Over the years I’ve offered a lot of advice about how to run a successful PC repair business. I’ve discussed the advantages of getting mid-sized company controls, dealing with home based customers, and so on. But recently someone asked me something that I think is worth addressing closely. The question is: how do you save a failing PC repair business in this recession, especially when everyone is doing the same thing as you are?
Well, right off the bat my thoughts are to not do the same thing as everyone else. Most in the industry are seeking juicy IT contracts so they can set it and forget it. Sadly, in many areas of the country right now, these are a waste of time. There are two reasons why I think this is a mistake to even bother with. First, any worth having are likely already being addressed by someone else. Second, you’re going to spend entirely too much time chasing what amounts to a pot of gold. The reality is the only areas for growth left are with homes and small businesses that cannot afford traditional PC repair services like they did a few years ago.
Getting real about business survival
The good news is most of your competition are ego filled wind bags who would sooner juggle chainsaws or switch careers before even considering what I’m about to share with you here. If you’re PC repair business is failing, your bank account is running on empty, and you have nothing to lose — you’re living on borrowed time. This means you basically have no other advantage or currency to trade in other than what little time you have left before shutting down altogether. This presents you with two very specific options. One, take the way out that most of your competition will: give up. This is why so many of the “little guys” never seem to be around very long. The second option is to swallow your pride, forget about what you made per hour last year, and accept that the rules have changed. Well, at least they’ve changed in the face of your business survival.
Social Media used sparingly. Stop playing with Twitter and Facebook and start meeting people in real life. While it’s very profitable for many businesses to run fancy Web sites and be ever-present on social media, I think that for PC repair techs it’s largely a waste of time. Note that I said spending time on it. Having a presence on Facebook and Twitter is important, but your time needs to be spent making money and not “chatting” with people hoping to weasel your free time away from you.
Use the medium appropriate for your clients. I’m going to be ultimately clear and say right now that 98% of your potential clients have no idea what “Twitter” is and only 85% or so care about following you on Facebook. Anyone claiming otherwise is full of you know what. Think about it. Do you follow your plumber or doctor on the social Web? With the exception of super-geeks, of course not. Some folks do, especially those who are embracing technology for all it’s worth. But “regular” folks don’t care. These are professionals hired to fix a problem and likely are folks that cost the recipient a pretty penny. Why would anyone follow someone who is going to be used only for reactive care health/plumbing/repair/etc.? The logic simply doesn’t follow with mainstream America.
My suggestion is to consider getting the word out using media that people who are less than tech savvy might happen to use. Granted, taking out a radio/TV/print ad isn’t going to cut it, either. After all, there’s still no compelling reason to care. But if you did a press release / announcement that you’re doing something unusual for free… this has rendered a lot of traditional media attention in a hurry. I did this years ago and yes, it works very well.
At this stage, you’ve already decided that your pride has been swallowed and you realize that what you do is both controlled and only a short term means of getting some immediate attention. I am suggesting you do a press release suggesting that you will provide free PC repair/tune-ups for those falling into one of the following categories: family of those serving in the military or overcoming a personal tragedy (such as cancer), and people affected by local events (such as a natural disaster). Either of the two options above will get your local media’s attention. A drawing of X number people are pulled to be chosen for free repair for an extended period of time.
How does doing something nice (for a limited period of time) help to save your business? Simple: it not only gets the word out immediately that you exist, but it also demonstrates that you’re not just looking to grab a quick buck on a repair that should have been preventable in the first place. After all, let’s face it. Most PC repairs are due to a certain OS being a magnet for malware. Despite the tools being out there to prevent them, here we are regardless. So by the PR being put out there, along with your Web site, your business is positioned to gain a whole new set of eyeballs. Now to offer them something they’ve never seen before. Well, at least not locally.
If you’re interested thus far, be sure to check out the next part of this series in which I share exactly what the “offering” is and how it can turn your PC repair business around. Keep an eye out for How to Save Your Computer Repair Business Part 2, coming up tomorrow.