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Old 12-03-2007, 03:02 PM
Joe The PC Doc Joe The PC Doc is offline
 
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Default Summary of my first month in business

Well, December is here, and that officially marks the end of my first month in business... So how did it go so far? I'd appreciate any feedback or advice, I'm brand new to the business game!

The first two weeks: I had one service call from word of mouth advertising, so the first two weeks were spent preparing my foundation... And easily the majority of the time: Advertising!

After receiving my business license, and vendor's permit, having all my bookkeepping spreadsheets ready to go, and throwing together an office at my parent's house (yeah... gotta start somewhere), I visited a printer in my neighbourhood and ordered 500 business cards, and printed 20 color flyers to post on community boards in the area (I live in a town of 18,000 and am located near 4 or 5 smaller communties, all of which are in my target market).

Spent a couple days driving around and posting flyers (in Canada, look for post offices, grocery stores, variety stores, laundromats and some fast food restaurants even) and visiting two newspapers in the area to set up an ad... 74 dollars and 50 dollars... Two calls and they're paid off.

I went to my first call, they complained of a slow computer... It was taking about 5 minutes to get to a usable desktop and I wasn't sure what could be bogging down they're relatively clean PC. (older couple, use it strictly for emails and freecell)

I cleaned, scrubbed, tweaked, scanned and something clicked when I checked the running processes I/O reads... "How long have you been using Norton Antivirus? DId you computer happen to slow down soon after you installed it?" That was the culprit, it went from 5 minutes to just under 20 seconds after I removed it!

The call went well, I followed up with them the next day, and now their monitor is powering off randomly a day after I worked there! I really hope they don't think I had anything to do with it.

Well, during the two weeks, I needed to keep busy, so I decided to buy a 500 pack of blue pastel paper, and print off some tri-fold brochures to hand deliver to homes in the area... Folding brochures is very boring work, so I made sure to check Technibble a lot to alleviate my boredom!

My second call came in just after week two, a man has a leased laptop and he is having slowdown issues with it.. His lease is nearly up, and he wants a second opinion on whether or not to buy out the laptop to own permanently.. I tell him I could sell him a laptop instead. I couldn't figure out what was going on with it though.. I speculate it was overheating, but since it was leased, I decided not to crack it open and find out...

I asked this man where he had about the business, and he said he was at the business card printers getting cards for his own business, and during casual computer conversation, the printer mentioned they had just printed 500 cards for me.. Another word of mouth call.

Call three, the woman from the bank who set up my business account, word of mouth again. her nephew dragged her desktop thru limewire sludge, and windows is hanging up after boot. I try my best, finally tell her it needs formatting. She says ok, save my pictures, which i do with Knoppix and a blank DVD. Reinstall Windows, call MS to activate, get paid!

Call four actually comes from someone who read my newspaper ad! yay, I knew that money wasnt to be wasted.. She says her computer stopped working "it's looking for a boot device when I turn it on" I get my tools together and show up to her place, but she had to leave at the last minute, so I take the PC back to the office... Well, her SATA HD is dead, BIOS can't find it at all. I tell her I can order her a new one and she'll have her computer back in a week... Turns out, her 3 year old had run around spraying Febreeze air freshener all over the computer, and this make of dell has an open mesh handle on the front, which is just above the HD bays. lol, ya, that was probably what happened. The HD comes in, I reinstall OEM Windows instead of the Dell version she has a key (and no disc for). Blech, now I'm hunting down all kinds of drivers to get this thing at 100%... Only two more to go..

Call five: my friend's mom drops in the house, and leaves his computer for me to look at... Powers up, but nothing else, no beep, no display. He has very important data on his HDs, and it must be saved above all else. Not sure what's wrong yet, seems to be the mobo or the video card, i'm gonna try a different video card first and see if i can get display.

And finally on Nov. 30, two house calls, both to diagnose wireless internet issues, the first I can't do much but call her ISP and tell them to fix it, it's definately something on their end... The 2nd, i reinstall the wireless drivers on his laptop, the fixes the issue, and he mentions his desktop is screwed up too. Well no wonder, you have 2.06 MB free on hard drive! 25 GB worth of blurry, snowy AVI files, created from his video surveillance software he had stopped using half a year ago.

Anyways, I'm pleasantly surprised at my success so far... I haven't had the smoothest calls, but no real hangups, and no lost monies. My aim either this month or early next year is too start to prepare a montly maintanence package aimed at the small businesses in my area... I'd love some advice on what kind of services your business might provide to monthly customers, and how to package it all in one maintenance plan!

BTW, all calls so far save the one from the newspaper ad have been word of mouth.

please give me some comments on my little story, is there anything I should have done different? Any ideas to fill up the free time? I still have 250 pages of blue brochures to fold... God they're boring!

Joe
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Old 12-03-2007, 04:54 PM
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greggh greggh is offline
 
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This is a great story. Thanks for the writeup. So far you are on the right path. Always make sure at the end of successful calls to tell them that you LIVE by word of mouth. Ask them if they liked the service could they recommend it to anyone and how many cards should you leave behind for them to share with friends.

Another tip for you is on the drivers. Make OEM cds with the drivers already integrated. Use the DriverPacks and its integration system. It will put nearly every driver you could want (minus printer and modem,) right into the installer for windows. This saves a ton of time tracking down drivers.
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Old 12-03-2007, 06:08 PM
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Greg,

Could you explain how to do the driver disk with the OEM disk. Thanks and I know the instructions are somewhere on this site. Much abliged.
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Old 12-03-2007, 07:55 PM
cis4smack cis4smack is offline
 
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A nice story, seems like you're on the right path.
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Old 12-03-2007, 09:18 PM
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Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading.
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Old 12-03-2007, 09:48 PM
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That made for a good read Joe. I agree with Greggh, I always leave at least two or three cards with all my customers. Also you may be doing this already but in case you are not, you might want to keep records of what repairs you did in case later the customer has issues and thinks its something you did.
As for driver issues again I agree with Greggh. Also while you have them on the phone if they mention having printer problems, ask for the model # of the printer and download the drivers for it before you make the house call. This simple thing has saved me a trip serveral times in the past. ( you get there and the printer does not work, needs to be reinstalled, they have no idea where the disk is, they are always on dialup so downloading the drivers will take about two weeks).
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Old 12-04-2007, 12:12 AM
RKDus RKDus is offline
 
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Thanks for that Joe, best of luck to you in the future. I will be starting my own business after Christmas so I'm just getting everything in order at the moment so that I'm ready to go when the time comes. I'll do the same as you have after I set up, so we can compare notes. This site is such a great resource, I have learned so much since I started reading it.
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Old 12-04-2007, 03:17 AM
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greggh greggh is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJsMom View Post
Greg,

Could you explain how to do the driver disk with the OEM disk. Thanks and I know the instructions are somewhere on this site. Much abliged.
It's actually quite simple. You download all the driverpacks from the driverpacks.net website. Copy/extract all the files from your OEM disc to a directory on your hard drive. Then run the driverpacks BASE and go through its little wizard. In the end it will add all the drivers into the directory with your install files. Burn a bootable disc with those contents and all the latest drivers for nearly everything you would ever need will be merged into your installer.
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Old 12-04-2007, 02:49 PM
Kyrus Kyrus is offline
 
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Great story Joe, i'm glad for your success.
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Old 12-04-2007, 07:37 PM
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Great story. I only started beginning of this month, did a lot of OF work, though my biggest paying customers were all Word of mouth big payers.
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