Computer Repair Business Plan
PC Repair will provide computer and technical consulting (repairs, training, networking and upgrade service) to local small businesses as well as home PC users. The company will focus on marketing, responsiveness, quality, and creating and retaining customer relations.
PC Repair was initially formed as a sole proprietorship, but was reconfigured as an S Corporation in December of 2004. PC Repair will at first be a home office start-up, utilizing one studio room in the owner’s home and serving customers in the local Ramsford-on-Bitstream area. In the third month of our plan, we will move into a leased office space and hire a second technician. As sales increase, we will hire additional personnel.
The very nature of the computing industry, with its extraordinary rate of technological development, creates a constant need for businesses skilled in updating and advising customers on computer-related issues. In town, the majority of potential customers are dissatisfied with existing options, creating an attractive niche for an innovative start-up. Small business PC users will provide the majority of our business revenue. Business Week expects the computing industry to grow at a rate of 12% and the processor speeds to continue to expand for years to come, providing a rich resource for sales.
PC Repair has decided to focus mainly on the small business market, as these customers typically don’t have a full-time IT person, but have full-time IT needs. PC Repair will offer an affordable, on-demand service for these customers. We can also offer maintenance agreements that generate additional monthly income. For our residential customers, we will offer a very affordable and helpful service with a very flexible schedule to meet their needs. Our target market will focus on Ramsford-on-Bitstream and the surrounding areas. Market research indicates there is an abundance of business for a small company such as PC Repair.
Start-up Funding and Financials
To get PC Repair started the owner is providing cash and assets. We are also seeking a short-term loan, to be secured with the owner’s home equity, and repaid within three years. Our conservative sales forecasts, based on industry research within the local area, project hefty sales in year one, steadily increasing through year three. To reach these goals, we will use an aggressive advertising campaign to exploit our competitors’ weaknesses. With good cost control, we will see a modest, yet comfortable, net profit the first year, even after moving into a leased space and hiring additional technicians.
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- To provide the best service available to the community at an affordable price.
- To generate substantial market share so that PC Repair is a common name.
- Constant growth in sales from start up through year three.
- To generate customer satisfaction so that at least 40% of our customer base is repeat business.
Our goal is to set the standard for on-site computer solutions through fast, on-site service and response. Our customers will always receive one-on-one personal attention at a very affordable price. Our customers will receive the highest quality of customer service available. Our employees will receive extensive training, a great place to work, fair pay and benefits, and incentives to use their own good judgement to solve customers’ problems.
1.3 Keys to Success
- Establishing a brand identity and generating brand recognition through marketing.
- Responsiveness: being an on-call computer paramedic with fast response time.
- Quality: getting the job done right the first time, offering 100% guarantee.
- Relationships: developing loyal repeat customers–retainers.
PC Repair is an S Corporation located in Ramsford-on-Bitstream, owned by Jack Hacker. With a small 3-year loan, PC Repair will grow in one year from a one-man, home-office based repair shop to a profitable, 3-person business in a leased location. We will build the necessary infrastructure to quickly and efficiently respond to customers’ computer needs, guaranteeing speedy, friendly, competent, and cost-effective technical support.
2.1 Company Ownership
PC Repair was initially envisioned as a sole proprietorship in the owner’s home. However, recent feedback from our marketing outreach has suggested a much higher sales potential than originally imagined, and PC Repair has been reformed as an S Corporation. This change will provide additional legal protection for the owner, and will also streamline the financial operations of the company as we expand the personnel to 5 within the next three years, lease a separate space for offices, and purchase company vehicles and cell phones.
The owner, Jack Hacker, has 10 years of experience in the fields of technical support, networking, and computer training and repair. Jack has also spent the last three years as the manager of a custom computer building and repair store, and understands the computer needs of small businesses.
2.2 Start-up Summary
Total start-up expenses include initial expenses for establishing our website, setting up the business, and doing our pre-opening advertising. Exact allocations are shown in the table.
The bulk of our start-up requirements are asset needs: we need diagnostic and repair equipment, half of which will be contributed to the business by the owner from his own materials. We are treating this equipment as assets because we expect it to last at least three years, and to have some resale value when we are through with it; we will buy additional expensed equipment in years two and three. We also need start-up inventory which includes RAM, spare hard drives, cables, and cases. Although we will keep expenses to a minimum for the first three months, before we move, we will also need cash at start-up, to see us through the next several months with a positive cash balance.
PC Repair will offer computer repairs, training, networking and upgrade service to clients in two major categories: home PC users and small business users. As PC Repair and the client demands grow, we will offer software development to our business clients.
From the very first day, we will offer on-site repair and consulting services, so that our clients don’t need to take time out of their busy days to haul a computer in to our workshop. This is the single biggest frustration Jack has seen among small business owners needing computer help. Much of our diagnostic equipment is portable, and we will remove a PC to our workshop only when the problem requires more detailed diagnosis or repair. We will also offer free pick-up and delivery of PCs needing repair. To meet the growing demand for this service, we will purchase a company vehicle in the third month.
We will also offer extended maintenance contracts, so that business clients can deal with technical support and repair needs as a single line-item expense, rather than having to plan for unexpected crashes and problems with a rainy-day fund they may never use. Maintenance contracts yield a high gross margin for us, and provide peace of mind for the customer.
We will offer limited software support (installation and compatibility issues), and focus on hardware and networking support – this is a vital distinction, since software is evolving much more rapidly than hardware, and our clients will have such diverse software needs that we couldn’t possibly keep up with all of them. We will encourage clients to register their software and use the software’s own support options to their full potential. We will, however, keep up to date with multiple operating systems and networking developments, working with clients to make sure they have the most appropriate combinations of hardware, OS, networking, backup systems, and software. Backup and security are becoming higher priorities for all our potential customers, as internet usage (and its pitfalls) becomes more common, and as more and more daily records are stored electronically.
Market Analysis Summary
PC Repair will provide computer support in both a consulting and technical capacity to small business owners as well as home PC users. Since PC Repair is currently a one man operation, its growth in the first three months will be limited by the owner’s capacity to complete work. However, these first three months are critical for establishing our credibility and a reputation for getting the job done quickly and well. We will focus on delivering excellent service, and using the good word of mouth from this initial period to network with other potential clients.
Personal market research by the owner indicates an attractive market niche for our services, of which PC Repair will take full advantage. The very nature of the computing industry, with its extraordinary rate of technological development, creates a constant need for businesses skilled in updating and advising customers on computer-related issues.
National chains, such as “Geeks on Call,” and Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” have seen rapid growth in demand for these services in the last few years. Customers are seeking skilled help with everything from installation of software and hardware components, to networking, to transferring files from an old computer to a new one. Those who can often enlist their tech-savvy children’s help, but others are not so fortunate, and small-business owners need reliable and quick help with all their computer needs, since every hour down may mean an hour or more of lost revenue, especially for any business with a website or those doing e-commerce.
4.1 Market Segmentation
The existing computer service market is so extensive that categorizing it is rather difficult. We have broken our potential market down into two groups, based on their needs: home PC users and small business clients.
Home PC User
Our home PC user market includes non-tech-savvy residents of the local area (15 mile radius), generally between the ages of 30 and 70, with at least one home computer. We are not expecting income from users below 30, who tend to be more comfortable with technology and willing to attempt repairs and upgrades on their own, without seeking professional assistance. Such home users generally own a computer to do email, play games, write letters, scan and print photos, and occasionally to do bookkeeping or taxes. Home PC users with more sophisticated applications generally have enough tech savvy, from tech experience at work, to do their own repairs and upgrades. Their hardware needs will include the computer itself, monitors, keyboards, mouse, printer, and scanner.
This group is growing slightly faster than the overall population growth in our area, in part due to the increasing demand for computers among retired people and young families, about 7% a year.
Small Business Users
Small business users will provide the majority of our business revenue. The small business market will be defined as customers within a 15 mile radius, with 2 or more computers or a network which they use for business purposes at least 25% of the time. Their business use may include minor usage, such as updating a business website for a brick-and-mortar store, keeping the books, designing graphics or ad campaigns, and writing copy for press releases. It may also be more extensive, incorporating inventory tracking, POS systems, customer databases, online product/service delivery, or product development. The more intensive their computer usage for business, the more critical it is to them that their technology work well and reliably, and that quality repairs and support are available in a crisis. Their hardware needs will include the same items as home users, plus servers, backup systems, data storage, and wireless networking.
4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy
Although there are more potential customers among home PC users, we expect the majority of our revenue to come from small business clients, since their need for our services is more urgent, and they are willing to invest in technology as part of their business plan. The majority of our marketing efforts will thus be focused on small business owners. These customers typically don’t have a full-time IT person, but have full-time IT needs. Home PCs are often used by multiple people, and serve multiple purposes. Our home PC users need help with managing their settings to integrate the different needs of all household members as much as they need technical assistance.
ComputingNet magazine recently reported on the substantial need for timely and cost-effective computer upgrades and repairs in this region; Jack Hacker has seen this market need in person, as frustrated clients waited for days or weeks for their critical components to be returned to full capacity, with no inexpensive alternative to the existing computer repair shops. All of our clients need technical assistance, but we are also selling peace of mind: our clients will know that friendly, efficient help is just a phone call away. As more and more companies switch their support services to automated call centers or touch-tone menus, the simple reassurance of hearing another human voice on the phone within a few rings is immeasurable. Even better is knowing that within a few hours, someone will show up and take care of their problem.
Both the software and hardware side of the computer industry continue to turn out new and revised computer components at alarming rates. For PC Repair this means job security well into the future. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, there seems to be no end to the development of the computer market. Business Week expects the computing industry to grow at a rate of 12% and the processor speeds to continue to expand for years to come.
4.3 Service Business Analysis
Secondary market research shows computer service customers tend to be very loyal to providers that do good work and satisfy their needs. An analysis of PC Repair’s main competitors shows no overwhelming strengths that would be significant barriers to entry into the market, as our local competitors have serious weaknesses.
The computer maintenance and repair industry is fragmented, with a few large, national players and hundreds of small, local stores. While most computers are actually repaired in-store, near the customer, parts for the repair come from major manufacturers and distributors; delays in receiving necessary parts can significantly slow down the repair process. Large chains have solved this problem by keeping vast amounts of inventory in stock at all times, while local stores offer customers the trade-off of personal interaction and trust that may make up for some delay.
PC Repair has established a relationship with a local distributor to do rapid special-ordering; although this capability is more expensive than normal channels, it will enable us to quickly establish a reputation as efficient and responsive to customer needs, particularly for our small business users. We will leverage this customer loyalty into great word of mouth marketing and steady growth.
4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns
Customers choose computer repair and assistance services based on reputation, previous experience, and price. They may choose to return to a mediocre provider with whom they’re familiar, rather than try out a new unknown company about whom they’ve heard nothing. Large stores, especially the service departments of national chains, have a great advantage simply in their affiliation with an established brand. Establishing our brand identity and a great reputation in the first few months is critical to our success. Once we have broken in to the local market, our great service will turn new clients into permanent clients.
Our services will be second to no one and our prices will be very reasonable for the high quality service we offer. By providing superior service, word of mouth alone will bring in many new clients. The satisfaction our consumers find will keep them coming back. There are two main competitors for the computer upgrade and repair business in this area:
Competitor A. They are a well established provider of computer upgrades and services, and do quick work. However, they have a high staff turnover, a young and inexperienced staff, and are more interested in selling new components than in maintaining existing machines or finding custom solutions. They do not offer any kind of pick-up and drop-off service, and do not offer on-site help. They really only offer hardware support.
Competitor B. Smaller and less known then A, B provides many services for residents living in east and south parts of town. They are more willing to spend time with a client, figuring out exactly what his or her needs are, and suggesting new options than competitor A. However, they have an inefficient ordering system and an unkempt shop, which deters potential customers and can turn existing customers to the competition. They also do not offer on-site services, although they are considering instituting a trial pick-up/drop-off service. They are in the best position to copy our innovations and steal customers, but their management is complacent and may not respond to competition.
Both of these companies charge rates in excess of PC Repair; we will be able to attract the price-sensitive market without much work.