Work on the side
Hi, I know there's been threads about this before, but I can't find them with the search :(
I am looking to earn a bit of extra cash, doing some routine computer work on the side. My idea was a collect & return service, picking up peoples faulty computers, fixing them at home and then returning them, or possibly doing the work 'on-site'.
Does anyone currently do this? Some advice would be appreciated :)
How much should I charge? Per hour + parts? or fixed price depending on the fix?
Where's the best place to advertise? I was thinking a FB/twitter page and then distributing business cards in the local area with my details on.
What equipment would I need as a minimum?
Many thanks :)
Before you get onto to hourly rates and equipment, you need to get advice on tax and national insurance... and liability insurance. If you are going to set yourself up in business, legall, you must do all three!
Collect and return service will need extra insurance on your car (unless you are on a push bike...) as that will be classed as using it for business rather than SDP
Second what's been said so far. As for charging, I'd suggest hourly plus parts, with a minimum charge of x hours (even if x=1 in your case, it makes it clear that a 10 min fix doesn't mean they can pay 1/6th of your normal hourly fee). Fixed fee would mean that if a simple job turns more complex (if a simple 'service and rebuild my computer' goes pear-shaped due to the cables being a mess or the system being too buggy to run your pre-install backup in a reasonable time frame) then you'll be operating at a loss.
Quoting this for massive massive emphasis. I worked for a small desktop/home support company and we had problems with stuff like this all the time because the guy who owned/managed everything didn't really "get" how tech support worked. The people you are going to be dealing with will know nothing about computers. To them, a computer is a magic box. If it breaks, you buy a new one or you take it to the wizard to have the magic put back in. This means some jobs might literally be a case of going into the house and switching the plug on at the wall, or similarly non-IT problems. When this happens your customers will argue that they shouldn't have to pay you for a full hour (or sometimes at all). This happened to me before, I spent 45 minutes travelling to a job by bike and the problem they were having (USB drive not reading) was because some genius had plugged the USB drive into the Ethernet port. When I tried to charge them for 2 hours (as that was our minimum call-out time), the guy went ballistic and threatened to report me to trading standards/take me to court etc. I had to show him the terms and conditions of the website before he actually finally paid up, meaning that I was actually there for about an hour anyway!
Originally Posted by Roberto
After that incident we changed our pricing so that everyone paid a "call out fee" which was roughly equal to 1.5 hours of work at the hourly rate. This included the first hours work, and then any additional time after that was paid on the hourly rate.
The other thing to avoid is running "no fix no fee" deals. People will call you out to their house because their PC is running "a bit slow" and then refuse to pay you for the work because you didn't make it quick again. The fact that the machine in question is a 10 year old Pentium 660 with 256mb of RAM and will never run modern software quickly means nothing to them. They just think you can wave your magic computer wand and have everything running miraculously faster.
Having worked for a small computer repair shop just myself and the owner I worked at part time week days and weekends while at university you will have many many examples of awkward customers expecting super service for penny's or complaining about how you overcharged for some repairs, we set a list of fixed rates for common jobs we could easily repair on products like reinstalls, cloud storage account setup and backup, laptop screen replacements, charger socket repairs etc and charged an hourly rate for other jobs and call outs.
We used to do well on local letter drops the local paper kids delivered and local area news letters. In fact we did better from these then more expensive paper adverts and again online presence, see how you appear for local searchs on different shop locators, review sites etc..
The problem is most callouts are so mundane silly problems for home users they are almost not worth while, very few would be an hour long, most would be stuff like settings up their home network, connecting all their devices to their wi-fi and making sure it was protected, AV installs, windows OS upgrades etc. It also opens your eyes to how many 'normal' people think they are IT wizards and how many use amazingly outdated computers, printers and monitors. In the end after nearly 2 years the shop was offered to me at a cheap rate by the landlord but I declined as I had just been contacted for a few IT Technician interviews, 2 months after I left it closed. The store did see profit but not enough to make it worth while. You probably wont gain any experience other then customer service skills I'm afraid IMO but it keeps people busy I suppose :) best of luck!