Community repair is a great way of bringing people together and fighting the ever growing stream of e-waste. With our Restart Parties, we empower people to take full ownership of their devices and show that repair is easier than many think
But they are only one part of the puzzle: At Restart Parties, we don’t have the time and resources to undertake every kind of repair. Plus, things break all of the time, and there’s never enough events to tackle all repairs. Often enough, we use our Repair Directory and send visitors to professional repairers to seek further help. At the same time, some repairs are not cost-efficient and are no longer done by repair businesses (think about that £9 kettle that you want to bring back to life). So only by working together we can create a strong repair network and provide solutions for all kinds of repair
Everyone can benefit
Visitors of Restart Parties might need to take their device to a repair business to get it fixed. Having a list of reliable local businesses at hand makes it easy to give recommendations. Businesses might want to get involved further by sharing their skills or joining as a fixer.
In the UK, there is no trade association for repair businesses of small electricals and electronics. Therefore many of them feel like they are all by themselves. By cooperating with us, they can get connections to other businesses and repair enthusiasts and share their ideas with likeminded people. Working with local Restart groups can also offer them more exposure and a chance to win new customers.
The repair movement
We want to make repair the default option again. For this, we want to show how much potential there is in the repair sector. The repair data we collect at events are a powerful tool. But our campaign becomes even stronger if we can share the stories of businesses and can show how many people make a living off repair.
What we have done in London
Inviting businesses to events
Inviting local businesses to events can be a great way of building a relationship with them and introducing them to our community. This includes inviting them to join community repair events as volunteers, as well as inviting them to talk at special events
We have invited businesses to celebrate the launch of our Repair Directory and to attend International Repair Day. The businesses enjoyed getting to know each other and presenting their work.
The Repair Directory
We have mapped repair businesses in North and East London for our repair directory. Find out more about the work we did here. This has been a great way to get to know more local businesses. We have found that for a city as big as London, building and maintaining a Repair Directory takes a considerable amount of time. But the situation will be different in every city, so have a look at this discussion to learn more. And let us know if you’d be interested in testing using the Repair Directory for your group/city in the future!
In the past, we have invited businesses to our podcasts or featured them in other ways. We selected businesses that have a special story to tell, providing additional perspective to our work. This is a good way to give back to businesses by showcasing their work to a wider audience.
What we have learned
From our experience, curating a good relationship with local businesses takes some work, but it does pay back. To contact businesses, we’d usually send out an email first. If this remained unanswered, we would follow up with a phone call. This has helped to get in touch with businesses who are often very busy. Once you have built up a relationship with a business, you’ll learn about how to contact them best.
We have seen that the majority of businesses did not have time to get involved, for several reasons: Small or one-person businesses might not have the capacity to get more involved as they need all their time to do the repair work and make an income. Also, some businesses do not see the benefits it brings to connect to others, as they are used to working independently. There might also be other reasons for why businesses won’t react to your enquiries, so don’t take it personally!
The businesses that do want to get involved however are great! We have experienced that the businesses who attended our events loved the chance to join us. They enjoyed networking with each other and with the restarters, and they are keen on offering more support in the future.
Also for us, it has been a great experience. We have learned about the work of repair businesses and their perspective on repair. We’ve also learned that some businesses are interested in contributing to campaigning for the right to repair. And most importantly, we have brought the repair community closer together.
We are looking forward to expanding these relationships!
In the meantime, I am curious to hear about your experiences: Have you been cooperating with businesses in the past? What worked well, what didn’t? Share your experiences below