For most people, I cannot think of a more challenging, more competitive field to enter right now than starting a computer repair business. I don’t care if you’re considering do this for businesses or just for the casual home user. If you’re not established, in this economy, you have your work cut out for you. This is not to say it’s impossible, rather than you will be competing with a lot of people who last year, likely had IT jobs and are now just trying to keep food on the table with a hobbyist like business of their own.
Is it even worth it?
In all fairness, I would say yes assuming the following things are understood. You are likely going to be competing with some very good technicians. Some of these folks have been doing this for 20+ years. So trying to separate your benefits from there, is going to be very challenging. The biggest question you had better be asking yourself is why are you doing this and what do you offer better than the other guy?
A good example is looking at the idea of integrating computer repair into the retail establishment. Yes, this is a very old concept by today’s standards, but it hasn’t always existed. This was a clear, logical need that someone fulfilled and then later every big box store in the world started to copy. Basically, why would someone choose you over someone else? Price, experience or the most valuable asset of all – value. If you can provide value to potential customers beyond what is already being offered in your area, you may very well have a good niche to go after. Otherwise you’re just another “me-too” tech in my opinion. And this works great for the established pros, but in competitive markets can kill a new startup very quickly.
Marketing your computer business
Back in Sept. of 2010, I shared some extensive thoughts on marketing a computer repair business. An entire article worth of crazy ideas that I know from experience work and many of them are not being used by others. Most people will read it, discover that some of the work isn’t going to compensate them right up front and try something mundane like the usual approach to marketing. I say go for it. When that fails, come back to the article and realize that times are different now, you better eat your Wheaties and get to work.
Once a business is established or you have SoHo contracts in place, sure, then you can do the armchair marketing routine. But until that happens, you need to be in front of as many people as possible. And sometimes, this means starting out pro bono.
Offering something new or different
Another thing that will help with growth is to try and find a micro-niche within the repair market in your area, then fill it as fast as possible. Maybe this means that everyone in your area avoids laptops like a disease. Great, spend some money/time getting really good at repairing them and get to work! Whatever the missing link happens to be, bend over backwards to fill it and fill it with a good worth ethic.
To reiterate, yes, you can do this. There is still money to be made in the repair business. But the biggest key besides becoming a master of finding customers is keeping them. If this means offering a plain English list of what you did (no geek speak), perhaps even something radical and time consuming like doing a video demo explaining what each thing you’re doing is…trust me when I tell you that stuff like this gets passed around.
I used to do both and man, I had customers coming out of my ears. These folks were dropping cheaper techs just in hopes of being respected, taught something and made to feel secure as to how their data was being handled. Trust and respect go a long way. So does cutting through the usual “tech attitude” customers find themselves dealing with. Think the video and list won’t work. Great, good luck. But it’s stuff “like” this that will separate your value to the customer from the other guy.