Before the day started for some, lines of people were already formed outside Apple stores on Friday in anticipation of the new iPad. This was also the scene outside PeachMac, a small Apple retail chain in Georgia that experienced “a record number of launch day sales so far.”
Imitating Apple’s excellent customer service business model, PeachMac has successfully expanded to eight locations throughout the state within five years, with plans to open a ninth store in Columbus, Ga. by summer 2012. The chain currently has 120 employees and has no plans to slow down expansion anytime soon.
“Our future plans are uncertain, although a store outside of Georgia is not out of the question,” ,Darryl Peck, founder of PeachMac, told us.
After working alongside Apple throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Peck decided it was time to venture off on his own, but he knows a good business model when he sees one and didn’t want to veer too far from his expertise: Apple products.
In 1995, he formed Outpost.com, the first online Apple retailer, which would eventually become the largest reseller of Apple products online in the world. A decade later, when Peck noticed a void in the market for an Apple service centre in Athens, Ga. — home to nearly 40,000 students at the University of Georgia — he decided it was time to move his vision into the brick-and-mortar world.
We caught up with Peck to learn how PeachMac competes with the big boys. Here’s what he had to say:
Why focus on only Apple products? Is the market big enough for this to proceed long-term?
After working with Apple and Apple products for over 25 years, we firmly believe in the brand and the company. Apple Inc. has had phenomenal growth year over year with gross revenue in 2011 of $108 billion. We don’t worry about the size of the market.
Why would someone go to your business instead of going to Apple?
At PeachMac, we pride ourselves on service excellence and superior knowledge of the products we sell, [provide] maintenance [for], and instruct on. We want our customers to leave feeling they have all the tools necessary to get the most out of their new devices with options to come in for additional training.
People should shop at PeachMac if they’d like to shop for Apple products in a low stress environment where they can get the attention they deserve.
What is the hardest thing in maintaining a service-based business?
We are constantly working on our level of customer service. How can we better serve our customers? How can we make their experience the best retail experience possible? In what ways can we make sure they gain the full benefit from their new Apple products?
What was it like in the beginning and what challenges did you face?
We could barely get the Athens store built before people were knocking down the doors to buy our products. There was such a thirst for Apple in Athens that people were dying for us to open. Our growth has steamrolled from there.
Managing growth is always challenging. Adding talented team members is critical. Managing cash flow and keeping a close eye on financials is also vitally important.
Have you noticed any trends?
The iPad is a unique product. The number of units sold year over year continues to grow as it becomes more integrated into our lives at the individual level and at the business level. The iPad is easy to use yet highly functional even for the business professional. Many medical professionals including entire hospitals have adopted the iPad as their means of documentation. Opportunities for the iPad are boundless.
How do you develop your brand?
Our best brand ambassadors are our customers. We develop that relationship by making sure our employees are fully equipped to assist any customer need. Our employees are our most valuable assets.
Beyond the store, we develop our brand through many means: our website, social media, outdoor, online, newspaper, magazine, etc. We try to utilise the complete marketing mix to let people know we exist.
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