People who "rebuild" and resale computers for a living.

By mopar man ยท 14 replies
Feb 9, 2008
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  1. Recently, I noticed that everyone I know that "works" on computers, or people who "rebuild and reformat" computers tend to be stupid. I don't mean to sound mean, but they are not just "still learning", but are actually just wanting the money.

    I went for an ad in the trader. My grandma was needing/still is needing a computer to learn how to use, and that could do it without being extremely slow, etc.

    The ad was a 750mhz Processer, 256mb ram, and a 20 gig hard drive for $200.
    The guy must have not known ANYTHING about the software, or at least not the truth about the software. He was telling me how "great" the Norton AV was, and how this Anti-Spyware was so good that you could clean your computer completely with that one program. He should have caught that I knew what I was talking about when I used every hint I had in me to let him know I wasn't ignorant in the computer field, but nothing made him see it, apparently. Then he went on like the "Thomas Kinkade(?) screensaver" was the most jaw-dropping thing in the world.

    I then proceeded to look what GPU it had, if it wasn't onboard. It was an ATI RAGE 3d Pro, I believe, 2X. I then asked him whether it would support 4X, just to see how much he really knew, and he said that he didn't know, all he knew was it was a basic AGP slot.

    The one thing that I will give him credit for is this:

    He knew how much ram XP needed.
  2. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Yes 128Meg

    But just in regards to SalesMen ! (or is it SalesPeople!)
    There are two sides to this I've found.

    Most computer service businesses are usually just Sales staff (ie re-install Windows everytime)
    Norton AntiVirus being sold as the best known Antivirus, and usually sold on just about every large manufacture computer. Because it is so recognized.

    A lot of customers (from about 10years old up) think they are computer gurus!
    I can't tell you howmany times, someone has said to me, "looks like I know more than you", usually referring to the insides of their personnally built computer, that I haven't even looked at yet! I keep saying I'm not a mind reader, but I'm not sure they understand.

    So this scenario seems to work both ways.
  3. TimeParadoX

    TimeParadoX TS Rookie Posts: 2,273

    I think it's wrong for people who resell computers to know almost nothing about current technologies and anti-spyware / virus, Because there are some people out there who do not know all that much about computers and will end up spending more then they need and get a crappy computer.

    Same with the Geek Squad guys ( I work there, so I know about their stuff ), they'll make customers spend atleast $100+ to just clean out the spyware with a good anti-virus like AVG / Avast! then uninstall it and install a crappy thing like Norton.
  4. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Yes but customers keep coming in !

    You know, like you, I believe it's wrong too. So much so, that when I serviced a computer, I serviced it !

    But, how many times I got told off for being so slow. The others would do a quick scan of the Windows folder, and move on to cleaning the case !!! When I'd still be scanning documents and settings. There's no place for a good technician anymore, they're just time wasters (like I was - it seemed)
  5. mopar man

    mopar man TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 1,379

    Where do you work, kimsland?

    I think it is sad that they only go through the windows folder. If I were to take my computer in (in that sad, sad case), I would expect them to look for any and everything possible.

    That is just me though.
  6. mopar man

    mopar man TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 1,379

    What is good work??
  7. sghiznaneck

    sghiznaneck TS Maniac Posts: 403

    Then I guess that I'm the exception to the rule. I've been at this game for 16 months now and treat every customer's computer (desktop or laptop) as if it were my own. I don't "reformat" as a fix for everything. I spend a good hour diagnosing problems prior to taking a course of action. I advise all my clients on virus/firewall/spyware programs that actually work and aren't system hogs. I clean out each computer of garbage, run diagnostics and attempt to remove viruses and spyware prior to determining if the system requires a fresh install. A fresh install is the last thing I want to do because it takes up so much time. Additionally, if I have to reinstall, I do something that very few (if any) shops do, I save as much as I can (depending on the severity of viruses/corruption, etc.
    When building a new computer or upgrading, I ask the client what they use it for the most. This drives the hardware that I install.
    I work out of my home, and I must be doing a good job since most of my clients refer many others to me (even though I advertise in the phone book and on the local cable company). Also, my prices are more than competitive. Actually, I could be making a lot more money than I am since my price for a simple diagnostic is included in the price of the repair (example: repair Windows/reinstall Windows is only $50 US dollars. From there, it goes up. Building a computer depends on the time spent not building it, but the hardware (low end/mid range/high end). I tailor each system depending on what the client uses it for. I usually make around $200-300 dollars on each system. For example, I've built low end systems for $500 and high end systems for around $1,000. If you were to question your local shops on a price to build each type of system, you'd find that there is no way they would touch a system for anything less than around $800. I also do home networking, which my normal fee is $60. I must also be doing quality work since the only time I have a repeat customer is when they want a new computer built or an upgrade.
    Also, I give a referral discount to any repeat customer that comes back who refers another customer to me.
    So, in closing, I take offense on being labeled "stupid." Evidently, this is coming from someone who has never either built there own system or who doesn't have the "smarts" to diagnose their own problems (FLAMES!!)
  8. k.jacko

    k.jacko TS Rookie Posts: 493

    sghiznaneck, i'm curious. Why would you charge different rates for a lower end system than a higher end system? They would surely take the same amount of time to build. In fact you could argue that a higher end rig will take less time to install software due to its better hdd, cpu, ram etc, therefore should be cheaper.
    Like you, i'll never skip around diagnosing/fixing a pc. I've built too numerous to mention in the 5 years i've been doing this. Sadly i don't make much money from it as most are for people i know, who expect 'a break' or do a contra-deal.
    I'm certainly not flaming you mate, but if a customer asked what i just asked you, how would you rationalise your answer without BS'ing them?
  9. mopar man

    mopar man TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 1,379

    Actually, I am sorry sghiznanec, I am sorry for offending you, I didn't mean that everyone of you were. I know there are smart people such as you out their. I mean that in general, they are uneducated.

    I can diagnose my own problems, for the most part. Also, I just want you to know that I am going by what I have seen personally. From what you are saying, you would be the person I'd go to. Once again, I am sorry.

    I was just stating an experience. I would also like you to know that I plan on doing something related to this, if not this, for a living myself. I just was worried when I found that most didn't know as much as I did about their own system they are selling. Even if he didn't know what most of it meant, he still should have found out what it was.

    I also understand that he was selling computers based on everyday use for email, etc. Then again, he installed programs that most consider undesirable (Norton, Thomas Kinkake Screensaver (?), and random assortments of freeware programs.
  10. sghiznaneck

    sghiznaneck TS Maniac Posts: 403

    The reason I charge less for a low end system is the cost of parts. I still make a decent profit AND I'm not greedy. I've learned one thing in this business in the 16 months that I've been in it and that is provide a quality product for a reasonable price. By doing so, I get customers from surrounding cities where I don't even advertise (different cable companies and different phone books). Word of mouth is the best "free" advertising there is. For the low to mid range systems, I utilize the barebones kits. Granted, they don't always have all the hardware required, but I still turn a profit. The high end systems yield the biggest profits because the product speaks for itself. I take no offense in your comments, I was just preparing for a flame war from some other independents around the globe. I stress upgradeability, so they keep coming back. I've had a heck of a lot of clients come back a few months later asking if they can swap out this or swap out that, add an additional hard drive or whatnot. I learned one thing in the 25 years that I was in the Army and federal civil service and that is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". Also, I talk to my clients on their level. Most shops feed their customers mumbo jumbo that they can't understand. This makes the entire experience more personal. Also, I stress that normal maintence is the key to keeping it humming. All my clients agree. Not that I don't want to see them again and make money, but if the work I do keeps them from returning with a problem for a year or so, I'm satisfied because they refer others to me. It's really pissed off the big computer shop in my town because (and I'm not bragging; customers have told me so) I've taken a lot of their business from them. Eventually, I'd like to branch out and open up a distribution center like Tiger Direct or Newegg. Face it, computers aren't going away. If anything, the demand will increase. I've got a nice corner on the market in my town and average 10-15 computer repairs a week, 2-3 home networking jobs AND 2-3 new builds. Not bad for a sole owner/operator.
  11. Blind Dragon

    Blind Dragon TS Evangelist Posts: 3,908

    I work in sales (not with computers). Selling to businesses where if you don't know your stuff they won't buy from you. That is how I treat salesmen that I buy from as well. If you don't know what you are selling I wont buy - simple as that.

    On the side I work on computers and have for the last few years. I honestly have enough referral business that I could do this full time and be just fine.

    What I have noticed is that in most cases you could tell people you fixed up their computers without really doing much at all. And there are enough people out there that have no knowledge of computers that you could easily take advantage of. I do this for fun though, so I usually try to get everything perfect and I charge next to nothing, sometimes even free for people I know.
  12. mopar man

    mopar man TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 1,379

    I fully understand that, and believe you are dead right. If someone was trying to explain to my grandmother that the computer had 3 gigs of ram and a 8800Ultra, she would probably just look at them like THEY were stupid. If they explained that it was a very high end system mainly used for gaming, she would know what they were talking about.

    I hope you do good in your business. I am also glad I found someone that does what I have been wanting to do for years now, and does it good. I just wish you lived near me. :X
  13. sghiznaneck

    sghiznaneck TS Maniac Posts: 403

    It didn't start out this way. I almost gave up after a year, but you have to stick it out. There are dead months (May to August - kids out of school) and then really busy months (October thru January - Christmas). Also around income tax return time is busy. Most people want new computers built or have been holding out repairing them. If you do it, remember this, most businesses fail in the first year due to the fact that they get discouraged and give up. DON'T!! It takes at least a year to build up a reputation. Hell, I even have local businesses contacting me to advertise with them as my sponsor. I also have the Chamber of Commerce calling me once every couple weeks. That's a good thing to belong to since they network throughout the community, but it's at a cost. You have to attend dinners ($100-150 a plate), donations, etc, etc. I'm fine as is for now. I wanted to do this for about 5 years prior to my retirement, but I firmly believe that I (which is probably the main reason why a lot of people want to and never do) was afraid of failure. Don't be. Like Nike says, "Just Do It''!
  14. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    I've worked for a few different 'computer shops' and I have to tell you, it is always the same... The owner primarily wants money, the employees work there not because they are skilled - rather - because they are affordable, and there is a disappointing amount of emphasis on customer service.

    I got really tired of it. I do my own work now (on the side, not a primary source of income) and I play by MY rules... And they are simple. Charge competitively, treat customers like you'd treat a friend and accept that you need to eat it sometimes (cost of parts, labor etc...). If you aren't trying to make a buck on absolutely everything you do, you have the freedom to offer the kind of service people are really looking for. And, if you do good work, people notice.

    Considering the almost throw-away nature of computers anymore though, being a computer tech is a tough business.. especially with the volume of people who do it (both terribly and well). It might pay the bills, but it certainly won't make you rich and for anyone here thinking they are going to be a 'computer tech' when they 'grow up', you might want to consider engineering, the business side of computer repair or something else a little more specific, like a niche market in Beverly HIlls. :)
  15. mopar man

    mopar man TechSpot Ambassador Topic Starter Posts: 1,379

    Yes I see what you both are saying. I really would prefer not having to do work for large businesses. Maybe later in my career, but not anytime in the beginning. I really would like to start just by building cheap, reliable computers for everyday users, as right now there are a lot of people around here looking for something like that.

    After that, when I have more experienced, I will get my name known more and begin to build gaming computers, etc.

    That is when I may start working for businesses.

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