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  1. #1
    I Am, Who I Am.
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    Your preferences in 'selling' your computer services to others.

    I have a slump coming up in the next 2 months, and I was considering doing computer/network services to kill some time / get some extra cash. I've never gone out and asked for customers before, it's usually people who know me, or family, friends, co-workers, etc that ask me if I can fix this, install that, setup something or other, etc, and I always tell them to pay me whatever they feel like.

    So I was thinking of just putting ads on craigslist and doing it that way, anyone know of any other way?

    Also a major concern is payment, obviously check or cash only, and id print out some sort of bill for them for their reference or for tax purposes, w/e.
    But what of the value? Im not going to put 'pay whatever youd like' as its not professional at all, and id probably get screwed a lot.
    I thought about calling firedog/geeksquad and just go off thier pricing scheme, but lower it a lot. I feel sorry for the people who pay for their overpriced crap.

    Charge for estimates? Charge by hour or by what had to be done? Do you prefere to work on it at their house, or at your own? I was thinking maybe charging a base price + hours worked.

    How about what type of software you use? Im pretty messy when it comes to fixing PCs, and do whatever it takes to fix it, but if a customer is watching, id like it to be as neat as possible, so less tools/software used the better.

  2. #2
    Pandemonium
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    First of all, the best way I've found to get business is to just make it known you're looking. Make up some business cards (can easily be done in Office these days) and hand them out to friends and family, and ask them to pass it along to people they know who might need some help. In short, make use of your networks.

    Secondly, as far as charging goes, the way I do it is to take a look at the computer first, figure out what you're going to have to do. If it's a virus or some software issue, that's easy enough and you can tell them right there how much it'll cost. Give them the opportunity to turn you down before you start working, so they know how much cash they're out, and you don't waste your time. If it's hardware related, figure out how much a replacement is going to cost and make up a simple excel sheet (attaching reciepts is a nice touch I've found) of what you bought and how much it cost. You'll come off professional and they won't feel ripped off when they see the breakdown.

    I sometimes go on-site, but I prefer taking it home and working on it on my own time. Most people prefer this than to inviting a (potential) stranger into their home.

    As for software, I make a USB stick of all my common tools (a lot are up in the stickied thread) like common antivirus, antispyware, etc. I bring along my pack of CDs incase a reinstall is needed, and if I'm going onsite I download the latest network drivers for the customer's computer, just in case.

  3. #3
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    What do youre prices seem to be though? Ive never looked at any sort of pricing scheme from computer services ever, so I have no idea. My old boss said he charge a flat rate or 60$ and then 50$ for every hour.

  4. #4
    Pandemonium
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    I do mostly virus removal and general computer problems, which I charge 50 bucks for. If it's a bad problem or something that's going to take me more than an hour, I just say 100 off the bat. I don't do any by-the-hour stuff.

  5. #5
    Sea Torques
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    If your area uses craigslist a lot making a post on there should help too. I have been building PCs for people using that method and it's worked pretty well so far. It's slow in the beginning, but when you're "that one guy that built this", it starts to pick up.

  6. #6
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    Add a: "No fix no fee"/"Free inspection" policy... that way at least it's some headstart to get into customer territory and then build from there (make them feel confident about you, chat to them, and answer their questions).

    I use as much software, or make the screen as complicated as possible. That way the customer will get bored and sit back somewhere and talk to you or leave you alone as much as possible. If the screen is blank they seem to pick up certain bits and bug you with questions. This also stops any potential embarassing moments for them (you as the tech guy should be used to it and see it as "mweh") in the event of opening an internet browser and you're plastered with breasts everywhere.

    The only thing I hate about virus/spyware/maintenance is sometimes you just gotta .... sit there and wait. This is when or where I prefer to be working from home, but I find that to actually do that is a bit difficult as people don't seem to like letting possible strangers taking goods away.

  7. #7
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    Personally I tend to not do "after hours" type stuff. I do this stuff at work, and when I go home I want to be left alone, not have another group of users calling me. The potential to make money is certainly there though, I have a friend that has a business doing tech support on the side.

    He does some of both, in terms of on location or taking the computer back with him. Tends to charge differently between "business" and "home" users, using an hourly rate. I think one reason he got a business license and all that is for liability reasons, which may be a consideration.

    Word of mouth has worked well for him, but we're in a relatively small town + he works at a teaching hospital in IT, so mostly people are either hiring him for their home computers, or small businesses that talk to one another are.

  8. #8

    you may also want to canvas the local library and offer computer training lessons by the hour. there are a tremendous number of especially elderly customers that either want to get into computers themselves to keep in touch with family or said family wants to encourage them to get on to keep in touch and get more exposure than sitting in their home. you can usually get several hours a session at a fairly competitive rate and you get the bonus of feeling like you did a service for the community if that is worth anything to you.

  9. #9
    I Am, Who I Am.
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    Good ideas for most things now, thanks. But still up in the air on pricing. Seems the hourly thing is not the way to go, so what are suggestions on it?

  10. #10
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    In the UK I would be reasonable/fair without seemingly breaking their bank:

    £15 (roughly $23) for a "simple" fix, virus/spyware removal and such

    £30~ possibly if I'm required to give some "lessons".../hardware related (attach RAM, CD drive, hard drive, hardware...)/back up or reformat

    Hardware I shy away from because I have this tremendous bad luck where if I touch the insides I tend to break something else as well, or whatever I buy to replace tends to break again, just bad luck I guess. I tend to ask if they have a warranty or insurance from the place they brought it from and deal via them.

    The idea is that if I don't overprice then it is inevitable that they will fuck up again (depends on user but talking about most generic ones). So if it's nice and jolly and this works well with "kids", they whine so much they call you back and agree on the same price. Builds good rapport, up to a point.

    NOTE: £15/£30 is "not that much" in the UK as everything is more or less expensive. To students it is a good handful but still if you've got a job it's not that much. I know a lot of Americans complain about even $10.

    I had an American friend who recieved about £16 in change at McDonalds, I was a student at the time, and I knew he was very rich (anyone who can come over and live/get educated = rich) he dumped that £16 into the charity box in the counter, without giving much thought. I was like "O M G !!!!", to me that could've been a week's shopping...

  11. #11

    Best ad I ever saw on CL for computer services was this guy who said he would come to a females house and inspect the computer. After he determined what was wrong, the woman could "pay" him for his services in sexual favors. Dunno how many clients he got, but hey, might as well put it out there.

    Guys still had to pay. :[

  12. #12
    Resident furfag
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    I would say do an hourly rate, say $25-50/hr depending on your speed, two hours minimum.

    That could always be an "other" service if it's not something you have listed, like Virus removal, reformat, data backup, install hardware.

    For installing hardware, you could just charge 1.5x the cost of the hardware and say free installations.

    If you make more than $600 you'll have to report it on your taxes too, and I have no idea what form you'll need for that.

  13. #13
    EAST BAY JEDI DONT GIVE A FUCK
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    Quote Originally Posted by mootsfox View Post
    I would say do an hourly rate, say $25-50/hr depending on your speed, two hours minimum.

    That could always be an "other" service if it's not something you have listed, like Virus removal, reformat, data backup, install hardware.

    For installing hardware, you could just charge 1.5x the cost of the hardware and say free installations.

    If you make more than $600 you'll have to report it on your taxes too, and I have no idea what form you'll need for that.
    thats why you work for cash only

  14. #14
    I Am, Who I Am.
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    Anyone ever fucked up before? For example crashing their PC beyond repair unable to retrieve HD data and would have to start from scratch lol?

    Sounds like someone could go legal all over that and sue for losses. Do you guys make people sign agreements or anything?

  15. #15
    Hyperion Cross
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    Quote Originally Posted by SephYuyX View Post
    Anyone ever fucked up before? For example crashing their PC beyond repair unable to retrieve HD data and would have to start from scratch lol?

    Sounds like someone could go legal all over that and sue for losses. Do you guys make people sign agreements or anything?
    Once. Thankfully it was a family member.

    "Hey stig, can you install this memory card reader for me?"
    (he really doesn't know how)

    "Sure" thinks I.

    I plug it in, it installed as generic devices usually do. Got asked to reboot.

    "Easy" thinks I.

    It reboots, and after the Windows XP screen ...

    BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD FOR FUCKS SAKE BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD
    BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD BSOD

    So I summoned all my power to fix this and doing everything, all the obvious (disabling, safe mode, etc, repair install XP, and god knows how much else) it won't go away. It BSODed on safe mode too.

    In the end I had no choice but to rip out the hard drive, copy stuff onto my laptop, reinstall XP, throw away the reader (I don't trust it, it was one of them cheapo ones too), install all apps and left it there ... *

    *All for free too. I want to kill myself.


    But in all seriousness, if you explain the possible risks of doing such and such you should be able to cover yourself quite well if you take the necessary precautions, i.e. back up or mirror their hard drive elsewhere and put it back if needed.

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