Few things cause more professional panic than a crashed hard drive or a system-disabling virus, which means savvy computer repair technicians have ample opportunity to create thriving mobile businesses.
The GoPayment Blog recently talked with engineer Matt Karls of Karls Technology Computer Repair (which operates under other DBAs as well) in Arizona to get his tips for starting a mobile computer-repair business. Here’s what he told us.
1. Decide who you’ll serve. Computer techs often specialize in certain services or decide to work exclusively on either residential or commercial accounts. For instance, Karls says that he focuses on virus removal, data recovery from dead or damaged hard drives, and server management for businesses.
2. Get the right tools. According to Karls, very little hardware or software is required to run a mobile computer-repair business. You will need “a computer with some data-recovery software, a good ICSA certified anti-virus program, and a SATA-to-USB adapter.” Although a wireless WAN or air card is helpful, Karls says he has successfully operated without one in the past. Beyond that, he adds, you only need a vehicle and a phone to open your business.
3. Be prepared to work hard. When asked how many hours a week he works, Karls said that he’s been working 18 to 20 hours a day, six days a week. That’s a lot of hours (and not something we’d recommend), but according to him, he could get back to his “normal” hours of 12 to 14 hours six days a week if he refused more work or hired another computer systems engineer, something he’s currently looking for. The point is that, in this type of business, it’s important to be available to your customers. Karls says that working Saturdays is crucial because while most businesses are open Monday through Friday, residential customers are typically only available after 5 p.m. or on weekends.
4. Get some training. You don’t need a specific license (other than the standard business license) or certification to operate a mobile computer-repair business, but Karls recommends a minimum of a CompTIA A+ and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certification. This will give you some added credibility with clients and ensure that you have the skills to do the job, he notes.
5. Advertise smartly. Karls says that he’s found it difficult to market his mobile computer-repair service. In fact, he’s tried all types of advertising except television, and the only thing that has worked in his 13 years of business is word of mouth.
6. Understand your potential. Karls makes an average of $200 per invoice, but his jobs can range from $40 to $1,000. The takeaway, he says, is that “you can earn a lot of money in computer repair if you work hard and long hours.” After a few years of this, he says, you should have enough referrals and clients that it would be “impossible to go out of business.”
7. Enlist help. Karls advises hiring a personal assistant to answer the phones and get back to people right away, while you’re in the field. That move alone has resulted in about 50 percent more work for him, he says, because clients want to be able to talk to someone and feel that they’re important.