computer maintenance business

  mcds01 10:30 14 Sep 2004

Hi Everyone.

Im considering starting up a small computer repair/maintenance business in my spare time. Doing upgrades for people, looking into faults etc etc. Been thinking about doing it for a while as I am constantly getting asked to look at a computer or give my opinion. Obviously it would be nothing too serious. Just something I could do in my spare time after work and at weekends. I feel I have enough experience to sort out common problems that the regular computer user comes across. Was just wondering if anyone here has tried something similar or would like to give an opinion or any ideas or suggestions. Just thinking about it at the minute so any comments would be greatly appreciated and taken on board.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 10:53 14 Sep 2004

Get yourself a 1Gb pen drive ( 70 squid) and load it with Ccleaner, regseeker, and all manner of fixes/freebie programmes (a current version free version of AVG is also handy). It is worth putting the Tiscali dial-up programme on as well so that you can get onto the net if their ISP/connection is borked. It is also worth having a set of boot floppies for ALL the popular OS and a SMALL computer tool kit for tearing into cases. A complete range of freeware trojan/worm removers are necessary.

Make sure that you are red hot on home wireless networking.

Belarc Advisor is a good programme to have so that you can identify all the bits on a computer and a copy of SP2 would be another good one. A list of web addresses of all the support/driver sites is also useful You need to know how to bypass BIOS and system passwords (for those that have forgotten or have bought a 2nd hand computer that has a BIOS lock). Finally read all the forums that you can, the same problems are repeated daily. Get to know these problems and fixes and you are 98% there.

Below is a short checklist that you should do to every computer.............

Remove unnecessary programs from the computer startup

Update virus software and check for viruses.

Check for and remove spyware and/or browser hijackers.

Uninstall unnecessary programs.

Delete "trash" files and temporary files .

Remove unnecessary network settings.

Fine-tune display settings and set display to fit monitor window.

Run diagnostic software and correct disk and/or directory errors.

Defrag the hard drive.

...finally, it is worth sending out a short news email to every customer on a monthly basis....virus news and a few paragraphs of general computer interest, maybe an amusing story (keep it family). They may not read it but it will keep your name in their mind. You can also offer a 6 moth check-up as well.


  spuds 11:38 14 Sep 2004

Visit somewhere like PC World and have a look at their book section. There are many books that could give quick solutions to problems, this also applies to your local lbrary, if you have one. Use their reference and internet service, as it could be a freebie bonus.

Make sure you charge a sensible price, no freebies to friends of the family or mates.And start with that attitude.Working evenings and weekends can be 'your time' consuming,and your social life will become less. Keep good accounting and bookwork, you never know what may crop up later.Get some good contacts both business and customer base via word of mouth and perhaps leaflet drops, telephone calls. Contact the secretary of any local clubs in your area, and ask if they would be interested in your services [forward thinking].

Make charges for collection and delivery plus call-outs, but watch your insurance cover terms.Watch for the house insurance and usage rules, nothing like the local council or other authorities insisting that you are running a full time business from home, and want their due proceeds or obligations met.

Don't bulk buy those special bargains, unless you know 100% that your saving are justified in the long run.Keep things simple.

And perhaps finally--Good Luck. Setting up and running a business either full or sparetime, can have its good and bad moments.

  mcds01 11:58 14 Sep 2004

thanks for the respomses guys - certainly got me thinking! Anyone else like to share. Has anyone actually done this? How successful was it? What problems did you encounter? Would you recommend it?

  paddyjack 13:39 14 Sep 2004

I do a little bit in a computer shop on and off the most common things to date are spy ware and the like, also viruses, how bad can it get very bad is the answer (the record here so far is 1500 pieces of spyware (general term), 175 viruses)that is only one computer.

If you follow GANDALF <|:-)> advice you can not go far wrong. But no freebies.

There are no friends in business.

Good luck with your venture.

  kakasnarta 13:47 14 Sep 2004

You might want to consider taking a recognised exam qualification A+ for example....Its quite a tough exam but once passed it proves you know enough to start a business...but experience will come after a few months.

  kakasnarta 13:48 14 Sep 2004

You might want to consider taking a recognised exam qualification A+ for example....Its quite a tough exam but once passed it proves you know enough to start a business...but experience will come after a few months.

  Gaz 25 16:19 14 Sep 2004

and must admit it's quite hard work.

You will have to keep good books, and accounting, and also insure yourself.

Keep prices competative and reachable for the general home user.

Make a standard charge/cost.

I clean lots of spyware and viruses of clients machines, my record is actaully 300+ viruses, 1800+ spyware on just one computer.

I'd get partners with some AV companies and buy a 'kit' from them that allows you to scan users machines on demand. I currently have Symantec's online type scanning system - but it removes viruses too, and doesn't require you to be online.

I also have a toolkit from escan, this is free.

I sometimes also scan with Trend Micro and McAfee or even Panda Antivirus.

It's good to be sure the PC is fully clean.

Scan with spybot, adaware, etc..

Finally, good luck!

  jack 17:59 15 Sep 2004

Well now you have had good advice from all the guys [good for me too I'm saving this thread]

But pricing that's the tricky one - too cheap and you cant be up to much or just an enthusiast, too dear and you twiddle your thumbs. This is what I did and now continue to do as I only do it for fun.
For my fellow home guys and pensioners, I just say what ever you think its worth. - They have got to know me and my likes - I have not bought a bottle of my favourite 12 year malt for a while now.
On the other hand my main 'business' client
When they asked me 'How much?'
I really did not know what to say.
Then I said well how much did you pay your plumber for 5 hours work[I'd spent a morning on it] The cheque I got knocked me over -Plumbers are riiiiiiiiiiich . Now I simply put a bill in for the hours spent and let them decide -I'm happy they are happy. Thats the way to leave 'em

  Gaz 25 21:13 15 Sep 2004

make it around about £25 - £50 anywhere around there. Depends on hours and work, expertise involved.

  LastChip 21:47 15 Sep 2004

Get a boiler fixed, or a washing machine and see what professional labour charges are! Do you ever have a car professionally serviced?

Anything less than £25 an hour is nonsense. You will find that once you gain a core of clients, they expect to telephone you about problems which can be time consuming for very little reward, so make sure when your working "for real" they are paying the going rate.

Look at it this way. £25 an hour x 40 hours = £1000, but, for every 40 hours you spend working, it is doubtful you will be able to charge for every single minute. Some jobs you provide an estimate for, turn out to be more complex than you first thought, but your clients will soon get irritated, if an invoice turns out to be double your estimate, so sometimes, you just have to swallow the bitter pill, and put it down to experience!

Although you are talking about a part time venture, it could conceivably turn into a full time business, so your £1000 per week, now has to provide for your holidays, sickness and all other manner of problems that may ensue throughout the year, not mentioning the times when you have insufficient work to fill your week, or you have to return to a job that didn't turn out as expected (nothings full proof). Sadly, your clients will undoubtedly all have problems at the same time, or no problems at all. Feast and famine; the nature of the beast.

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