Apple Authorized Service Providers have to comply with the specification set out by the company. The requirements — ranging from financial and operational needs to technician certification and workshop layouts — make sure you provide the best customer experience.
Apple sells millions of devices a year. And if you’re a repair shop that wants to specialize in servicing Apple products, the Apple Authorized Service Provider program would be the best, and in most cases the only way, to do so.
With our experience in building repair and service management software for AASPs, we’re happy to share everything we know about what it takes to be an AASP, a Premium Service Provider (PSP), and an Independent Repair Provider (IRP).
Let’s start by defining what these are.
An AASP can offer in-warranty and out-of-warranty repair services for Apple products. Apple supports AASPs by providing original parts, the required repair and diagnostic tools, training guides, and other resources. Apple’s intention is to maintain the highest quality of service and customer experience across all authorized service providers.
Apple upgrades AASPs to the Premium Service Provider status for meeting their pretty rigorous quality requirements over time. PSPs, and AASPs, can lose their status if they do not continue to meet ‘service excellence’ requirements.
Limited Service Providers are Apple Authorized Service Providers who wish to provide service to specific customers or for specific Apple products. In addition, there are Managed Service Providers who handle outsourced repairs for business customers and Self-Servicing Accounts that allow large businesses, schools, or universities to manage and repair their own devices.
The IRP program is for repair shops who want access to parts directly from Apple but do not want to meet the same conditions of service as AASPs. IRPs get less comprehensive support and don’t have to stick to the same guidelines as AASPs.
How Does a Repair & Service Provider Become an Apple Authorized Service Provider?
Apple has set out the basic specifications for AASPs in its support page. There are four major requirements.
Apple expects the repair shop to have been in operation for a “reasonable” period to be eligible. This of course means they do have some leeway in this regard. For example, Apple might consider a relatively new business if there are few or no AASPs in the area and there is a need to have one.
You’ll also have to submit audited financial records. These records then become the basis for the credit limit you agree on with Apple. This is because you’ll be getting parts for which you do not pay immediately, to complete repairs. There is a way to extend the credit limit as your finances improve.
Operational Requirements & Premises
Apple is known for setting high standards for its service locations, and those also apply to Authorized Service Providers. In terms of KPIs and actionables, this could mean achieving high customer satisfaction scores, employing multiple certified technicians, following strict specifications for how repairs are processed, and so on. Collectively, Apple refers to its KPIs as ‘Service Excellence’ metrics and they measure multiple factors that offer the highest quality of repairs.
In addition, your repair and service business needs a physical location that meets certain commercial criteria. These include a commercially viable location, accessibility for all, the presentation of the customer service area, structured workshops, a planned storage area for inventory, and so on. You can’t conduct repairs from a residential address.
AASPs have to employ technicians who have passed Apple certification exams. There are separate certifications for different device types, macOS devices and iOS devices for example. Certifications are also typically updated as new products are released. For example, Apple devices that have the new M1 chip might have a different repair process or diagnostics steps for certain issues.
Once you become an AASP, you get access to a library of training material and to the certification exams. The content is available to technicians for free and the examinations can be taken at their own pace. All of the current tests are done online, through access to Apple’s ATLAS training portal.
Up until 2020, technicians who wanted Apple certifications had the option of attending an official Apple-certified macOS or iOS technician training course in person. They would then have to pass an annual exam on Apple’s ATLAS system to get the certification.
In 2019, Apple changed this process. Currently, you can get trained and take the exams at any point on ATLAS. In-person training no longer exists and the whole course is divided into modules that can be passed one at a time.
If you’re planning on applying to be an Apple Authorized Service Provider, you need to have Apple Certified Technicians working for you. If you’re planning on being the technician at your own AASP and you don’t have the right certifications, you need to approach Apple to get access to ATLAS. This is not something Apple has commented on publicly and needs direct communication with Apple.
How You Gain from being an AASP
Apple use AASPs as one way to provide warranty repairs and a standardized quality of service all over the world. As an AASP, you get:
- Authorization to repair and service the devices that are covered.
- Reimbursement from Apple for repairs that are covered by warranty or consumer laws.
- Parts for out-of-warranty service for eligible devices.
- Access to GSX (Global Service Exchange), which is Apple’s repair and order management system.
- Apple also provides AASPs access to the GSX API so that you may integrate Global Service Exchange with your repair management software (like Fixably)
- Access to diagnostic tools and product information to help with repairs.
- Free access to ATLAS, Apple’s online training and certification tool for technicians.
- Listed on Apple’s Global Service Locator and the right to market as an authorized service provider
What Revenue Streams are Available to AASPs?
Apart from warranty repairs and the labour reimbursement received from Apple, a big part of AASPs' revenue comes from out-of-warranty repairs. Of course, AASPs will always use genuine Apple parts in all repairs.
In most regions Apple provides parts for at least five-seven years from the initial launch of the product. For out-of-warranty repairs, you can freely adjust the pricing for labour and markup the cost of replacement parts.
Apart from individual customers, businesses or B2B clients represent a profitable source of revenue. It’s often easier for small and medium-sized businesses to use one service provider as their go-to repair shop. They’re likely to have devices that need repair year-round.
AASPs can figure out other sources of revenue as well. Not all will become significant sources of revenue, but it’s usually another way to leverage your expertise in Apple products. The obvious ones would be the sale of accessories. Adapters, cables, cases, and anything else that a retail electronics shop would stock. In addition, you can also consider selling AppleCare packages.
You could also consider the sale of refurbished Apple products. Authorized service providers are allowed to order Apple consignment stocks, which you can use to repair and sell devices.
A good example of a strong alternative revenue stream would be offering consulting and training for small businesses. Not everyone can afford to have a dedicated IT team, but everyone can use an outsourced expert to set up their basic infrastructure and troubleshoot (and repair) any devices that they use. This also gives the opportunity to sell the hardware.
Similarly, you can offer onsite repair services. Small businesses would again be an ideal target for such services. You might have to absorb the travel costs or pass it on to the customer as Apple is unlikely to reimburse such costs for even warranty repairs.
Another would be value-added services like pickup and delivery of devices. You can partner with delivery companies to do this, and it won’t add a lot of work for you if you’re using the right repair and service management software. In fact, being able to accept repairs online on your customer portal could have a significant impact on your business. Customers are more likely to choose you over the competition.
Taking a Closer Look at Apple’s Requirements for AASPs
Apple is known for the high standards it sets for all partners, including repair service providers. The closer you are to these standards, the more likely you are to get your AASP status.
Apple puts great emphasis on controlling the visual guidelines of their brand, and as an authorized service provider you need to comply with these guidelines. These branding requirements does not only apply to the actual physical store, but also your website and any marketing material you use. We'll come back to this later in the blog.
We’re only talking about the location and the customer service area here. The requirements for the workshop are laid out more comprehensively later on.
Apple’s requirements are about as logical as they can be for any retail store. Try to choose a commercial (or light industrial) area that’s easily accessible with a storefront that allows for the branding to be clearly visible.
You might want to consider both how easily and what transportation modes customers can use to reach your store. The easier it is to use public transport, the better. But equally important is the ability to park a car close to the service location. Even small details like the ability to park a bicycle right outside might be important, depending on which country or state you're in. Accessibility includes compliance with regulations like Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Plus, the location needs to be logistically accessible to receive spare parts and mail-in repairs. Branding should be according to the visual branding guidelines provided by Apple. Best to read through it before planning the design (or re-design) of your storefront. The best way to ensure your compliance is to verify the plans with your local Apple service channel manager before you actually invest in implementing anything.
If it’s not obvious already, residential addresses will not be accepted by Apple. Also, the store layout should make it easy for customers to figure out where a device needs to be dropped off or picked up. This means a street-level location, but is not necessarily limited to that.
Tip of the day: When planning for the customer service flows, don’t forget to have a scheduling or queueing system if you’re expecting significant footfall.
In addition, locate potential competitors in your catchment area. There might be Apple stores, AASPs, and third-party repair shops nearby. Being close to one might, in some cases, be part of your business strategy. However, having too much competition will play out against your business.
Client flow is important, and expecting the Apple Service Locator to bring customers to your doorstep is not the way it works in the real world. The assumption is that the more visible your location, the more footfall you’ll get. When researching the potential flow of walk-in customers, it is good to check the locations of Apple resellers and retailers in the location and talk with them if possible.
Online and digital presence is more important than ever for running a successful business. Having a modern and well-planned website and social media strategy is a must to be able to serve all potential customers. Being able to advertise your Apple Authorization has benefits for your business.
For instance, Apple’s service locator will list you as a service provider and it brings more credibility for your business. You should remember to list yourself in local directories, like Google ‘My Business’ and Yelp, to make it easier for customers to find you when searching for the services you offer. In general, the website should provide information such as:
- Clearly state what you do and how much you’re likely to charge (if applicable to your business): iPhone repairs, Mac repairs, and so on.
- You might want to have information for different types of customers, say if you welcome both walk-in individual customers while also offering service plans for B2B clients.
- Provide information on how to access your services and easy-to-understand directions to locate your store.
- Clients will expect to know opening hours and a list of holidays.
- Options to schedule an appointment, check-in a repair online or check status of an order.
- Any instructions that you might think are relevant (for example, how to back up data before dropping off or shipping a device for repair).
Workshop & Workspace
There are specific requirements for how the workshop and workspace for technicians should be set up. You should create a plan for the workshop and present that to your local Apple service channel manager before setting it up.
You should be familiar with the reasons for most of the requirements for a workshop. Electrostatic Discharge Safety regulations, for instance. Any repair shop technician knows that ESD can damage circuit boards and it might not even be evident immediately. This will impact how customers view the impact of your service.
This might not seem necessary at first glance, but the reception area should have a terminal that can run diagnostics. Apple’s GSX (Global Service Exchange) is the authorized portal to report and conduct all repairs and you need to set up your workflow to provide access to it within all of your operations. It provides you access to diagnostics tools and information on the device, like warranty status, find my iphone (FMI) status, country of purchase and everything else that is necessary to complete repair orders.
We cannot stress enough how important customer satisfaction is for any business. Referrals and happy clients are among the best ways to market and grow your business. Of course, it is possible that you have done everything right and the customer still has a less than satisfactory view of what you’ve done. Apple tries to gauge this as best as possible and it has an impact on how they measure your performance as an AASP.
It’s best to aim really high with this. Keep communication clear from the beginning. Use your website and train customer service employees to set the right expectations for the services you offer. Keep customers updated on the status of the repair as best as possible.
Apple's "Objective Performance Metrics"
Apple’s performance metrics might not seem connected with your business KPIs, but in most cases they serve the purpose well. Customers expect a service order to be completed with a single visit. They expect repairs to be swift and to be informed of the status of the order. We’ve observed that if a repair takes more than three days, customers are likely to want more information on the status of the repair and a lot more time needs to be spent on attending to them.
Apple's requirements for AASPs has listed four objective criteria when measuring the performance of authorized service providers.
- First-Time Fix (FTF): FTF shows how many repairs have been fixed the first time. Obviously, you would not want a customer to come back with the same or any other issue after you charged them for the repair. It is the average number of devices that were repaired on the first attempt within a certain timeframe. Apple will know when the same device has been serviced for the same issue through GSX (even if another AASP completed the repair after you).
- Repair Turnaround Time (REPTAT): This one is easy, and shows how fast you close repair and service orders. The number that Apple uses is the "average number of days from the time a customer requests service until the time the service provider marks the transaction complete."
- Parts Per Repair (PPR): Even if the customer is not aware, Apple cares about how you manage repairs. This means you cannot order multiple parts that you think could be faulty, swap it out, and close the order. You really need to test and diagnose the cause of the problem and truly solve the issue for the client. Apple will calculate how good your technicians are at diagnosing issues and isolating faulty parts using this metric. You also need an adequate number of working "service parts" to help technicians diagnose issues.
- Known Bad Board Turnaround Time (KBBTAT): Apple wants all faulty parts replaced to be returned to them. You have to do this within a given timeframe. The metric is the "average number of days from the time a replacement part is shipped from Apple until the defective part is returned." This also helps Apple recycle and reuse defective or old parts properly.
There are additional metrics that you will find in Apple’s Service Provider Manual, which you can access once you start the authorization process with Apple. It’s important to understand all the metrics because they affect 'Service Excellence, which then determines your Apple compensation levels for completing warranty repairs.
How to Step Up and Get Premium Service Provider Status
Premium status can be considered the reward for superior performance. It’s based on excelling in all Apple "Service Excellence" metrics, following their visual brand guidelines, and maintaining superior customer satisfaction levels. This means you do everything an AASP does, but better. Apple does provide extra benefits (bonus payments of sorts) if you do manage to be accepted as a PSP, the particulars of which are known only once you get into the program.
We can give advice on some best practices, and most of these will seem pretty obvious to any repair and service professional. You need to constantly maintain high "Service Excellence" scores and customer satisfaction, and it can’t fluctuate month-on-month. Since all repairs should be done through Apple’s GSX portal, they have reliable data on how you’re performing.
Apple encourages Apple authorized providers to get customer feedback on all service orders, and is an important metric they track. This is sometimes done at the store, but can also be done digitally. Quite obviously, you want to rank very high in this customer satisfaction survey.
First, though, you need to focus on having enough customers answer the survey to get a better understanding of true customer satisfaction levels. Plus, the more surveys you complete, the lower the chance of one dissatisfied customer tanking your score.
In addition, you should be looking at all the metrics that you would track while running a successful repair business. Here are a couple a good examples:
- Internal Turnaround Time: How long does it take to get a device repaired from when it has arrived at your store to when it’s ready for pickup? It adds to customer satisfaction, but is also an indication of how efficient your repair workflow is and how well you manage repair tickets.
- External Turnaround Time: The customer is typically concerned about the overall time it takes to complete a repair, from when an order was created in the customer portal or over the phone to the point when they have received the device. There are things you can do to shorten the total time taken, even if the problem is at the customer's end.
- Technician Quality: Apart from ensuring that all technicians are Apple Certified, you should be tracking any errors that present a direct cost to your business or indirectly through lower customer satisfaction.
This could mean an incorrect diagnosis that results in you ordering a part that wasn’t required in the first place. It could also be the number of parts replaced to complete a service order. Most issues are caused by failure to a single component. Therefore, most repairs can be effected by using one single part. Technicians who repeatedly replace more than one part per repair are likely making errors, resulting in Apple penalizing the repair shop. They might not be skilled enough to identify the root cause.
- Professional Premises: The AASP contract allows Apple to conduct audits and check-up on the store periodically. So it would be a good idea to maintain the store as described in the original contract. Apple also has auditing rights to your repair tracking database, which means you should have one in place that complies with all requirements
Independent Repair Provider Program
Apple’s support page states that Independent Repair Providers (IRPs) are allowed to perform a “variety of out-of-warranty repairs for iPhone and Mac”, including but not limited to iPhone display or battery replacements and Mac logic board or video card replacements.
What You Need to be Aware of
- You can only complete out-of-warranty iPhone or Mac repairs.
- You will need to comply with Apple’s trademark terms.
- Parts resellers and distributors are not eligible for this program.
- You need an established repair business, similar to the requirements for AASPs.
- You need to use parts provided by Apple and have Apple-certified technicians.
Only you can decide what is the best option for you, with each having its own merits and risks. We wouldn't be doing our job if we don't mention that the IRP program has come under some criticism from the repair industry. You can read more about it on Vice and iFixit.
A Solution for Your Repair Business
It doesn't matter what kind of repair business you have, you need a service management tool that will act as the heart of organizing your operations. We’ve put our extensive experience in the repair service business to develop Fixably.
Numerous features in our repair and service management solution, Fixably, will make your life easier, your clients happier, and help you grow and thrive through a profitable repair business.
Our platform can offer time and cost savings through leading-edge automation and workflows built specifically for repair shops. It's an enterprise-level solution that is available to businesses of all sizes — from individual business owners and family-owned repair shops to international multi-location operators (and anything in between).
Our GSX (Global Service Exchange) integration makes Fixably the best solution for Apple Authorized providers. We offer constantly updated GSX API integration that helps you keep up with Apple's customer service excellence requirements.
We’re here to help you. Book a time with us and we’ll show you how Fixably can be the solution you need for your repair and service business.