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General Chat Thread, Startup Business - PC/Laptop service/repair in General; Doing this kind of work in addition to the 'day job' can be good for extra money. It has the ...
  1. #16

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    Doing this kind of work in addition to the 'day job' can be good for extra money. It has the advantage that you will probably visit the client in their own environment, at a time when they are not at work, so is more convenient for them. However, you do need to be upfront about your pricing, it can come as a shock to clients when you have spent several hours of what looks like just sitting there.

    With virus removal, I find it can often take hours, not to remove the obvious problem, but to scan with 1, 2 maybe even 3 pieces of software to ensure it is clean. This is best done off-site, as you can do it whilst you are at home (you need to right business insurance policies) and then it doesn't matter if you have to leave it overnight.

    A laptop I was asked to upgrade from Vista Home Premium to Vista Ultimate recently took 16 hours including getting it all sorted with Windows updates. It's a long story, but I only charged the client for 3 hours as it did most of the work whilst I was watching telly and doing other work.

    You do need to price accordingly, remember your taxes, NI, insurance, transport costs (including uprated business use of your vehicle), tools, software. You'll work out you lose about 30% of anything you charge before you think about profit.

  2. #17
    stariq's Avatar
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    ...they wouldnt expect a friend who is a builder to come round and knock up a wall without any payment!!
    I would!! I have had this in the past - get the broadband up and running for a mate and he installed my shower

  3. #18
    mjs_mjs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stariq View Post
    I would!! I have had this in the past - get the broadband up and running for a mate and he installed my shower
    Thats where the term tradesmen came from. You trade your services.

  4. #19
    theeldergeek
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevenwba View Post
    You raise a good point about how the prices can add up, and your insight is really helpful to me, but im already employed full time, so i wouldnt want to give up my job to try this out, so that is why if i were going to try this, is do this after work and see "how it goes" im looking at getting business from word of mouth, so good customer service and fair pricing is key to this otherwise i wont get anywhere, as for giving the industry a bad name, i cannot agree, im not a fly by night shop, im looking at fixing computer issues of people i know and friends of theirs so ripping them off and doing a bad job wont be an option, its surely this dodgey little shops opening everywhere run by people looking to cash in on peoples lack of knowledge, i suppose its the same as car garages really, hard to find people pricing right for the quality of work done!
    I was the same as you, doing it part time after 'normal' hours to earn a few quid. However, I reached a point where I had to commit to doing it full time, or not at all.

    I had very few hours left in the day after finishing work, and although I had weekends, I also had a young family with whom I wanted to spend time.

    I was 'fortunate' in that I got made redundant, and with a good severance package, I ploughed it all into the business to go full time.

    It took me about 3 years to really establish myself as the top dog in town, but i did, and I got recognition from Trading Standards by way of an award as a "top trader".

    But, I kicked all this off in the mid 90's, when there weren't computer "experts" coming out of every orifice and it was quite a specialist occupation. The Internet was taking off (albeit with 14.4 modems!) and the whole PC in a home was fairly new.

    Things rapidly progressed, but by the time I finally decided to call it a day, I found more and more of my time was spent either removing malware from machines, or arguing with the public about my fee, despite me cutting it back to compete with the £10 an hour weekend wannabe's.

    I was lucky because I had moved into the business arena by then, so I stopped worrying about domestic customers, although I did have a number of 'bread and butter' clients who I wouldn't hesitate to support.

    I think it's a mugs game now, personally, but that is just my opinion, and you or someone else might be of a different calibre to ensure success. However, don't be under any illusion - if you want to do it properly - that it's easy money.

    The problem is customer perception.

    Customers who take you on as a part-timer earning a bit of extra cash, will not entirely trust you, will not want to pay you the going rate, and will ruin your growth reputation by telling other people you come cheap.

    You will, therefore, spend hours removing Malware for pennies.

    You are not the first 'saviour' of the computer consumer, looking to change things for the better, shoving the bad guys out the door on the way to your first honest million.

    But to arrive at that door, you have to be dynamic, and you have to have something no-one else has got.

    Seeing how it goes isn't an option. You either do it, or you don't. If you've got to "see how it goes", then I suggest you don't, because you perhaps don't have what it takes to go and do 'it' in the first place? Maybe I'm just intolerant of dithering and prefer the bull and horns, who knows.

    As for damaging the industry, you do if you work from your back pocket. You will be seen by the customer in the same light as they see any other slightly dodgy 'tradesperson'. You might do them a good job, but by your very actions, you are saying the industry is not worth your professional time or effort.

    At the very least, run it as a part-time but professional business.




    .
    Last edited by theeldergeek; 18th January 2010 at 01:42 PM.

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    OverWorked (18th January 2010)

  6. #20
    stevenwba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theeldergeek View Post
    I was the same as you, doing it part time after 'normal' hours to earn a few quid. However, I reached a point where I had to commit to doing it full time, or not at all.

    I had very few hours left in the day after finishing work, and although I had weekends, I also had a young family with whom I wanted to spend time.

    I was 'fortunate' in that I got made redundant, and with a good severance package, I ploughed it all into the business to go full time.

    It took me about 3 years to really establish myself as the top dog in town, but i did, and I got recognition from Trading Standards by way of an award as a "top trader".

    But, I kicked all this off in the mid 90's, when there weren't computer "experts" coming out of every orifice and it was quite a specialist occupation. The Internet was taking off (albeit with 14.4 modems!) and the whole PC in a home was fairly new.

    Things rapidly progressed, but by the time I finally decided to call it a day, I found more and more of my time was spent either removing malware from machines, or arguing with the public about my fee, despite me cutting it back to compete with the £10 an hour weekend wannabe's.

    I was lucky because I had moved into the business arena by then, so I stopped worrying about domestic customers, although I did have a number of 'bread and butter' clients who I wouldn't hesitate to support.

    I think it's a mugs game now, personally, but that is just my opinion, and you or someone else might be of a different calibre to ensure success. However, don't be under any illusion - if you want to do it properly - that it's easy money.
    Thanks so much for your post, i cant tell you how much our situations sound the same, i have a young family, got to the point where i need to take it further or stop all together as i cannot continue doing what im doing, i think even if i was making money, which from what it sounds like from you and other, its not easy at all to even get to the point of making even a little profit, im thinking maybe look for a job that will give me that little extra rather then spend my free time dealing with customers etc.

    Family time is worth way more to me that money any day of the week.

    Once again, i cant thank you enough for your insight!

  7. #21
    theeldergeek
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevenwba View Post
    Thanks so much for your post, i cant tell you how much our situations sound the same, i have a young family, got to the point where i need to take it further or stop all together as i cannot continue doing what im doing, i think even if i was making money, which from what it sounds like from you and other, its not easy at all to even get to the point of making even a little profit, im thinking maybe look for a job that will give me that little extra rather then spend my free time dealing with customers etc.

    Family time is worth way more to me that money any day of the week.

    Once again, i cant thank you enough for your insight!
    A pleasure, even if it has dashed some of your hopes

    I'm not saying don't do it (although I personally wouldn't do it again) but if you do, then there's a fair bit of 'stuff' to take on board and be aware of, otherwise you'll end up hating doing it which will reflect in your work and you'll end up being sloppy which will in turn affect customer retention.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.
    Last edited by theeldergeek; 18th January 2010 at 08:54 PM.

  8. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by theeldergeek View Post
    ...and Office
    Or, in most cases, trying to convince people that yes, they really do have to pay for Office, no, it doesn't come included in Windows, yes, it does cost £60, no, I can't just copy you a CD...

    --
    David Hicks

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    ButterflyMoon (21st January 2010)

  10. #23
    theeldergeek
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Or, in most cases, trying to convince people that yes, they really do have to pay for Office, no, it doesn't come included in Windows, yes, it does cost £60, no, I can't just copy you a CD...


    --
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    I really did chuckle to myself over that! That is just so true to life.

  11. #24
    stevenwba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theeldergeek View Post
    I really did chuckle to myself over that! That is just so true to life.

    Its the same with any software, for some reason if they cant touch it with hands, it doesnt really exsist = dont have to pay for it

  12. #25

    localzuk's Avatar
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    I used to be employed at Lancaster Uni, removing viruses from student's computers that were foobared. Virus removal could take anywhere between 30 minutes and 6 hours - it depends on the computer, the virus, the anti-virus software, how busy you are etc... Half of the machines were sent away with 're-install windows' attached to them (we didn't do it, as that wasn't part of the service offered).

    Some of the machines would have more than one virus (they seem to like company), and take hours of researching different viruses, trawling through the registry etc...

    6 hours, even at a low price of £20 an hour would be £120. It soon adds up.

  13. #26

    m25man's Avatar
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    Viruses, Malware & User Issues are a time consuming resource drain.
    We always do our best for all clients both corporate and retail but when dealing with these the rule is, if you can't fix it within the hour, copy the data and re-image it!

    That way the "No fix no fee" should never see you out of pocket.
    Time is your most precious commodity so log every minute of it on every job as lost time is the equivelent to a hemorrhage.

    If you can fairly bill for every minute that you actually spend fixing stuff you will do all right!

    And lastly, no more freebies charge everyone, no more mate rates!

  14. #27

    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    It's something I considered many a time, and each time I did the thought of the paperwork behind it all dragged me back into common sense As eldergeek correctly points out, you could be the best in the area at your job but the competition with other companies and cowboys as well as with people's perceptions, it's an uphill struggle with a slope that appears to get steeper. So, I decided that servitude would be a safer bet - especially as I don't have to worry about too much financial paperwork

  15. #28
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    It takes a long time to be that 'word-of mouth' - Year 2 for myself, still not loads of business. I work full time also and refuse to spend money on the business unless it pays for itself. Which is probably the downfall, but hey I'm still here after 2 years and I've been trying hard to build the reputation.
    It's a tough game, if you can't be flexible with your time then you really will struggle.
    I hope if you do decide to that you have the drive because it does take a lot to keep the motivation when the business isn't there.

    Good luck and best wishes

  16. #29
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    This thread is a great antidote to the rubbish about how the IT industry apparently needs to grow up.


  17. #30
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    Just to comment on theeldergeek's posts. He may sound negative, but in my experience he's largely right.

    I have my main job in a school, and a few bread-and-butter clients (a couple of charities and a small school) who I see regularly.

    Another big problem with becoming self-employed and working on people's home computers, is that your technical skills won't advance with the technology.

    In a school or corporate environment, I'm kept reasonably up-to-date with the constant push for technology, servers, server operating systems, web filters, firewalls, etc...

    If I were to give this up and just fix home computers, (and I was seriously considering it a while ago), I think I'd soon find my career at a dead end. I'd be stuck knowing the latest MS home OS inside out, but not much else.

    Another thing, if you do want to go for it, don't get a high street shop front - they're very expensive. Better to work out of a car with a small toolbox and visit customers in their home. It's the personal touch, more convenient for them, and a lot cheaper for you. Have a small workshop somewhere (spare room) as a base for bigger overnight jobs, and as an office. These little computer repair shops are popping up all over, and have to sell hardware at ridiculous mark-ups, because of their high costs. (£12 for a USB cable, anyone?)

    Another thing: don't do it for beer (or peanuts!). It harms your credibility. In this trade, your credibility is your only real asset. Charge a decent honest rate.

    Just my 2p worth.

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