Running your own computer repair business, either part or full time, can be a pretty awesome and rewarding experience. The biggest challenge would probably be building up a steady stream of income. Having a steady revenue stream can help to break the “feast or famine” cycle, and provide your growing business with some much needed income stability.
Arguably the best way to stabilize your income is to provide services that generate a recurring revenue.
An easy, and often overlooked, way to start generating a steady source of income is to start offering your residential clients a “managed antivirus” service.
What is Managed AV?
Managed Antivirus is antivirus that you or your company install and maintain for your customer. Definition updates, scan scheduling, etc. are all taken care of for the customer by you or your company, with the help of RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management) software.
With Managed Antivirus you can not only charge your customer a premium for having a “real-life person” actively monitoring and maintaining their antivirus software, but are also in direct control of billing and renewals. When your client pays for Managed Antivirus they’re paying you directly, which also helps keep an open line of communication between you and your customer.
Do your homework
There are a number of RMM programs available, all with different sets of features and vast differences in pricing. After looking around a bit, you’ll probably find that a majority of them are primarily focused on being used for managing business clients, but there are a few out there that are perfect for managing your residential customers.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the developers of any RMM that happens to catch your eye. Many of them offer a free trial, and would be more than happy to walk you through all of their features either remotely or over the phone.
Choose the right product
Choosing the right RMM is like picking a good pair of shoes. You need to find something that fits well, won’t wear out quickly, and doesn’t leave you broke.
It’s also helpful to keep in mind that just like shoes, it’s also perfectly acceptable to have more than one pair. A RMM that is right for your small business clients won’t necessarily be a good fit for your residential clients, or vice-versa.
For my business clients I have chosen MaxFocus, primarily for it’s full set of features that business clients often require.
Whichever RMM you choose, it’s a good idea to completely familiarize yourself with the product by installing it on a couple of test machines and playing with the various features. As I pointed out previously, most RMMs offer a bunch of educational material, either in the form of videos, forums, or even direct communication with the provider themselves. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or utilize customer support.
No more free AV
Now that you’ve chosen the software, it’s time to start selling the service to your customers.
One of the first things you’re going to need to do is establish a new rule for your business: No more free Antivirus.
A lot of technicians like to “do the customer a favor” but installing their favorite free antivirus on the client’s machine after a malware removal. The problem with doing this is that there is no way for you to completely support the software, and even worse, there’s really no way to guarantee it’s effectiveness to your customer.
What happens when an infection gets past that free antivirus a week after you’ve serviced the computer? Are you going to do the work all over again free of charge? How are you going to keep the customer from reinfection?
Another problem with offering your clients a free antivirus is that in doing so you are devaluing your own service. By offering something for “free” you’re not doing the customer a favor, you’re really telling your customer that the value of whatever you’re offering is zero.
The best way to give your customer value is to provide them with the best service that you can. Service that you can absolutely stand behind. In order to do that, you’re going to need to sell them on the services that you provide.
Sell, sell, sell
Now that you know what you’re going to sell, why you’re selling it, and are familiar with the software, all that’s left to do is to start actually selling the product to your clients.
A lot of us aren’t salespeople by nature, but that’s no problem at all. Selling antivirus to a customer is probably one of the easiest sales to make.
Think about it; the customer has already come to you because of a problem with malware, which had interrupted their already busy schedules, forcing them to have to get their computer repaired. They’re more than likely interested in anything that would help to prevent them from that sort of stress in the future.
What I do (after determining that the customer’s issue is that of malware, and not some sort of hardware issue) is tell the customer something like: “We can remove the malware, fix any damage that it might have done, and set up an antivirus to keep this sort of thing from happening again for $___”.
See what I did there? I didn’t ask them if they wanted us to set up an antivirus after cleaning up their computer, I didn’t give them different options in the hope that they’ll chose the one that makes makes the company more money, I just told them what it would cost to do the job right. Of course from time to time you’ll get a customer that hems and haws over price, but I’ve found that that’s really more the exception than the rule.
After the sale
Now that you’ve installed your managed antivirus on your customer’s machine, you’re going to want to keep track of your clients and their renewal dates. This can be done through some RMMs, through your CRM or PSA software, or even with a good old fashioned Excel spreadsheet.
About 30 days prior to the renewal date, you can drop the customer an email or give them a a quick phone call to remind them that it’s time to renew their antivirus for another year. Now would be a perfect time to upsell the client on more features that you could provide them with through your chosen RMM, or even get them scheduled for an annual tune up.
As time goes by, you’ll have more and more clients renewing their service each month, giving you some of that sweet, sweet reoccurring revenue that everyone loves.