How to Manage a Computer Shop Business
As the number of computers in use continues to increase in our culture, the need for competent computer repair shops will also grow. But for even an experienced computer “Techie,” opening his or her own repair shop can be a challenge: running a repair shop entails running a business as well as fixing computers. Here are steps to consider when it comes to managing a successful computer repair shop.
Examine your skills. It’s not enough to know how to fix broken computers; you must also have the ability to manage personnel, maintain accurate financial records, support basic store operations, manage and conserve resources, and effectively deal with customers. If your background doesn’t include one or more of these areas of expertise, plan on enlisting a partner or hiring someone with experience to help you in these vital areas.
Study and adopt “best practices” for hiring, training, and supervising employees. Employees will present a direct threat to the success of your shop if they are poorly hired, poorly trained, or poorly supervised, according to SCORE, the Senior Corps of Retired Executives, a leading non-profit business advisory association. Investigate all applicant resumes thoroughly. Require Comptia or CompA+ certification or some other proof of technical competence. Test for customer service skills, too. Distribute a copy of your Employee Manual. Thoroughly train employees in store policies and procedures. Take steps to correct any performance problems as soon as they arise. Resolve to terminate any employee who can’t follow your policies and procedures; you cannot afford to risk your business on employees who are working against you. Protect your business investment by dealing with employees firmly, professionally, impartially, and consistently.
Establish fair policies and procedures for handling customer-related problems. Customers may often be unhappy with the results or final cost of a repair. Be prepared to resolve any disputes in a “win-win” fashion if possible. Print any disclaimers or policies on your check-in receipts or invoices. Be fair in your policies, but do not “give away” your services in order to quickly resolve every customer dispute that will arise. In this business, the customer isn’t “always right” because he or she will often lack technical appreciation of your work.
Take care with each repair job that comes into your shop. Computers, and especially the hard drive contents, are very valuable to your customers. Do not take risks when repairing a machine. Keep careful notes and “patient” files on each job. Take out a business liability insurance policy to cover serious mistakes that might harm a customer’s computer or data.
Conserve everything: time, money, supplies, and your own health. Needless waste of any of these resources kills more new businesses than any “tough economy,” according to SCORE. Work hard, but resolve to work smart.
Study information pertaining to computers, computer repairs, and business management practices continually. You must stay informed of new developments and constantly strive to improve your own computer and business management skills.
Enroll in the SCORE mentoring program in your community. SCORE services are free.
Do not pay regular part-time or full-time employees “under the table.” This is illegal. Consult with a payroll accountant if you have questions or special hiring needs.