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bobviolence
04-17-2007, 11:58 AM
Greetings all -

The short version of this post: I'm going into the in-home/on-site computer repair business. Any help anyone cares to throw my way would be appreciated.

And now, the long version: I currently run my own business (non-tech related), but after 15 years, I've lost all passion for it. Truthfully, I never had much passion for it to begin with, I just kind of aquired the business after years of faithful service. Anyway, I don't have enough $$ to retire on, but I do have enough money set aside where I can start-up another company of this nature (I would be the only employee initially). And I've always heard if you're going into business for yourself, do something you are passionate about. Computers definately fall into that category.

I know about running a business, and I know about computers, but I don't know about running a computer business, specifically one that does in-home repair. I just located this site today, so obviously I have a lot of reading to do, but if there is any advice the veterans want to provide a rookie, I'm all ears. Here's a small list of things I'm curious about:

1. What is the main type of service call you go on? (hardware failure, virus/spyware, cat got behind the desk and unplugged the keyboard, etc ??)

2. How do you handle customers who screw up their computers 24 hours after you've just fixed it?

3. What are the "tools" most of you carry with you? (laptop, cd's of useful software, tool kit, etc).

4. What is the typical price you charge for a service call, and how do you structure pricing? (charge for estimates, flat fees, by the hour, by the repair).

5. How do you handle loss of customer's data when there is no way around it? (hard disk is screwed, computer is so infected & messed up you have to reinstall the OS, etc)

I'm sure I'll have other questions as time goes by.

Thanks.

Bryce W
04-18-2007, 01:31 AM
Some good questions. Ill try my best to answer them.


1. What is the main type of service call you go on? (hardware failure, virus/spyware, cat got behind the desk and unplugged the keyboard, etc ??)

The main types of callouts I go on (I target home users mainly) are software related. Mostly virus/spyware issues but its frequently little quirks in programs that shouldnt be doing what they are doing that I go out to fix.

Next in order is hardware failure. The main part that dies is the power supply usually due to a power surge. I am also often called out to install a printer or digital camera.


2. How do you handle customers who screw up their computers 24 hours after you've just fixed it?

I first try to determine if it was my fault that it happened again or theirs. If its mine, I will go back and fix it for free. I also try to determine that even if it was their fault, did I tell them how to prevent it in the future? If I didnt, I'll usually fix it for free as well.

If it was totally their fault, I go back and fix it for a charge and educate them how to stop it from happening again.
It is very important to make sure they know that it was their fault by telling them how it happened, otherwise you will look like the incompetent techie whos work doesnt last long.

3. What are the "tools" most of you carry with you? (laptop, cd's of useful software, tool kit, etc).

There are a few threads on these forums and a few posts on the site about this topic.

I always bring a laptop, Useful CD's such as Ultimate Boot CD, Windows XP, misc repair apps I use. A toolkit with some screwdrivers, tweezers and a pen torch. And lastly keep some spare parts in a box which is pretty much one of everything.

4. What is the typical price you charge for a service call, and how do you structure pricing? (charge for estimates, flat fees, by the hour, by the repair).

This really comes down to what you think is best for you. For starters though, this article may help you: http://www.technibble.com/what-to-charge-for-a-computer-repair/

5. How do you handle loss of customer's data when there is no way around it? (hard disk is screwed, computer is so infected & messed up you have to reinstall the OS, etc)

This should be taken on a case by case basis. If its just a screwed OS then I backup whatever I can to another harddrive using a tool like Ultimate Boot CD, then do a reinstall.

If its a damaged harddrive then I use recovery software to get any files I can (even if its only a small percentage). I make sure I tell them their chances before hand because it may not be worth it for them to pay me to do this step.

If its completely dead (eg, platter isnt spinning) then I tell them that its almost impossible to get any data back. However, there are still options which are very expensive and the chances arent good, which is sending the harddrive off to recovery specialists.

Always give them the choice. If its mission critical they usually are willing to pay whatever it takes. If its just some home happy snaps then they usually let it go.

Before starting a job I ask them "do you have any recent backups?". Even if I know they dont it puts them in "its my own fault" mindset which keeps pressure off you.

bobviolence
04-18-2007, 05:16 PM
Appreciate you taking the time to reply.

Now, that hard part starts ... :)