Mobile Klinik looks to change the face of the mobility space

With a new positioning and offering, the company is trying to acclimatize consumers to the idea of buying used devices.

Mobile Klinik 2

By Will Novosedlik

Launched as a mobile phone repair kiosk in 2015, Mobile Klinik has grown to 120 stores across Canada – even setting up shop in some Walmarts – with plans to double that number in the next few years. In the meantime, it has evolved from repair-only to buying and selling pre-owned, refurbished units, as well as new phone plans. Hence the brand’s new tagline, “Buy.Sell.Repair.Connect.”

That new tagline is being supported by a fully integrated campaign, launching March 7, together with a revitalized store design that accommodates the brand’s expansion into buying, selling and connecting.

Strategy had a conversation with CEO Tim McGuire about Mobile Klinik’s growth plans. McGuire is an early investor who became CEO four years ago. He has overseen both the store’s 20-25 stores-a-year growth, as well as its current transformation. “We’ve completely retrofitted our existing stores and are building out all of our new stores to reflect the new brand positioning,” says McGuire, which can basically be summed up as “more than just a phone repair shop.”

AMobile Klinik 3s phones have become more expensive and sophisticated, people are holding onto them for longer periods of time. So repair remains the core of the business and always will be. But it also has Canada’s largest selection of used phones, says McGuire. The phones are sold with a one-year warranty, apparently the strongest anywhere in Canada. If customers don’t know what to do with their old phone, Mobile Klinik will buy it, refurbish it and resell it.

“A big element of what we’re trying to do is improve the sustainability and value of the wireless phone market in Canada. There are over 10 million phones that get replaced in Canada every year. And if they all end up in the landfill, we’ve got a mountain of e-waste that no one wants,” says McGuire.

The CEO likens his business to the used car market. The average car in Canada is owned by four people before it ends its life and gets scrapped. There’s no reason a phone needs to be owned once for a couple of years and then left in a drawer or put into a landfill. Mobile Klinik is plugged into what is indeed a global issue, as 84% of people in the world own smartphones and another 10% own mobile phones. That’s roughly 7.25 billion phone devices.

2021-11-16 MobileKlinik_Cambridge-009That takes care of three-quarters of the company’s new tagline (buy, sell, repair). As for “connect,” Mobile Klinik has worked out a partnership with Telus Mobility that now allows them to be a dealer of Telus plans and offer a monthly $5 discount.

Mobile’s newly launched campaign focuses on communicating the meaning of its new positioning. It shows a lot of the humorous but painful things that happen with our phones, when we drop them, we break them, when they fall in the pool. “The sign off on the campaign is, ‘That’s why we’re here,’” says McGuire. “Whatever happens to your phone, whatever you need. That’s why we’re here. We’ve got it all. We are truly the only one-stop phone shop in Canada.”

The campaign, handled by Cossette and Camp Jefferson, is a national, fully integrated mix of television, radio, print, out of home and social. The store redesign is much more like a full mobility shop as opposed to a repair-only shop. There is wall space dedicated to merchandise and a separate area where consultation with customers can take place, either to discuss repairs, buy and sell phones or activate phone plans.

The fact that Mobile Klinik has experienced such robust growth means that Canadians have a better understanding of how the mobile industry has evolved. Not too long ago, the business was very opaque when it comes to what Canadians were getting out of a phone contract and the customary process was to get a new phone every two years. Mobile Klinik is looking to acclimatize Canadians to the idea that there is a strong, reputable aftermarket in the mobility space. “We’re trying to professionalize the aftermarket by giving Canadians access to a trusted, reliable dealer, rather than meeting some guy in a parking lot and hoping that what you’re buying didn’t fall off the back of a truck.”