PeachMac is an Apple Premier Specialist, which is the highest level of independent sellers the brand has. It means that more than 70 percent of the store’s computer sales are Apple, and for us it’s a 100 percent. But where we stand apart is in accessories. Whereas they sell maybe 300 or so different accessories, we sell around 1,500. We also test everything, and make sure it is up to snuff for our customer.
You now have five PeachMac stores, with plans for three more this year. What happened to the simple life?
I never thought it would turn into a chain. Frankly, at the time, I wasnt really looking for that kind of thing. But when we opened the doors in 2007, the demand was incredible. It was just myself, a technician, and a few other sales people. Like Apple, we place an emphasis on the customer service culture and the shopping experience. All of our products have to look good on the shelves. We figured out from zip code tracking that a good amount of our customers were driving 40 miles to get here. So after a lot of research, we opened the second store in Augusta in 2008. Turns out, a few days later, Apple announced they would open a store three miles away.
Were you shocked?
Stunned. We certainly felt the impact for a brief amount of time, but I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. We fought back by starting new programs and workshops for our customers. We have free workshops twice a week. Of course, we believe that our programs are better than those of the Apple mothership down the street. We definitely have to pay attention to what is going on in the Apple Stores.
Where do you look when hiring?
I usually look for the people first, and then create positions for them. I actually found one at an Apple Store. It was a few years ago, and I was talking to the assistant manager of one near Atlanta. This guy just impressed the heck out of me. Turns out he lived in Athens, where our headquarters is located, and was commuting to the Apple store like two hours a day. So I said to him, “Let me know when you are done with commuting, because I’d love to talk to you about opportunities with PeachMac.” He looked at me, and said, “Dude. I work for Apple.” A year later, I filled out a customer survey after a bad experience at an Apple Store and who happened to call me about the survey? This same guy! Long story short, he is now our director of retail operations. But I don’t go to Apple to recruit employees. That was a one-time deal.
A marvelous case to show the Chinese the right way to compete with Apple rather than shanzhai it!