ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Everyone knows when you bend over and drop your phone on the ground – or worse, in the toilet – that there is only one thing to do, get a new one right?
Well, no. Not if you are an entrepreneur like Roswell resident Joel Quinn. When Quinn broke his phone, he looked around for a local place to get it fixed in a hurry. When he found there wasn’t one he didn’t see red, he saw opportunity.
That has led to Bob Knows Phones. It is your friendly neighborhood place to fix that high-tech phone that has all of your phone numbers, personal data and apps. His clients are owners of smartphones, cellphones, iPads, tablets and iPhones.
His research shows that at any given time, 10 percent of these high-tech instruments are broken. That means millions of potential customers if he can get a store near them.
Quinn describes himself as a longtime entrepreneur who has started some 15 businesses. He has a background in technology and business development. His idea with Bob Knows Phones was to create local repair shops for these high-tech and expensive gadgets that we have allowed to organize our lives.
Quinn opened his first Bob store in Buckhead 18 months ago, and more recently one in Alpharetta. He plans to have two more stores opened in metro Atlanta by January. He says the number of clients just continues to grow monthly.
“It is a very well-received service,” he said. “It is lower cost than what the carriers would have you pay. You don’t have to ship it off somewhere. We normally have your phone back to you the same day and most times within an hour.”
So who is this Bob guy then? Quinn created Bob as a symbol of that old retired uncle who knows how to fix things reliably and will get it done the way you want.
“We wanted a domain name that people could spell easily, and a character that would convey to our customers our ideals of skills, service and trust. That’s your Uncle Bob,” Quinn said. “While the name is unusual, it sure works well on the Internet.”
The reputation for reliability and expertise comes from the company’s “pickiness” in choosing who gets hired. Quinn said he interviews between 20 and 30 people before he finds one candidate for his stores.
For now, the business plan is to have operator-licensees who participate in the profits of the store. Quinn may consider franchising as the company grows. He expects to be national in two years.
Alpharetta’s operator-licensee George Roberts, a Forsyth County resident, says his job is to make people smile – usually with relief – when he hands them back a phone that works.
“A $50 or $75 repair bill is a lot easier than shelling out $600 or $800 for a brand new phone,” Roberts said. “Whether you’ve dropped it in the water or cracked the screen, we can probably fix it.”
According to Quinn, the field is only going to grow as people become more and more reliant on their phone for all Internet and communication services.
“Where the world is going is that in three years out, everybody will use only their phone as their main device,” Quinn said.
Laptops will be gone. Credit cards will disappear. They will be inside your phone, which you will hold up to an Internet terminal to make a transaction.
Roberts has found that people come into the store all the time not to get a phone fixed but to ask questions.
“Sometimes it is just how to work their phones – how to get more functionality out of it. Sometimes they want advice on what sort of phone to buy. We try to help everybody who comes in, so we will take the time to do it,” Roberts said.