The Back Story
If you don’t already know I have a small business called Quast Tech Solution (which is my last name btw) where I used to do Computer repairs for profit. (Now I focus on Small business website design and hosting) It was pretty good at one point, I could have 2-3 computers (mostly laptops) on my bench at a given time. I was working with a small retail / electronics repair shop picking up ALL their laptop repairs. The owner did not have the expertise to preform these repairs. He was mainly a cell phone repair shop at the time (he has since closed up shop… at least the retail store is closed)
The Problems with this arrangement
So I was picking up laptops daily, and returning repaired ones. Seemed great at the time. I was giving a discount on my services. (I don’t now why .. Don’t discount your services) So the first problem was I was not making as much as I could be. I did however get a discount from this shop whenever I had a cell phone I could not spend the time on, or needed a part for one NOW and couldn’t wait for my suppliers to shop to me.
Second problem (and the one that hurt the most) was I was selling this store my services. They were in-turn billing the repair to the end customer (at a markup of how much I’m not sure). Based on some of his other labour prices, I’m going to say not that much. (I can see why they went out of business) Their repair costs for phones seemed a little low. Anyway… the reason why this hurt me the most was my business was NOT GROWING! These customers had no idea I even existed. I’m sure there are ways to make myself known to them by adding my card to the laptop. Or adding some sort of ad file on the desktop, but I don’t and never will do that (Personal privacy, spam, and plain ol’ I respect myself to much to do that to another business.) I thought what if someone were to do this to me, basically poaching my customers.
There was a few more bad things that may have been present at the time but one more problem that stuck out was my free estimates policy. (I do stand behind this and my customers really like it) However with my own customers I can usually come out on top. eg: laptop is beyond economical repair “How about buying this refurbished one instead” .. or If a laptop is just plain ol’ done for, and they end up buying a new one elsewhere they usually don’t want it back (either I offer the laptop back, the hard drive back and keep the laptop (for parts) or offer to 0 wipe the drive and repair the laptop myself. (usually cheaper if I don’t charge myself labour) then make a little bit of money back off the re-sale.
Remember If you go this route tell your customers up front that you play to part out or resell it, I personally think its the best policy to have. most of my customers understood this.
Now, on the flip side, if a laptop came to me from the other shop, that was beyond economical repair, and the end customer did not want to go ahead with the repair, I would have to return the laptop. This was time lost diagnosing, and quoting parts, travel (even though it was only a few blocks away) and no way to up sell to the end user a new system.
Words of wisdom
If you are currently attempting this type of business relationship, or thinking about pursuing it, let me give you a small piece of advice. If you have a policy where you don’t charge for quotes (or even if you run any type of business that does repairs) Charge an hour labour as your “Diagnostics fee” then offer to waive the fee if the repair is completed. You can always make up this fee elsewhere, or ensure you have a returning customer when they see a nice -$$ on the invoice (that’s a minus fee) In the long run this is what you want, returning customers. The good ones will know you have to make money to stay in business. From what I’ve dealt with over the years, it’s the cheap customers that want everything for free that you don’t want or need as a customer anyway.
Ok So I’m sorry I rambled on quite a bit there, but something happened recently when I tried to “get back into some repair work” that made all this information come back to me … That’s a whole other post to talk about. (Coming Soon)
Are you in business for yourself? what kind of difficulties have you come across lets discuss in the Comments below.