Guest Contributor: Jeff Lander, Hardware Technology Account Executive
Whether through general wear and tear or a barbarous student population, the need for Chromebook repairs has risen rapidly in the last few years. The sudden implementation of remote learning no doubt caught many off guard, with districts unprepared for the financial and staffing challenges of servicing and maintaining a fleet of these handy educational tools. So what does an IT Director (or Tech Teacher, or Librarian) and their small (or nonexistent) team do when faced with multiple cartloads of repairs? It may be time to start looking around for help.
Having been in the Chromebook repairs business for a while, we understand the challenges of searching for a reliable partner. Turnaround times have risen, budgets haven't allocated the necessary funds, and on-site expertise is in short supply. To that end, here are some quick tips that can help get those workstations back into your students' hands as quickly as possible.
Do the Research
For those unaware that 3rd Party repair shops even exist, a quick Google search will reveal a healthy number of options. Instead of just closing your eyes and throwing a dart, take time to check a few base criteria. How many positive reviews a company has — and how recent those ratings are — can give good insight as to what the state of a Chromebook repairs shop is right now. Turnaround times can be dependent on volume, but do previous customers report good communication and budget-friendly pricing?
You also may want to check for Better Business Bureau status, or if the repair shop is an approved vendor with a Cooperative Purchasing Solution, such as Goodbuy or TIPS. These organizations can help schools by leveraging lower prices via aggregate, bulk ordering, and you may already be a member of one.
Next, contact the Chromebook repairs shop to inquire about their various policies. Ask about turnaround times, and look for realistic, honest answers; if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Find out whether they stock parts themselves, or need to place an order of their own — something which could greatly factor into turnaround delays. Also, find out how payments are made. Do they require card purchases, or can the transaction be done via purchase order and terms? Do they offer a buyback option for workstations that are unrepairable?
Whether meeting someone at a conference, contacting them by phone, or emailing, come prepared with a list of questions, and you're likely to feel far more comfortable.
Have Your Ducks in a Row
Chromebook repairs are helped by those who help themselves. With turnaround times growing larger as device usage grows, anything that saves precious days (or weeks!) can make a huge difference to a student's education (and an IT Director's ulcer). Not every school can budget for extra units, but those that can might want to consider a Loaner Program, which ensures students access to Chromebooks while their assigned device is out for repair.
But even if you're not rolling in the dough, there are still plenty of ways to speed things up.
— Self-diagnosis by you and/or your crew gives the 3rd party repair team a jump on identifying the problem, allowing them to hop straight into fixing things upon receiving the unit.
— Setting a maximum repair price lets the repair team know exactly what the parameters are, and avoids lengthy back-and-forth emails about what can and can't be done.
— For large amounts of devices, consider invoicing in smaller quantities. This allows finished devices to be shipped back as soon as they are paid for, as opposed to waiting on a shelf until the other 300 are completed. Sure, this sort of approach may not make your accounting department happy, but won't someone think of the children? It could be extremely helpful to work with them on this aspect — getting a few repaired units back now might be better than getting them all back later.
The challenges facing schools and their Chromebook repairs are many, but help is out there! The above tips should help get those units back into students' backpacks as quickly as possible so that they can destroy them all over again continue their educational journey.
Have any advice of your own? Want to tell us about a great/horrible experience? Sound off in the comments below!