Tips for a small computer services business?

gcpcgcpc subscriber Posts: 1
edited July 2008 in Marketing
I recently started up an at-home computer services and repair business
with a friend of mine in order to hopefully not have to work a
part-time job while I go to school. This is the first time I`ve ever
started a business, and I`m new to what`s involved.
We do on-site service as well as take computers in to our work area if
we have to. We have everything we need to work on multiple computers at
once: switches, testers, spare hardware, etc. I`ve set up a desk in the
garage which we work off of. We set up a website.
We`ve gotten a few hits on the site and a couple of calls here and
there, but we`re trying to do what we can to increase our exposure. Our
goal is to have a steady rotating queue of customers/work orders. I
would like to know if anyone has any tips for what I can do to acquire
more customers.
To give you an idea of our progress, so far we have:Registered a DBA with the chamber of commerce. I also set up a
business checking account with my bank so that we can accept checks in
the business name. My business is a sole proprietorship, however I plan
to split the income with my friend since we collaborate on this project
together about 50/50.Cannibalized a PHPBB to handle our work orders. It`s the most
awesome thing I`ve ever seen. We can input all of the information about
a customer, what hardware they have, what services we`re performing and
the cost, etc. It will total the amount for us, place the information
on the board, and then print out a personalized invoice with the
information that we inputed for the post.Written up a terms and conditions of service that we have
people sign to cover our asses if we ever have to go to small claims
court for one reason or another. Basically things such as: detailing
our scope of work, a privacy policy (blah blah, if we have to perform a
data migration, we do not retain the data after the work order is
complete), a clause stating data loss of any kind is not our fault, and
the expectation of payment. I have not had a lawyer look this form over
for us yet, but I believe we have addressed all of the bases necessary
to cover our ass if need be.
As far as advertising, we have:
Found as many local business listing sites as possible and listed my business with them (roughly about 15).Post ads on craigslist and 3 other sites just like it once a week.Printed off a few hundred business cards and hand them out to
everyone we meet.Printed off a few hundred small fliers, attached business
cards to them with paper clips, and went door to door placing them in
door handles in neighborhoods that I think may contain the target
demographic we are trying to appeal to. So far we have covered half of
a square mile of neighborhood, but there is about 4 square miles of
area I would like to cover for now, and possibly more later. However,
being that it is just 2 of us, this is a slow process.
When calculating the price of the fliers, cards, and paper clips, it
totals about $25 for 500 of each, which comes out to about a nickel per
house. I feel that this is a reasonable expense. One work order out of
those 500 would completely cover my advertising costs, and I hope to
get more orders out of 500 than just one.
I`ve considered placing road signs at areas of high congestion, but am
dissuaded by the fact that it doesn`t seem very professional. I`ve also
seen city workers pulling up these kinds of signs around town, and with
all of my information on them, it wouldn`t be very hard for them to
fine me if there are laws against it. I honestly don`t know too much
about this.
I`m trying to find out about prepaid postages, and finding lists of
addresses so that I can mail out fliers. All I know about so far is
postcards, which cost roughly 30 cents per. This is much more expensive
than I would like. I also feel that more of these would be thrown away
by people than the ones we place door to door. Since we attach those to
business cards, I assume that some people will at least keep the
business cards. I think fliers in the mail would mostly be thrown away.
I get a couple hits on the site per day, usually referrals from
craigslist, a few search engine hits, and a couple of direct traffic
hits which I believe are due to the fliers. However, the hits per day
so far doesn`t ever exceeded 10 or so.
If anyone has any advice for anything else I can do to get this business off the ground, I would really appreciate it.

Comments

  • gcpcgcpc subscriber Posts: 1
    That`s not a bad idea. Any idea on an easy way I can obtain a list of mailing addresses? Thanks.
  • gcpcgcpc subscriber Posts: 1
    I appreciate the replies everyone, thanks.
    As far as the problems related to starting a business with a friend, I am completely aware of this. This same kind of issue recently ended the relationship of my father with a friend of his of 30 years. However, my friend is just helping me with this for supplemental income on his part until he leaves the city in a couple months to return to school, at which point the responsibility for this business falls entirely on me.
    PHPBB is php bulletin, a popular type of internet forum.gcpc7/23/2008 12:15 AM
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