Starting your own computer repair business at home can be a great way to earn some extra income or if you are unemployed, to just earn income. These days with businesses shutting down and others not hiring people, it is very hard to find a job and earn a decent living. The good thing is, if you are knowledgeable in computer repair, networking, or building custom computers, then you could turn your knowledge into cash. Well that sounds good, but you may not know where to even start with creating an at home computer repair business. It is actually pretty easy to do, but requires a lot of time, hard work, and a little bit of money to get started. I will go through the basics that will teach you how to get started and what you will need.
Creating a name and logo
First of all, you can choose to use just your name if you do not want to create a catchy business name. The only thing is that when advertising, you will not seem like a business and it may not look as professional. Sometimes business names appeal more to customers. If you decide to create a name (example: Cool Cats Computer Repair), then you will need to register for a DBA (doing business as). Registering a DBA for your business name makes it so that you legally have that exact name in your area and so that someone else cannot take the name. It is also helpful for when you want to open a business savings/checking account and want to use your registered name. This way when a customer wants to pay you, they can write their check payable to your business name. A DBA is very cheap and doesn't take long at all to get. I paid $15 for mine, filled out a 1 page form, and it was done the first day. Easy and very well worth the $15. Plus "Cool Cats Computer Repair" sounds better than saying "John Smith".
A logo isn't required but is great to have for when you decide to make business cards. Something simple, clean, and creative to give your business name an image. Once it gets passed around enough, people will recognize your business just by the logo. You can either create your own logo or have someone do it for a small cost. There are a lot of logo design websites online that work very well, but if you can do it yourself then I would recommend that. Free is always better.
Equipment and materials needed
When it comes to computer repair, there are a few essential tools that you will need. Not just tools for putting things together, but software tools and business forms. Here is a list of some of the things you should have.
Forms - for legal purposes, organizing, providing receipts, and keeping track of your customers. Forms such as maintenance logs, receipts, contracts, etc. will be needed so that you can keep track of your work and provide a copy to the customer of what has been done. Contracts are a great way to stay legally safe when it comes to repairing or building computers. You do not want to be at fault for damages you didn't even cause. You can choose to type up a variety of forms yourself, get ideas from others online and make your own, or purchase kits. I chose to purchase the Computer Business Kit from Technibble.com because it includes every form you need, saves you a TON of time, and is priced reasonably at $49.
Tool kit - these are necessary for removing and adding hardware and other various parts within a computer. There is a wide variety of tool kits, and they all are about the same except for some include more tools. So depending on how in depth you are going to go with computer repair, the kits will vary. They all include a nice carrying case to make it portable. Tool kits start out at around $10 on Amazon. Great investment for any computer repair business.
Business cards - you will need business cards to hand out to your customers and to use for advertising purposes. Be sure to include your business name, brief description, contact number, website, e-mail, and any other information you think would be useful for the customer. This is where your logo is needed. Make sure you add it to the business card. I prefer Vista Print for making business cards online because it saves you the time, paper, and ink. Plus the prices are reasonable and you will receive them in the mail quickly.
Software - when showing up to a customer's house, you cannot go unprepared because it will kill your business quickly. What I recommend is to create a CD that includes software tools used for fixing problems and other helpful files. Put these on a CD-R and NOT a DVD-R disc because you never know if the customer has an old computer without a DVD drive. Keep the files on the CD organized so that you can quickly find what you are looking for. I create different folders for the types of tools, such as Anti-Spyware, Anti-Virus, etc. Be sure that your tools are legal and are compatible with all Windows Operating Systems. Tools that will be useful are Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, System Utilities, Registry Cleaners, Drivers, Windows Service Packs, and any other helpful software. You can go to Downloads.com and browse through the categories to find freeware you want to use.
Optional but handy tools - Laptop computer for storing all of your software, customer information, and forms. Although a laptop isn't required, it is useful if you need to get on the internet to download drivers/software or if you need information/files off it. External drive/USB drive will be useful to transfer files between computers, or you can use these to store software and tools. Blank CDs/DVDs, just in case you need to burn some files and give them to a customer.
Advertising is one of the most important steps when it comes to starting a computer repair business. You need to get customers but at the same time you need to save on spending, so these are the best and cheapest ways to advertise.
Local newspaper - you can put an ad in your local newspaper and have it run for a few days or a few weeks. Prices vary depending on the newspaper, but some of them will work out a deal with you if you advertise for a long time period. I have seen ads start at $10 a day but go up to $30 per day. Call your local newspapers and get some price quotes. Keep your ad short, descriptive, and DON'T forget your phone number.
Craigslist.org is a great free classifieds website that gets large amounts of visits per day. Place your ad in the Services/Computers section and explain what you are doing, the price rates, and how to be contacted.
Local bulletin boards - place fliers or business cards at bulletin boards in your local towns/cities. These boards can usually be found at town halls, grocery stores, gas stations, post offices, laundry mats, and lots of other places.
Hand out business cards - carry business cards in your wallet so that every time you meet a potential customer you can just pull one out and hand it to them. Leave a business card with your customer after the job is done, and tell them if they've found your services helpful to please recommend you to their friends/family.
Word of mouth - the best way to get your name out there is to tell everyone you know. Tell your friends, family, Facebook friends, and anyone else you know so that they will spread the word around for you. You will be surprised as to how many customers you can get just by word of mouth and not spending a single penny.
A few extra tips
The basics have pretty much been covered but there are a few more helpful tips that I would use if you are interested in starting a computer repair business.
Know your competition and do some research on your local computer repair businesses if there are some already in your area. Check out their prices, services, return policies, and everything else. This will give you an idea as to what you should charge (keep it below the competition's prices) and what you should offer your customers. Plus you may think of ways to improve your business just by looking at their website.
Creating a website will give you a professional look, provide you with more customers, give you more advertising opportunities, and make it easier for customers to get information on your business and prices.
If your area already has a lot of repair businesses, then it will be harder for you to generate customers. That doesn't mean it is impossible and you shouldn't at least try. Make your business stand out from the others by creating an attractive name, affordable prices, more services, and a better personal experience for your customers.
Remember that it is about your customers and making them happy. If you treat your customers badly or simply just want money and do not give them a friendly experience, then you will lose those customers. Be yourself but professional so that the customer feels comfortable with having you work on their computer. Without happy customers, you will have a business going nowhere soon.
Stay in control, organized, and treat this as if you were running a large business because some day it may turn into one.
I will be posting more guides and tips for starting/running your own computer repair business. If you have found this post helpful, please share it with others!