Commentary

Repair Before You Replace

Years ago, a very expensive amplifier -- part of a set of high-fi equipment I treasure as a vinyl collector -- stopped working. I took it a high-end repair shop where my amp stayed for a week at a cost of $129. When I came back to the shop, the devastating verdict was that my ap had died, and repairing was not an option because the cost would be the same or more as replacing it.

The thing is, this amp was connected to other parts of my sound system, which would not work without this particular amp, which was now no longer manufactured. So I was looking at replacing the whole stack, at significant cost.

I decided to sleep on it, as I realized I might be able to buy a secondhand amp that would solve the problem cheaper than the other two options.

I found a store that sold amps secondhand and went there on a rainy Saturday afternoon. The owner was one of those sound nerds who built his own equipment as well as selling the high-end goods. The shop was a mess of boxes, equipment and other assorted stuff.

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I told the owner I had taken my amp to repair shop so-and-so and, at a cost of $129, they had reached the verdict that my amp was dead. He asked, “Did you check the fuse?”

He took me to a secondhand model of my amp and showed me the fuse holder on the back. He also sold me a fuse at 75 cents.

I went home. The problem was the fuse. The amp sprang back to life and is still working to this day.

There are countless wise lessons in this tale. First of all, expertise comes at a cost -- but not necessarily a monetary cost. The secondhand store guy knew his stuff. He had hands-on experience. The look of his store did not immediately convey the wisdom he possessed, but it totally paid to get past that first impression.

Secondly, he could have sold me a secondhand amp at several hundred dollars, but instead he sold me a 75-cent fuse. 

He is to this date my trusted go-to for anything high-fi.

Thirdly, he demonstrated that it often pays to repair instead of replace. 

In our business, too often we are tasked to build something new, when in reality a new fuse could be the spark the current problem requires. Many marketers, especially if they are new in their role, often start by wiping several slates clean. They move or fire key marketing team members, they throw out the agency or agencies, and aim to develop a whole new way of doing things.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a fresh approach. But when you take that tactic too far, it can sometimes do more harm than good. A new team will come with a desire to prove its capabilities, but they also don’t know anything yet. A new agency will want to do the same, but often the existing agency has been on the business longer than most of the marketers they work for. Letting them go just because you’re cleaning house means losing a lot of experience and legacy knowledge.

I believe the same or better acceleration can sometimes be achieved by repairing rather than replacing. It will also cost you a lot less!

1 comment about "Repair Before You Replace".
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  1. Steve Rosenbaum from MagnifyMedia, July 15, 2019 at 1:44 p.m.

    Did you get your $129.00 back from the first shop? Checking a fuse shouldn't be that hard. Finding a good repair shop is often the hardest part.

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