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Advice on one-man PC Support business?

 
 
Mr Nice
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Posts: n/a
 
      02-22-2005
Hi,

I'm an IT support engineer with a utility company in central Scotland.

My skills range from PC builds and hardware upgrades, to software
installation, configuration, email setup, virus removal, backups etc.

I'm seriously considering setting up on my own - serving home customers and
SMEs rather than being employed by a big company.
A lot of my in-house clients tell me that as well as being competent enough
to address their techy problems, I've got a great attitude to non-techys,
putting them at ease, and not bogging them down with geek-details, and am
generally very amiable.

My questions are:

is there much of a market for PC Users to use one-man PC Support /Repair
businesses?
is there an opportunity to make a reasonable income from such a business -
I'm not talking about PC Builds here.
are there such small businesses using this newsgroup, and have you any
particular advice?
Is it better to work from home, having customers come to you, or to be a
mobile firm? (or a mixture even?)

My thought is that in the same way that some motorists (including myself)
prefer small family-run garages to the big named chains, PC Users may find a
small repair business more friendly than the chains like Dixons, PC World
etc. There's obviously other big/small consumer comparisons to be made, but
you get the idea.

Since this is potentially a significant change in my working status, any
advice on this will be very much appreciated.

Cheers

Mr Nice



 
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trout
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-22-2005
Mr Nice wrote:

> Hi,
>
> I'm an IT support engineer with a utility company in central Scotland.
>
> My skills range from PC builds and hardware upgrades, to software
> installation, configuration, email setup, virus removal, backups etc.
>
> I'm seriously considering setting up on my own - serving home
> customers and SMEs rather than being employed by a big company.
> A lot of my in-house clients tell me that as well as being competent
> enough to address their techy problems, I've got a great attitude to
> non-techys, putting them at ease, and not bogging them down with
> geek-details, and am generally very amiable.
>
> My questions are:
>
> is there much of a market for PC Users to use one-man PC Support
> /Repair businesses?
> is there an opportunity to make a reasonable income from such a
> business - I'm not talking about PC Builds here.
> are there such small businesses using this newsgroup, and have you any
> particular advice?
> Is it better to work from home, having customers come to you, or to
> be a mobile firm? (or a mixture even?)
>
> My thought is that in the same way that some motorists (including
> myself) prefer small family-run garages to the big named chains, PC
> Users may find a small repair business more friendly than the chains
> like Dixons, PC World etc. There's obviously other big/small
> consumer comparisons to be made, but you get the idea.
>
> Since this is potentially a significant change in my working status,
> any advice on this will be very much appreciated.
>
> Cheers
>
> Mr Nice


This sort of business can *potentially* be quite rewarding, but it
will require a period of building. You might consider beginning as a
sideline, and seeing how it goes.
After all, it doesn't require much in the way of over-head. You
don't really need much more than a defined service, a method of payment,
and customers. The latter, obviously, is the hard part.
The best way to build a business like this is word-of-mouth (so to
speak). A good, commonly-used method of using newsgroups is to (really)
participate in newsgroups such as 'this' one. If you use a newsgroup
legitimately, it is usually considered acceptable to include a brief
mention (up to four lines) in a properly-delimited signature. If people
get to know you, and respect your abilities, they will seek you out.
The most frequent mistake that I've seen in newsgroups is a new
business that posts inappropriately, solely to advertise. They are not
just reported for spamming, but are hard-pressed to shake that image.
For a business like this to succeed; you must be both trusted and
liked.
--
"Just a couple of thoughts."


 
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Mark Shaw
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-22-2005

"Mr Nice" <no.spam@thanks> wrote in message
news:421ae312$0$26729$(E-Mail Removed) ...
> Hi,
>
> I'm an IT support engineer with a utility company in central Scotland.
>
> My skills range from PC builds and hardware upgrades, to software
> installation, configuration, email setup, virus removal, backups etc.
>
> I'm seriously considering setting up on my own - serving home customers

and
> SMEs rather than being employed by a big company.
> A lot of my in-house clients tell me that as well as being competent

enough
> to address their techy problems, I've got a great attitude to non-techys,
> putting them at ease, and not bogging them down with geek-details, and am
> generally very amiable.
>
> My questions are:
>
> is there much of a market for PC Users to use one-man PC Support /Repair
> businesses?
> is there an opportunity to make a reasonable income from such a business -
> I'm not talking about PC Builds here.
> are there such small businesses using this newsgroup, and have you any
> particular advice?
> Is it better to work from home, having customers come to you, or to be a
> mobile firm? (or a mixture even?)
>
> My thought is that in the same way that some motorists (including myself)
> prefer small family-run garages to the big named chains, PC Users may find

a
> small repair business more friendly than the chains like Dixons, PC World
> etc. There's obviously other big/small consumer comparisons to be made,

but
> you get the idea.
>
> Since this is potentially a significant change in my working status, any
> advice on this will be very much appreciated.
>
> Cheers
>
> Mr Nice
>
>


Yes, there's a huge business out there.
As another poster mentioned, word of mouth is the best form of advertising.
Formal advertising in places like yellow pages costs a fortune, so your
contacts are key to success.
First step you should speak with your local small business advisor i.e. the
scottish equivalent of www.investni.com
You'll have to get to grip with plenty of red tape, accounting, tax rules,
etc.
You may need a part time job to keep yourself going while starting off the
business. This may take 2 years or more.
Working from home will save you heaps of money in business rent. Go to the
customers. If its a network problem, you'll need to be at the customers
site.
In your first few months, you'll be working a couple of hours per week
wondering if you'll ever get any business. By your 4th year, you'll be
working 60-70hours a week wondering if it will ever slow down for you to
catch your breath.

Good luck,
Mark.


 
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127.0.0.1
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-22-2005

"Mr Nice" <no.spam@thanks> wrote in message
news:421ae312$0$26729$(E-Mail Removed) ...
> Hi,
>
> I'm an IT support engineer with a utility company in central Scotland.
>
> My skills range from PC builds and hardware upgrades, to software
> installation, configuration, email setup, virus removal, backups etc.
>
> I'm seriously considering setting up on my own - serving home customers
> and
> SMEs rather than being employed by a big company.
> A lot of my in-house clients tell me that as well as being competent
> enough
> to address their techy problems, I've got a great attitude to non-techys,
> putting them at ease, and not bogging them down with geek-details, and am
> generally very amiable.
>
> My questions are:
>
> is there much of a market for PC Users to use one-man PC Support /Repair
> businesses?
> is there an opportunity to make a reasonable income from such a business -
> I'm not talking about PC Builds here.
> are there such small businesses using this newsgroup, and have you any
> particular advice?
> Is it better to work from home, having customers come to you, or to be a
> mobile firm? (or a mixture even?)
>
> My thought is that in the same way that some motorists (including myself)
> prefer small family-run garages to the big named chains, PC Users may find
> a
> small repair business more friendly than the chains like Dixons, PC World
> etc. There's obviously other big/small consumer comparisons to be made,
> but
> you get the idea.
>
> Since this is potentially a significant change in my working status, any
> advice on this will be very much appreciated.
>
> Cheers
>
> Mr Nice


first, drop the "engineer" from your title. engineering requires the
creation of technology.
second, you will make more $$ managing consultants instead of being one
yourself.
once you build a client base, there will be more work than you can handle.
to keep up with demand, subcontract with other IT consultants. get them the
temp jobs for a fee.

here in the US, i suppliment my normal IT job by fixing home computers on
the side. by word of mouth, i usually get 10 clients a month. at first, i
went to the customer's site, now they just drop off their machines.

only problem with being self employed is providing your own
medical/dental/optical insurance for your family.

-a|ex


 
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Plato
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-22-2005
Mr Nice wrote:
>
> I'm seriously considering setting up on my own - serving home customers and
> SMEs rather than being employed by a big company.


When peoples computers break and they need it fixed right away they look
in the local phone book and hire the first person that answers the
phone. They look at the mid sized ads for example we had a 1/8 page ad
which generated about 1 - 2 calls/day. The ad was expensive but it only
took a few days work each month to pay for it.

The 8:00 calls are quite profitable as that's when folks open their
business and find that the secretary cant type a letter or get on the
network. Price is of secondary importance as the owner wants to be up
asap. If you get the pcs working asap they WILL call you back next time
even if your bill is quite hefty.

Make sure the number in the phone book can be answered personally or
even forwarded to your cell phone.

 
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Mr Nice
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-22-2005
Thanks for your response Mark.

Can I assume then that you're in the business

Are you US-based, UK or other? I'm curious that even though there's a
market in the US, maybe UK or specifically Scotland could be different.

As you've suggested, I DO intend to work from home with site visits if
required. I've no intention of taking on premises.

My wife runs a similar small business from home (not IT) and it's a great
success, specifically *because* her customers love the more personal at-home
service.

> By your 4th year, you'll be
> working 60-70hours a week wondering if it will ever slow down for you to
> catch your breath.


That's one issue I'll be delighted to have to deal with, seeing as how it
suggests it's been a success.

If you ARE in the business, here's to your continued success.

Cheers

M. Nice


"Mark Shaw" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:zfGSd.89$(E-Mail Removed)...
>
> "Mr Nice" <no.spam@thanks> wrote in message
> news:421ae312$0$26729$(E-Mail Removed) ...
>> Hi,
>>
>> I'm an IT support engineer with a utility company in central Scotland.
>>
>> My skills range from PC builds and hardware upgrades, to software
>> installation, configuration, email setup, virus removal, backups etc.
>>
>> I'm seriously considering setting up on my own - serving home customers

> and
>> SMEs rather than being employed by a big company.
>> A lot of my in-house clients tell me that as well as being competent

> enough
>> to address their techy problems, I've got a great attitude to non-techys,
>> putting them at ease, and not bogging them down with geek-details, and am
>> generally very amiable.
>>
>> My questions are:
>>
>> is there much of a market for PC Users to use one-man PC Support /Repair
>> businesses?
>> is there an opportunity to make a reasonable income from such a
>> business -
>> I'm not talking about PC Builds here.
>> are there such small businesses using this newsgroup, and have you any
>> particular advice?
>> Is it better to work from home, having customers come to you, or to be a
>> mobile firm? (or a mixture even?)
>>
>> My thought is that in the same way that some motorists (including myself)
>> prefer small family-run garages to the big named chains, PC Users may
>> find

> a
>> small repair business more friendly than the chains like Dixons, PC World
>> etc. There's obviously other big/small consumer comparisons to be made,

> but
>> you get the idea.
>>
>> Since this is potentially a significant change in my working status, any
>> advice on this will be very much appreciated.
>>
>> Cheers
>>
>> Mr Nice
>>
>>

>
> Yes, there's a huge business out there.
> As another poster mentioned, word of mouth is the best form of
> advertising.
> Formal advertising in places like yellow pages costs a fortune, so your
> contacts are key to success.
> First step you should speak with your local small business advisor i.e.
> the
> scottish equivalent of www.investni.com
> You'll have to get to grip with plenty of red tape, accounting, tax rules,
> etc.
> You may need a part time job to keep yourself going while starting off the
> business. This may take 2 years or more.
> Working from home will save you heaps of money in business rent. Go to the
> customers. If its a network problem, you'll need to be at the customers
> site.
> In your first few months, you'll be working a couple of hours per week
> wondering if you'll ever get any business. By your 4th year, you'll be
> working 60-70hours a week wondering if it will ever slow down for you to
> catch your breath.
>
> Good luck,
> Mark.
>
>



 
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Mr Nice
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-22-2005
Thanks a|ex for taking the time to respond.

> once you build a client base, there will be more work than you can handle.
> to keep up with demand, subcontract with other IT consultants. get them
> the temp jobs for a fee.


This sounds similar to Mark's response - and having too *much* work sounds
way more attractive than not enough.

> here in the US, i suppliment my normal IT job by fixing home computers on
> the side. by word of mouth, i usually get 10 clients a month. at first, i
> went to the customer's site, now they just drop off their machines.


Yeah, I though WOM would be the best, most valuable type of business - I've
learned this from my wife's business, where she now never advertises, and
all her business is WOM.

Sounds like you also have the right attitude/skills for this - any reason
why you haven't gone for it full-time rather than supplemental?

Or does your last paragraph answer that?

Cheers

M. Nice


"127.0.0.1" <get.rooted@localhost> wrote in message
news:_4HSd.8325$(E-Mail Removed) ink.net...
>
> "Mr Nice" <no.spam@thanks> wrote in message
> news:421ae312$0$26729$(E-Mail Removed) ...
>> Hi,
>>
>> I'm an IT support engineer with a utility company in central Scotland.
>>
>> My skills range from PC builds and hardware upgrades, to software
>> installation, configuration, email setup, virus removal, backups etc.
>>
>> I'm seriously considering setting up on my own - serving home customers
>> and
>> SMEs rather than being employed by a big company.
>> A lot of my in-house clients tell me that as well as being competent
>> enough
>> to address their techy problems, I've got a great attitude to non-techys,
>> putting them at ease, and not bogging them down with geek-details, and am
>> generally very amiable.
>>
>> My questions are:
>>
>> is there much of a market for PC Users to use one-man PC Support /Repair
>> businesses?
>> is there an opportunity to make a reasonable income from such a
>> business -
>> I'm not talking about PC Builds here.
>> are there such small businesses using this newsgroup, and have you any
>> particular advice?
>> Is it better to work from home, having customers come to you, or to be a
>> mobile firm? (or a mixture even?)
>>
>> My thought is that in the same way that some motorists (including myself)
>> prefer small family-run garages to the big named chains, PC Users may
>> find a
>> small repair business more friendly than the chains like Dixons, PC World
>> etc. There's obviously other big/small consumer comparisons to be made,
>> but
>> you get the idea.
>>
>> Since this is potentially a significant change in my working status, any
>> advice on this will be very much appreciated.
>>
>> Cheers
>>
>> Mr Nice

>
> first, drop the "engineer" from your title. engineering requires the
> creation of technology.
> second, you will make more $$ managing consultants instead of being one
> yourself.
> once you build a client base, there will be more work than you can handle.
> to keep up with demand, subcontract with other IT consultants. get them
> the temp jobs for a fee.
>
> here in the US, i suppliment my normal IT job by fixing home computers on
> the side. by word of mouth, i usually get 10 clients a month. at first, i
> went to the customer's site, now they just drop off their machines.
>
> only problem with being self employed is providing your own
> medical/dental/optical insurance for your family.
>
> -a|ex
>



 
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Mr Nice
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-22-2005
Another positive response - thanks Plato.

I appreciate the importance of investing in good advertising in the early
days, and don't mind forking out for this, even if it takes a while to pay
back.

Plato, are you in this business self-employed full-time or is it a sideline
for you as well?

Where are you based, if you don't mind me asking?

Cheers

M. Nice

"Plato" <|@|.|> wrote in message
news:421b5a5d$0$11307$(E-Mail Removed)...
> Mr Nice wrote:
>>
>> I'm seriously considering setting up on my own - serving home customers
>> and
>> SMEs rather than being employed by a big company.

>
> When peoples computers break and they need it fixed right away they look
> in the local phone book and hire the first person that answers the
> phone. They look at the mid sized ads for example we had a 1/8 page ad
> which generated about 1 - 2 calls/day. The ad was expensive but it only
> took a few days work each month to pay for it.
>
> The 8:00 calls are quite profitable as that's when folks open their
> business and find that the secretary cant type a letter or get on the
> network. Price is of secondary importance as the owner wants to be up
> asap. If you get the pcs working asap they WILL call you back next time
> even if your bill is quite hefty.
>
> Make sure the number in the phone book can be answered personally or
> even forwarded to your cell phone.
>



 
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Mr Nice
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-22-2005
Guys,

thanks very kindly for all your responses - very encouraging.

One thing I'm curious about is repeat business. I know of other folks whose
successful businesses hinge on them getting regular business (say, monthly
to quarterly) from clients. I'm wondering if there's much call for such
repeat business in our line of work? I mean, once we've upgraded the
PC/removed the virus or spyware/upgraded to XP/configured mail or broadband,
how long before the customer DOES come back needing more of our services?

I certainly would never over-sell services that the customer doesn't need,
but if we do our job well enough first time round, chances are they won't
need us back again?

On a slightly different topic - what kind of rates do you charge? Fixed
rate for certain jobs, or hourly rates?

Any further comments most welcome.

Cheers

Mr Nice

"Mr Nice" <no.spam@thanks> wrote in message
news:421ae312$0$26729$(E-Mail Removed) ...
> Hi,
>
> I'm an IT support engineer with a utility company in central Scotland.
>
> My skills range from PC builds and hardware upgrades, to software
> installation, configuration, email setup, virus removal, backups etc.
>
> I'm seriously considering setting up on my own - serving home customers
> and
> SMEs rather than being employed by a big company.
> A lot of my in-house clients tell me that as well as being competent
> enough
> to address their techy problems, I've got a great attitude to non-techys,
> putting them at ease, and not bogging them down with geek-details, and am
> generally very amiable.
>
> My questions are:
>
> is there much of a market for PC Users to use one-man PC Support /Repair
> businesses?
> is there an opportunity to make a reasonable income from such a business -
> I'm not talking about PC Builds here.
> are there such small businesses using this newsgroup, and have you any
> particular advice?
> Is it better to work from home, having customers come to you, or to be a
> mobile firm? (or a mixture even?)
>
> My thought is that in the same way that some motorists (including myself)
> prefer small family-run garages to the big named chains, PC Users may find
> a
> small repair business more friendly than the chains like Dixons, PC World
> etc. There's obviously other big/small consumer comparisons to be made,
> but
> you get the idea.
>
> Since this is potentially a significant change in my working status, any
> advice on this will be very much appreciated.
>
> Cheers
>
> Mr Nice
>
>
>



 
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Plato
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-22-2005
Mr Nice wrote:
>
> Another positive response - thanks Plato.


You're welcome.

> I appreciate the importance of investing in good advertising in the early
> days, and don't mind forking out for this, even if it takes a while to pay
> back.


You have to do that before the referrals start working. You cant get
referrals without existing customers or lets say, a local pc
hardware/software to provide referrals assuming you got some buddies
there.

> Plato, are you in this business self-employed full-time or is it a sideline
> for you as well?


Full time onsite service since 1995. You're going to need perhaps 1500
Euros worth of crap in your boot to take with you. Everything from
modems to keyboards to cables to a spare 15" used monitor and a new hub,
router etc. You have to carry anything you'd need to fix the problem
asap. Dont stock cases or motherboards, cpus tho. But you'll need a nice
assortment of RAM, spare mobo batteries, several types of new power
supplies, etc. You get the point. You'll see what you need after a bit
of return calls when you dont have what you need

> Where are you based, if you don't mind me asking?


The place with the highest car insurance and taxes on Earth, New Jersey.


 
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