Starting up a laptop repair business?

I had an idea back in 2008.  I wanted to run my own computer repair business.  What a learning process it was.  I’m sure there are a few of you with your own businesses or thinking of starting up.  I’m going to lay down with you my personal experience and why I quit the day job then went back to the day job!

Money to me made here!  I supported a large user base of around 600 staff and dealt with their IT problems in a 9-5 job.  Off the back of this I would have staff come to me to fix their personal home computers and laptops.  Cash in hand jobs, £50 here, £100 there on a weekly basis.

This got me thinking – I could probably quit my 9-5 job and run my own repair business and be my own boss, the dream!  I sat down and worked my way through how I could generate more clients.

Set up a website and got it to the top of google for my local area.  I was taking 3-4 repairs on each evening after work and working up until around 11pm.  Did this for a good 6 months and banked some good cash.  However I was burnt out and knew I had to make a decision to quit my day job.  I spent another 6 months trying to make that decision.

I took 2 weeks off my work and put all my focus on the computer repair business.  At the end of the 2 weeks I broke down the figures and estimated if I could replicate the same volume of business through the whole year on a full time basis I would be earning an extra £15-20k a year!

I made the decision and quit it was not easy and I was luckily kept on as a contractor to fix my previous employers IT issues.

Setup a small office and started adverting heavily in local magazines, yellow pages, online and various other ways.  What I learnt about the advertising in printed media is that it’s a complete waste of money.  All your efforts should go to your online advertising and ranking your website at the top of google for your customers keywords.

I had a printed media budget of around £400($600) per month and I was lucky if I was seeing 1 customer from that spend.  On the flip side I had setup a blog about computer repair and was getting around 30 hits a day for various keywords with my local terms in there.  As well as longtails searches which is why you need a blog!

Anyway back to the business, I made on repairs £10,000 after 6 months.  This was shit.  And I was repairing on average 3 laptops/PCs a day 6 days a week.  My life saver was my previous support contract with my old employee.  Because I was a contractor and charging by the hour I was making more money on that compared to my old salary plus the £10k from the repair side of things.

However I had to look at my business model.  I had all these repair customers coming to me 20ish a week and having to deal with not only their repair but the customer service aspect – stock – orders – returns etc.  It was eating up most of my time and I was making shockingly bad figures from it.

Having 3 clients a day for repair seems like a good number let’s say £50/repair that’s £150 a day however what most people fail to factor in when planning (i really do hope you’ve planned this and not just used a business plan template) is expenses and overheads.

  • Office/premises rent
  • Local council/property tax
  • Electricity/Gas/Water
  • Advertising
  • Travel/fuel/maintenance
  • Vacation
  • Stationary
  • Office supplies
  • Customer returns/refunds

This is not a complete list however it’s a good start.  That £150 figure soon will become £100 then less if you truthfully look at.  Now that’s part of the problem.  You won’t come up with the correct estimates until you have to pay the bills.  The estimates you come up with will be much lower and the bills will be higher!  Mark my words I have learnt this.  You also will not be working 365 days of the year a better figure is 200 days this accounts for vacation/sickness/slow days.

The problem I personally believe with a computer repair business is the volume of customers is high and the commission is low.  I am now back working for someone else in IT however their model differs.  The business is 100% focused on IT support for other business and the model is almost the exact opposite.

High commission, low volume.

What to take away from this article?

  1. Make sure if you are about to start up your own business that you look at your estimates very closely be ruthless.
  2. You may be your own boss but you will have many additional stresses and challenges to deal with.
  3. Get to the top of google and have a good social media campaign going.
  4. Use and become a member of business networks like BNI/rotary club’s
  5. Focus on business-business work, avoid residential customers!

That’s it!  Good luck to you in your business.