Home Consumer Goods uBreakiFix takes its cracked phone expertise to White Plains

uBreakiFix takes its cracked phone expertise to White Plains

The customers at uBreakiFix, which last month opened a new White Plains location, often have interesting stories to tell. They have walked in with iPhones that have been dropped from roller coasters, run over by cars and thrown across the room by children.

These types of technological mishaps drive customers to uBreakiFix, a fast-growing technology repair franchise that has four Westchester locations with its latest launch at 64 Mamaroneck Ave. along White Plains’ restaurant row. The company provides same-day repair for a number of electronics and is especially known for handling cracked screens on smart phones.

Seth Berkman, the franchisee for all four county locations, has a cracked-phone tale of his own. It’s how he got in the business. In 2012, the Cortlandt Manor resident was looking for a franchising opportunity, but he wasn’t sure exactly what type of business to open. That same year, when on vacation in North Carolina, his wife dropped her phone and it broke. While searching for a repair, they came across a uBreakiFix location nearby.

Founded in 2009, the company had grown to about 47 stores at that time, which is also when uBreakiFix first started franchising. After rave reviews from his wife, Berkman kept an eye on the company as it began expanding throughout the country.

“The guys that run the company, their values were the same as mine — you do a good job for the customer, it will pay off,” Berkman said.

In 2013, Berkman signed a deal to franchise with the company. In 2014, he opened uBreakiFix locations in Mount Kisco and Scarsdale. In 2016, he opened a location in New Rochelle.

uBreakiFix, meanwhile, has grown to include more than 300 locations across the U.S. and Canada, with nearly 700 more in development, according to company literature. The Orlando-based company uses original manufacturers’ parts to repair phones, laptops and even gaming consoles. Prices vary based on the product and repair it requires. A new screen on an iPhone 7, for example, costs $150.

Berkman also runs his own tech support firm called Berkman Tech and a related Voice over Internet Protocol company called BT Voice, both based in White Plains. Founding his own companies convinced him to seek the backing of a franchise for his next venture.

“I realized it would be great to have the back-end taken care of for me,” he said. “So you can focus on operations and trying to move your mission forward without having to deal with web development, all the behind-the-scenes marketing. It’s draining and expensive.”

uBreakiFix’s tech-focused business model was a natural fit.

“I realized after looking at all different kinds (of franchises) that unless it was something in my core capabilities, I would be kind of lost,” Berkman said. “So this made sense. It’s an extension of what I do, what I understand.”

The stores are relatively low-cost for entrepreneurs to launch. Berkman said all his stores in Westchester have required between $100,000 and $175,000 in launch costs.

“It is way less expensive to open than any kind of food franchise,” he said. “No kitchen costs, any of that stuff.”

The White Plains store is 700-square-feet with a streamlined interior. There’s a small waiting room, a couple of racks showcasing phone cases and a front desk with two TV monitors mounted behind it. The repairs are done in a workspace in the back of the store. A typical location has between four and five employees, who are provided training on the repair work.

It’s finding the right space that can be challenging, Berkman said. Stores typically are 800 to 1,000 square feet. They need to be located on main thoroughfares with good foot traffic. Preferably, Berkman added, they are near a stop light to help get noticed by people in cars. The best spots are also close to wireless carriers, which can refer customers with damaged phones to the repair shop down the street.

“Those spots are few and far between,” Berkman said.

The White Plains store checked off all those boxes. Verizon, Sprint, Cricket, AT&T and T-Mobile all have locations within walking distance. Meanwhile, the location along Mamaroneck Avenue near City Center will provide plenty of foot traffic.

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