphones such as the iPhone or Android, you know they don't come cheap. The only thing keeping a cap on your initial outlay is the heavily subsidized offers carriers make to lock you into a two-year service contract.  You get a lower upfront cost and your purchase is amortized over time.

But a lot of phones don't reach the two-year mark unscathed.

If your phone breaks and can't be repaired after its warranty has expired and before your contract is up, replacement is an expensive proposition, running as high as $600 or more for an iPhone. If the phone hasn't totally flat-lined, repair is a viable option, but finding reliable technicians who can quickly fix your phone for a reasonable cost can be problematic. And then there's the issue of the deductible, if your phone is insured.

"A lot of people break their phones before the end of a two-year contract and are not eligible to get discounted phones," Alex Iser, the founder of Phone Doctors in Tulsa, Okla., in 2002, told BusinessNewsDaily. "In many cases we're cheaper than the insurance deductible."

Phone Doctors offers in-store repair, mail-in repair and will make house calls in many parts of the country for only $10 more than an in-store repair. In most cases, repairs are made the same day. Typical in-store repair costs range from $34.99 for the replacement of an iPhone 3G battery to $199.99 for an iPad 2 LCD screen display repair.

The company also offers cellphone replacements at discount prices.

The 24-employee company has expanded and now has added a second location in Tulsa and opened offices in Ft. Smith and Fayetteville, Ark. Annual sales are over $3 million.

It also has a nationwide network of 100 licensed mobile Phone Doctors, with another 120 in the evaluation queue. The licensees are not charged any upfront fee, but must attend a training seminar in Tulsa and pay a $79-a-month fee for support services.

"We're making a strong push to attract individuals who want to be mobile Phone Doctors or existing stores that want to add smartphone repair service," said Iser.

Iser said Phone Doctors plans to launch a franchise model in about six months. Current licensees will be offered the right of first refusal on franchises in their cities.

Phone Doctors has also expanded its portfolio of services. Last summer the company released its patent-pending ScrewMat tool and guide for do-it-yourselfers (DIY) and for training new phone technicians. The plastic mat magnetically holds screws and small parts and provides a detailed guide to a specific phone's innards. It's currently available for iPhone 3G/3Gs, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s and iPod Touch and retails for $19.99.

"If you know exactly which piece to remove, where it is located and when to replace it, cellphone repair becomes much easier and efficient, especially for new employees and those interested in fixing their own phones," Iser said

It also now distributes DIY repair kits for most popular smartphones that include parts, the necessary high-quality tools and instructions. These range from $35 to $179, the company said. In addition, Phone Doctors has developed a free mobile repair app for Android and iPhone that features 30 step-by-step guides, links to HD videos and the ability to order parts directly from the app. It's designed for use by repair technicians and DIYers with no fear of prying.

The underlying premise of Phone Doctors is to provide high-quality, reasonable-cost repair and replacement of all cellphones, Iser said. The company's motto is "Focus on the customer, and not the dollar. The money will come as a reward for our great service."

That maxim traces its roots back to "The Purpose Driven Life," the bestselling self-help blueprint for living a Christian life by Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church, a Southern Baptist mega-church in southern California.

Iser received a copy of the book shortly before he launched Phone Doctors and is candid about the role Warren's writing played in helping him formulate his faith-based vision for his new business.

"It was the pivot point in really understanding some real key principles in how we wanted to do business," he said.

Though it's a faith-based business, Phone Doctors doesn't wear its religion on its sleeve. You have to drill down on the company's site to find the pedigree of the Phone Doctors credo. Iser, though, makes no effort to play down the company's religious roots.

"We are a faith based business and are happy to say that He is our source and purpose and why we do what we do," he said.  "It keeps us grounded to know why we want to be in business and why we want to give good service."