UBreakiFix Prez Says to Keep an Open Mind
Justin Wetherill is president of uBreakiFix.
Justin Wetherill believes in humility, because every time he gets cocky the president and co-founder of uBreakiFix says the universe has a way of slapping back. He gives an interesting interview in “The Boss”column in the August issue of Franchise Times, with more intriguing excerpts below that didn’t fit the page.
On his company’s origins: I’ve always been pretty goal-oriented and laser focused on the next achievement or goal, and I’ve been that way as long as I could remember. After realizing that climbing the corporate ladder wasn’t for me because I didn’t have the patience to do it, David Reiff and I started trying out small businesses on the side.
The first was making T-shirts. We never launched. After that we started a custom computer-building business and started selling high-end custom computers on ebay and we had $16,000 in sales and no profit. We learned a bunch about the customer experience, and working together, and him learning how to build websites.
It just so happened after that second computer-building business, I dropped my iPhone 3G. I pick it up, I’m heartbroken. In the days after that I try to get it fixed, and don’t find any good options. I tried to fix the phone and I made it way worse. I realized if I was in this same spot there were probably others who were discouraged.
I bought more phones and got proficient at fixing them. After selling some of those, we started offering services on ebay to repair other people’s phones. So I got into the business of fixing phones. I would work all day at my day job, come home, fix phones at night, drop them off in the mail in the morning and do it all over again.
This is nine years ago. Our sales were around $30,000 a month. When Eddie Trujiillo stopped by the house, he said the future is stores, nobody wants to wait for the mail. We said, there’s no way we’re going to take an online business in 2009 and make it brick and mortar. Amazon’s taking over, retail’s the past. He said I believe in it so much, I’ll put up money for the first store.
He had run businesses before and is about three years older than I. I’m 31. The reality is the first business didn’t cost much to start. Rent was $800 a month. It might have been a $7,000 or $8,000 investment. The second month the store was opened it eclipsed the online business.
On working with friends: We were super surprised. That third month I quit my job and moved down South and started our second store in December. We hired every friend I had and continually put all the money back in the business, and after three years, now we’re in 2012, we had 47 corporate stores and we doubled every year. Towards the end of 2012 we looked at doubling every year and how we’d double again.
On enjoying your work: This goes back to my parents’ experience at work. The millennial generation, the purpose of what you do, or enjoying work at the end of the day, can be more important than the money you make. I think that’s different than things have been necessarily in the past.
I think people now are realizing they spend more time at work than spending time with their family, their kids, you spend five days at work and two days at home. I think folks now more than ever understand that, and are really focused on making sure that five days are just as enjoyable
On hiring: It goes back to those core values we called out earlier. Are they humble? Do they have integrity? Are they honest and transparent? Do I feel I can trust them? Are they going to listen twice as much as they talk? Are they going to invest in developing people all the team, kind of the ships rise together on the high tide, that they’re not in it just for themselves.
On company goals in five years: I think we’ll see a lot of the industry moving into same-day repair. We’ll see a shift toward our model, which will be great for our business. You’ll also see a widening in the services we offer and the devices we fix. I don’t know what it is. I’d be lying if I said I did.
On creating iterations: Continuous improvement has been a part of our DNA from the beginning. Complacency is the greatest killer of businesses. An example is, there were television repair shops in the '90s and computer repair shops in the 2000s, and they all came and went. There’s always been something that needed to be fixed. And as long as we focus on streamlining systems and processes, and we keep an open mind to what and how we’re fixing those things, there will always be something that needs fixing.