Does anyone have an electrical triage station?

Hi all

I was curious if any one has someone that assesses electrical repairs before they go to the electrical station. I ask as we are going to try this, for two reasons.

  1. Our insurer has asked us to PAT test every item that comes in BEFORE we start a repair and AFTER. As such we would have the PAT tester flying backwards and forwards and thought of how we could keep it in one place.

  2. The other reason is at each repair cafe we are overloaded with electrical repairs (despite having up to 9 repairers) and there is usually a wait for customers. With this way we may be able to separate out quickly what is not repairable and hence save these people waiting. Plus if it is a really quick fix we might be able to again save them waiting unnecessarily.

Has anyone else trialled anything like this, if so what was your experience like and any tips?


Tunbridge Wells Repair Cafe

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Some observations as I’ve gone around lots of groups …
On item 1 - I’ve seen several repair cafes / restart events where the PAT is on a separate desk (some have more than one) and tests conducted both before and after the repair. so flow is bop in, send to PAT desk, then repairer.
On item 2 - if you have 9 electrical repairers you are lucky. If it’s obvious what’s wrong then the PAT tester might pick it up. But more often than not you need to open the device to identify a fault -so you don’t really want to do that and then move it… If you are regularly getting high numbers of electrical items, you might need to start a booking process. There are plenty of groups that already do this.

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Hi Mark

Thanks for that. The booking is one thing we have avoided to date. Do you know is any larger groups that do this as I’d be interested in finding out what system they use. I would want to avoid a large degree of admin and hence automate this where possible.

The other things we are starting to develop is electrical assistants to aid the electrical repairers and reduce them having to do the tasks that do not utilise their knowledge and skill. Plus the bonus is we are hoping to train up future electrical repairers.



@Chris_Murphy Repair Cafe Gosport uses a Google form for booking requests, we respond to the request with an appointment time and/or follow-up questions.

Feel free to have a play, best not to submit the form at the final step of the process, unless of course you fancy a trip to Gosport…

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Hi Chris. We’ve done the triage process at Chesterfield when we were busier. It worked well as the fixer running it was very clear about the relative skills of the other fixers and could, certainly at the beginning of an event, direct people to the best fixer for the problem that was presenting. It also meant that if it was obvious a new part would be needed or a simple fix was possible that people weren’t hanging around unnecessarily and could return the following month.


Second that:
Crystal Palace used to do a triage desk + PAT and it worked quite well: someone booked in,
then queued for the triage desk where their item was PAT tested and triaged.

Also, since the triager also decided who was going to fix the item, the person could see that there was a shorter queue for that one fixer, so the wait would seem shorter, even though it wasn’t really.


Thanks David

I’ll take a look.



Thanks David

Just to check that all seems manual. There is no automation re allocation of a slot ?

I only ask as I was looking to.minimise admin.



@Chris_Murphy Automation presents challenges - owners normally won’t always be able to tell you the skill level of repairer that’s needed for their item and you probably won’t have a definitive list of which repairers are coming to the event until well after many of the items have been booked in. So how would we spread the work out evenly?

We allocate the appoinment times for an event by hand (after the Google booking request form has been submitted) so that we can spread the work throughout the morning to avoid bottlenecks.

Take electronicals for example - we can often tell from the fault description whether a piece of equipment requires a guru to look at it (e.g. a likely circuit board fault) or a mere mortal (e.g. cleaning the lens in a DVD player or blowing dust out of a gaming console with compressed air). So deciding on whether to allocate 10:30, 11:15 or 12:00 is a bit of an art sometimes.

So what we are offering is a booking request rather than letting people choose a timeslot, or having an automatically allocated time. There’s often a bit of communication with owners when a booking is requested - we are effectively triaging ahead of the event. This can be really helpful at times, for example communication with an owner of a broken exercise treadmill led to one volunteer bringing a tap and die set to the event and a successful repair, otherwise the owner would of been told to come back next month.

Also no-shows. I suspect that when there is a little bit of personal interaction (e.g. messaging or e-mail) between repair cafe and owner there will be a higher probability that the owner will either turn up or at least let you know if they can’t make it.


At the recently formed Noth Hants Repar Cafe we try and PAT test before and after (if its fixed) where it gets a sticker, and maintain a register. We too have a bottleneck here and we training up people to use the PAT testers. Everything goes through a triage process to allocate the item to the repairer. We use a booking system using (got the idea from portsmouth RC) which gives us an idea of likely volume of repairs and any special requests or skills needed. The repair list is circualted on our whatsapp group prior to the meeting so reapairers can ‘volunteer’ for a particular item. We don’t allocate time slots though as repair timing is still an unknown quantity and hope people don’t mind waiting / having a coffee / chat if we get a rush. Still get lots of walk ins too. helps on the stats side too and we’re investigaing how to extend its use.

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Thanks David.

I am curious how long you assign to a repair, is it an educated guess based on what the person has put in the info you ask for. Also do you allocate a percentage of your repairers to booked slots and leave some open for walk in’s? I would be very interested to know how you make those decision as I am guessing some take longer than planned and others are shorter. How do you manage this so repairers aren’t sitting with either a backlog or nothing to do. .

Currently we have a pre registration system whereby people can supply details of their repairs. We could use this info to then book in hence if you were able to let me know how you allocate the time out that would be brilliant.

Many thanks

Thanks Simon

We use a system written by one of our repairers called Repair Manager , this allows customers to pre register ahead of time or register on the dayWe then can track all waiting times, give an idea of waiting time and tracks the customers journeys through the repair cafe. It also catches repair time, repair outcome, intervention and customer satisfaction so we have all the data and no data inputting needed after the repair cafe .

I am happy to introduce you to the guy that wrote it if that was of interest to you or anyone else.


Chris .

We share details of upcoming jobs on our Discord server and oftentimes repairers will put their hand up to be assigned a specific job. Some of the fixers are specialists in particular jobs, for example we have someone who is really good at gluing crockery and ornaments back together again. One benefit of sharing the information in this way, I suspect, is that it encourages repairers to attend events if they feel that there’s a juicy item coming in that’s part of their specialism.

We have a target turnaround time of 40minutes per job, and the repairers are generally aware of that, however it’s not enforced or even measured. The jobs are allocated to repairers when the owner arrives at their appointment time. The hosting people will take special notice of owners who might have to wait a bit longer if we are maxxed out. Providing a social environment is important is part of the event so I can think of times when I’ve apologised to a visitor for keeping them waiting and the response has been that they’ve enjoyed meeting and chatting with the people on the table next to them.

One of the challenges with walk-ins is making sure the check-in desk people are likely to assign them a repairer and then when someone with an appointment turns up 5 minutes later there isn’t someone available to work on their job. But we are getting better at managing that. We are moving towards having a second whiteboard to hold a list of the repairers in attendance and their skills so that the check-in people can allocate the jobs better. (first whiteboard has the list of all bookings and is used to current status and assignment)

Hi Chris!

  1. PAT, We recommend that people take their repaired appliance for an external PAT. But if you have any links about where to get a tester and some training, I might get that organised for myself or someone in our group.
  2. Customers requiring electrical repairs are encouraged to fill in this form
    But to date about half of them did not turn up!


We have significant demand for the service so repairees are encouraged to book. Admin is done by the cafe organiser, just assigning items to repairers by matching type of item to skillset.

Appointments are 30 minutes, if it emerges that a repair is going to take an hour or more then the item is reassembled and the repairee encouraged to seek repair outside the repair cafe. This is very flexible but we have limited resources so are trying to get the many “low hanging fruit” rather than a smaller number of tough fixes.

As a result of this, there is almost no triage needed, but we do get some no-shows so these slots are used for walk-ins.

We are just rolling out PAT-after-fix. We have rejected the idea of PAT-before-fix. An experienced repairer will be stationed here (split between two people so they get to do some repairs) and will also be triaging and be “on call” to help inexperienced repairers.

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Hackney Fixers use a BattPatt, which is easy to use and comes with full instructions.

The only caveats are:

  • It theoretically needs annual calibration (about £80) to keep it up to spec.
  • It comes with a supply of green “Pass” labels, but I would thoroughly recommend hiding those, so someone can’t claim that it’s an “official” PAT test, with the implied insurance liability.

There’s no official qualification needed to use a PAT tester (various rules & regulations say “suitably qualified” without specifying what that means) and, as long as the user understands classes of electrical insulation, they will be able to use one after reading and understanding the instructions.

At the moment, the Isle of Wight Repair Café uses a booking system (as we launched after the pandemic started). This does get us the luxury of trying to get details of what needs repairing, including photos. However, we’re relying on eventbrite which isn’t really a great tool for booking how we would like things to work. I’d definitely be interested in knowing a bit more about Repair Manager.

We have a relatively small number of walk-ins, which makes this task a little easier.