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PC Building for fun & Profit & Fun


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9 replies to this topic

#1 efizzer

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 02:48 PM

Ok, I didn't know where to actually put this post, so i'm hoping to put it here and get some input. I'm an IS Support Specialist by day, game enthusiast by.... whenever i can. I Love Computers (and my Wife!), and want to help ppl to understand them and enjoy them as much as I do. I have a small business (very small) that's not getting any business right now. I dunno what i'm doing wrong. I have a lot of good ideas and i don't charge ppl much money for the small stuff i do. I'd like to get into building more PCs for ppl to suit their needs/desires, and help them to do things on their own. Maybe Y'all can help me with some ideas? Thanks in Advance to those who do and if you need any more info, i'll answer any question.
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We're going to make the merry-go-round go faster, so everyone needs to hang on tighter-just to keep from being thrown to the wolves.

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#2 JEservices

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 03:03 PM

The message in the other thread that I posted was sent about the same time that you opened this one. Thanks for making a new thread on it.

Lets start with a few basics:

Do you have enough room to be able to display working computers that potential clients can see?

Do you have a current (less then 3 years old) laptop?

Will you be making the majority of your purchases online or at local stores?

Speaking of your location (please do not post your exact address), do you live close to major computer stores: Frys, Best Buy, Circuit City, or others?

How many computers have you built to date?

Do you already have potential customers that are interested in computers, but they currently do not own one?

Do you understand that more sales can be made after the client's initial computer purchase?

Do you have any retail or marketing experience?


I know it may seem like alot of questions initially, but there will be more :thumbsup:
We are all curious like a cat. We wonder, we ask, we learn.
Please post back when a suggestion works, so that others may learn.

#3 efizzer

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 03:38 PM

OK here goes:

No room right now to display.
No old laptop.
I'll be looking into online stores more than retail. Like Newegg and such.
I live in Western Massachusetts, close to 2 Best Buys, Comp USA, Circuit City, 2 Staples, and a few small stores that ppl complain the service sux.
Over 10 PCs built, not including my own home PCs (Print server and Main PC)
I have a few customers who are "interested", they own old pcs... over three years old...
Oh yes i understand sales.
I worked at a Babbages (now gamespot) for 5 years, then an Electronics Boutique for 3. I habe don e retail for a loong time.
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We're going to make the merry-go-round go faster, so everyone needs to hang on tighter-just to keep from being thrown to the wolves.

#4 JEservices

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 04:25 PM

Thanks for the answers. They are very helpful.

One of the hardest things for people to understand about building computers for profit, is the price flutuations. If you bought something today (RAM is really bad about this), you can look at the exact same item tomorrow, and the price will change. Some cases, the prices change by the hour, albiet slightly. One of the best things that you can do now, is to look around for the parts that the prices do not change as often (but can be used in any computer), and stock up on them.

These items include monitors, hard drives, and printers. Look around and catch them on sale, and you would be suprised just how cheap they can be. Recently, I found a 19" monitor new for $100, a 80 GB HD for under $40, and a printer for less then $30. Take a look at the rebates too-in the case of the prices that I mentioned, those are the after rebate prices. Use the rebate to purchase other items to have a complete computer. Wonder why you wait for the other items? It has to do with supply and demand. Initially new items will be expensive because you are 'paying' for the loans on the research and development for it. After this cost is payed for, newer, faster products are coming out, so they slash the prices to make room for the new stock. This is where you come in a purchase as much as you possibly can of it.

Once you get to a point of having 4-5 complete computers built, then you need to sell them quickly. The market is fast at this time. This means that newer products drop the prices of older equipment in less then 60 days. The money from the purchases should be absorbed back into your company to be the fuel for more computers. If you look at a cycle from the time you purchase the parts to the time that you sell it, it should be no less then 3-4 weeks. Once you get enough money involved from the selling of them, you will not have to rely on the rebates as much, although they will still come in handy.

I hope this information helps. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!
We are all curious like a cat. We wonder, we ask, we learn.
Please post back when a suggestion works, so that others may learn.

#5 Herk

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Posted 28 February 2005 - 06:46 PM

I have a small business (very small) that's not getting any business right now. I dunno what i'm doing wrong. I have a lot of good ideas and i don't charge ppl much money for the small stuff i do. I'd like to get into building more PCs for ppl to suit their needs/desires, and help them to do things on their own. Maybe Y'all can help me with some ideas? Thanks in Advance to those who do and if you need any more info, i'll answer any question.

Like you, I too run a small computer repair business. I live in a small town, not very close to any major computer chains. I also have very little business. But I do have some thoughts on the matter:

First, a friend of mine who had been in the computer business said something about the need for a storefront. True, it makes a big difference in exposure. But in addition to the cost of maintaining and protecting a store, computer businesses are often subject to competition. You open one, the guy down the street opens one, your business is cut drastically.

I really never worked very hard on the building side of the business, though I enjoy building computers. One reason is that, no matter how cheaply I get my stuff, I cannot compete with Wal-Mart. (Which we do have.) Nor can I compete with Tiger Direct, for instance, which sells a Sempron computer complete except for monitor for about $300. Not a lot of money in building computers unless you already have a store with a lot of stock and cheap help. (My friend used high-school kids - the school's work program paid half their minimum wage.) And unless you have a lot of customers, one of the worst things you can do is invest in a lot of stock - like JE said, tomorrow's price may be far different than today's. If a major Asian factory burns down, the price of memory or something may go up, but don't bet the farm on it.

If you're doing enough work that you can buy in bulk, you might get a better discount from a company like Tech Data, though I don't know if they're better than Newegg or Tiger. Newegg's prices seem to be better than Tiger's, BTW. And keep in mind that some of the companies that tried to build custom high-end computers went bankrupt because people would order them and not pay for them after they were custom-built.

And don't forget to KISS it. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) If you have display computers, have about three levels - bottom end, medium quality, and gamer, and then put in what the customer wants. Too many choices are just confusing to the customer. I used to hang out in a local computer shop and help out now and then, and customers really like to see how it works. Pointing to a picture of the thing isn't very much of a sales aid. But beware - they'll check yours out to get an idea of what they want, then go to the big-box stores and call you for free advice when they have their first problem, which is annoying when you've spent perhaps hours demonstrating your stock.

#6 Crichey

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 04:02 AM

You will have to beat the big guys in the service department--such as free set up and delivery. You will need to get some good word of mouth advertising from any past clients, maybe put a small ad in the newspaper. Also put up as many free ads as you can in public places. Work bulletinsboards, etc. Its just going to take a while to build a client base.

#7 efizzer

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 09:07 AM

I have business cards, some free ads out there, and things like that. I guess i'll just have to be patient. I canot afford a storefront st the moment, nor can i afford the demo machines.... I guess i'm trying to work from the rock bottom up. :thumbsup:
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We're going to make the merry-go-round go faster, so everyone needs to hang on tighter-just to keep from being thrown to the wolves.

#8 toastrack

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Posted 03 March 2005 - 07:52 PM

Get an online presence!! Build a website!! If you cant afford a physical storefront, build a nice looking Virual one. I think this is probably the MOST important aspect of any marketing strategy for a PC building enterprise. It will expose you to new clients, and it will also give you greater credibility in a marketplace where people will expect you to be knowledgable and comfortable with all aspects of Personal Computing, and the Internet is a very very important part of that. (after all, here we ALL are discussing this...ONLINE)

As Herk mentions, Pitching three or so different grades of machine is a good idea, entry level, mid-range and "pro-gamer" are pretty much the standard that all companies build their rigs around.

Most importanly however, consider who will buy. Who IS your customer? What do they buy? In fact WHO buys? As an "Enthusiast" I buy at least 1 new PC every year, however, I build my own, therefore if I am going to buy a pre-build it is going to be either from a major company that can provide better tech than I already own, so cheap that the deal makes sense or from a company that is trying desperately to compete and is cutting their own throat to do so. I prefer these as in fact they compete with the likes of Dell for a year or so, then go under, however their Rigs are not built from proprietary kit and can be upgraded or torn down depending on my wish...which is also why I have no fear of a company going bust and leaving me without tech support or warranty, each component is ultimately cheap enough to be disposable, and if it breaks after 6 months its likely something I did anyway.
However, not everybody out there is like me, many do not even open their computers, depending upon friends like us to do it for them, many who are in fact technically competent enough to do so themselves simply cant be bothered.
People like this either buy a PC once every 2, 3 or 4 years, depending on what they use it for. I would place a lot of "middle aged gamers" who I know in this category...the stuff they do with the machine drives them to upgrade at a slightly faster pace, but aside from perhaps changing a Graphics card once a year or so their machine will last them for about 18 months, maybe more.
The third group are people who will buy and be happy with a stable system, probably from a major retailer, and will not require a new one for 3 or more years. These people are likely to be running a PC around the 1Ghz range give or take a few hundred Mhz that they bought in 2001 and they will ONLY be motivated to buy a new one by the low low prices of the major players.

Therefore, we can completely disregard them as potential clients, unless you have massive bulk buying power and an army of marketing personell forget about trying to sell to the part time PC user.

The Mid-range user...middle aged games enthuiast who doesnt build his own PC's might be interested in "Custom built but still cheap, using the finest components and which has "upgrade-ability" therefore CONCENTRATE on these as your target customer.

The enthusiast is likely building his/her own Liquid Nitrogen cooled overclocked Athlon64 right as we speak, when they look at buying a pre-built PC they are looking at the components that it is made of, therefore they may or may not buy a pre built simply because of a motherboard, or CPU.
However, what they WILL buy are COMPONENTS!!! No matter how cheap the big hitters sell their stuff, if you present yourself as a retailer of CUSTOM components then the Enthusiast will come calling...often more than once a month...especially if they have a project that has resulted in a few blown chips and melted boards which require replacing quickly.

I have rambled a little here, but I hope that this "free form thinking" has given you a little insight into the minds of people who buy a LOT of computers.

Good luck and have fun

#9 dwaynea515

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Posted 14 May 2005 - 07:39 AM

although I would love to build my own computer, I have found that most people want service for their existing computer. therefore I have started my part-time business with only the cost of a small ad in the newspaper. I have decided to specialize in " Spyware, Malware and Virus removal". If you are just starting up and are knowledgeable maybe this would be a good place to start. I too live in a small rural town and I get a lot of calls from people that do not want to disassemble their system to take it in to the shop. I do "In-Home" service and charge $20 per hour. people think they are getting a real bargain. Maybe you could give this a thought. One thing I have noticed is that there are 3 other techs that do what I do in this town and I get calls from their clients to come and repair their mistakes. Credibility is the most important thing I sell. I have found that if I dont know something I simply tell the client " I need to do some research on this problem and I will be back later" this statement has gotten me more return calls and referrals just because I am not afraid to say I dont know everything. think about it
My father was a simple man. My mother was a simple woman. You see the result standing in front of you, a simpleton.

#10 computingelite

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 08:41 AM

I have recently set my own business up which specialises in IT Support (online and onsite), Custom built PCs... and spyware and virus removal. Check my sig for more information ;)




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