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bendedavis
12-30-04, 01:03 AM
I've been building a few computers for people lately. I am really exprerienced with computers and would like to start my own business. Does anyone here own a computer store, any tips on how to start up local/online and get the word out?

Q
01-02-05, 02:34 AM
I wish you luck. I had a little biz going on for a while. I can tell you one thing...It isn't easy.

Dell owns PC's man. You can get a really good PC for 500 bucks from Dell or even Walmart. By really good, I mean by everyday person really good. For the generic pc user, they're gonna want to go with cheap but usable. Unfortately, I've found it's really hard to part together a computer for cheaper than you can buy from a big buisness.

You would need to have access to old computers/ old parts for cheap. That way you can build super crap systems for like 100 or 200 bucks and con people to buy them. Give good service...this will be the only way to keep afloat. You will want to find a good supplier of parts for new systems as well. Someone reliable, cheap, and fast, ALA Newegg. This will be for your custom built and high end systems.

Man...If you want some more opinions just PM me. I wish you luck. Basically its easier to run a PC repair biz than a pc building one alone. You will definetly have to emphesize service and price. Good luck my man.

Q
01-02-05, 02:35 AM
BTW, how's the competition in your area? If you're the only option in a small town, you're likely to do a lot better. If you're in the burbs or city....an ever bigger battle.

Again...good luck!

1337_Like_ThaT
01-02-05, 03:17 AM
Yep, working at a PC store myself in sales and I see everyday the insane prices large corporations like Dell and HP offer for systems. I mean we are talking about 2.6ghz machines with 17" LCDs and printers for under 500 bux!!! Without rebates at that!! Unless you are going to be a huge supplier and distrubuter of PC Goods and you are going to be buying in Bulk, leave the sales to the Big guys like PC Club and Dell and just go with being an IT for a company or service/on-site repair man. Much better margin and more of a money making area. :nana: :nana:

With whatever decision you make, I wish you the best of luck with it! (xmasmile)

$n][pErMan
01-02-05, 11:39 AM
Its not easy ... but find a nitch. Something no one in your area is doing. It takes work and time (and a good amount of money).... but its been working for me. Im making deals to acctually have my OWN BRAND of laptops by months end.. something I can truely call my own and can sell for a competitive price. You better know what your doing.... or you will go under fast!
Some simple things I have learned:
There is no money in parts... dont sell them (unless you can buy like 200 in one shot).
Dont sell junk... build good stuff (word of mouth works)
Be unique.... (why should they pick you over best buy?)

Starscream
01-02-05, 01:08 PM
[pErMan']
There is no money in parts... dont sell them (unless you can buy like 200 in one shot).
Dont sell junk... build good stuff (word of mouth works)
Be unique.... (why should they pick you over best buy?)

Agreed totally on all those points. I work at a computer store, and the margains on parts are often RAZOR thin. We don't even make all that much on systems. Service is where the money is.

Sazar
01-02-05, 01:17 PM
completely agreed... service is where the money is...

if you look @ the big boys... dell/hp/gateway and the like... they make money off of service margin...

even then you can't really compete with dell's service (on-site nbd for regular consumers... same business day for business end if you get it) offered standard or for minimum cost to consumers...

couple in that with teh fact that dell has barely any inventory sitting on shelves (they turn over their inventory in excess of 200 times a year) and you will see how they can keep their costs low, and you will struggle...

perhaps offer support services, and advertise yourself as a dell certified technician, or ibm certified or whatever and you will likely make some bucks off of that...

superklye
01-02-05, 01:22 PM
I want to start a business where I clean spyware/viruses off of people's computers. They pay through the nose at Best Buy and CompUSA for them to do this and since it is my day-to-day job during the school year, it's like second nature. Not to mention the fact 9/10 times the kids I go to help already went to Best Buy or somewhere else and they told the kid that there was nothing they could do. They would have to reformat and lose everything.

Then I come in, run Spybot and McAfee Cleanboot and wow...what do you know? Problems solved.

I could charge $200 or whatever Best Buy charges and I would get it fixed withOUT having to reformat (except in those rare, special cases).

Sazar
01-02-05, 01:25 PM
it always starts small... best thing is to get your foot in the door with a small company and offer them your services on a trial basis...

you will unfortunately have to guarantee your work simply because of liability issues I would assume, but once you have an account you can rely on it's a foot in the door :)

I am still recommending you contact the big system builders and find out if you can get affiliated to fix their systems for them because that is almost guaranteed revenue... and milwaukee is a decent sized bizness area what with your population there...

Son Goku
01-02-05, 10:20 PM
My piece of advise, don't specialize in system building. Specializing in just selling the hardware is also rather out. We had someone from a local company come to our Cisco 4 class to speak to the students. They just sold the networking hardware and were going out of business. They brought him in and they're now a full fledged network consulting shop, install, build, upgrade networks, etc...and pulled out of the slump. The money is just not there anymore, and they were forced to change their entire business model, else go bankrupt.

I used to know some people who owned a local PC shop here, and even if one is good at what they do, it still can be next to impossible to survive from a business stand point.

Carol acquired Thor Computers and Fred left his job in Silicon Valley to help a life long friend and college buddy (sounded like they knew each other from college) run her newly acquired business. He left a job where he was making about $200,000 a year back in the mid-1990s or so... This will be significant latter in the tale.

As to qualifications, they didn't come straight out and say, but from various conversations I had with each of them it is clear they went to college as computer engineers in the 1950s. Carol also commented about the time when the cold war was fresh and there was a certain "spirit of excellence" in engineering present then (as we were starting to compete with the Russians) which seems largely absent today (aka planned obsolesence, lower quality products that don't last as long if it increases sales, etc). Fred at least got a post graduate degree in computer engineering around this time, and from his discussions on verious things it seems clear he probably has/had at least a minor in physics, if not a second major as well...

From other conversations, he indicated that he worked at NASA for 12 years, and also mentioned a joint project he and Carol were working on, where they ended up creating what would amount to the first optical computer to help them map stars (faster then the computers of the day would allow) and optics seemed to make sense, as light is what one is picking up from the stars... He also gave comment to having built space probes in the past (and he wouldn't do it now, as with the crashing of the Mars explorer last decade they aren't interested in quality work if they can cut corners now) and gave specific mention to Explorers 1 and 2. He also gave mention to the shuttles systems, how they work, and some things concerning air craft systems... Other then that, he once gave mention to ATM (not the cash machine, but the networking technology) and having brought into the design team for that...

Anyhow, with all this know how which he brought with him, having designed the chips, having the equipment to design CPUs and what not; the business did not do so well in the end. The main issue was having to compete with the introduction of the sub-$1,000 computer while still trying to provide a quality system that would last longer then the average sub-$1,000 Packard Bell. People wanted the quality, but at a price that Packard Bell, Dell, and the like were offering. To provide this would require selling things below cost so a loss of money would be made on every sale. Never mind if warranty service comes into play and this cuts into the margins...

I have a friend, who even with a degree as a computer programmer was stuck working at Burger King. He tried quiting one time to look for a better job, and approached Fred asking for a job. With things so tight, they could use the help but couldn't afford to hire anyone new. Fred told me about this, and I told him about this friend's predicament. Fred felt bad and said it's a d*mn shame someone of his skill should have to flip hamburgers... He really wished he could help, but the ecconomics of the situation just didn't allow... He also informed that if anything were possible that Fred would have hired him, as well as me without question, and immediately... Finances just didn't allow though...

Before all was done, and in a matter of a few years they went from having a rather sizeable life savings (due to having made $200,000 a year and such) to having lost it all in the PC business... He finally had it, was disgusted, they decided to give it up, and Fred decided to return to California to start earning his lost life's savings back again.

In the interum he did give me some advise concerning where the money is, and where it is not. In computer networking (consultation, network engineering, and the like) money is to be had. People who understand both software and hardware, and can code device drivers can find a market. Very few people can write BIOS code for the motherboard manufacturers (some companies only having one employee who can, and no one to check their work) have a marketable skill. Simply building computers, not profitable and they lost practically everything. They closed up shop around 1999-early 2000 time frame...

Other people online have concured, if one runs a comp shop, don't specialize in building the systems alone. One must provide other services which is where the real bread and butter of one's business will come from...

1337_Like_ThaT
01-02-05, 11:06 PM
I want to start a business where I clean spyware/viruses off of people's computers. They pay through the nose at Best Buy and CompUSA for them to do this and since it is my day-to-day job during the school year, it's like second nature. Not to mention the fact 9/10 times the kids I go to help already went to Best Buy or somewhere else and they told the kid that there was nothing they could do. They would have to reformat and lose everything.

Then I come in, run Spybot and McAfee Cleanboot and wow...what do you know? Problems solved.

I could charge $200 or whatever Best Buy charges and I would get it fixed withOUT having to reformat (except in those rare, special cases).

No offense to anyone who works at Best Buy or whatever, But some of the techs there are straight up N00bs....One of the guys told me a while back ago that upgrading to a PCI BFG 5200 w/ 256mb would be a better bet for me rather than going with an AGP 9600 with only 128mb. And taking that the PCI card is surprisingly around the same price as a 9600, I think the dude was just basing cards quality over their pricing. :D Roffles....Good think I wound up going with the 9800xt ;)

Son Goku
01-03-05, 12:43 AM
Oh, don't even go there :D One person commented that they asked for some specific info comparing a Voodoo 3 to a TNT2 (yes, this was many years ago). The person at CompUSA just sat there reading the box to them.

They were like "Umm, I can ready, the answer to my question isn't on the box".

I went into a local PC shop once looking for Corsair PC100 CAS 2 RAM. The person looked confused. After awhile they finally addmited that they knew nothing about speeds or whatever the hell CAS is. They only understood RAM size (aka how many MB it has).

Saw this online, but someone went to purchase RAM. So they went to the hardware desk and the clerk was like:

"RAM, that sounds like a war game" and took them to the games software section to pick up their RAM. When the lady was like "No, RAM, as in computer memory, not software" the clerk was like "oh Memory. That's a kids game" and took them to the children's software section :rofl

jAkUp
01-03-05, 01:01 AM
It always makes me feel better to hear stories like that :) Since I work at a computer shop and don't have the iq of a doorknob..haha

Clay
01-03-05, 01:05 AM
It always makes me feel better to hear stories like that :) Since I work at a computer shop and don't have the iq of a doorknob..haha
There are always exceptions and I know you're one of them. I'd buy something from you any day...er, but not now..I'm broke and stuff. :D

1337_Like_ThaT
01-03-05, 03:51 AM
Saw this online, but someone went to purchase RAM. So they went to the hardware desk and the clerk was like:

"RAM, that sounds like a war game" and took them to the games software section to pick up their RAM. When the lady was like "No, RAM, as in computer memory, not software" the clerk was like "oh Memory. That's a kids game" and took them to the children's software section :rofl

LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111111 one one :lol2: :lol2: :lol2: Now that's a classic. Sounds like a Comp USA store to me :) hehe

superklye
01-03-05, 11:22 AM
Oh, don't even go there :D One person commented that they asked for some specific info comparing a Voodoo 3 to a TNT2 (yes, this was many years ago). The person at CompUSA just sat there reading the box to them.

They were like "Umm, I can ready, the answer to my question isn't on the box".

I went into a local PC shop once looking for Corsair PC100 CAS 2 RAM. The person looked confused. After awhile they finally addmited that they knew nothing about speeds or whatever the hell CAS is. They only understood RAM size (aka how many MB it has).

Saw this online, but someone went to purchase RAM. So they went to the hardware desk and the clerk was like:

"RAM, that sounds like a war game" and took them to the games software section to pick up their RAM. When the lady was like "No, RAM, as in computer memory, not software" the clerk was like "oh Memory. That's a kids game" and took them to the children's software section :rofl
hahahahaha!! That is so hilarious!

And yes, the people at Best Buy know nothing. It is pretty sad.

Fatman
01-05-05, 02:53 PM
I've been building a few computers for people lately. I am really exprerienced with computers and would like to start my own business. Does anyone here own a computer store, any tips on how to start up local/online and get the word out?

Where are you located? I've also been toying around with idea of setting up shop in PA, Phili area or NYC.

1337_Like_ThaT
01-05-05, 03:04 PM
I've been building a few computers for people lately. I am really exprerienced with computers and would like to start my own business. Does anyone here own a computer store, any tips on how to start up local/online and get the word out?

Are you in any way related or affliated to the Ben Davis clothing line ??? (crazy)

Sazar
01-05-05, 03:17 PM
It always makes me feel better to hear stories like that :) Since I work at a computer shop and don't have the iq of a doorknob..haha

smaller stores generally have computer savvy peeps :cool:

but we all know you only work there so you can get your grubby l'il mitts on the latest hardware and deprive the rest of us the joy :(

shadowless
01-05-05, 05:55 PM
dude... setup an EBay store front

bendedavis
01-16-05, 06:13 PM
As far as competing with Dell, I built a comp that's far better for less. I went and did some work on a guys computer, and he mentioned that he was gonna buy a Dell P4 2.8ghz. So I went on newegg and put together an athlon64 system for 450 bucks.

http://secure.newegg.com/app/WishHistoryReview.asp?position=HISTORY&submit=VIEW&ID=1192665

Everything on that system was better than what Dell offered.

Anyway I'm located in Dallas, NC (near Charlotte).

quik_2_win
01-19-05, 06:46 PM
LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111111 one one :lol2: :lol2: :lol2: Now that's a classic. Sounds like a Comp USA store to me :) hehe

I am personally so incredibly glad to have a big, fat CompUSA store right down the street. It helps to keep the smaller "niche" stores prices in check, and if I really need some oddball cable or connector, or fan , or whatever at 7PM on a Saturday, I can have it in my hand quickly. Having said that, I certainly wouldn't expect any of their employees to provide me with adequate technical advice. If I want technical advice, I would generally hunt it down on the internet... please don't expect the CompUSA "floor" employees to be technicians- as I'm sure they aren't paid a technician's salary...

Son Goku
01-19-05, 07:05 PM
As far as competing with Dell, I built a comp that's far better for less. I went and did some work on a guys computer, and he mentioned that he was gonna buy a Dell P4 2.8ghz. So I went on newegg and put together an athlon64 system for 450 bucks.

In the case of Carol and Fred, this was awhile ago (though pretty much anyone I've heard from in the local market at least, says that to compete against the tier 1 OEMs (such as Dell) and survive, one can't specialize in system building, but has to expand the business), they got hit when the sub-$1,000 computer was first introduced (late 1990s) and yet the CPUs were still running over $500. Then there's Windows, if one isn't one of the biggest OEMs that could secure the best breaks from Microsoft, etc, etc...

At that time, though I hesitate to say it, the inside word was that Dell and the like were having the CPUs (from Intel) discounted for them so low, that they weren't even paying Intel the cost of manufacture on the part. AKA, Intel was taking a pay loss on the parts they were shipping to Dell, Compaq, etc, etc. Reason they could then build the sub-$1,000 PC when the CPU (based on standard prices would have been more then half, or even as much as three quarters the total system price, and a Windows liscense (where one might not be able to secure the best OEM price breaks from MS was in addition)).

The catch, the smaller shops collectively equaled 50% of the market, and it was smaller shops (such as his own) who were required to pay the higher prices for Intel to make the money back, for giving the parts to the bigger guys below cost.

And no saz, I know you work there, but don't get yourself in trouble or anything by asking the "touchy questions" that corporate management and PR (they might not even be doing this anymore amongst these two companies, as CPU prices have substantially come down since then) might not like the embarrassing questions asked; concerning things they'd rather the public not know. I'd rather you not get on your employer's bad graces, for purposes of discussing this here :D He had one side of it, as he was in the industry, worked at one of the smaller shops (actually his friend he was helping owned it), and also knew some people in Intel/and called some favors in from time to time,(such as to help out a friend of mine with a machine they built, and certain info Intel never provided them with within the OEM channel, though that's another tale).

The thing amounted to, for the smaller businesses, how to compete when the competitors are getting parts below cost of manufacture, one isn't; but customers expect one's own price to be competitive else demand goes down... Amounts to lose customers, or take a financial loss on the given sale, and hope to make it up elsewhere. All this said, CPUs don't tend to run $800 or so, as they did some 7 or 8 years ago, unless one deals with the highest end A64-FX or something...

Son Goku
01-19-05, 07:21 PM
Yeah, I wouldn't go to the local CompUSA, or pretty much any other shop, expecting information. They typically don't know, and from experience I'm typically better off getting whatever information I would be looking for on given products (aka which video card is better nVidia's X or ATI's Y, before walking in).

The bad one (and there can be worse then CompUSA) was when I was looking at printers in a local Office Max one time. I was just looking to see what they had.

I'm browsing, and the sales guy comes over:

sales: Can I help you
me: No thank you, I'm just looking now.
sales: (same guy came back like 1 minute latter): Can I help you find something?
me: No I'm still looking
sales guy: (gone only like 30 seconds) comes back...Can I interest you in...

Now, I'm begginning to get a tad frustrated. Being attentive is one thing, being downright pushy, and in the person's face is quite another

I didn't exactly want to say "Quite honestly, I'm just looking to see what you have. I probably know more then you do concerning computer related products, and would quite frankly do my own research, where warranted on what to buy. Thank you" That would be a bit rude.

So I finally told him (with a tad bit of annoyance in my voice, though not much). "No, I would just like to be able to look, and see what you do have in your product lineup here."

The moment it looked like this high pressure sales guy was headed back my way to pester me in another purchase, I quickly walked to the door and left.