• Madeleine Bonser

Spotlight on - 21st Century Repairs

At Spotlight, we got the opportunity to talk to Lamar Griffiths and Reece Walker, Founders of 21st Century Repairs. We chatted about starting a business, the highs and lows and coping during COVID.

Business background

Reece and I are two friends from secondary school (so we’ve known each other for ten years!) We first had the idea for a mobile repair service in 2017. At the time Reece was working in a mobile phone repairs shop and noticed that a lot of customers found it incredibly inconvenient to have to travel into town and wait 45 minutes or more for their phone to be repaired. However, due to my (Lamar) football training and work commitments, we had to delay making plans towards getting a business up and running for over a year.

When you’re preparing the elements of the business, i.e. the logo and the name, and people around you are saying it’s a very good idea and we should start it before other people do, you become very impatient and jigidy like a kid in a sweet shop! You want to just GO GO GO, but we just too had to wait, be patient and bide our time.

Why phone tech?

Reece got an opportunity to work in a phone shop after he left college, so he decided to take the offer and work for Mobile Repair Nottingham in town for a couple of years. As I (Lamar) was always close to Reece, I always used to break my phones so he decided to show me how to fix them, so I used my knowledge and experience from then until we made the business.

Overcoming challenges

We haven’t had a massive challenge or setback so far because we’re only 1.5 years into running the business, but we would probably say going on live radio, being interviewed on BBC Radio Nottingham in our first year, because we were only 19 when we started we got loads of publicity so it was just a huge shock to the system! (Nottingham Post, Notts TV and BBC.) Two young lads not having any experience and having that challenge of speaking live on radio to thousands of people. I can just remember constantly saying in my head “Don’t swear, don’t swear, don’t swear, don’t swear” or “Don’t have a brain freeze” about a million times in my head. It was absolutely nerve-racking. But I’m glad I did a vlog for my YouTube channel so we can watch it back in 20-30 years and both have a laugh and rip each other to bits!

We feel passionate about providing people with a lot of value that is extremely convenient. Making sure that they receive great quality repairs and amazing customer service. Making sure they receive the best possible experience they can when getting their phone repaired. Also, we need to learn as much as we possibly can so we can be successful in the future and create a brand that covers the whole of the UK.

Drive and determination

I think for both of us we’ve just had a chip on both of our shoulders and we want to show people that doubt us that we can be successful in life and hopefully inspire young people to go for their dreams because life is short so you need to make the best of it. I know a lot of people say it but we’re trying to actually live it.

The biggest lesson we’ve learned so far is to keep learning as much as possible and network and find successful people and become a sponge. We really want 21st Century Repairs to become a brand and a big business. When you surround yourself around successful people you see that they’re on a completely different level in terms of their energy and the way they think and we’ve learned that we need to step out of our own bubble and network, find the right mentors that will help us make this business flourish into what we think it can be.

Top tips

1. Learn time management

Mastering how to effectively use your time is essential when you’re thinking of starting something new, whether that be a podcast, YouTube channel or business. You have to master the most important commodity in life which is time. Learning how to use your time will allow you not to hit burnout when you’re in the “Planning/ Preparation stage”. The worst thing you can do is hit burnout before you’ve even started!

2. Surround yourself with positive + ambitious thinkers

Having positive people around you is a gift! You can push each other in ways that will be beneficial to both of you when you're overworked and you’re in a negative headspace their words of wisdom will redirect you back to a great mindset which will motivate you. Being alone can make it 10x harder to be successful, positive influences in your life can really be the difference between you being successful and not.

3. Keep on top of your health!

When we’re in the preparation stage it seems like working is all that we can do, it’s like eating, drinking and sometimes breathing goes out the window! Staying hydrated, eating healthy foods and getting 7-9 hours sleep really helps to keep us sane. Keeping that energy high and our minds focused is the key.

The best advice I have ever been given is “Be fearless and flow like water”

Be fearless - Jump head-on into any opportunity even when you don’t know what you’re doing – You’ll grow from it and that’s how you become successful. (Constantly trying, failing and learning new things.)

Flow like water – Never be rigid and keep learning and adapting to the current climate! There have been hundreds of businesses that fail or go under because they haven’t adapted, they’ve stayed in one place i.e. Blockbusters – they had the chance to buy Netflix in the late 1990s (We weren't born until 1999) and they didn’t because they thought people would never shift to online services and they looked down on Netflix. But 20 years later, where are they? Netflix is one of the most used online movie subscriptions in the world and blockbusters shut down on September 23, 2010, simply because they didn’t adapt to the climate and they weren’t innovative. Flow like water.

There is no perfect formula for success it's simply Hard work x Working smart x Patience x Doubts x Risk x Setbacks x Resilience x Self-awareness x Failure x Discipline x Constant education x fearlessness = Success.

Highs and lows

The best parts of our jobs are being able to provide people with a great service that’s extremely convenient, being able to get your phone repaired at home or at work should be completely effortless. Scheduling your day around getting your phone repaired seems like a nightmare. The best part of our job is when customers are happy about the repair and they spread the word which proves that we’re doing a great job because the phone repair industry hasn’t got a great reputation.

The worst part of our jobs is that if we make a mistake and damage someone’s phone it’s a nightmare especially if you don’t know how you’ve done it. Breaking someone’s phone is the worst feeling, seeing as though phones are basically the equivalent of people’s babies! Dealing with customers that don’t respect how far you go out of your way to repair/buy them a new phone is the worst element on this job but there’s always pros and cons to everything.

What has been your strategy for your business during COVID-19?

Our strategy hasn’t really changed, because we’re mobile and we don’t go into our customer's houses. It's still the same. Because everyone’s at home and the repair shops have been closed for a while people are looking for other alternatives to get their devices repaired so to make the most out of the current climate we’ve invested a lot more money in Facebook ads, which have helped us massively as July was our best month yet so we must be doing something right.

We noticed that we could benefit a lot from the virus in terms of getting more business so we got a bounce-back loan from Barclays and invested our money on a new machine so we now can do back glass repairs which not a lot of phone repair businesses in Nottingham can. Plus we’ve invested in a new supplier with better quality screens so we’ve seen it as an opportunity more than anything.

If you enjoyed this blog check out more just like it here. Check out 21st Century Repairs’ website here or check them out on Instagram here. Take a look at Lamar’s YouTube channel where he posts all about his business journey and self-development.

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