Judging by our visiting browser statistics, College Info Geek readers are pretty tech-savvy. Some readers, however, believe they’re legitimately tech savvy, and think it would be a pretty sweet idea to start their own tech support business.
Since I spent 15 months working at my school’s tech support center, I can tell you that tech support only results in brain aneurysms and horrible deja-vu; however, if you’re one of those masochistic souls who still thinks the potential profit outweighs the risks to your sanity, then commit these five tips to memory before carrying on.
You must get A+ Certification. This is a must-do. Getting A+ certified lets the customer know that you’ve actually been tested on your tech support ability. The process of studying for the test will also give you knowledge that you didn’t know you needed.
After you’re A+ certified, I’d look into Network+ certification as well. It’s one more badge of credibility, and may help you get a job in IT in case the business doesn’t pan out.
Be willing to make house calls. People can drop their computer off at Geek Squad, which has national brand recognition. However, ever since the Best Buy acquisition, Geek Squad is not the bastion of customer service it once was (in fact, founder Robert Stephens even said that his company would be terrible if it had more than 100 employees). Therefore, you need to out-service them. Be super professional and go the extra mile.
(sub-tip) – if, when you show up, anything looks sketchy (customer greets you without pants, any sort of meat is hanging up outside, you hear Weird Al Yankovic’s “Like a Surgeon” just barely masking screams from the basement), LEAVE.
Learn how to remove a virus. Being able manually remove a virus will increase your business tenfold. Some shops charge $200 and keeps a customer’s computer for 3-4 days to remove a virus that I could get rid of in 15 minutes. You know those fake “You need to buy this anti-virus” messages computers get? They’re everywhere. Learn how to remove one (I learned a lot of what I know at Bleeping Computer) WITHOUT screwing up the customer’s computer and you’ll be on the gravy train. I do this for free and people are so thankful it’s not even funny.
Get a contract. You’re not only toying with someone’s expensive computer, but you’re also toying with the machine that holds their data. This could be single copies of their beloved dead relatives (because they’re dumb and don’t back up) or business data worth literally millions. You DO NOT want to be liable when you’re working on a CPA’s computer and you fry the motherboard because you forgot your anti-static wristband. Get a contract with an watertight indemnification clause. This means get a lawyer. Sorry, but that’s how it is.
Price well. Don’t be super cheap on yourself, but make sure your prices are attractive enough to lure people away from the horror that is Geek Squad.
Hopefully these tips can help you get your tech support business running. If you’re seriously considering starting one, I’d also check out Entrepreneur.com’s tips.