We got chatting with Geoff and Carolyn, owners of GP Service, about their appliance-repair business and its success. This “proper husband-and-wife business” is now in its tenth year, and there is no end to the steady stream of coffee machines, vacuum cleaners and other appliances coming through their door.
GP Service is owned and run by husband and wife team, Geoff and Carolyn from Woolwell, where they offer cost-effective appliance repairs. In the 10 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.
We visit their fully-equipped workshop, with coffee machines and vacuum cleaners dotted about. Their three young boys have already taken an interest in their parent’s occupation, playing with plastic tool sets and watching over repairs. GP Service is the definition of a family business.
They’re Authorised Service Agents for brands including Kenwood, Delonghi, Magimix, Bissell, AEG, Zanussi, Electrolux and Amica, so when a product goes wrong, customers are directed straight to GP Service. Geoff and Carolyn have experience in repairing a whole range of appliances, including washing machines, cookers, food processors, vacuum cleaners and even GHD hair straighteners. Geoff can also repair storage heaters, which many people expect only an electrician can do.
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!”
The couple are also trusted by a major retailer to fix broken coffee machines, which arrive to GP Service from across the country. These are Carolyn’s specialty – she fixes between 80 and 100 of the machines every single month! This involves diagnosis, sourcing parts and repairing the damage, before getting the product back to the customer. With so many homes now owning a coffee machine, their expertise is being called for more and more often.
Geoff shows us a bean-to-cup machine he’s fixed recently, and tells us that it had cost around £600 new. The owner, reluctant to fork out for a new machine, was struggling to find someone who would fix it when he came across GP Service. Of course, Geoff and Carolyn spotted the problem, replaced the relevant parts, tested the machine, and now have it ready to send back to the customer. They’ve saved him a fortune and saved the environment from another wasted appliance.
Geoff’s wealth of skill and knowledge comes from years of experience in the electronics industry. “When I was at college I got a qualification in electronic servicing which teaches fault finding, which is a bit like fixing a car. But we were the last year to do it and the last recognised City & Guilds qualification. They say if you learn the fault finding you can apply it to anything.
“I started work in a Panasonic and Sony centre in 1995 where I was an audio engineer. I was 19 and had my own workshop, and worked on walkmans, radios, tape decks and CD players. I didn’t really enjoy it that much, but where I lived in Tavistock there was a local, electrical retailer. The man who owned it helped me out and asked me to work for him, and I was there for 3 years.”
In 2000, when Geoff was aged 22, a job came up in Yorkshire at Scottish Power. Although Geoff and Carolyn had already met by that point, he moved up the country to work in a big workshop in Leeds. He was soon offered a promotion and became a TV and audio-based troubleshooter, but this involved a lot of travelling. When the industry slowed down Geoff decided to move back home to Tavistock to move in with Carolyn, and he went back to work at the local shop.
He started to get itchy feet working back in the shop, and following a training course with Panasonic, he decided to leave the TV and audio trade. “TV got very complicated and expensive with plasmas, etc., so people would rather get rid and buy something new rather than spend the same amount of money fixing their TV.”
He realised that his skills and understanding of electronics was becoming rare, so using his knowledge, Geoff decided to set-up and run his own business.
From the very beginning of GP Service, Geoff and Carolyn knew that they needed a recognised, household appliance brand on-board to give them credibility. After a lot of phone calls with the National Service Manager at Electrolux, they struck a deal, and GP Service was given three local postcodes with the agreement that any required work would be carried out in the customer’s home.
Because of this, Geoff and Carolyn found it easier to spread the word about their business, and over the next few years they gained the interest of several more brands.
GP 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’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 don’t get the sale they will still remember us for another problem that might happen,” Geoff explains.
Geoff will travel in his van to Ivybridge, 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.
After 10 years of hard work and building great customer relationships, GP Service has recently won an award. Geoff and Carolyn were nominated as Small Business of the Year in the Woolwell Business and Community Awards. They were voted for by the public who appreciate the couple’s can-do attitude. The certificate and glass trophy now stand proud in their home.
“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.
Remember, when an appliance breaks at home, don’t throw it! Call GP Service to fix it.
Call Geoff and Carolyn on: 01752 696573