Fix-It Shops

July 1999

Precious Metals & Bench:News

Fix-It Shops

A franchise of jewelry repair shops depends on bench strength

If you ever doubt the value of a well-trained and efficient bench, the success of Jewelry Repair Enterprises Inc., West Palm Beach, FL, may convince you. The company franchises individually owned shops called Fast-Fix Jewelry Repairs.

"We are America's jewelry repair professional,"says CEO Marvin Biltis. Not coincidentally, the company is registering that phrase for a service mark (like a trademark, but for a service instead of a product).

The more than 80 franchises already in business operate as mall stores or kiosks. The target market is people who need repairs done quickly. Ninety percent of the repairs are done while customers shop at the mall, says Biltis.

"It's important for retail jewelers to realize we don't come into the malls to compete with them," Biltis explains. "We offer a complementary service – quick, efficient, high-quality repair work."

That's not to say Fast-Fix Jewelry Repair stores don't do any selling. They sell engravables, giftware, mountings and semimounts with stones that can be finished into rings. Biltis notes that while a customer could come into many Fast-Fix stores, pick out a stone and a mounting and have it made into a finished ring, that's unusual.

Success Story
One of the first and most successful franchisees is Peter LeCody, who bought his first Fast-Fix franchise in 1987 in Dallas, TX. He now has six mall stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and plans several more in the next few years. He came to Fast-Fix with years of experience in the jewelry industry, having worked for Zales for many years. He saw a need for fast, reliable service that was not being met by the retail jewelry stores in his area.

According to Biltis, the exact services and products each franchise offers are determined by the franchisee, as are the number and quality of the employees. Jewelry Repair Enterprises provides everything the new owner needs to get started. The kiosk franchisee makes an initial investment of about $94,000. A mall store, which is usually 500 to 750 square feet, takes an investment of $130,000 to $160,000. A franchisee can be in business in three to four months. Jewelry Repair Enterprises secures the site, has the kiosk or store built, helps obtain financing (but does not provide it) and provides the initial inventory and equipment.

Hiring and training staff is left to the franchisee, though help is provided in this area too. Support and advice are available after initial training is completed by calling the company. National and regional meetings are held regularly as ongoing support.

Peter LeCody now has a staff of 50, including 11 bench jewelers, watch technicians and watchmakers. His stores do ring sizing, soldering, stone setting, watch cleaning and repair, custom design work, wax carving and casting. This is a wider range of services than many Fast-Fix franchises provide.

LeCody stresses that his success is rooted in giving expert service. That level of service depends on how he hires employees. Testing is a crucial aspect of the hiring process. He is a strong advocate of the Jewelers of America® Bench Certification Program and serves on its advisory board. Nine of his 11 bench jewelers are certified by JA. "On average, for every 10 jewelers we bench test, we hire only one," says LeCody. "We also look for a minimum of five to six years of hands-on experience."

Biltis underscores the fundamental importance of skilled bench jewelers to the success of a franchise. You don't need to be a bench jeweler or have a background in the industry to be a successful franchisee, he says, but you must hire people who do. So strong is the commitment to skilled bench jewelers that last year, Mark Mann, director of JA's bench certification program, was invited to speak at Jewelry Repair Enterprises' annual meeting of franchisees.


  • Fast Fix Jewelry Repair Enterprises, West Palm Beach, FL; (800) 359-0407.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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