Oracle Magazine

A year after our first visit, we catch up with Geoff and Carolyn, owners of G P Service, about their appliance-repair business and its success. This “proper husband-and-wife business” is now in its eleventh year, and there is no end to the steady stream of coffee machines, vacuum cleaners and other appliances coming through their door.

G P Service won ‘Best Small Business’ in the Wollwell Centre Local Business and Community Awards 2016

G P Service is owned and run by husband and wife team, Geoff and Carolyn from Woolwell, where they offer cost-effective appliance repairs. In the 11 years since the business started they have seen their work grow as they’ve been taken on as Authorised Service Agents by some huge, well-known brands.

Geoff is the face of the business, but he can’t praise Carolyn enough for the hard work she puts in every day while bringing up three children. He explains how, “Carolyn is a partner in the business and probably does more than me, if I’m honest!”

Geoff Pithouse might not sport a Superman logo or even chair conferences at the United Nations, but he’s certainly doing his bit to save the planet. G P Service is helping major UK retailers challenge our throwaway society by repairing faulty appliances instead of shipping them to china for scrapping.

“The retailer wanted its suppliers to repair the appliances whenever possible, but they couldn’t find anyone to do the work economically,” he says. Geoff explains, “The suppliers had disbanded most of their own service teams to cut costs, and we’re so used to throwing things away that hardly anyone has the skills and experience to carry out professional repairs to the standards the retailers demand.” That makes Geoff and his business, G P Service, something of a rare breed – but one that seems to be heading for a renaissance rather than extinction.

Our old habit of simply throwing a faulty appliance away and buying a new one has become unsustainable in itself. Customers are becoming very vocal about this, and the big retailers are beginning to listen.

“That’s why the retail chain we’re working with took the initiative and put pressure on its suppliers to get the appliances fixed instead.” Geoff says the economics work out well for everyone involved when the appliances are high-value items.

Geoff and Carolyn have experience in repairing a whole range of appliances, including washing machines, cookers, food processors, vacuum cleaners, Duailit toasters and even GHD hair straighteners. Geoff can also repair night storage heaters.

Coffee machines are Carolyn’s speciality, and these arrive to G P Service from across the country. Carolyn fixes between 80 and 100 machines in one month! This involves diagnosis, sourcing parts and repairing the fault, all before getting the product back to the customer. With so many homes now owning a coffee machine, their expertise is being called for more often.

They’re Authorised Service Agents for brands including Kenwood, Delonghi, Magimix, Bissell, AEG, Zanussi and Electrolux, so when a product goes wrong, customers are directed straight to G P Service.

Geoff explains the ins and outs of the process; “If the retailer gives the customer a refund, the supplier usually picks up the tab. And if the supplier provides a new appliance as a replacement, that costs it a lot of money, too.

“But if the appliance can be sent to us by courier for repair then couriered back to the customer for less than it would have cost the supplier to provide a replacement, everyone’s a winner – the customer, because the appliance is fixed, the supplier, because it’s saved money, and the retailer, because it’s kept the customer happy and demonstrated its commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility.”

It’s really satisfying to know we’re making a difference

”The highlight so far has been saving countless coffee-makers from being sent on a slow boat to China for destruction, with all the wasted energy and sea-miles involved. I feel such pride about that, and the companies are delighted too. One humble chap from Plymouth has helped them make a genuine and significant difference to their corporate social responsibility and sustainability programmes”.

Geoff and Carolyn tell us that their customers come first, “we really care about our customers and realise that, without them, we’d never have had a business in the first place”.

G P Service only charge a very low call out fee and pride themselves on being completely honest and upfront about their costs and services. Because Carolyn has learnt so much about the trade from her husband, she’s able to diagnose a lot of problems over the phone and is a friendly, reassuring voice for customers who call with enquiries.

We keep our prices as competitive as we can, give a vast amount of free help and advice, and are thrilled that so many of our local customers have gone on to become our friends too.

“We’re quite happy to give advice over the phone rather than always come out. We’d sooner be helpful, and we do that over Facebook as well when questions are asked. Even if we are unable to repair they will still remember us for another problem that might happen,” Geoff explains. Geoff will travel in his van to Saltash, Tavistock and across Plymouth to repair appliances, but work-life balance is important to him.

“It’s more of a lifestyle our job. It’s second nature to us to put the boys to bed and sometimes, instead of watching TV, we fix the coffee machines and vacuums!” Geoff admits. The varied work-load means that Carolyn is able to work at home and look after their youngest son in the daytime, and Geoff always does the school run.

Community is important to Geoff and Carolyn, and they tell us that they are proud to be giving donations and sponsorships to local community groups, charities and football teams. “We keep our finger on the pulse rather easily because we’re part of the community we serve.

“What we do is our passion, and it wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t walking around with a screwdriver in my pocket. It’s our way of life,” Geoff tells us, thoughtfully. It’s the genuine passion for the job which seems to have played such a huge part in the success of GP Service, which is so incredibly important to this family.

 

Call Geoff and Carolyn on:01752 696573 | Email: gpservice@hotmail.co.uk | Visit: www.gpservice.co.uk

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