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Chacham's Journal: Question: Computer "oil change", good idea? 8

Journal by Chacham

In the effort to find a job, i'm thinking of starting my own business. However, i suiffer the fate of many other geeks, that is, being able to handle the techincal side but not the selling side. "If only i could find a salesman, i'd split the profits 50/50" is an oft heard comment. Woz was great, but Jobs had to sell their Apple.

Anyway, my idea for a business can be summed up as an "oil change". Howe many people do you know that need direction, updates, cleanups, backups, and the like on their computer? How about someone coming by once a month and performing a virus clean, update common programs, and backup. Then once every three months and updating all their runtimes and give them newer programs to handle common media. And once a year for a serious wipe of all useless programs, or even an OS reinstall.

People ask many people for advice. People even ask me about computers. Yet, i have no clear policy, and these people are left guessing. Wouldn't a company working in such an area have fertile ground? Once procedures are set, the amount of time spent on individual computers would be miniscule, and many headaches would be gone.

I'd also like to see a company that handles tech support for individuals. Right now tech supports have low-techs working for them because of those who call. First line of defense would probably be better handled by one company for a variety of programs, and then only call the actual companies when there is a real issue. I think people would be happy with that.

I think backups is a big poi nt here. So many want it but don't have the time or the knowhow to do it.

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I've been told that for indivduals this would be a hard sell, especially because the cost has to be low. I agree. The market is there, but perhaps it'll be better addressed after a business market is developed.

The oppurtunity for small business here, however, seems viable. Many small comapnies have one or two computers and could use some form of updates, even if only once every six months to install a new hard drive. more memory (they rarely know the difference), remove spyware, update programs, and the like.

I'm seriously thinking about this, yet i am afraid i lack the confidence to do it. Though, i would hope that my confidence would build, if others think this is a good idea, and clearer guidlelines and objectives were defined.

So, what do you think? And especially if you live the Detroit area, would you like to get involved?

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Question: Computer "oil change", good idea?

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  • It's a great idea. I've been trying to get the right circumstances to get it moving in Albany, myself.

    I think black and white posters with contact info & basic rates (say, $15/hour or $50/problem) would do it.

    We could even do two posters, one for non-techs and one for techs. "Computer broken? Call a mechanic" and "Tired to being free tech support for you family? Pay someone to do it!" both seem great taglines to me.

    • I also think this is a great idea.

      One issue I have is with flat-rate pricing. You probably don't want to do that... What if it's a big problem that takes longer than you anticipate?
      I have found that many/most consumer PCs are in a can-of-worms state... or their users will spring additional tasks on you once you're there (and they suddenly remember).

      I'm in the Seattle/Tacoma area and I charge my customers $20/hr with a cap at $100. And I charge $100 to acquire & assemble parts, setup/install software a
      • What if it's a big problem that takes longer than you anticipate?

        Good point. Perhaps at the start of business though, if only to drum up customers, it is a good idea.
      • One issue I have is with flat-rate pricing. You probably don't want to do that... What if it's a big problem that takes longer than you anticipate?
        I have found that many/most consumer PCs are in a can-of-worms state... or their users will spring additional tasks on you once you're there (and they suddenly remember).


        That's why I'd charge by the hour or "by the problem."

        User calls me up, says "My outlook isn't working," and I come over to fix the thing. If they ask about their printer, or their mouse, or
    • Interesting. Though, how would i define the rates?
  • Promotion of small business is generally by word of mouth anyway. Start with those people who are already asking for your services. Name your price and see who you can sign up. Ask satisfied customers to tell their friends. If it looks promising at that point, then you can worry about finding a sales person

    Another way of getting initial customers is to post flyers -- preferably where small business owners are likely to see them (is there typically a bulletin board at Staples, Office Depot, etc.? I don't re

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