Archive for October 2011

A Peek At Other Computer Technicians Workbenches #3

Authors: Bryce Whitty

A work bench is something that most Computer Technicians will need and checking out other Computer Technicians workbenches is a great way to get inspiration for our own setups. Even if you have already completed your own workbench, it is nice to see how other technicians are doing it. We haven’t done one of these in a while (#1, #2) so it is time for #3 in our Computer Technicians workbenches series.



anth





 

Cain929

This is a few pictures of our shop… And yes before you ask that is the same stuff they use on metal roof tops. We cut it down and made it the front of the counter, the added benefit is that we put magnet backs on our cards and people just take them when they want them.. People love the fact they can see us working on their computers.





 

Fixedathome.com

I’ve always worked out of a spare bedroom in my house but 4 months ago my 2nd child was born and it was decided by my wife and I that the office should be given to my older son and turned back into a bedroom and the youngest have the older sons current bedroom.

In my garden I have a brick outhouse that has been used as a shed. It’s not the biggest space in the world (10 foot x 6 foot) but as the majority of my work is carried out on site I don’t need a huge area so I decided to have it converted to an office.

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Local Circuit

Moved to a new location this year, built it all the cabinets and benches, and put up some new signage. Getting ready to launch a new website at the end of the month as well.
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Rob

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If you would like to see more workbenches, check out our past articles:
A Peek At Other Computer Technicians Workbenches #1
A Peek At Other Computer Technicians Workbenches #2

A special thank you to all those who sent in pictures if their workbenches. If you would like to show off your own setup, please send the pictures to tips[at]technibble.com

© Technibble – A Resource for Computer Technicians to start or improve their Computer Business
To get started with your own computer business, check out our Computer Business Kit. A Peek At Other Computer Technicians Workbenches #3

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Technibble Is Now Hiring!

Authors: Bryce Whitty

We are looking for new writers to join the Technibble team. With over 270,000 monthly readers, 25,000+ Email/RSS subscribers and 2392 Twitter followers, your content is going to be seen.

There is no better way to get your name out there, build your profile, help your fellow Computer Technician and become recognized in the computer repair world than by writing for us.


Technibble is a tremendous growth opportunity and we are only looking for people who are looking for a long term commitment and who do it because they love what they are writing about and are passionate about it.

This is a paid position and we do not force a minimum word count on our writers but the article should take around 1 – 1.5 hours to complete. We do this to give writers the option to create non-wordy articles like graphic heavy how-to’s or research intensive articles.

Currently Commissioning

If you are able to write about any of the following topics, we would love to hear from you!

  • High level How-To Guides – For example, we wouldn’t be looking for end-user level articles such as how to install and run an antivirus program. Rather, we would be looking for an article on how to image a hard drive, how to move a MBR virus and other Technician level articles.
  • Video Tutorials – Similar to the high level how-to guides, but in video format. This role requires someone who has a clear voice that translates well into recordings
  • Managed Services – Both the business and technical side

I must point out, we all love tech and writing a few articles can be fun, but writing for Technibble is a commitment. We are looking for people we can rely on. People we can help grow as a writer and hopefully have with us in the long run. If this sounds like you, contact Bryce at: hiring1 [at] technibble.com

When you contact us, please make the subject “Technibble Job” and please let us know the following:

  • Any experience you may have? We are mainly looking at the amount of years in the business, certification, any other work/projects that could be of benefit in this job.
  • Your age?
  • What topics do you wish to cover?
  • How much/often you are able to contribute?
  • Do you have any writing samples? If so, please send them with your email. No attachments please. If not, please write 200 words on something that is part of the topic you wish to write about

All enquiries be considered, but not all will be accepted to join us.
I look forward to hearing from you!

Joint Ventures

We are always interested in potentially working with other people. If you have an idea for a product, already have one or have a website where we could mutually benefit from each others visitors. Please get in touch via our contact form.

© Technibble – A Resource for Computer Technicians to start or improve their Computer Business
To get started with your own computer business, check out our Computer Business Kit. Technibble Is Now Hiring!

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Episode 54 – Welcome To Work Market Part 2

Today we will conclude our talk with an entrepreneur who created a new kind of platform that could change the rules of engagement between Buyer and Provider to bring balance, trust and profitability to all sides.

TechPodcasts Promo Tag :10
Intro 1:18
Billboard :37

News and Comment segment 5:56
AMD announced the release of its new FX Series 8-core processor.

Windows Guides is offering a FREE PC maintenance ebook to IT professionals.

Bryce Whitty at Technibble has just released The Computer Business Kit with over 30 ready-to-use legal documents, computer business forms and marketing templates to help you protect yourself and look professional.

Microsoft has created a new web-based tool at www.yourbrowsermatters.org to test the security of your browser.

Commercial Break 1:25
The Force Field Web Portal TheForceField.Net

Intro to Topic 1:33
Today we’re going to conclude our talk with Jeff Leventhal and learn more about his new platform called Work Market. We’ll address concerns within The Force Field forum community as to whether or not this new platform will deliver as expected, discuss how techs are leveraging Work Market to manage labor projects for their own businesses, and how you can help influence its direction in the future. Part two of a two part series.

Interview with Jeff Leventhal 17:50

Wrap up and Close :46

Comments, questions or suggestions? Send them in to comments@theforcefield.net. Feedback on this topic will be read by the host and included in future episodes of the show. Visit us at http://www.theforcefield.net!

©2011 Savoia Computer. All rights reserved.

 

Episode 54 – Welcome To Work Market Part 2

Today we will conclude our talk with an entrepreneur who created a new kind of platform that could change the rules of engagement between Buyer and Provider to bring balance, trust and profitability to all sides.

TechPodcasts Promo Tag :10
Intro 1:18
Billboard :37

News and Comment segment 5:56
AMD announced the release of its new FX Series 8-core processor.

Windows Guides is offering a FREE PC maintenance ebook to IT professionals.

Bryce Whitty at Technibble has just released The Computer Business Kit with over 30 ready-to-use legal documents, computer business forms and marketing templates to help you protect yourself and look professional.

Microsoft has created a new web-based tool at www.yourbrowsermatters.org to test the security of your browser.

Commercial Break 1:25
The Force Field Web Portal TheForceField.Net

Intro to Topic 1:33
Today we’re going to conclude our talk with Jeff Leventhal and learn more about his new platform called Work Market. We’ll address concerns within The Force Field forum community as to whether or not this new platform will deliver as expected, discuss how techs are leveraging Work Market to manage labor projects for their own businesses, and how you can help influence its direction in the future. Part two of a two part series.

Interview with Jeff Leventhal 17:50

Wrap up and Close :46

Comments, questions or suggestions? Send them in to comments@theforcefield.net. Feedback on this topic will be read by the host and included in future episodes of the show. Visit us at http://www.theforcefield.net!

©2011 Savoia Computer. All rights reserved.

Ask The Readers: The One Piece of Advice You Wish You Could Have Told Your Past Self

Authors: Bryce Whitty

Everyone has that one main piece of advice that changed their life/business that they wish they knew when they were first starting out. So, I want to ask the readers, What is that one piece of advice you wish you could have told your past self as a Tech/Business Owner?


I’ll start. For me it is to never stop learning and never stop improving.
In any business it takes time for you to establish your systems and eventually you’ll reach a point where things will start to run really smoothly. You have a steady amount of clients and you can handle just about any problems that come your way. All you need to do is repeat this process to continue making money.

In my early years I got into a fairly comfortable position and as a result I wasn’t working ON my business, only IN my business keeping the wheels turning. A year or two went by and I started to improve my existing systems such as slipstreaming my Windows CDs, experimenting with different forms of advertising and tweaking my existing advertising.

With just a few simple tweaks I started making significantly more money by either working faster (allowing me to take on more jobs) or my advertising being more effective. Which made me wonder how much more money I was leaving on the table, so I continued improving and haven’t stopped since. I just wish I had done it sooner since there was a fair bit of money I missed out on by not improving earlier.

So, whats the one piece of advice you wish you could have told your past self?

For those of you reading this via email or RSS reader, head over to the site and drop us a comment. I would love to hear your piece of advice.

© Technibble – A Resource for Computer Technicians to start or improve their Computer Business
To get started with your own computer business, check out our Computer Business Kit. Ask The Readers: The One Piece of Advice You Wish You Could Have Told Your Past Self

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Marketing your business with partner and reseller programs

From time to time I get into a discussion with a tech who is starting up a computer store and is searching for banners, posters and other promotional items from product manufactures to add some prestige or credibility to his or her store. My advice is simple. Visit the manufacturers’ web sites and join their partner programs.

I am a big proponent of utilizing partner and reseller programs. Although they are commonly considered a source for product discounts and sales spiffs for resellers who join, partner programs can have great returns in other ways as well. Sales tools, training programs and free collateral are all great incentives to buy their products from channel distributors instead of a web or after market retailer. Just because it doesn’t translate into immediate profit on the sale doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. The value of some of the perks offered in these programs are worth a lot more than just saving a buck or two on shipping.

For instance, it is no secret that large IT companies may qualify for co-ops, actual cash from vendors to finance or subsidize a co-branded marketing campaign for their products.  Small operations may not qualify for this perk because they don’t do enough business to get ad money from the vendors. But wait, how much would it cost you to print slick four color brochures and line cards to distribute to your customers with your company name on them? There is no way some of us could afford to produce our own marketing collateral.

Yet, most vendors will send this stuff to you for FREE. All you need to do is send a request and they will ship posters, banners, flyers, cards, pens, rat mats and even T-shirts for you to mail or pass out to your customers – much of it you can slap your company information on with a stamp or sticker or – depending on the item and your resources – run it through your own printer.

Most vendors also allow you access to logos, sales kits and collateral you can use and post on your web sites. All FREE. This is all every bit as valuable as actual Co-op money and in some cases even better – if you know how to use it.

You also have better support on the back end when it comes to supporting the products. This can be a huge selling point to customers because your support to them is backed up by back-end support from the vendor as opposed to the guy who sold a router and can’t help the customer when it breaks or has a hardware problem.

But that’s not all. There is often FREE training and vendor certification available as well.

When you think training and certification, the first things that probably come to mind as a tech are technical training and technical certification. While this is important to consider, there is another aspect of training that most of us completely overlook and may be even more important to us, especially if we are selling these products.

You can be a great tech and you can be somewhat business savvy, but it is common knowledge that great techs are seldom also great salespeople. Some of the best techs I’ve known are terrible sales reps. While I wouldn’t call myself a great tech, I do know was a lot more comfortable doing bench work than closing sales.

One of the best perks of partner and reseller programs isn’t necessarily the discounts, co-op money or marketing collateral. It’s the training. The free sales training.

Your vendor partners want you to sell their products, the more the better. Many partner and reseller programs provide FREE sales training and certification programs to help you learn how to sell their products like a pro. If you are in business for yourself and rely on the sale of IT products for even a fraction of your income, sales training should be a prerequisite to starting up your business. Free sales training is even better. You can’t beat free.

This is what really sets you apart from the other techs who sell stuff out of their truck. You aren’t just selling a computer, router or hard drive, you’re an authorized reseller for those companies. You are an official source for that product and you are perceived as the authoratative expert on that product as well as the direct line to the manufacturer. I will tell you from personal experience that, from a marketing and sales perspective, the term authorized <insert manufacturer name here> reseller raises your personal and business profile and professional credibility up a few notches with the average customer which, in turn, helps increase sales.

Here is a real world example: When I joined the Linksys Partner Program they sent me a huge box full of hats, posters, pens, line cards and even about a half dozen very nice 25 ft measuring tapes with the Linksys logo on them for distribution to employees and clients. They impressed customers and made my operation seem more prestigious as a Linksys Partner. It gave customers the perception I was a trusted expert on the products and had an exclusive relationship with the vendor as opposed to the other guy who just carried a couple of routers in his van.

To recap, here is a brief overview of what some of these programs offer. You can usually sign up for them at no cost.
1. Collateral (posters, banners, promotional items)
2. Sales rebates and spiffs
3. New product demos (often discounted, sometimes free)
4. Sales and Marketing Training and Tools (Free sales training!)
5. Co-branding Opportunities

6. Marketing Co-Op funds (usually top-tier sellers, but sometimes smaller companies qualify as well)

There is a list of vendor partner programs in the Resource Directory at theforcefield.net as well as other articles and blogs with tips on using vendor and partner programs. Some of them are not in the public areas, however, for obvious reasons. Do a search under Resources and you will find them.

If you haven’t heard it, check out The Force Field Episode 35 – Partner With Your Vendors. I interviewed Frank Raimondi, former Executive Director of NASBA and we discussed how the little guys can use distributors and vendor partner programs to sell and market themselves like the big guys, without paying a dime.

Computer Business Kit / Fabs Autobackup 4 Competition Winners

Authors: Bryce Whitty

I would like to thank everyone who purchased the Computer Business Kit v2 during our 2 launch weeks. If you purchased during these two weeks you were automatically entered into our Fabs Autobackup 4 Competition.

The winners of this competition are:


***@milboro.co.uk
*******@buncometech.com
jakehenrythe8th@***.com
cpp512news@*****.com
****@dontech.com.au

Congratulations to the winners! You will be contacted shortly.

Thank you to everyone who purchased during the launch weeks and thank you to Fabrice, the creator of Fabs Autobackup 4 for providing the licenses.

I encourage everyone to go checkout Fabs Autobackup 4. There is a reason why I keep using it as a prize in Technibble competitions; it is a really solid and incredibly useful product that I think no tech should be without. It is such a timesaver.

You can check our Fabs Autobackup 4 Here

PS: The Fabs Autobackup 4 competition may be over but if you havent checked out our Computer Business Kit for Computer Technicians yet, you can do so by clicking here.

© Technibble – A Resource for Computer Technicians to start or improve their Computer Business
To get started with your own computer business, check out our Computer Business Kit. Computer Business Kit / Fabs Autobackup 4 Competition Winners

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VA to Build Polytrauma-Blind Rehabilitation Center in Palo Alto

Authors: Mitalis

$98.8 Million Contract Awarded

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How to raise prices without losing customers

At some point in your IT service career, you will be faced with the prospect or necessity of raising the prices on one or more of your services. If you are just starting out and find it necessary to adjust your charges as you gain a better understanding of your business goals and the overall marketplace that’s not so bad. We’ve all had to do that. a few price adjustments when starting out is just part learning the business and isn’t such a big deal, provided your still establishing yourself, your customer base and your business reputation.

However, if you are well established already and your prices haven’t changed much in the last couple of years, the thought of raising them on your customers is one that may make you hesitate, and rightly so. It’s a tough decision to make, especially in these troubled economic times when money is tight for many customers and competition is fierce for every dollar.

The decision to raise prices on your services should be considered carefully. The first step is to ask yourself why you need to do this. Did you set your prices too low to sustain your business and keep it profitable? Are your competitors offering the same services in your area much higher rates? Did you have recent increases in overhead (higher rent, fuel prices, materials, etc.) that necessitate a price hike to your customers to maintain profitability?

If so, the decision is inevitable. At this point, it isn’t a matter of if, but how.

The best approach, in my experience, is to first determine what your price adjustment needs to be to pay the bills and maintain profitability without pricing yourself out of your local market, create a rollout plan, and stick to it.

Before doing anything, careful planning is in order. First, you need to do some basic math and determine just how much you need to raise prices. Then you need to research colleagues and competitors in your area and find out how and what they charge for the same services you provide. Factor in the economy in your local area and what the local market can bear. Consider your established customers and what you think they can afford to pay. Also, consider what you think is fair to charge your customers based on your own experience and abilities, and the value of the service you provide. Put it all on paper and work the numbers. Then comes the hard part: raising your prices.

I’ve been there as well and although you may have a little push back from customers in the beginning, in the long run you will be better off and your customer base may actually grow.

Of course, it all depends on how you approach it. There are a couple of ways to do this. You could try raising prices incrementally, a little here or there over a period of time. The other option is to do it all at once.

You must also know your customers and their expectations. Incremental price hikes only work if you can do it over the course of a long period of time. Otherwise, raising the price $5 every few weeks or so will actually hurt, as your customers will get annoyed with the constant increases and you will get annoyed with the constant management of it.

A better way to roll it out may be to change the pricing on individual items and services over a short period of time. Change the bench fees one week, change the onsite fees another, and offer daily or weekly discounts or specials on other items or services to offset the hikes.

Whatever you decide to do, the most important thing to remember is to communicate the price hike to your customers honestly and well in advance. Communication is actually the key to the success of your price changes.

Customers don’t like surprises, especially when it comes to costs. If you quietly raise your prices and your customers are hit with the new fees out of the blue, they will not be happy. Send out a snail mail or e-mail blast to your customers (snail mail is better) and post a notice in your storefront to notify everyone of the price changes at least 30 days in advance. Be upfront about why the prices are changing and answer any questions or concerns your customers may have without spin. There will always be a few who will bail on you but most of them will understand, especially given the current state of the economy.

If you keep your customers in the loop from day one, you will find they will appreciate your situation more than you think and are more likely to accept the price changes with few complaints. You may even experience a surge in business before the price hikes, as some customers will want to take advantage of the current prices before they go up.

SBA Seek Nominations for 2012 Rhode Island Small Business Awards

Authors: Mitalis

Providence, RI – Nominations are now being accepted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for the 2012 Rhode Island Small Business Person of the Year and other small business awards. Winners will be honored during the Rhode Island Small Business

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