CEO's Blog

Evolution of Parts Distribution

It’s said the only constant in life is change – a sentiment that is certainly a given in the business world.  Companies form, merge with others or disappear for lack of innovation against startups or competitors. Industry disruptors have been a prevalent part of commerce for thousands of years since cattle trading gave way to coins as currency.

Just when it seems impossible, something new comes out of nowhere to upend the status quo. From online retailers usurping brick and mortar retailers to mobile phones replacing landlines, answering machines and cameras, it’s not a matter of if a better mousetrap will come along, it’s when.

While a disruptor may be inescapable, it’s not all that dire. In fact, a study conducted by Strategy& (PwC’s global strategy consulting team) found that the “fear of disruption can be more damaging than actual disruption.” Additionally, existing businesses typically have plenty of time to respond to new trends before they are impacted, according to the study. Examples cited were Amazon and Google, which each took at least 10 years before dominating the web and ecommerce.

When facing a threat, established businesses that try to rush out ill-conceived strategies are just about as ineffective as those that do nothing, the study found. Instead, incumbents are more likely to succeed when they focus on continually accentuating their own core strengths and forming tighter customer connections to build loyalty.

Distribution is no less vulnerable to disruption than any other industry. As a middleman, distributors are always at risk for disintermediation. In turn, they must continue evolving and innovating to provide increasingly value-added services. The question that should be asked repeatedly is “how can we help our customers be more successful?” This is the difference between a partner and merely an order-taking vendor and a disrupter and an incumbent.

In parts distribution, it’s all about keeping critical components in stock and getting them to the customer the same or next day. This requires a massive effort beginning with forecasting what customers will need and ending with the right parts quickly in the hands of the customer. In between, every step of the process must be optimized for efficiency, accuracy and maximum throughput.

With decades of parts experience, Encompass is heavily investing in the latest AI and predictive technology to arm customers with vital data. Helping customers troubleshoot repairs and identify the right parts for the job are just a couple of ways we’re serving as more than just a supplier. Working directly with customers, we also develop creative tools that address specific pain points and help them be more successful.  Along with product repair training, video content and matching tech skills with those needing to strengthen service networks, Encompass is deploying a host of resources for the benefit of the entire industry.

We’re also targeting warehouse management solutions and automated functionality with the goal of expediting parts delivery. Backed by the resources and best practices of our parent company Parts Town – the global market leader in foodservice equipment parts distribution – we’re better positioned than ever to turn our customer-centric visions into reality.

While technology is at the heart of many of our innovations, we still believe in good old-fashioned people skills. If you want to interact with a real person, Encompass has the channel for that. Our teams are always out visiting customers in person all over the country or we’re calling them with information on important new services or just to find out if we can do anything to assist.

In 2023, Encompass will celebrate its 70th anniversary. We could not have survived in a competitive industry this long without continually raising the bar for customers. While we mark this important milestone in our history, we will forever be looking forward and exploring how we can offer more.

To the market disrupters out there, we say: our resolve to be best-in-class is only getting stronger.

Musings from CES 2022

Although the pandemic clearly impacted attendance at the Consumer Electronics Show held earlier this month, innovation and the “wow factor” remained on full display (pun intended, read on).

Not Your Great-Grandma’s TV

Just when you think the television market has plateaued for good, Neo OLED televisions have arrived to blow your mind with displays so bright and crisp you can see the fuzz on a tennis ball.  The latest TV technology unveiled at CES is meant to fully immerse viewers into the entertainment experience. With screen sizes ever increasing and/or curving, users are enveloped more than ever before.  Even at dominating sizes, new models aren’t necessarily eyesores. Some display realistic-looking art masterpieces when in standby mode, while others roll up and are hidden from view entirely.

Mobility Space Accelerating at CES

Beyond developing more lifelike (and size) futuristic gaming and television displays, some electronics manufacturers are remaining relevant by jumping to completely new verticals. One such example is Sony. Alongside crystal LED, professional drones, gaming, virtual reality and other CE exhibits, Sony unveiled VISION-S 02, its second battery-electric car prototype. With focus on electric power, autonomous mobility and safety features, this year’s show drew 185 auto manufacturers in the growing vehicle technology category at CES.

Sony’s concept battery-electric VISION-S 02

Sony calls its car a “new SUV-type prototype vehicle that accommodates diverse values and lifestyles.” Meanwhile, Panasonic debuted new electric vehicle battery technology that substantially increases storage capacity to extend range. The manufacturer, which supplies TESLA batteries, is also making the motor/battery system for Totem USA’s first eBike, Zen Rider.

Sony’s first prototype VISION-S is now undergoing road tests, and the manufacturer is creating an automobile division. Although there is no guarantee the vehicle will ever be mass produced, hats off to Sony – and Panasonic – for diving into a new product pool. If Sony’s vision ever becomes reality, it may one day be perfectly fine to sleep in the back of your car while it takes over. Plus, with Sony’s ingenuity, the onboard display system is sure to shock and awe.

Appliances Getting Smarter & Snappier

Nearly all manufacturers showed off products embedded with smart technology. From dryers that send notifications when laundry is done to refrigerators that offer recipes based on existing contents, appliances are being made to do a lot more for consumers than simply heat and cool.

Appliances are also being designed to free up space in the home. Stackable laundry units provide ample capacity while providing enough room to add a sink or more storage. Vibrant colors are replacing the white, black and stainless steel of most standard appliances. Samsung introduced a line of French door refrigerators available in 12 colors from pink to emerald green.

Robotics was another theme on display with upgraded floor cleaners, self-filling baths and other automated functionality to assist you in daily home life. Here’s hoping the robot chefs that duplicate famous chef dishes make it into the home in my lifetime.

                       Robert Coolidge
                       President & CEO

Opportunities for Repair Industry

By now, savvy, ambitious servicers have evolved their skills and business models to meet market demand and stay current. Those still relying on 42” TVs for repair work are likely close to retirement or have a lock on their service area.

Electric cars are going to displace gas powered vehicles – it’s not if, but when. What does this mean for electronics gurus? Could their skills transfer to this technology and displace standard auto repair shops? What about robotics, e-bikes and next-level gaming consoles? These types of electronics are sure to hold their price points much longer than LCD TVs, which should help drive repairs vs. replacement.

It’s often hard for businesses to anticipate future trends and adapt their operations accordingly when balance sheets are healthy. But no matter how comfortable you are today, it can all go horribly wrong if you refuse to be forward thinking.   Look no further than Blockbuster, Sears, Kodak, Borders and the like. Turns out there’s no such thing as being too big or successful to fail.

If you’re not paying attention to tech news and looking for new opportunities to provide aftersales service, you will eventually get left behind. It was a long time before mobile phones replaced the ubiquity of landlines, but once they took hold, that was the end for all kinds of businesses. Remember pagers? When’s the last time you used a phone booth or bought an answering machine?

Displacement is just around the corner from the next innovation. Watch where we’re going and don’t fall flat on the pavement.

Reimagining Workforce Strategies

What a difference a year makes. At this time in 2019, it was business as usual with the excitement of the holidays just around the corner. None of us could have predicted that in just a few short months, the world would be turned upside down by a global pandemic.

“Social distancing” is now part of our vernacular, and face masks are as essential as shoes to wear in public. Zoom meetings have replaced sitting around a conference table, and even trade shows have gone virtual.

Businesses have had to quickly adapt to keep operations running, while minimizing the risk of spreading disease and complying with state and federal guidelines. The pandemic has forced businesses to rethink their workforce strategies – perhaps for the better. Those that have resisted telecommuting, may find it leads to more productive, content employees, while saving infrastructure costs and/or freeing up space for inventory. With today’s interactive technology, working remotely has never been more viable.

But there has also been other less positive impact. Although well-intentioned, pandemic-related government financial subsidies have caused a number of low-wage workers to quit jobs, believing they can make more money than they were being paid at work. Even if temporary, these payments have put a dent in available labor.

Now many businesses are faced with having to step up efforts to both retain existing employees and attract new ones. Not so simple in these unprecedented, unpredictable times. Since it’s much more expensive to hire and train new employees than to keep your existing workforce content, most of your efforts should be aimed at retention. According to a study conducted by CareerAddict earlier this year (prior to the COVID-19 crisis), these are the top five reasons people choose to leave their jobs:

  1. No Progression (lack of career advancement)
  2. Low Pay
  3. Not Getting Well-Deserved Raise
  4. Poor Leadership
  5. Change of Career Goals

Here are some ideas to consider for strengthening loyalty among existing staff, with focus on the warehousing, manufacturing and repair sectors:

  • Identify All-Stars – In our general industry, most tasks can be easily tracked: number of widgets made, picked, packed and shipped hourly and so forth. Management, as well as employees, typically know who’s killing it and who is barely doing the minimum. Be on the lookout for staffers going above and beyond. Talk to them about stepping up to lead positions and keep them engaged by rewarding them with recognition and a clear career path. Offer additional training and schooling as other incentives. These unicorns are hard to find – don’t lose them to a competitor down the street paying 50 cents more an hour.
  • Pay for Performance – Oftentimes, both all-stars and slackers make the same hourly wage, which is not good for morale. Realize that not all employees are performing equally. Paying a bit more to A players can help keep them on board, while potentially encouraging subpar staff to step up. You may even find you can actually allocate the same amount or less in wages with fewer people if they’re top performers.
  • Amp Up the Workplace – Make it a more fun place to work. Add a ping pong table or other games to the breakroom and energetic music in workspaces.Listen to your staff about what would make them more comfortable. When Encompass warehouse workers told management they needed better access to ice in the summer, we brought in an industrial-sized ice maker. When we learned not everyone could afford quality footwear, we initiated a program to regularly distribute Nike Air shoes. We also offer credits toward purchases of good quality, healthy food stocked in our breakroom by a local vendor.Making even nominal investments in creating a more employee-centric workplace could make a huge difference in loyalty and morale. You are sure to be better positioned the next time a competitor tries to lure away your team.
  • Flexibility – It’s obviously impossible to enable production line employees to work remotely. However, consider this option for other staff who don’t need to be on site every day. A break from a long commute goes a long way toward boosting quality of life, not to mention saving time and money on gas and meals. Encompass has found that  most remote employees are actually more productive, take fewer sick days and ultimately work longer hours.  and even working longer hours.For those who must be on site, try to incorporate programs that give them a chance to visit the doctor or see a child’s play without penalty. Always remember employees have lives outside your company. Keeping them happy is worth the slight hassle of rearranging schedules periodically.  Businesses that offer paid vacation should encourage employees to take advantage of this time away from work so they can get revitalized, while creating memories with their families

By cultivating more “A” players, your business can operate more effectively, which can help save money to improve wages and fund workplace perks. Yet even with a fun, motivating work environment, you will inevitably still lose quality employees. But you can always leverage your incentives throughout recruitment efforts to attract top talent. Strive to stand out from your competitors in the hiring channels.

You never know when you may be able to entice an ace ping pong player who can pick 100 lines an hour.

Business Not As Usual

What’s Next for Repair Service Following COVID-19

 After enduring weeks of “stay-at-home” orders to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, most states are reopening businesses previously deemed non-essential. However, with the virus still circulating and causing severe illness and death, business is anything but usual.

Personal protection items like masks and gloves have become standard issue for restaurants, hair salons and other industries where personal contact with customers is the norm. The same goes for service providers who must enter homes to make repairs and interact with customers.

As we continue emerging from this unprecedented event, the long-term impact on the service repair industry is still yet to be realized. Some repair businesses have been forced to shut down permanently. With time on their hands and access to a wealth of “how to” videos online, there has been a sharp increase in consumer DIY repairs.

Adding to the mix of factors driving DIY repairs is an unemployment rate rivaling percentages not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Retail stores are slowly opening across the country, but some powerhouse brands such as J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and J. Crew have filed for bankruptcy in the midst of the crisis. Industry projections for major appliance and electronics production and sales have dropped for at least the remainder of 2020.

Still, despite this challenging market environment, there is considerable opportunity for service businesses. Numerous complex repairs are way beyond the basic capabilities of a general DIY consumer. Anything to do with electrical wiring and circuitry, for example, is best left to the professionals.

In a down economy, demand for repair typically surges as consumers put off replacing big ticket household items. Plus, as restaurants closed and now operate in some states with capacity restrictions, consumers have been using their major kitchen appliances more than ever, raising the risk of breakdowns. Consumer need for professional repair service could ultimately outpace the availability of service providers – and perhaps enable higher rate charges. However, with decreased model production comes decreased parts production so it may become harder to find some necessary repair components.

Some repair providers have rapidly adjusted to the new normal and are getting creative with such service offerings as virtual estimates and troubleshooting that limit customer contact.  Contactless measures are likely to continue – and expand – even after the current pandemic abates.

If nothing else, COVID-19 has been a dramatic wakeup call to the world and the repair industry. And if the experts are correct, this is not the last time the world will face a similarly impactful pandemic.  Businesses must evaluate their existing response strategy and develop best practices for managing through the next crisis. Those able to adapt under the most challenging conditions will survive, and even thrive, while others risk becoming just another impact statistic.

Planning for Unexpected Supply Chain Disruptions

 Hurricanes in the Southeast. Blizzards in the Northeast. Tornadoes in the Midwest. Earthquakes and fires in the West. Natural disasters occur often and mostly without time for planning. Major transportation carriers and routes are usually impacted, which has an immediate, but mostly brief, effect on supply chain continuity.

But what about supply chain disruptions occurring continents away? As the world’s largest manufacturing country, China plays an extremely important role in U.S. commerce. When something momentous happens – like the coronavirus (or COVID-19) or the once looming trade war with the U.S. – effects typically domino across the globe.

Although it’s still somewhat early days, the COVID-19 crisis is already having a major impact on global trade and logistics with Chinese factory closings, workforce quarantines and transportation disruptions. The electronics industry is at particular risk with Shenzhen, a major hub of electronics and parts manufacturing, located about 700 miles from the epicenter of the virus outbreak. While some manufacturing factories have reopened, thousands of workers remain under quarantine or otherwise unable to travel to work.

The situation is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the initial outbreak coincided with the Chinese New Year during which most businesses shut down for about 10 days. Distributors like Encompass typically anticipate this downtime and plan accordingly to purchase extra safety stock. The question becomes whether the additional inventory will keep pace with demand until business returns to normal in China.

Current fulfillment lead times from Chinese factories are 30 days or more, so even the slightest delays could significantly affect supply and complicate purchasing strategies. What can supply chain managers do to try to limit the impact of global supply chain challenges – particularly those affecting the world’s largest manufacturing cluster? This is probably one of the hottest topics of discussion occurring in U.S. board rooms and purchasing departments across the country.

Whether your business is directly affected or not by the current crisis, it’s still an opportunity to review your purchasing strategy. Identify any weaknesses and determine contingencies as part of your overall purchasing strategy going forward. Here are some areas of consideration:

  • Sourcing Partners – Are all your supply sources in one basket – be it a single factory or geographic region? Assess the impact level to your business and customers of any unexpected, potentially lengthy supply disruptions from this source. Just like your financial portfolio, diversification is good. Consider alternatives for a backup supply pipeline in a different geographic area to help mitigate the risk of being cut off from your primary source without warning. For repair service businesses, this can be as simple as establishing accounts with multiple parts vendors for seamless transition if ever necessary. 
  • Safety Stock – Do you stock enough inventory to meet demand for an extended period of time? While purchasing managers are constantly pressured to keep inventory turning, it may be worth stocking at least some high-demand SKUs beyond ordinary levels — particularly if your business is at risk from limited supply sources.
  • Business Continuity Plan – Many business continuity plans are focused internally on steps a company will take to recover from its own unforeseen events. Downstream disruptions in the supply chain should be included in your overall business continuity strategy.  And put the onus on your sourcing partners to provide their detailed plan for business recovery.

While the U.S. and China have reached a trade agreement and COVID-19 is likely to be contained sooner than later, the risk of future impactful events remains as certain as ever.  Don’t forget COVID-19 is not without precedence; in the early 2000s it was the SARS epidemic wreaking havoc on global trade. Sadly, chances are pretty good this isn’t the last time we’ll be dealing with supply chain disruptions, but ensuring you have a Plan B should help minimize harmful consequences to your business and customers.

Regardless of any business impact, we can’t forget that at the core of this epidemic are human lives. Compared to so many people dying, delays in receiving the next generation smart phone seem meaningless.  Above all, we should be focusing on joining together to help all those affected through this horrific ordeal.

Time for a Mid-Year Goal Assessment

As we are well into the second half of 2018, now is an ideal time to review the business and individual goals your team hopefully set at the beginning of the year. What progress has been made? Is your company positioned to meet these goals by yearend? Is the team continuing to work toward their personal commitments?  If not, what barriers are hampering progress?

      President & CEO
       Robert Coolidge

Goals should serve as a road map for individual professional development and business growth. Establishing targets is the easy part.  Actually following through on them is the real challenge. To help prevent goal setting from becoming meaningless busy work, there must be accountability. Otherwise, your commitments become as pointless as the paper that likely wasn’t used to record them.

Prior to the fourth quarter, it’s a good idea to take another look at the targets you set. Assess the status and where you expect to be by year end. With any luck, some of your commitments may even have expanded into larger opportunities than first thought, or new ones have come into play.

Otherwise, you’ve got to pinpoint where you are falling short and then laser focus on improving those areas. Have market conditions changed? Are the right people in place? Do you have enough resources and the right tools? Don’t wait until Q4 to identify issues that should be addressed now.

If you’re falling short on personal commitments, take a harsh look at what’s keeping you from success. While there may be obstacles, what are you doing to defeat or sidestep them?  At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own achievements. Be honest with yourself, and make a solid plan to get back on track.

You’ve got most of the second half now to make field adjustments and strengthen your game plan. It’s not too late to reach the goal line.



10 Tips on Shaping Company Culture

As a CEO and former football player and coach, I see many parallels between business and team dynamics. A team has a shot at winning only if all players do their job to the best of their ability. The best quarterback cannot be effective without a solid line and talented receivers.  A running back can’t gain yards without blocking support.  Every position has a purpose, and each must work collectively as a team to succeed.

Robert Coolidge
      President & CEO

For your business to thrive in the long term, you should follow a playbook of strategies to build a winning team and company culture. Here are just a few to consider:

  1. Communication – Leaders should communicate often and honestly about company direction and progress. Silence only leads to speculation and rumors, which are often wrong and can cause distraction and impact morale. Keeping employees informed is also critical to ensuring everyone is working from the same playbook. The more information you share, the more employees will feel ownership.
  2. Integrity – Playing by the rules, even when no one is looking, is a key factor in forming a trusted, honorable team culture. Instill zero tolerance for any shady, corrupt behavior. Always remember your culture forms your brand.
  3. Commitment – During a merger/acquisition, deciding go-forward branding is typically near the top of the To Do list. Whether you opt for a brief co-branding period or hard cut over, all entities must embrace and commit to the new team identity. Uniting under a common brand best promotes a team culture and helps avoid an attitude of “them against us.” Eliminate items with the former brand and substitute with the new to promote company pride as one team.
  4. Empowerment – Empower your team to make decisions. Don’t penalize them for making mistakes; if you never make mistakes, you’re likely not pushing yourself hard or fast enough.  If you do happen to fail, focus on correcting, learning and moving on smarter rather than dwelling on blame.
  5. Goals – Setting baseline goals comes from the top down.  Perfection or 100% should always be the goal.  Anything less is an opportunity for improvement.
  6. Involvement – When starting a new project, ensure initial discussions include everyone who will play a role in execution no matter how large or small. Exclusion could create unnecessary insecurity and confusion. Winnow down the team to core players as practical, but solicit opinions from all members to convey the value of their input and place on the team.
  7. Accountability – Every player must be held accountable for their position and field assignments for the team to be successful. As Bill Belichick would say “Do your job.” Tracking performance and taking responsibility to make improvements is integral.
  8. Pace – This also comes from the top down.  Set the pace for others to follow. Work hard and fast with the intent to execute better each time.  This will guide your team on a path of success.
  9. Prosper – Setting performance goals and incentives gives those who want to excel the chance to be recognized and advance.  It doesn’t matter if they’re in the warehouse, call center or collections – everyone likes to be a winner.  Those that do not have the drive to succeed should understand that their future will be dictated by others.
  10. Camaraderie – While it’s vital for the team to excel on the field, it’s just as important for members to build relationships off the field. Getting to know each other on a more personal level fosters trust and understanding that is difficult to achieve during office hours. There’s a reason that an entire cottage industry is devoted to “team building” activities.

By regularly evaluating your team environment, you can quickly identify and address gaps in your playbook. Always keep your eye on the ball to load the scoreboard.

NSDA Evolving to Meet the Needs of Changing Repair Industry

For more than 60 years, the National Electronics Service Dealers Association (NESDA) has been the premier trade group for technicians repairing televisions, VCRs, DVD players, stereos, etc. But like any forward-thinking association facing industry change, NESDA members realized that focusing strictly on electronics repair would not be sustainable.

In turn, NESDA has rebranded to NSDA (dropping “Electronics”) to cater to a broader spectrum of repair professionals. Appliance now shares top billing, drawing new attendees to this year’s annual NSDA convention. Many previously TV-only techs took advantage of the many appliance repair training courses offered.

In the exhibit hall, the Samsung booth commanded the largest presence, showcasing its latest appliance innovations along with flat screens. Look for Whirlpool, GE, Electrolux, Lennox, Goodman and others to get involved in future conventions. As a long-time supporter of the association, it’s exciting to see NSDA taking the steps necessary to broaden its mission and serve as a valuable resource to industries outside electronics.

President & CEO
Robert Coolidge

But don’t take this change in direction to mean TV repair is dead; many techs will tell you they can barely keep up with their current workload. Then there are those who are satisfied with just a diagnostic fee to proclaim a set can’t be fixed. At some point their business will divert to the harder working competitor committed to finding repair solutions. TV dispatch should result in a repair 80% of the time – even panels should be considered.

NSDA members are some of the brightest and skilled techs out there. Many have or will transition into adjacent sectors for myriad new repair opportunities, especially with whole home warranty companies. If you’re not familiar with NSDA, check it out and consider attending the next annual convention. From access to technical resources to invaluable manufacturer training, NSDA membership offers key benefits hard to find through any other trade association.


Five Tips for Thinking Inside the Box for Your Next Outsourcing Partner

Many businesses often realize that certain tasks they’re performing in house are inefficient, wasting time and resources and are far removed from their core competencies. Encompass has been on both sides of either selecting or serving as a business partner, so we have gained a lot

Robert Coolidge
President & CEO

of best practice knowledge over the decades.  When searching for the ideal B2B partner to assume responsibility for any of your pain point functions, here are some in-the-box questions to assist with your outside-the-box strategies.

  1. Customer Service – Can you rely on the supplier to be responsive to your needs? What about your customers? Is the supplier trustworthy enough to serve the lifeblood of your business? Be sure to check them out through the Better Business Bureau, professional references, social media and other channels to get a strong sense of their integrity and service culture.
  2. Key Performance Indicators – How does the supplier plan to measure the successes and challenges of your program? Before implementation, you and your supplier must agree on the standard metrics by which your business will be evaluated. Furthermore, you should have on demand access to reporting on these KPIs to have full visibility to how well (or not so well) your partner is managing your program.
  3. Technology – Can your partner integrate with your operating systems? Depending on the nature of the work they’re doing, having direct connectivity could help expedite certain processes and also provide visibility to valuable data. Plus, to provide visibility to program KPIs, your partner must have the technology to track and report on comprehensive data sets.
  4. Communication – Whom can you contact when something goes wrong or you need immediate assistance? Always insist on a single point-of-contact to serve as your “go to” liaison for issue resolution. If you’re faced with an angry customer or process failure, you don’t want to have to call six people before finally making contact with someone who can help. Additionally, you should be able to have regular business reviews with your supplier to discuss any issues, assess performance and share ideas for enhancements.
  5. Value-added Services – What does the supplier offer your business (and customers) beyond the basics? Ideally, your partner will include many different complimentary services that help enhance your program and streamline processes – from revenue sharing opportunities to technical assistance. But be wary of those that nickel and dime you for every touchpoint; value-added should be just that, not a means for additional profit generation.

At Encompass, we are particularly focused on providing as much “bang for the buck” as possible through streamlined pricing models. We offer many different services – such as e-commerce portal development and system integration – at no extra charge.

However, selecting the right partner should never be just about price. Pricing can usually be somewhat flexible, but a potential supplier’s way of doing business is pretty much set in stone. While aggressive pricing may be hard to resist, marginal service can end up costing you much more in the long run.

Change and Innovation in Aftersales Service

Another Consumer Electronics Show has come and gone, and the industry is well into the first quarter of what promises to be an interesting year of change and innovation for the aftersales service community.

The buzz in the Appliance and Electronics verticals continues to center around the “Internet of Things” with focus on the connected home. Remote monitoring and control of devices throughout the home via WiFi is gaining traction. Now our smart washers can tell our smart phones when the laundry is done, so it appears the Jetsons weren’t as farfetched after all.

With this type of connectivity, it seems logical that remote online diagnostics will be the future of repair, minimizing time-consuming in-home visits. Service teams would be able to connect to home networks and read failure codes to troubleshoot and identify parts needed. Just another few clicks and parts can be ordered – Encompass is standing by!

Robert Coolidge
      President & CEO

In consumer electronics, there may actually be a reversal (or at least slowing) of the replace vs. repair trend.  Display panels have become so thin that components must be housed separately within the control base. This change in design makes televisions less bulky and more portable, which could help energize depot repair. For field techs, commercial and residential installation and connectivity service are tremendous offerings they should be aggressively promoting in addition to repair.

On the back end, warranty underwriters are also exploring innovations to their models. There is much opportunity to “own the home” for extended contract providers looking to expand beyond single product coverage. In turn, whole home warranty providers may consider adding non-traditional goods like televisions, smart phones and    computers to their list of covered items.

With many electronics now easier and potentially less expensive to repair, extended warranty providers should reexamine their product buyout policies. Through a variety of measures, Encompass annually saves our warranty partners millions in buyouts – not including the extensive costs and effort of recovering a faulty unit and disposing it within government environmental regulations.

Once repairs are completed successfully, everyone wins: consumers get functioning products and the service community gets work, while being driven toward the proper behavior of enabling more repairs.  Labor rates could possibly improve more if the repair process can be more efficient and less products are simply thrown away.

Warranty companies avoid costly buyouts and earn satisfaction from their contract holders.  Gift cards and product replacements should be the options of last resort. Even the product manufacturer wins since their products remain in the home and are not displaced by a different brand.

As the industry continues evolving year after year, there will always be opportunity to thrive for those willing to look and work for it.