We recently sat down for a talk with the owner of Experimac of Huntington Beach, CA, Bob Nonnemaker, and his son Kevin, the store manager. This classic father-son duo had previously worked together running some small e-commerce businesses. Their Experimac location has now been open just a few months; they opened their doors on October 10, 2016. With franchises across the country, Experimac is a trusted tech source for Apple® product repairs, upgrades, pre-owned sales and trade-ins for iPhone® devices, iPad® tablets, iMac® computers, MacBook® laptops and more. Additionally, we also sell accessories for these devices and offer same day service for repairs and upgrades. We are often able to fix your device while you wait. Experimac offers a 90-day warranty on all repairs because we want all of our customers to experience the Experimac difference.
Life as an entrepreneur is not new for Bob. He's owned a broad array of businesses, franchise and non-franchise, for the last 30 years in countless industries, everything from insurance and mortgages to financing and automobile tag registration and notary services. Thankfully, Bob and Kevin work well together because Bob is still operating two other businesses so Experimac is Kevin's baby. Bob has taken on the task of helping run the back office, taking care of administrative tasks, and offering guidance with some sales and marketing thrown in too. Kevin has customer service experience from a related industry so he's enjoying working with the customers and learning the repair side because he likes technology and has always had an interest in that. Learning the ins and outs of Apple products has been exciting for Kevin. Bob and Kevin get along really well and working together has been a positive experience for both of them which will undoubtedly help them be successful and keep them busy. Here is some more of what they shared about their experience as the owner and manager of Experimac of Huntington Beach, CA.
EXPERIMAC: Why did you choose to open your business in Huntington Beach, specifically Fountain Valley?
Kevin: I moved out to Huntington Beach about a year and a half ago and fell in love with the area and just knew it would be a great area because there are so many people in this area. The population in Orange County is so large that I knew it would be a good area for pre-owned Apple product sales and repairs. Everyone has Apple products out here. And we're only two miles from the beach!
EXPERIMAC: Have you done any community outreach stuff since opening?
Bob: Community outreach has been going on since the day we opened. We've all done some at different points. As an example, we've handed out about 2,000 business cards in and around the local community just stopping in at businesses of all kinds and sizes to introduce ourselves. We sponsored a local golf tournament and have been "feet on the ground" introducing and re-introducing ourselves in the area. This is something I really believe in. This week, we've started going back out with a flyer and new information they haven't seen before to remind that we're here since we're so new.
EXPERIMAC: What would you say is the most interesting part of owning an Experimac?
Kevin: I would say learning about all the different computers and the repairs. When we get in something we don't know, it's fun to learn new things and to troubleshoot things and once you figure it out, it's a really good feeling when the customer is thrilled. We've had a couple of products that the Apple store couldn't fix or that they had told the customer that it would cost more than the computer itself, for example. And we were able to fix it for a reasonable price and the customers were happy.
EXPERIMAC: On the other side of that, what would you say is the most challenging part of owning an Experimac location?
Kevin: I think just the nature of this business, finding the best products for our inventory and finding the best product.
Bob: I would add to that, although I'm not the technical guy, I've seen these guys dealing with some of the technical things like fixing something and then you realize it's not actually fixed and you have to tweak it. There's definitely some fine tuning and some learning even though they're technically oriented, there were some things that caught us off guard. It's a learning process, there's a learning curve. There was more of that than I anticipated because I'm used to selling intangibles but it's been okay.
EXPERIMAC: It seems like Kevin and some other technicians do the repairs. Bob, you don't really do any repairs yourself, is that correct?
Bob: No sir Steven, we'd already be shut down and bankrupt if I was doing the repairs (chuckling).
EXPERIMAC: Have there been any kind of events that you've attended representing the Experimac brand?
Bob: There was a holiday gift boutique sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce which we're members of. It gave us an opportunity to have a table and present our services to the community.
Kevin: Coming up on February 22nd, we're having our Grand Opening event with the Chamber of Commerce. We're inviting all of the customers we've already served to come out, we're going to have some food, drinks and raffles.
Bob: We've also had an opportunity through some of our networking and cold calling to go around the community to do some mini presentations in front of groups like realtors. We went in to a real estate office and asked if we could present ourselves at a weekly or monthly meeting and they said, "Yes!" so Kevin and I had an audience of 40-50 realtors who we were able to give a presentation to. We're trying to do more things like that.
EXPERIMAC: What kind of feedback have you gotten from customers overall?
Bob: The feedback has been generally very positive. There are certainly some customers you can never please and there have been some glitches with some devices that haven't gone perfectly. Kevin does a great job of smoothing it out but the general feedback has been, I think, very, very positive. People saying, "We're glad you're here, we're glad to know you're here, glad to know you do this" and thrilled with our service and what we're able to provide. We're certainly hearing the good feedback in the store and we're starting to see repeat customers in the store already after only 3½ months which is always encouraging and to me, that's what will make the business really grow.
EXPERIMAC: Have you guys noticed any patterns in terms of the work your customers need done? Have you seen more foot traffic for iPhone repairs or upgrades or is it more computer sales?
Bob: Well, the repairs are what bring the people through the door. Most of the initial foot traffic is about the repairs. There's no question about it. And mostly, phone repairs. But, certainly, there's a mix, maybe 70% phone and 30% computer. Give or take. And that just spins off into the computer or phone sales after the fact typically. Definitely, the repairs are the draw, I would say. We've done a Groupon offer and that has picked up our in-store traffic and our phone is ringing more. The repairs are definitely the main draw initially anyway. I think that will change but that's what's bringing people to us now.
EXPERIMAC: In terms of customer demographic, are you finding that the people that are coming in are primarily college students that broke their phone, is it families that have clumsy kids?
Bob: I'd say it's all over the board. It's definitely not just college students, definitely not just kid's phones, it's all shapes and sizes and ages. We certainly haven't tracked demographics that much but it's definitely a little bit of everything. I don't think there's been any kind of pattern. We're not right across the street from a school or college although there are some around but it's really just been a mix.
EXPERIMAC: How many hours do you typically work per day?
Bob: In the beginning, I was probably here 6 – 8 hours per day but now, I'm here 3 – 5 hours a day. Kevin is here 9 hours a day, 6 days a week.
EXPERIMAC: When you're not working or inside the store, do you have any hobbies or things you enjoy doing?
Kevin: I like to snowboard, go to the beach, play video games, take my dog for a walk, etc.
Bob: That's what he would enjoy if we would give him some time off (chuckling). For the most part, there's no really taking the day off at this point. That's just the way it is when you own your own business.
EXPERIMAC: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Bob, you clearly have some expertise in this area.
Bob: I would say number one is sales and marketing acumen. At the end of the day, no matter what kind of business it is, you've got to be able to market your business inside and out. That's what has helped us here. Kevin does a great job inside and I do the outside work. I would say number two for Experimac would be Apple product knowledge and technical aptitude to do this work.
Kevin: Number three would be customer service.
Bob: Once you have them in your store, then it is about knowing how to treat them and deal with the different personalities that come through whether you do a perfect job or not. You have to enjoy dealing with people.
As you can see, Bob and Kevin Nonnemaker have been working hard for the last several months but have enjoyed working together to make their Experimac location a success. Come on in to their Huntington Beach location, we're sure Kevin will dazzle you with all he has learned about Apple repairs and upgrades. Bob's business background will undoubtedly continue to prove to be useful as they move forward. If you're in the area, remember to join them for their Grand Opening on February 22nd, it's sure to be loads of fun!