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Starting a computer repair business


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#1 Johnny Boy

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 11:47 AM

So a friend and I have been meeting a couple of times a week to discuss our plans to start a local computer repair business. The problem is we are both 17 years old and do not really know how to get started, if theres someone out there who has done this and would be willing to help it would be very much appreciated! We would love to have a mentor or at least someone that could help us get started and be there to answer questions as we go. Thanks in advance

John
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#2 Eyesee

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 01:14 PM

Hi Johnny

I have my own shop and might be able to assist with questions

One problem I see is that you guys are young. To some, that may be a detriment
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#3 Johnny Boy

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 03:47 PM

i know that is sort of a problem however i think that our maturity and workmanship may compensate for that but i honestly do not know, we'll just have to try it out and see, however how exactly was it that you got your start if you dont mind me asking
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#4 Eyesee

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 06:04 PM

I dont mind at all. It was actually a total accident!

Back in 1999, around Thanksgiving time, I fixed a couple of computers for some friends. That was back before Geeks on Call or any of the others. My friends suggested that I run ads in a few newspapers and see what happens. So I did.
I figured there was no better way to start the millenium. My thinking was that if I made it six months I would be happy.

The six months turned into ten years and the client base grew to over 500+ customers.
I quit advertizing after 2 years and ran the entire thing out of my house, low overhead.
Everything was onsite. I did a LOT of service calls and driving.

Last year I moved to a small, peaceful, safe, quiet town in the middle of Kansas. Having vacationed here for many years, I researched the other two shops in town. Talking to the locals, I found that they were extremely slow and expensive. I heard nothing good about them from anyone.

So, I opened my shop downtown to fulfill a need to the community, Affordable Computer Assistance.
The business here is established in one year and making a profit. Everyone know everyone in this town and people talk. Its only about 6,700 people. I do advertise a little but almost everyone is a referral from someone else.

My office downtown does not look like a computer business, it looks like a living room. I maintain no inventory. There are no parts sitting around. No clutter! Nice area rugs, nice artwork, free wi fi, comfortable furniture, big aquarium, cookies, candy, coffee and I play nothing but classical music. It is a pleasure to come here every day!!

The key is very simple: Always do the right thing, no matter what! Always tell the truth, even if it is bad news. Create a rapport with clients as a lot of business is public relations and they must trust you. Get involved in the community.

I have a very strong sense of business ethics. It is either right or it doesnt go out the door. Good, fast, honest, cheap.
People in this town are amazed at my turn around time. Same day most time or no more than 24 hours (unless I have to order a part). They no longer have to wait two or three months and love that. I have actually had people chase me down on the street before and more than once too!

What you guys have going against you is your age. In my case, a little grey hair helps.

Any other questions just ask. I know there are a few other people at BC that have their own shop.
Hope you get feedback from them as well and good luck!!
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#5 Johnny Boy

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 08:53 PM

Wow, that is truly amazing. First of all congratulations with the success you had in starting your business, it seems like most (if not all) things went well for you. It is really great to hear a story like that and I hope that will be similar to our situation some day. I do have a few questions.

1. How did you run the pricing when you had first started out? Was it kind of formal? Did you charge a flat rate for an onsite visit? Also did you have flat rates for services or did you do it on a situational basis?

2. Did you offer some sort of guarantee on your work? (As a tech at staples this is the question that I get asked the most)

3. How did you deal with part orders? Customer orders part, order part online, purchase part from local store, etc ? The friend who I am attempting to start the business with has a firm opinion that it is the safest option to let the customer order the part for themselves because he is nervous being the middleman between the parts distributor (whether newegg,tigerdirect, or a local store).

I'm sure I have more questions but I can't think of them right now, I'm sure I will later. I truly appreciate your help, it means a lot that someone with this expertise and a business of their own would be so kind as to help us out on their own time.
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#6 Eyesee

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 12:49 PM

Thanks Johnny and I wish you the best of luck too!

1. I have always kept my pricing the same. Flat fee never more than $50 no matter what. I deal with a lot of retired people on social security. They dont have much money. The low pricing leads to referrals from them which leads to increased revenue in the long run.
If its quick a lot of times I just take care of whatever the issue is and simply ask that they take some business cards and give them out. A couple of times last summer, when it was hot, my fee was simply a chocolate malt at the soda fountain around the corner. People paid up too!!

2. My guarantee is that it is done right the first time or it is not leaving the door. Not one person has been dissatisfied.

3. I would not let the customer order parts. You should do that yourself as you are more qualified to make determinations of need. Most customers dont have a clue about components. In my case I rarely replace parts. Maybe one every month or so. I keep a power supply, a hard drive and a couple of NIC cards on hand, that is all. Anything else I order from my parts supplier from Kansas City. I have been dealing with them for 15 years and will not buy from anyone else. Shipping is only 5 bucks and I always have it within two days.

Another thing I dont have to worry about in this town is accounts receivable. There have been multiple times where people have told me that they dont get paid until such and such day. I always let them take the unit home because I want to get them out of here. In every single case, they have come in and paid me when they said they would. This is a small town though. People are honest. I would never do that in the city.
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#7 Johnny Boy

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 01:02 PM

how do you go about finding a parts supplier?
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#8 Eyesee

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 01:42 PM

I dont know that I can provide a direct link to the people that I use without getting permission from the powers that be on the board.

Like I said, Ive been using them for over 15 years and wont buy from anyone else.

95% of what I do is killing viruses and spyware. Replacing parts is rare
Any local stores in your area? I would highly recommend staying away from the big box stores. Try to find someplace that is locally owned and operated.
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#9 Johnny Boy

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 09:05 PM

Oh of course I wouldn't expect to be using your parts company! But that is useful information, I'm going to try to find a local parts store that will maybe work with us once we are established. Do you have any other suggestions or anything else that can help? I can't think of any more specific questions right now but I'm sure I have tons.
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#10 Eyesee

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 01:13 PM

Dont keep a lot of inventory on hand. It ties up your $$ and prices fall rapidly
Only keep a few things and order the rest as needed

Get real good at removing spyware and viruses
Read a LOT out here! But be advised that some of the tools we use can be DANGEROUS if used unsupervised
Ask a lot of questions.

Also read the post below yours.
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic351631.html
In the beginning there was the command line.

#11 Ridernyc

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 04:56 PM

Dont keep a lot of inventory on hand. It ties up your $$ and prices fall rapidly
Only keep a few things and order the rest as needed

Get real good at removing spyware and viruses
Read a LOT out here! But be advised that some of the tools we use can be DANGEROUS if used unsupervised
Ask a lot of questions.

Also read the post below yours.
<a href="http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic351631.html" target="_blank">http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic351631.html</a>


I agree keeping inventory is bad. Prices change and drop far to quickly in our industry.

Figure out a way to get a cheap affordable phone number that you can transfer easily. I found VOIP works best. The phone number will be your business, it's basically your location.

Don't worry about getting a store front. Focus on building a client list first.

As others have said you are going to be removing viruses and reinstalling operating systems constantly. You will almost never deal with hardware issues.

Be prepared and make sure you are in a position to not make any money for a long time. If you can't support yourself and the business for at least the first 2 years don't even think about it.

Edited by Ridernyc, 19 October 2010 - 04:58 PM.


#12 Zurrco

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 06:35 AM

I have to agree. I have been doing repairs for coworkers on the side for close to a year and it's 99% virus/spyware removal. The only hardware issue I've run across is a guy that had a stick of RAM short out on him. I feel lucky to have run across this post, I had a lot of the same questions on how to make computer repair my real job and not my just a hobby. Thanks for the info. :thumbsup:
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#13 JonM33

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 08:34 PM

I agree keeping inventory is bad. Prices change and drop far to quickly in our industry.

Figure out a way to get a cheap affordable phone number that you can transfer easily. I found VOIP works best. The phone number will be your business, it's basically your location.

Don't worry about getting a store front. Focus on building a client list first.

As others have said you are going to be removing viruses and reinstalling operating systems constantly. You will almost never deal with hardware issues.

Be prepared and make sure you are in a position to not make any money for a long time. If you can't support yourself and the business for at least the first 2 years don't even think about it.


I third the inventory part. Most customers should understand ordering. If you need something ASAP you can always order overnight or 2nd day.

Regarding client lists, word of mouth and advertising is best. Put your ad in the Yellow Pages and you will get calls.

Not sure how you all would handle "cleaning". I have worked primarily on enterprise/corporate systems but anyone's personal computer that I have helped them with I have always just backed up data and reformatted. Not sure if that's the best option all the time but if you try to clean something and miss a trojan and it comes back to the customer you will probably not get repeat business and lose that word of mouth client. I'd rather be safe than sorry, especially if my livelihood depended upon it.

#14 Ridernyc

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 10:00 PM


I agree keeping inventory is bad. Prices change and drop far to quickly in our industry.

Figure out a way to get a cheap affordable phone number that you can transfer easily. I found VOIP works best. The phone number will be your business, it's basically your location.

Don't worry about getting a store front. Focus on building a client list first.

As others have said you are going to be removing viruses and reinstalling operating systems constantly. You will almost never deal with hardware issues.

Be prepared and make sure you are in a position to not make any money for a long time. If you can't support yourself and the business for at least the first 2 years don't even think about it.


I third the inventory part. Most customers should understand ordering. If you need something ASAP you can always order overnight or 2nd day.

Regarding client lists, word of mouth and advertising is best. Put your ad in the Yellow Pages and you will get calls.

Not sure how you all would handle "cleaning". I have worked primarily on enterprise/corporate systems but anyone's personal computer that I have helped them with I have always just backed up data and reformatted. Not sure if that's the best option all the time but if you try to clean something and miss a trojan and it comes back to the customer you will probably not get repeat business and lose that word of mouth client. I'd rather be safe than sorry, especially if my livelihood depended upon it.



Most clients want you to just remove the virus all you can do is explain to them the consequences. If you try to encourage them to let you do full re-installs they will just call around until they find a guy who tells them what they want to hear. I explain to them I recommend a full re-installation, there is no guarantee I will be able to remove a virus.

#15 JonM33

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 01:10 AM

Or they take it to Geek Squad who charges them several hundred dollars and the problem is not only NOT resolved but even worse. I've seen computers from people that have multiple stickers on them from where they took it into Geek Squad. Of course the computer is generally inoperable by the time they give up on Geek Squad.

I have zero trust in a "cleaned" computer. I just got done with a 4 week contract for one of the largest medical companies in central Ohio. They got a nasty trojan virus and were using Trend Micro for AV protection. Over half of their computers were infected, somewhere around 6,000. Of course there was poor upper management that had no clue what direction to take (not really IT people) but they went back and forth on telling us to run some Trend Micro "cleaning" utility or re-imaging the infected computers. Everything we re-imaged worked without a problem. Everything we "cleaned" we ended up going right back to re-image because other software was broken by the "cleaning" utility or the computer became reinfected. Fortunately none of their users store data on any workstations - they are educated to put them on network folders.

Just a nightmare to be honest, but it's why I stand by the re-format and re-install. Of course you ensure to backup data such as documents, images, music, favorites, etc first. After the OS is up and running, put a good AV program on it, patch it and then scan those files before moving them back. Then of course comes some user education on virus prevention. :thumbsup:

Edited by JonM33, 24 October 2010 - 01:10 AM.





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