PDA

View Full Version : The Leap


Corbin
08-23-2011, 09:52 PM
So my partner and I have been talking we feel as if our customer base is to the point we can leap into a store front. And start to market more seeing that would be the time we both go full-time and stop our current full time jobs.

So I want to know Im sure its been posted here before but....

When did you decide to jump that gun? How big was your client list? how many contracts did you have? How long did you stay mobile before you went to a store front? to Loan or not to loan? Did you find any grants to help? What do you wish you did different at the start?

We have been mobile for a Year now, we can survive day to day on the clients we get as a business. Out contracts are a big plus for us since we can count on that as long as we perform.

RichmondTech
08-23-2011, 10:21 PM
I have been full time mobile for the last year and a half and I'm on the verge of opening a shop. Holding off at this point because of talk of double dip recession.

I would look at both of you being mobile full time before incurring the expense of opening a shop.

Tony_Scarpelli
08-31-2011, 07:00 PM
So my partner and I have been talking we feel as if our customer base is to the point we can leap into a store front. And start to market more seeing that would be the time we both go full-time and stop our current full time jobs.

So I want to know Im sure its been posted here before but....

When did you decide to jump that gun? How big was your client list? how many contracts did you have? How long did you stay mobile before you went to a store front? to Loan or not to loan? Did you find any grants to help? What do you wish you did different at the start?

We have been mobile for a Year now, we can survive day to day on the clients we get as a business. Out contracts are a big plus for us since we can count on that as long as we perform.

I had been in business about 7 years, I had a sales volumn of about $10k per month, every night I went home and fixed computers on the living room coffee table while I was eating dinner and watching the 10 pm news. My girlfriend said get this crap out of here, I am tired of living this way.

So I got a shop, found an $8 per hour employee to sit there and answer the phone and repair computers that I dropped off so that I didn't have to fix them after work each night.

My quality of life improved as I would go home at 5pm and be done for the night.

Later my walk in traffic improved and I found myself stop taking as much out calls as most of my clients enjoyed the freedom of just dropping off their computers as posed to setting appointments for me to come out.

SO if your rent is $2000 per month, plus phone, utilities, insurance, taxes and such, and cost of an employee to watch the store. Then soon as you can afford to pay that and still pay the partner and your personal bills you are ready to make the leap.

I had a friend open up in LV and lost his ass. He had run a successful shop in Flagstaff and sold it to move to LV.

Rent was too high, competition was great, employees were expensive and he couldn't find employees who didn't steal customers by moonlighting with his leads. He operated under the name if DataDoctors.

callthatgirl
09-01-2011, 03:16 AM
When did you decide to jump that gun?

Almost a year to the day I started CTG fulltime in 2008. I had too many computers coming to the shop and I was sick of working in my basement apt too. I need to "go to work" so I rented an office right by downtown Minneapolis for $650 a month. I got robbed, literally lol. 2x! Then I got a new office in a very close suburb for $400, been there ever since.

How big was your client list?
At that time, maybe 100? I know it was 7 months after I had consistent calls coming in.

How many contracts did you have?
None, we are a no contract company.

How long did you stay mobile before you went to a store front?
I finally opened a real store in 2010 last year around this time, but again...I felt I ripped myself off because it was a huge house on the busiest street in town. I should have waited and got a "real storefront" not a "housefront" UGH. I paid for that loss! But overall, learned a lesson.


to Loan or not to loan?
No loans, not a loan company.


Did you find any grants to help?
Nope.

What do you wish you did different at the start?
I don't really mind how I did things in the first three years, I am sad I made such huge financial mistakes this past year and I shared them all here on TN! I wish I had a diary to read back and see how excited I was versus how bad some crap ended up. I am a risk taker though I guess, got me to this year which has been quite nice. Got out of the crappy housefront, found a new real storefront to open with (hopefully) in October, opened another real storefront in a town 40 miles away and it's doing great! (only mac support in town) and landed a pretty large deal with a company that has 22 retail stores. That win, would never had happened probably if I didn't have that crappy housefront place. I had to hire an assistant and she needed work to do one day, so I gave her a list of people to call, right time, right place type thing. So the housefront did have an overall business purpose, so I am not that bitter lol.

TechLoopPC
09-05-2011, 05:52 AM
The key to opening a storefront is to have a partner, or assistant. I opened a storefront 3 months ago, all on my own. I get a steady flow of walk-in traffic and keep busy -- what I didn't take into account was about 50% of my work (when I worked out of my home) was on-site calls. The demand for getting me to do on-site work has increased, I feel because a storefront gives me a more professional vibe (versus guy working out of house).

Unfortunately I am also a part-time student (2 days a week). Balancing, hours in store, on-site calls, home work, school and everything else has became very difficult. I often have to temporarily close the store during the middle of the day to sneak out on a service call -- this gets me angry clients who expect me to be down at the store. Same goes for being at school during those two days.

Thankfully I have a promising lead from a women who wants office space (I have extra space in back of my store), who is willing to take-in computers for me while I'm away! Hopefully this works out or I'm going to lose my mind.

RegEdit
09-05-2011, 09:22 AM
If you do open a storefront be sure to let people know that you might go back to being just a mobile tech if things don't pan out. Having a store front would be good "advertising" if nothing else.

Techless
09-05-2011, 02:18 PM
I think the biggest thing is avoid getting a loan.

You will need someone to stay at the store all day. You are ahead of the curve because you have a partner so one person can stay and the other can do site work.

Tony_Scarpelli
09-05-2011, 08:25 PM
Given the set of circumstances you state, I'd review my charges and possibly increase them (since you don't have enough help anyway, you can afford to loose a customer or two with higher prices, you might even get more customers, since perception of value equates your worth with what you ask for your service. Thus people might well respect you more for asking a higher price). Something like $59-69 bench and $79-99 out call, $99-120 network/server/data recovery if you are in a small market with plenty of competition. This higher profit margin can be used to hire an employee/temp to help.


Take night school until done with college 95% of work will be required during the day. This way night school will not interfere with supporting your new store.

Hire a part time bench tech or even receptionist to work a couple of mornings 8-11 or afternoons 1-5 pm then you can get out to do your high value network stuff while the shop is not closed. If call goes longer just ask the employee to stay longer. This person can become part time 20 hrs or even full time as you need them.

In the mean time, if you have to do an out call 'without' help to watch the store put a "back in 15 Minutes, call for immediate service" sign in the window and then go look at the out call and recommend the client allow you to take it into the shop for repair. This reduces your out of office time to just time to retrieve the computer. Or you can setup your out calls at first thing am 730am-830am or on the way home after 5pm or 6pm. This will do for about 75-85% of out calls. Now you are down to just a few calls that absolutely require you to choose close store or not take out call. This is extremely manageable and affordable.

Since you have a partner, share the office duties with one doing his out calls in the am and the other doing his out calls in the pm. Or some other timing method to cover the shop.

To others who are considering opening a store:

1. I would not borrow money if it can be helped.
2. I would not take a partner -think worst marriage possible/worst divorce.
3. I would not let my customers know that I was thinking this might not work out. Keep it to yourself. It is always assumed you will do your best. If you are a terrible manager or have terrible luck you will ultimately fail. You do not need to announce your insecurity and unprofessional-ism by making such announcements. If you really think it won't work out don't do it and save all the hassles and money loss.