Do I need certifications before I start a computer repair business?
I wish to start my own computer repair service, i don't have any certs in that field, but i know what each piece of hardware is called and where it goes etc, should i get any certifications before it think about starting my own business?
That's an interesting question because you're really talking about what I call the "friction of a sale": if you want to open up a computer repair business, your biggest challenge is to be able to establish trust with your potential customers. After all, their computers have lots of private and confidential information including tax returns, photographs, letters, and who knows what in their Web browser cache.
The challenge is that you need to have some method of demonstrating your trustworthiness so that when they consider your business as a possibility, they don't say "oh, wait a sec, he's only 19 years old?" or "you've never worked for a computer company?" or "you work out of your garage?" etc etc. That's the friction in the transaction: if you have too much, you'll never get any clients because everyone will see it as too risky. At a far extreme, it'd be like you're some scary goth kid with piercings and tattoos on your face, pulling into their driveway with an unmarked van, saying "dude, I can so fix your computer. Lemme have it!" :-)
That's why companies like Geek Squad are doing so well. They are nationally known, they have advertisements on TV, they have a service guarantee, and they're affiliated with a well-known retail company. All of those reduce that ole' transactional friction and so many people see an advert on TV and decide that's legit enough to give them business.
The value of credentials in this sort of situation is that if you're, say, "Cisco Certified" or are a Microsoft "MVP for Windows XP", or are a "Google Certified AdWords Professional" are that they demonstrate your expertise in measurable ways. It might well be the case that some people who aren't, say, a Certified AdWords Pro could be better at managing ad campaigns than some who are certified, but in the aggregate, overall, people who have the certification are going to be better at the job than those that do not.
This is, of course, why it's also important to get academic credentials like a Bachelor's degree (or higher), depending on what field you want to join. If you want to be a management consultant, for example, having an MBA can be an invaluable credential. If nothing else, it'll help you speak the same language as your clients.
So I would say, in summary, that while it's not critical that you have certifications, it certainly is a good idea and I would expect that your business will be more successful, especially in the early years when you don't have a reputation yet in your community.
Finally, don't forget the importance of "business 101": have a professional Web site, business cards, a guarantee of service, clear pricing, and either go to their location to service their machines or have a professional storefront or office so they have a good degree of confidence when they come to your facility to drop off their precious machine for repair.
Good luck to you!
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Reader Comments To Date: 11
there are some valid points in the comment above, some were clearly not made by someone with a computer repair business.
The stuff about the marketing materials true, but lets face it, if your computer is broken, you are really not going to make it to a website. It's the one business where a website is of no value. I know, I have 300 clients and no one uses the site.
As well, everyone has a computer repair business so you can forget about a reasonable adwords campaign-- best buy, circuit city, compusa bids up the clicks everyday. If you say you'll pay $5 for a click (which is totally unreasonable) tomorrow they are paying $6.
The toughest thing you have to face is finding clients. The easiest way to keep them is to fix their machine well, and be honest. Start your pricing a little under geek squad... go get a flyer to see what they are charring. Don't something like, "I'll fix your pc for $29.95" That not cost effective and it makes you look unprofessional.
And your central question... certifications? Don't bother. What ever ones you get will be worthless in 18 month because the technology changes that fast. The best thing to do is become a expert at the most popular products on the market. So, if anything, get a credit card with a large spending limit, go to one best buy, ask them which is the best selling printer, ask then the return policy, then go to another best buy, buy the printer, learn everything about it, then return the printer as fast as you can.
While someone with a dead computer probably isn't looking at your website (though they may be using another computer -- perhaps a friend's?), not having a website listed on advertising makes it seem (to me, at least) that you're not a "professional". Ditto for not having an e-mail address with your own domain name. (I've seen plenty of business cards with a "companyname dot com" website, but with a "companyname at yahoo dot com" e-mail address, which makes no sense to me.)
Even a simple one-page "website" with just a brief listing of your services, and contact information, is better than none at all. And any worthwhile hosting service will include e-mail forwarding, so you can have e-mail with your domain name.
This is the key paragraph to your success in business: "That's why companies like Geek Squad are doing so well. They are nationally known, they have advertisements on TV, they have a service guarantee, and they're affiliated with a well-known retail company. All of those reduce that ole' transactional friction and so many people see an advert on TV and decide that's legit enough to give them business." You must market your company frequently and consistently. This is more important than certifications. You can have certifications and still get a lot of "transactional friction." The only way to break down that friction is to use effective marketing techniques. Three important marketing concepts are found in the quoted paragraph above: massive exposure, risk reversal and host-beneficiary relationship. Keep in mind that massive exposure does not mean national exposure. It just means massive exposure in your target area. Once you are in the door, your ability to fix their problems will build your very valuable long term clientele.
Been there, done that. PROFESSIONALISM is the key. Greet them when they walk in the door. Wear a white shirt and a tie. SHAVE. (The Most sucessful men in the WORLD are all CLEAN shaven.)
I work in a poor county in my state and its population is 2500. 500+ of those people are my clients.
I started 'tinkering' with computers 10 years ago deciding I was probably as 'smart' as the guy down the street. Turns out I was smarter.
Long story short... now I do computer repair, design websites, have my own internet service, a dedicated Linux (CentOS 5) server where I can host gameservers, host radio streams, websites, etc. Bottom line, EXPERIENCE is my teacher and I learn something new almost every day.
Do a good job for them, then do a little extra. I for example not only fix thier computer...I clean it, inside and out. Dustbunnies gone, check the fans, give the outside a good wipe down with some 409, clean the cdrom trays... little stuff like that. It takes an extra 20 mins if you do it right... and only 3 to put the cover back on after you've shown them what you've done. They'll be back. I promise!
PS: 75% of the 'Geek Squad' dont know what they're doing.
In small business computer consulting with 10-50 workstations, where companies are big enough to have a LOT of IT problems but not nearly large enough to have an in-house IT person or IT department, it definitely does help to have certifications.
However the non-sophisticated, non-technical small business owner or manager really can't distinguish between entry-level certifications (MCP, A+) and more advanced certifications (MCSE, CCIE, CNE).
As a result, it can definitely help to have "some" kinds of certifications to present.
HOWEVER, it's typically MUCH more important to have 3rd party credibility trappings that can vouch for your expertise:
- Client reference list
- Client testimonials
- Client case studies
Clients in similar industries and well-known local businesses can make a HUGE credibility statement that even certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, Novell, Apple, etc. can't hold a candle to.
These companies spend 10's of millions a year to try to convince computer repair businesses, consulting firms, VARs, integrators, and solution providers otherwise. But at the end of the day, most savvy CEO's want to see real-World proof... not just that you're a good test-taker.
I also address this same basic issue on one of the FAQs pages for the Computer Consulting Kit Home Study Course under:
Do I need to be certified to be successful?
Thanks for helping to raise awareness of this important issue.
it depends on the law. Here in Toronto should be A+ Certified.
I have a full time job as a IT Manager of a medium sized health care company. I have my own small computer company that I repair computers in my garage. My company was larger in the past before I accepted the full time IT position. I never gave myself a chance to succeed at my own business before working for someone else. I had an idea to expand a mobile computer business, much like the Snap-On tool trucks, go to area business and perform diagnostic and repairs in a well equipped truck. Am I off base here or does this have any potential? Thanks for any suggestions or comments.
i'm a student and i'm interested to start my own business after school. i would like you to assist me with important tips to consider befre i start a repair computer business. i will highly appreciate if you assist me. thanks in advance.
All of this is very good info. I came here looking for some answers and found a lot of them. I make music as a hobby and I'm a millwright by trade. Anyways, I have been thinking about starting a PC repair service/business in my area. The closest best buy to me is about 40 minutes away in any direction. I always seem to get calls from friends and family when they get bad viruses, have hard drive troubles, or if their RAM or other hardware takes a c#ap. I also do a lot of software installations and re-loading operating systems. I enjoy doing it for them and I hope to make it into a full time thing (eventually). Right now I'm just doing some homework as to the complete process before actually jumping into the business. Thanks everyone!
Do you have to be certified to be successful? No.
Does it convince customers that you're successful? Yes.
It's a fine lined issue and each side has a great point. I usually think it suffices to have a generalized certification such as an A+ Cert.
I've started a blog to help out beginners starting their own computer repair business...hope to see some of you there! (StartingPCRepair.com)
I do have a lot to say, and questions of my own for that matter, but first I'd like to say thank you, Dave, for all your helpful information by
buying you a cup of coffee!||
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