Life-long musician, consultant, and entrepreneur; Bob Egan
had never been afraid to carve his own path. So when he opened his second guitar repair shop in Kitchener, Ontario, choosing to run his business on Apple tech was a natural decision.
Below is an interview with Bob Egan, Steel Guitar player for Blue Rodeo and owner of Bob's Guitar Service by Matt Scobel, Apple Consultant and contributing writer for ehMac.ca.
What do you do?:
Our business has three components. We repair guitars and amps. We sell boutique, vintage, cool guitars. And we provide education through seminars and workshops. We're located on the Victoria Street Corridor
(Google Streetview Link) in downtown Kitchener, steps from VIA Rail Station and future transit hub.
How did you get into business?
My business started in 1990 in Chicago. It represented my transition out of the corporate world. I decided to become my own boss. I partnered with The Guitar Center Chain
in the United States, helping them service their clients. The guitar business was not customer service oriented in the 1990's. The service you received was dependent on the whims, mood, and personality of the person who was fixing your guitar. Most of the time they didnít appreciate the history and connection the customer had with their guitar. We developed a great customer service model. Being a musician myself, I understood the relationship each customer had with their guitar. After they came to see us, they knew what was wrong with it, how we were going to fix it, when it would be ready, and how much it would cost. No surprises. We had a 24-72 hour turnaround on 90% of our repairs. That was unheard of in the business.
So, I sold the business to the employees to join the band Wilco in 1996. Spent two years on the road with Wilco. Spent another two years in a guitar repair shop in Mississippi. In 2000 moved to Canada and joined Blue Rodeo. This year, I saw gaps in our tour schedule and decided to open shop in Kitchener. Kitchener needed a cool, boutique repair shop and I wanted to fill that void.
Iíve been in Bobís Guitar Service and absolutely loved the atmosphere. Can you talk a little about how you achieved that vibe in your business?
When I saw the space I immediately saw the vision and potential. The building had class. I wanted a space that wasnít too big, wasnít too cluttered. I wanted to make a place you would want to hang out. I decided to respect the vibe of the building. Make it as nice as we could while still respecting the ethos of the building. Weíve got 100 year barn board and burgundy red carpet. We wanted everything about the business to respect that vibe, our customer service, marketing, everything. We wanted class, but not the stuffy kind. Accessible class.
When did you start using a Mac personally?
I don't remember. It was that long ago. When I moved to Canada in 2001 I bought a PowerBook G4 and a Pro Tools rig. I did my last record, The Glorious Decline
, on a Mac and now do 20 to 30 recording sessions a year on the Mac. Blue Rodeoís offices are all Macs. We use iCal to schedule all of our appointments. Our management company is on Macs. I remember walking onto the tour bus, into the front lounge, and seven different artists were all using Macs and iPhones. Apple technology is deep rooted in the music industry.
What made you decide to use Macs in your business?
In the 90Ďs we had absolutely no computers in the shop in Chicago. This time around I wanted the business to be computerized. I was very interested in limiting the administration of the business. I had comfort with Macs as a musician, so it made sense for my business. The point of sale system we use, LightSpeed
, is state of the art, and integrates well with our workflow and setup. We still needed to respect the character of our business though, so we declined the use of a barcode scanner. It didn't fit in with the 100 year old barn board.
What's your current setup like? Servers, Workstations, etc.? Bob looks at me.
What do we have again? Bobís Guitar Service has a Mac Mini running Snow Leopard, integrated with Google Apps, LightSpeed for POS, backed up with Time Machine, a Dynmo Label printer, a digital camera for taking pictures of customers with their guitars, and a subscription to MLB League Pass for listening to Cubs and Tigers games in the summer.
What's been the biggest advantage of using Macs in your business?
Theyíre intuitive. Iím comfortable with them. It fits the music vibe. You canít imagine a vintage guitar store with an IBM can you? I took a look at several other POS systems. I was not impressed with the websites. They were archaic, stupid. It was an easy decision.
Have you faced any challenges using Macs?
Finding someone to help with programming LightSpeed. Once I found them, and they got to know me, then keeping them. Everything else has been smooth sailing.
Any advice for someone whoís looking to use Macs in their business?
If you like Macs in your personal life, use them for business. Work and life aren't as separate any more. Especially for an entrepreneur. Keep as few hurdles as possible between yourself and your business. Learning a new computer isn't something you want to put in front of you. Everything on the Mac is so integrated. My scheduling goes right to my iCal. My photos goes right to my email, and my emails go right to my database. It takes the pressure off the user. It doesnít feel like an obstacle and enhances the business instead acting as a hindrance.
Interview by Matt Scobel
As an Apple Consultant, Matt loves helping small business owners leverage technology to enhance their business. When he's not doing that, Matt's focused on building Mac computer labs in Africa. You can follow Matt's journey on Twitter - @MattScobel