Industry sector: Consumer services

Shoe repairer: Customer profile

Your market

Depending on the range of services you offer, your customers will use you for shoe repairs and probably key cutting, as well as:

  • engraving
  • sharpening
  • watch repairs, fitting watch batteries and new watch straps
  • luggage and other leather goods repair
  • mobile phone repairs
  • purchases of shoe care products, laces, padlocks, key fobs, house numbers and so on and possibly shoes as well

When your shop has become established, your customer base will probably consist of a core of regular customers plus a number of infrequent or one-off customers.

It is likely that your customers will be from all walks of life and have different expectations as to how much they are going to be charged and the quality of the repair. To cater for this, you may consider offering a 'two-tier' shoe repair service which can allow you to offer, for example, both a standard and premium level of repair. The premium service would cost more and would be done using better quality materials but would not involve too much additional work for you. (You may find, however, that there would be little or no demand for a premium service, depending on the economic situation in your area.) You might also be in a position to offer bulk repairs to your local police force or army regiment.

You may consider introducing a 'while-you-wait' shoe repair service for simpler repairs. Customers may be prepared to pay a little more for this type of service unless a close competitor offers it free of charge. You might also decide to offer online shoe repairs, where the customer sends their shoes to you for repair and then you post them back once the repair has been completed, for example within 14 days.

It may be worth approaching local vehicle hire firms and any other organisation that operates a fleet of vehicles to offer them your key cutting services as they are likely to require keys cut on a fairly regular basis.

You may also get requests from riding stables to fix saddles and other items of tack. As with other specialist services, it is generally worth accepting this type of work even if you have to send it to a specialist. You may decide to add a 'handling charge' to the fee charged by the specialist so there will be a financial benefit for accepting this type of work.

Special offers and discounts

You may consider running special offers throughout the year. These can help to increase your customer base. However, it is important that you monitor your takings during these periods to make sure that you are getting more custom, rather than just giving your regular customers cheaper services.

Offering discounts could possibly boost trade at times of the year that are traditionally slow for shoe repairers (usually the summer months, particularly in dry years).

It is possible that you may also look to do 'agency' work where you carry out shoe repairs on behalf of another business. To secure this type of work, you would normally be expected to agree to an often quite substantial discount from your usual tariff.