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Computer Repair Shop - How to Run

Updated on March 10, 2011

Opening and Running a Computer Repair Shop

I ran a computer repair shop for several years. It was a great and profitable experience. I learned a lot from my experience and I am going to share them with you here. I already wrote one article on starting a computer repair shop and here I will give you some general advice.

First of all, what do you need to open your own computer repair shop?

First of all, you need to have a love and understanding of computers. You should have lots of experience installing a fresh operating system on your computer, your friend's computers, and your family's computers. When your friends or family have a computer problem, they should prefer going to you for advice or technical assistance.

Second of all, you need to need to be good with money and able to make it stretch. You should be comfortable with negotiating. You will be buying a lot of used computers for refurbishing for inventory and you need to be able to make good deals with people in the recycling business.

Third, you should be familiar with advertising on Craig's List and you should know some HTML code to spruce up your ads. You should also be able to make a simple web site for your business.

Third, you will need about $5000 to get started. This will cost more if you don't build your own shelves and counters. You will want to look for a small business place on a major road with about 300 square feet. It also should have an extra room and restroom, since you will need to live in your store the first year that you are in business. The alternative is to have enough extra money to live elsewhere the first year. You will want to have enough money to cover your first three months with no income.

You will need to build a pair of eight foot long counter that are 30 inches wide and about 3 feet off the floor. This will be wide enough to set up computers on. The counters should each have an additional shelf underneath about four inches off the floor. This will be used for storing extra computers and parts.

You will also need to build a heavy duty 8 foot long table that is 24 inches across for your workbench. You will also want to build a customer counter, also 8 feet long and 24 inches across with a sheet of plywood on the front side.

You will eventually want to get a desk for your own personal workstation and some more shelving for storage. But these can wait for a couple of months. I found a really nice workstation table at the Goodwill for only $20 after I had been open a couple of months.

You will need to get high speed internet access for downloading drivers, setting up ads, and also for your computers that are up for sale. Get a wireless router with 8 Ethernet outputs. Make sure it is one where the wireless cannot network with the hard cabled computers. That way, you can leave an open WiFi spot for customers. It also acts as free local advertising. Running two Ethernet cables to each of the sales tables. I drilled holes near the back of the shelves on the sales stations and then neatly attached the cable underneath the shelves where they were hidden.

These cables will allow you to set up your refurbished computers with internet access. After refurbishing a computer be sure to install flash player and bookmark some videos from Youtube. When a customer shows up, you will be able to demonstrate how well the computer works. I also kept a few movies to show video quality.

You will also want to set up a computer in the back as a server. Be sure to install some games on it for your customers to test drive your computers. A few games won't run this way, but most will. I sold a lot of refurbished computers to people that played World of Warcraft. I advertised that I was the only computer store in my area that allowed it's customers to test play their favorite game on a computer before buying it.

Fixing the power plug ports on laptops will be your hardest and most time consuming task. I eventually paid someone to do them.
Fixing the power plug ports on laptops will be your hardest and most time consuming task. I eventually paid someone to do them.

Opening your Store

The first six months or so that you are open, you will spend a lot of your spare time putting up ads on the internet. You should refresh your ads every couple of hours. If you form a good reputation with your customers your repair side of the business will double about every two months starting with about two repairs in the first month and turning into over a hundred repairs per month at the end of your first year.

Be sure to set up a one page price sheet. Match your lowest priced competitor on repairs. Don't do repairs by the hour. Charge a fixed rate. I charged a flat $100 repair cost with parts being extra. I would allow customers to get their own parts if they wanted. I also would sell parts from computers that I stripped for parts. It takes about one hour of actual work to refurbish a computer, so a $100 flat rate will give you some negotiating room for lowering your price if you feel that a customer honestly can't afford the full price. I often lowered my prices to $50 for a full refurbishment. The goodwill created probably brought me more customers.

Some of your customers will want all of their data saved. I bought an external cable that plugged into an USB port on one end and a hard drive on the other end. I would remove their hard drive, then copy all of their files onto another USB drive that was also plugged into my personal computer. Sometimes, I would just copy their files onto my computer, then when I was done refurbishing their computer, I could transfer their files back onto their computers through the network. I usually charged an extra $50 for this service.

Do not charge for diagnostics. A good technician can generally make an accurate diagnosis in a couple of minutes anyway. 90% of the computers that come in for repair will simply be infected with malware. Wiping the hard drive, reinstalling the OS, and installing the drivers will make it run better than new. Occasionally, the problem will be a hard drive. And rarely, the problem will be the motherboard or the power supply. Give a 30 day warranty on all repairs and refurbishments. Remember, a happy customer will refer an average of two new customers within the next couple of months.

I never charged customers for simple problems that I could fix in a couple of minutes. An example, would be a computer that came in that appeared to be dead. I quickly figured out that the AC power switch had accidentally been changed from 110 volts input to 220 volts input. Switching it back to the correct position fixed the problem. This will not only make your customers happy, but will create a reputation for being an extremely good technician. You are just to good at what you do to charge for the simple problems.

For a first person report (including pictures) on opening a computer store be sure to check out:

Opening My Computer Repair Shop


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