Building Credibility - Start & Run a Computer Repair Service (Start & Run Business Series) (2012)

Start & Run a Computer Repair Service (Start & Run Business Series) (2012)


Building Credibility

Before you start your advertising or even take on your first customer, you can begin to build your credibility. There are many things that you can do to create a business that customers will trust. Building your brand shows that you are a professional company that intends to be in business for the long haul.

1. Design a Logo

Do you need a logo? It certainly isn’t critical but it can come in handy. Logos stick in people’s minds and help identify your brand. Arizona Computer Outlets has a silly looking peach with its tongue sticking out (blame the old owners; we do). Do we like it? No. However, the customers remember it. People who haven’t been to our store in years come back and look for that logo. A name can be forgotten, but a logo tends to stay with people.

Fortunately, in today’s Internet world, you can get a professionally created logo that you provide feedback and guidance on for as little as $300. The website,, is a great place to get your design. All you do is put up your payment ($300) and describe what you are looking for (e.g., color scheme, style). Designers from around the world will help create an image that meets your expectations and will stick in customers’ minds. Plus, during the “tournament” you can provide feedback to the designers. As each designer submits his or her entry, you can let them know how you feel about it. Soon, the logos start to get closer and closer to your ideal. By the time the tournament is over, you will have a logo that you love at a price you can afford.

2. Create a Professional Website

Another way to add credibility to your business is to develop a professional-looking web presence. A great website will bring in revenue and build your market reputation. You can direct your advertising traffic to the site by adding the URL to your business cards for those individuals who want additional information about you and your business. Also, when you are doing Internet advertising on sites such as Craigslist, you can use your website to store the images you will use in your ads.

Getting a website is relatively simple. It can be purchased through for less than $100 (including all the bells and whistles). In general, try to stay with a website that uses the .com extension and one that is easy to remember. While many companies use dashes and hyphens in their name, it is less confusing if you use an URL that is all one word. Our website address, may be long but since it matches our store name, it is easy to remember.

Get the Web Name Variations!

When you first purchase a website, you may be tempted to just buy the URL you need. When we bought the website for Arizona Computer Outlets, we made sure to get the full name of the business, and trademarked our name. However, it was still galling when another local computer store purchased the same domain name, only without the “s.” So, plan ahead and get all the name variations that could steal your traffic.

2.1 Building your website

There are many ways to create a very professional looking website that is fast and easy to maintain. Even if you don’t have a great deal of coding experience, it is now possible to build professional looking websites. If you choose to build the site yourself, there are many great options out there. The following are two tools which I have used before:

Go Daddy’s Website Tonight: If you want a supported website design, Go Daddy offers its “Website Tonight” product. This tool allows you to create a custom website based on hundreds of available templates with an infinite number of combinations. There is a monthly fee for this service, but it may be worthwhile if you want to have someone to call.

WordPress: My current favorite is WordPress because it is easy to use, easy to manage, and continually updated with new plug-ins (i.e., pre-created tools that you can use on your website for free). In general, all the tools here are free and they can be downloaded to any hosting site (including GoDaddy). This is one of the least expensive options.

Of course, if you want your site to use flash intros or special shopping carts, it may be worthwhile to invest in a professionally built and managed site. Just be careful about investing too much money up front. While professional sites will look better, they may be harder to manage and update. So, if your business changes greatly in the first year or two, it may be expensive to keep your website up to date. In general, it’s better to start cheaper (think free) and expand the site as your business grows. The temptation is to go with something fancy. After all, the business is a reflection of you, and the website is the customer’s portal to your business. Remember our maxim: If it doesn’t make you money and pay for itself, don’t do it!

2.2 Critical information to include on your website

Once you have the basics of your website, you can begin to fill in the content. Some things that you may want to add to your website include:

Warranty information: Include your service policy as well as the hardware policy. This lets people know that you stand behind your product and services.

Contact information: Create a dedicated email address which matches your company website name (e.g., not a generic Gmail or Yahoo! account. People tend to trust “real” email addresses more than the free ones. Whatever you do, don’t use an AOL address. No one will take you seriously.

Product list: If you sell used computers, make them available online. Although you may not get many sales like this you will get some. When we posted our products online we were surprised when we started to receive occasional orders in the first month with no advertising!

Feedback area: Also known as a brag sheet, this is where you post all the great customer feedback that you receive. If you receive any supportive customer emails or thank-you notes, make a copy and post it! Just remember to respect your customers’ privacy and don’t use their full names without their written permission.

News and notices: As a business owner, any coverage you receive from newspapers, websites, or magazines should always be posted directly on your website. You may not have any at first, but one public relations professional we met described this area as your pedigree to influence customer sales!

About you: If you are running the business, include some information about yourself. You may want to mention your experience, training, certifications (if you have them), and other information that shows you are qualified to fix the customer’s computer. Brag! The more information you give about yourself, the more credibility you’ll build and the less time you’ll spend gaining the customer’s trust.

Advice area: Another way to show customers your professionalism is to include a few tips and tricks on your website. While you can create this yourself, you can also use tips from other sites (make sure to check the copyright information before you put anything on your site).

3. Vehicle Wrapping

If you plan to complete on-site jobs, you should have some way of distinguishing your vehicle as a company vehicle. This is not required, but it is a great way to increase your advertising (all the other cars on the road will see your signage). If you don’t have a retail storefront, this makes you seem more professional when you arrive.

While a full wrap can set you back a few thousand dollars, doing the windows or doors professionally is usually much less. If you’re spending an hour per day on the road, you’re advertising your business at least one hour per day! Think about how much it would cost you to get an hour of radio or television advertising. Plus, you’ll be shocked at how many calls you’ll get. You need something catchy that people can remember and a simple phone number. You have about ten seconds to sell yourself and your business, so make it count!

The other option people often consider are two small magnets on either door. Let’s face it, this rarely looks professional. If you choose to go this route, realize that little magnets on the door may get you some business, but only a little. Someone has to be parked next to you at a light to see them or has to stop and read it if you’re parked. While this can be done professionally, most of the time, it looks temporary and people won’t think your business is permanent. Also, it ruins the paint underneath the magnet, so think long and hard before you commit to doing this.

Whatever you choose, make sure that it is easy to read and easy to remember. Simple advertising will work best for your car since most of the people who see this advertising will be driving in their own cars and won’t be able to take notes. Before you choose, look around at what other people are doing with their vehicles. You’re not trying to blow their minds with your artistic ability, you’re conveying information. Give them your name, your service, your competitive advantage, and a means of contact. They’re not going to remember more than that anyway.

4. Professional Forms and Documents

This is another area some people try to skimp on. To save a few bucks, they often print forms directly from their computer instead of getting forms professionally created. This is a mistake. First, when you get forms professionally created, you have the option of getting carbonless forms. This means that you can have the customer write on the top copy (your copy) and then give them the bottom copy as their receipt. This ensures that you both have the same information of the work completed and appears more professional overall. Second, it ensures that you always have the forms that you need with you.

If you choose to order forms, keep your first set small. Inevitably, as you work with your customers, there are changes that you will wish you could make. Ordering a small amount that you will go through quickly will let you get your second order right. Sure, a small order costs more, but using forms that are missing information or worse yet, throwing them out is significantly more expensive.

As always, you don’t need to do this on Day 1. You can print out your own forms and documents until you get going, but you will spend the money in ink and paper plus you will lose the advantages a printed form provides.

5. Professional Business Cards

Even if you don’t listen to me about the vehicle wraps and forms, please don’t print your business cards on your printer. They look cheap and unprofessional. Worse yet, they look like you only thought of becoming a computer professional earlier that day and at the last minute decided to print off some cards. Especially if you are working out of your house, this could scare off customers. Spending a hundred dollars or so on business cards will be worthwhile advertising in the long run. There are plenty of online places that will print a few hundred cards for the cost of shipping, so take advantage of these services. Ink is expensive, so don’t spend it on business cards.

One way to give out your business cards is to affix a small packet of cards to your vehicle’s window. That way, when people are walking by your parked vehicle, they can grab a card for later. Make sure you have a giant arrow that points to it so people know it’s there for them.

5.1 Critical information to include on a business card

Sometimes a business card is the only information a customer has about your business, so make sure the card is something of which you can be proud. The goal of your business card is to give your customers the information they need to contact you. Therefore, make sure your card is easy to read, clear, and concise. The following are some things you may want to include on your business card:

Certifications and specialized training: While training isn’t required to become a computer repair person, it is valuable to list any certifications that you have. As we’ve mentioned, the certifications won’t really help you fix a computer, but customers love them and certifications build confidence.

Contact information: Think about how you want to be found. In general, you should list any way a customer may want to contact you. This includes your business address, website, email address, phone number, fax number, emergency number, etc. Just remember, if you don’t have a business address (or are working from your home) make sure that your phone number and email are prominently listed on your business card.

Logo: It may seem silly, but people seem to think a company is more credible if it has its own logo, so add it to your business card.

At our store, we get a lot of people who have viruses. To remind them how to close windows without launching viruses, we created some business cards that have instructions for using Alt-F4 to close windows. This encourages customers to keep our business cards and hopefully the next time they have a more complex problem, they will still have our business card!

Once you figure out what to put on the card, make sure that the cards you pick have a decent paper weight. If the cards are too flimsy, they will seem cheap. If they are too “slick,” it may make the customers wonder if your prices are too high. Finding a balance may take a while, but nice cards will be remembered by your customers.

Make business cards people want to keep. As you work with more and more customers you will find that there are some questions people often ask. Create some specialized business cards that have answers to common questions on one side and your contact information on the other. This will make sure people keep your cards and have your information whenever they need it.