There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to the best way to run a computer maintenance or consulting business from home. Some people believe that it’s impossible to do good quality work and get enough turn-over if you don’t take the customer’s computer back to your “shop”. On the other hand, there are techs that work exclusively at the customer’s home and never bring work back home with them.
Which way is the best way to run a PC repair business?
As I’ve done in the past, I decided to weigh the pros and cons of each scenario and see how they stack up against each other using good old-fashioned reasoning. Keep in mind, I’m not taking into account the possibility of opening a store front…that’s a whole different ball of wax and I’ll save that debate for a later time. In the following lists I’ve lined out some of the more important factors that I could think of, drawing from my own experiences.
On-Site PC Repair
- Customers feel more at easy when they can see what you’re doing to their machine.
- It forces you to stay on task and complete the job as quickly as possible.
- If you have any questions the computer, the customer is right there to answer them for you.
- Once you’re done, you’re done.
- Fewer liability concerns.
- You may have the customer looking over your shoulder the whole time.
- There is a great probability that there will be many distractions including pets, kids, and other noises.
- You’ll have nothing to do when the system is running a scan or clean-up except sit there and twiddle your thumbs or make small talk.
- You don’t have the luxury of researching solutions mid-job.
In-Shop PC Repair
- Minimal distractions.
- You have access to all of your tools and diagnostic equipment.
- You can work on multiple systems at a time.
- You can have multiple people working on one system.
- You can work at your own pace with less pressure.
- Liability is a major concern.
- Sometimes the issue may be related to a factor in the customers home, like network set-up, external peripheral, location of computer, etc. that you cannot reproduce in the lab.
- You’ll have to rely on getting a hold of the customer if you need to get additional information about the system.
- Extra travel (there and back to pick up, there and back to drop off).
- You’ll have to ensure tou have adequate transportation to carry computer systems.
- It may be easier for you to procrastinate.
To make the right decision for your business, you’ll need to weigh these options against your personal situation and ask some questions such as:
What kind of work are you doing?
Will you be doing mostly hard ware repairs, software troubleshooting, data recovery, training? Some of these tasks are better completed on-site with the customer present, while others require specialized equipment or intense, focused work in your own shop.
Who are your customers?
If you only service customers in your immediate area, then it might be less of a hassle for you to pick up and drop off your client’s computers. However, if your customers are spread out far and wide, you may want to save time and travel by working on-site.
What can you accommodate?
You’ll need to make sure you have enough room at home to store and work on multiple systems. You’ll need proper power, monitor, and peripheral connections setup. Also, if your primary vehicle is a motorcycle, you may have a hard time transporting computers!
How I’m Running My Business.
So far, I’ve worked strictly on an on-site basis. I have very little work space in my one bedroom apartment, and at this time, since I’ve only just begun my business, my customers are spread out all over the place. I also appreciate interacting with the customers and having them available to speak with if I have any questions. I try to lessen my time on site by asking the customer for a thorough explanation of the issue before I arrive (which is harder said than done) and I do as much research as I can before hand.
I would eventually like to incorporate a policy in which I take computers back to my place for certain repairs, but I’ll probably wait until I buy a house to start doing that. It would be nice to avoid those awkward silences in which I’ve been sitting waiting for a scan to finish and the customer is sitting right beside me, seemingly wondering why I’m wasting their time. Also, it’s much nicer to have the luxury of researching a problem without eating the customers time to do a quick on-the-sly google search.
For all my tech friends out there, what have been your experiences with on-site vs. in-shop computer work? Which do you prefer?