#27: The Changing Landscape of TV Repair

Posted by TV Parts Guy Team on 19th Oct 2015

Gone are the days when independent TV repair shops have to get certified by manufacturers in order to display or advertise on their storefronts that they fix a certain brand, say, Panasonic or Sony or Samsung. These days, any shop with the expertise, knowledge, and 'technical know-how' can fix them and they can freely advertise it as much as they want. And it used to be that the only way to repair a TV is replacing the damaged or faulty components on the circuit board itself. Granted, there are still some shops that still do provide this as a service when no other alternative exists, but this is increasingly becoming a 'lost art' and this is a shame. It really is. The problem lies in the increasingly complex circuitry of the circuit boards being built and made to resemble and function just like a computer, if it hasn't already reached that point. You can see these in the "Smart TV's" with their capabilities to be connected to a LAN, to surf the internet, and use web apps.

And on top of that, it used to be that one has to be certified by a manufacturer in order to gain access to OEM parts. Being certified meant that TV repair shops had to follow all the rules, conditions, and procedures as set forth by the manufacturer and rest assured, they were lengthy. TV repair shops generally had to bear the weight of most of the upfront costs necessary to even run a shop. With that respect, it isn't that different from, say, a car dealership wherein the dealer had to bear the weight with all the upfront costs of keeping the cars on the lot, maintaining them, and what not without any financial incentive of or subsidy by the manufacturer to get the business off the ground. Nowadays with the advent of recycled and/or salvaged parts companies, like TV Parts Guy, and the increasingly available "free" information on the World Wide Web on TV repair, the need to become certified is no longer necessary, although a repair shop may still get certified, if they wish to gain access to new OEM parts, service manuals, and circuit board schematics. 

All this change isn't a bad thing as many TV repair shops have told us. For one thing, it is no longer necessary to memorize everything that one has learned from school since the internet has provided a sort of "extended memory bank" for TV repair shops and DIYer's alike to reference. Secondly, recycled parts companies provided an alternative to the price gouging parts charged by the manufacturers that TV repair shops were forced to purchase from since no one else made them. 

The downside to the free availability of these recycled parts is that just about anyone, be they an actual TV repair shop with trained technicians that went to a trade school to learn the proper ways to diagnose and fix electronics or an individual, can purchase them, which gives a lot of "in-home DIYer's" the idea that fixing TV's is as easy as just replacing all the parts inside a TV. Thus, they "set up" shop and start a TV repair business on the side, let's just say, and flood the TV repair market with their amateur skills and limited (and often times, incorrect) technical information with how electronics work, how TV's work, and how, ultimately, anything electronics-related work. If you think about it, this isn't that much different than what happened with the auto repair industry. A lot of reputable TV repair shops (especially here in California) who have been around for over 30+ years have gone out of business (like many auto repair shops just a decade or so earlier) because the general population is "getting smarter" with the free availability of information that can be found on the internet and again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's bad for those shops who have been around for that long and who are receiving less customers nowadays as a result of not getting up to speed with the changing times than from the days of yore. But there is an upside to this.

The upside is that this forces those same TV repair shops who have been around for as long as they have to "get with the program" so to speak. In other words, they need to "re-invent" the business. Often times, this means that they have to change the way that they do business, which can be frightening for many shops who have been in the electronics repair business for decades and who have grown complacent to their ways like their work philosophies, business ideas, and execution. In this day and age, growing complacent is the single most sure-fire way to kill one's own business in a very short time. It's why many businesses fail in the first place-->because they fail to realize (or realizes too late) that their old ways no longer work and they must change the way that they conduct business (You can take one of several big box retail chains who have gone out of business as a result of this: Borders Bookstores (with the advent of e-books), Kodak (with the advent of digital cameras), Circuit City (with the advent of online only merchants and discount and club stores getting into the consumer electronics business), and others. By changing and regularly innovating new ways to conduct business, a TV repair shop is no longer just a shop that specializes in TV repair but may also become a business that specializes in other forms of repair. A TV repair shop can even start "educating" the general public about TV repair (and electrical appliances repair) while charging a nominal fee for that kind of expertise and technical knowledge. This way, shops can still get something out of it but won't have to spend the time to do the repair themselves.

In one of our previous entries, we mentioned that there is a viable market in selling TV panels and we still stand by that. Salvaging TV panels may be time consuming and perhaps not very cost effective but another possibility is to find a TV Panel supplier, perhaps a Chinese one (since most TV panels used in modern TV's these days are manufactured in China anyway) and source those TV panels directly without a middleman. Alternatively, shops can buy up broken TV sets and rather than selling the parts, they can "rebuild" those TV sets with these new TV panels sourced from China and then sell these TV sets as a whole, individually or in bulk. Doing this will also help out the environment with the landfill issue since these shops will be granting new life in an otherwise new TV but with a broken TV panel, such as those TV's that were shipped directly from the manufacturer to all the retail chains but some would inevitably be broken while in transit and be returned to the manufacturer. It can be done for those with the right resources and connections (or at the very least, the drive and passion for a greener way of conducting business that benefits everyone, both businesses and individuals alike). Will it be you?