Some business owners are too afraid of copycats to share their secret to success with others… and then there is Uncle Harry. After a successful career in appliance repair he actually did the opposite and shared his business and technical savvy with anyone that was willing to listen and learn. The result? Thousands of successful business owners all over America that sing his praises because he has truly changed their lives and given them the capability to embrace the American Dream and own a successful small business.
Uncle Harry started his own appliance repair business in 1970 and fell in love with owning his own business. “It was a liberating thing in my life to go to work every day and provide for my family based on my own work ethic.” said Harry. “My son now runs the original business that I started, and the relationships we have in the community with our customers continue to thrive.”
In 1997, however, Harry started feeling the need to expand… but not the way you might think. Instead of growing by opening new repair shops in different cities, franchising, or becoming corporate, Harry decided to take his technical and business marketing expertise online, and started teaching others his secrets to success.
Go to Harry’s website and the first thing you will see in bold is “Make $80-120k per year fixing appliances and never get laid off again.” Sounds pretty great right? But once we sat down with Harry to really understand why his business is so successful we learned his #1 piece of advice to prospective students/business owners. “It’s hard work.”
Harry offers all the basics in appliance repair and how to properly run a business from A to Z. He doesn’t just offer online coursework as part of his curriculum, however. Harry stands ready 24/7 to help graduates with any questions that they have on the job. He will stay on the phone with them until they figure it out. He even took a call in the middle of our interview for this story. He is truly dedicated to making sure they succeed. (As long as they are prepared to work hard of course).
When we spoke to some of Harry’s graduates we were blown away by what they had to say about him. Nick Faddis, a graduate and owner of Nutterman’s Appliance Repair in Kansas thinks of Harry as an extension of his business… and trusts him like family. “Uncle Harry is always spot on right! Just shut up and listen to him! There’s been a few times I thought he was crazy and later wished that I had listened to him. And I’ve said just that to a few of his new students. Harry has students call me from time to time for repairs that I may have more insight for than he does. But sometimes I think he has them call me because they’re not listening to them. Those ones will say ‘Harry says I should yada yada yada. But I don’t think that sounds right. What do you think?’ And I always tell them ‘Uncle Harry is always spot on right! Just shut up and listen to him!’” Maybe we should all be asking ourselves in a tight spot, “What would Uncle Harry do?”
Then there is the small business owner that has built his entire business along the Mississippi River through his Facebook page. Just get on Facebook and look up Dewitt’s Appliance Repair and you will see how much his clients love him and for good reason. About his experience building his own business Gage says, “Uncle Harry showed me how to really connect with my customers and enabled me to start working the day after I started his course-work. I haven’t looked back since and I am so grateful for the life I have built with his help and encouragement.”
At FreshLime we’re with the thousands of appliance repair shops you have helped build over the years – we’re pretty big fans of you, Harry Raker.
To learn more about Uncle Harry’s Appliance Repair School visit his website, listen to him on the Life in Lime podcast Part 1 & Part 2 and see his FreshLime case study. To learn more about FreshLime’s business insight’s and marketing platform, visit our website and request a free demo. All photography by Carrie D Photography.
For more insights on marketing strategy that actually works for small business, subscribe to the FreshLime Newsletter here. Connect with Jay Bean, Founder of FreshLime and Small Business Marketing Expert on LinkedIn and Twitter.