Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Written by Annie Bares
From a broken iPhone screen to a cell that’s been through the wash cycle, myPhoneMD can fix it.
It took several spirited conversations and a chance gas station meeting before Jeff Lyons and Conrad Green could agree to combine their smart phone repair service companies.
“I told him that he didn’t know anything about how to repair iPhones,” says Green of his initial jabs at Lyons.
It’s a bit unsurprising that the two would eventually find common ground, considering that neither Lyons, 29, nor Green, 22, followed a traditional path to business ownership. After experiencing the frustration of dealing with Apple in trying to get their own iPhones fixed, the young entrepreneurs and Louisiana natives taught themselves how to repair their phones before do-it-yourself guides became widely available over the Internet. “Then my mom [reminded] me that I’d said that if I ever figured out how to fix my own phone, I’d start doing repairs [for a living],” says Green.
Green did just that, opening a repair store in Baton Rouge in August 2009, a few months after Lyons launched his business in Mandeville. They joined forces in September 2009, eventually rebranding the company myPhoneMD, and proceeded to open two locations together — another in Baton Rouge and one in New Orleans.
On June 15, myPhoneMD expanded to Lafayette and opened its fifth store in the MainStreet development of River Ranch. The local store has two employees, bringing the company’s total number to 13, and is managed by longtime Lafayette resident Gibb Holland.
Specializing in servicing smart phones, particularly iPhones, Blackberries, and Windows Media, myPhoneMD offers customers the option of repairing, rather than replacing, costly devices that have suffered from damage their original vendors do not fix. “Rather than just putting their broken phone in a drawer or trying to resell them, our customers can have them repaired, often in a matter of minutes,” says Lyons.
“Their eyes light up when they realize this,” adds Green. The most common repairs are of cracked LCD screens, water damage and malfunctioning buttons. “We’ve seen every kind of water damage from baby vomit to phones that have gone through the washing machine,” says Green. “It is surprising how easy it is to repair a phone that has gone through a wash cycle.”
In a world where many people use their smart phones for business, customers expect a quick turnaround. “A screen repair usually takes around seven minutes from the time you walk into the store to when you swipe your credit card,” says Lyons. Prices for repairs vary; with a battery replacement costing $60 and a screen repair $90.
The company offers a one-year warranty on all repairs. Through an agreement with FoxCon, the manufacturer and assembler of iPhone parts for Apple, myPhoneMD is able to use original parts to enhance the quality and success rate of repairs. “The reason that the guy on Craigslist can do a screen repair for $60 instead of $90 is because he’s using refurbished or knockoff parts,” explains Lyons.
“And he offers a 30/30 warranty — 30 seconds from when the repair’s completed or 30 feet after you walk away,” jokes Green. MyPhoneMD claims a 99.8 percent satisfaction rate and a 77 percent referral rate. The store also sells a selection of phone cases and components and offers the option of mail-in repairs.
Lyons credits Lafayette’s identity as a friendly, continually developing mid-sized city for the decision to expand here after Baton Rouge and New Orleans. He says the company is now the largest smart phone repair business in Louisiana and the second largest in the country. It will add another instate location later this year — the partners aren’t disclosing the city just yet — and then expand to South Carolina by mid-August.