Early on, I wasn’t working with a lot of money, nor with a known reputation. Sure, I had a reputation from repairing studio gear, but that doesn’t translate over into what I was trying to do in this business. What gave me my competitive edge early on were my parts vendors.
Many legitimate repair shops have no vendor relationships.
Take advantage of this.
It was helpful when I realized early on that “legitimate” competition had no supply chain. During my exit-interview with my customers(which, btw, you should always conduct, more on this in the future), I heard my competitor’s failings over and over again. “I was going to use XYZ repair, but they didn’t have the part in stock.” Or, “I was going to use PLM computers but when they got the part in it was bad and I couldn’t wait anymore.”
Instant service creates legitimacy in the mind of your customer.
If you can offer service in 20 minutes in front of a customer, you are legitimate. Forget about the fact that you work out of a park instead of a store, forget that your idea of a receptionist is your bluetooth headset, forget about having a nice location. All those things make the other guy’s operation seem more legitimate. However, if you can do in 20 minutes what would take them a week – you’ll always win.
I based my business around the shortcomings of my “more legitimate” competition. I didn’t have a client base or a name built for myself, so I had to be better. One of the ways I created legitimacy for myself was through my parts vendors. I always had a proper supply chain. I knew my vendors, and they knew me. I kept quality stock and they cut me deals for being a regular. When something went wrong, I was always able to receive swift replacements.
Fair pricing makes you competitive.
Utilizing a good supply chain allowed me to purchase parts for standard prices, instead of the ripoff rates offered by eBay.
If we can purchase a part for $97 that costs $250 everywhere else, that puts us at a distinct advantage. We can offer a service for $275 and make $178, whereas others would have to offer the service at much higher prices, cutting them out of the loop. Or, they can come down to our price, and cut their own throats with a lack of profits.
The additional profits we netted as a result of utilizing proper supply chains was funneled back into the business, and the high volume of customers we gained as a result of offering fair pricing allowed me to grow my client base exponentially.
eBay is for people who cannot develop vendor relationships.
Talking to vendors requires work. You have to find them, which takes time. You have to find one that caters to what you’re looking for, and to find that; you have to know what you are looking for. What you value in a vendor. Then, you have to get them to care about you and your success. This is hard.
So, what do many repair shops do? They keep the training wheels on, and use eBay. This puts you at a significant advantage.
You can’t expect an eBay or Amazon vendor to care when something goes wrong.
You can’t expect overnighted RMAs or advance RMAs from eBay & Amazon vendors when you are just an order #.
When you order off of eBay or Amazon, you are $3 of profit. You are not a returning customer. You are not a business opportunity. You are not someone they know, or care about, and you’ll be treated accordingly.
Lengthy RMA procedures will be the kiss of death for your business.
When you’re waiting on a part for a customer, waiting for an RMA kills your business. You send the part back, wait a week, then they send it to you, wasting another week. This back & forth shipping time is very often the kiss of death that precludes your customer leaving your business with their device & going elsewhere; before leaving a lengthy review detailing your incompetence.
This RMA process is based on the single order – the $3 profit margin they’re looking at when making their decision. You’re being treated like three dollars. You’re being treated like your business is worth little more than a bottled Vitamin Water, because that’s what it’s worth to them.
Good faith gets you a better RMA policy.
Let’s talk about good faith. This is what overnighted RMAs and receiving replacements before they receive the bad part back is based on.
You have a vendor you’ve spent most of your parts budget with this year. You’ve stuck with this vendor even when their prices were 10% higher. You’ve stuck with them when they’ve been out of stock, returning to them after a onesie purchase from someone else. You don’t call their customer service staff to berate them when you receive a defect. This is a vendor that knows you by name. You’ve built up something called good faith with this vendor.
When deciding whether to send you a replacement overnight or an advance-RMA, they’re looking at more than the profit on one purchase. They’re looking at all the business you’ve done with them in the past as well as all the business you will be doing with them in the future, and they might just send you an advanced RMA with overnight shipping – which saves the business and allows you to satisfy your customer.
I cannot believe repair shops expect eBay vendors to trust them with advance RMAs!
Three years ago, I decided to count how many people sent back the defective part when we provided an advance RMA. An advance RMA is when we send a customer a new part before they send back the defect, and we provide them with a prepaid return shipping label to return the defect to us.
Out of 100 returns – 14 customers sent the old part back. Out of these 14 RMAs, 11 of them were fully functional.
The reason these people never sent back the old part is simple; there was no benefit. The label was prepaid, and the box was provided, but the two minutes they would have spent to do the honest thing and return our part was not worth it to them. There was no relationship there, so two minutes of time was an unacceptable waste to the customer. They were never going to use us again, so there was no need to work with us.
This bites both ways – there is no need, in this scenario, for the supplier to put forth effort to do the right thing. There is no relationship. There is a one time profit of $3, and you will be treated like your business is worth a bottle of Vitamin Water. You will be treated as someone they don’t know, and you will deserve it if you did not make an effort to establish a relationship with the vendor.
Quality vendor relationships allow you to achieve more and obtain a competitive advantage.
Vendor relationships even the playing field.
You do not need a lot of money, or an established business to work out a relationship with a new vendor. This is something that requires work, people skills, and an agenda. You need a specific mission & purpose to figure out what you want out of a vendor, and to go out there and achieve it. You need to also bring value to the relationship for them, whether by offering insight or information that they may not have that would be valuable to them.
Let’s take a look at those necessities.
Mission & purpose.
What do all of these necessities have in common? None of them require money.
Vendor relations even the playing field because you do not need to have money to obtain them. Sure, money helps, but if your business has little money and the other business has lots of money – vendor relations can be the leveling factor that allows you to compete.
Personalized relationships are key.
We don’t talk to our vendors when we need parts. We talk every day, regardless of what we need.
We discuss trends in the business. We discuss moves that other companies are making. We anticipate demand for parts and services, but it’s not all business. I’ve discussed family life, personal life, problems, hopes, and dreams with some. The propriater of my favorite vendor has even become one of my most trusted friends & advisors.
You want your vendors to know who you are. You want them to have an interest in you and your success. You want them to like you. You don’t want to express neediness, as if you need them to like you. Rather, you should act in a manner where they can’t help but like you.
Personalized relationships get you treated like a human being.
If you want to be treated like a client, instead of a customer, you want a personalized vendor relationship.
Customers get sold parts. Human beings get sold competitive advantages.
When iPhone 4/4S LCDs were being produced that didn’t work with old versions of iOS, who gets sold the batch that does? The customer, or the human being?
When Macbook Air screens were new to the market, who gets the first carton? The million dollar conglomerate customer, or the broke 23 year old human being?
See where I’m going with this? If you have a real relationship with the people you do business with, you will be kept in mind when something comes up that might skyrocket your business or keep you from stepping into a hole. Making sure you are seen as a human by the people you do business with starts with you. How you act, how you treat them, will all play a role in how they see you.
eBay only makes sense for small odds & ends that real vendors don’t sell.
eBay’s value is in the obscure, not in the commodities.
I believe eBay should be used when we are dealing with something rare. I don’t mean the kind of rare in which it is valuable, I mean the rare as in “rarely needed”, “rarely used”, “rarely sold” – the type of rare where it is not valuable. eBay is good for sourcing components that other vendors do not sell because it would make no financial sense to do so. Odds & ends.
What’s an odd or an end vs. a commodity?
Let’s say the cable that attaches the top case to the motherboard on a five year old, unpopular laptop. No real vendor in their right mind will sell this. A low amount of these laptops were ever sold, the laptop is worth very little as it is very old, and this part rarely if ever goes bad. It would make no sense for a real vendor to sell it. As a result, I will often look on eBay for it. This is an odd & end.
A commodity is a part that everyone has; something that can be acquired from many sources. A laptop LCD, an iPhone screen, a Macbook LVDS cable. You have options when purchasing these parts, and your option SHOULD be a vendor you have a long term relationship with.
eBay should be used for parts when you have no other sensible options!
When forced to use eBay for these items, USE EBAY WISELY!
When purchasing these small odds & ends for repairs, don’t use eBay expecting everything to go as planned.
If a customer is leaving in 3 days, DON’T TRUST PRIORITY MAIL TO GET IT THERE IN THREE DAYS!
Use Express Mail. And even then, give the customer the option of returning their device by mail, FedEx, or UPS incase it doesn’t come in in time.
Plan for disaster. Plan for it to take a day to ship. Plan for a snowstorm to hit the county in which the part is shipping from.
If it’s cheap and you’re making money, buy more than one!
If the cable or part you are ordering is $5-$25 and you are getting $150-$200, do yourself a favor – buy two. Buy them from different vendors. This way, when you get screwed by one of these vendors, you’re still able to offer good service to the customer.
Don’t expect this to be easy – it’s not supposed to be!
It pains me to watch technicians buy parts off of eBay and complain when they do not work.
Isn’t it beautiful to you that this is NOT easy?
If this were easy, customers would be doing the work themselves.
Don’t offer customers the same poor experience they would have repairing their own device!
When someone comes to you, they expect better. They expect an excuse-free, hassle-free experience. They came to you to avoid the pitfalls of delays, bad parts, & non-working junk that they must wait weeks to return.
What many repair shops do not realize is that by purchasing from eBay, they are offering their customers the risk of a bad experience that they came to the repair shop to AVOID!
These parts are not always going to work; you can’t be mad at that.
Don’t take it personally when things don’t work.
Many repair shop owners become personally agitated at vendors when they receive a defect. Even good vendors will become the target of anger when they ship a bad part.
Understand why these parts do not always work.
When you order an iPhone screen, you’re ordering a device with millions of small transistors inside of a thin glass layer, that cost about $15 to produce, that was sent to you in an envelope via the US Postal Service. How can you possibly expect every one to work?
I am not surprised when I receive a defect. I am surprised when more than 10% of them work!
There are, however, good reasons many eBay parts do not work.
Many eBay vendors take parts out of abandoned, ewasted, recycled machines to sell to you.
Let’s say a laptop is dead. It was tossed in an ewaste container.
A parts company will part it out and sell all of its parts on eBay. It is far easier to refund the customer who receives a defective part than it is to figure out which parts do & do not work inside of that laptop. It is built into their business model that they are selling broken parts which will have to be refunded, and you are purchasing these parts for mission critical repairs – YIKES!!!!
Develop relationships with your vendors. Use these relationships to gain a competitive edge over your competition. Leverage that competitive edge to become more successful, and smile at your success, because you earned it through doing what’s right; instead of doing what’s easy.
We received this question from Youtube, and I figured I’d share with the audience.
I’ve been watching your video on the a1466 keyboard replacement debating on whether i need to replace it so I decided to ask you directly. I broke my tab key as in i broke the metal clip that holds the plastic scissor mechanism so now if i push the tab anywhere else than the middle it will pop out… I’m a programmer so the tab key is pretty important to me so replacing the whole keyboard seems like the only solution. Now i can’t find any replacement keyboards for the a1466 on your site or other sites like ifixit, so the next place to look is ebay and i’m wondering about the quality of those keyboards and the quality ill get in general after replacing the keyboard. For some reason most of them write stuff like 95% new or tested etc.. Seems kinda sketchy but i realise that macbooks are assembled in China so there’s a good chance that these keyboards are the same ones supplied to apple so maybe i should look at the pricier ones or is there no difference at all? After replacing the keyboard will it feel the same or will it become more flexible because of using screws instead of rivets or some other thing that will make it feel any worse? I understand that these are small dome keyboards but i’m afraid i’ll exchange a somewhat solid keyboard for a crappy one just for one key… Also can i buy a different language one if the layout is the same? Right now i have a norwegian keyboard but i’d prefer the English international one since they keys looks to be the same size and layout as my current keyboard.
TL;DR: will the keyboard from china feel the same as the original one or will it feel inferior?
A couple of things.
Firstly, eBay sucks cock and balls for laptop parts purchases, most of the time. People who sell on eBay sell to the lowest common denominator – their demographic are people who don’t notice & don’t care for quality, for defects, for issues. You will be treated like a second class human being purchasing laptop parts off of eBay. DO NOT BUY SHIT OFF EBAY UNLESS ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NECESSARY! Very often, you may even pay the same to purchase on eBay as you would if you had a discount account with a real vendor.
I mean, buy off eBay if the item you seek is some little plastic tab that no one in their right mind would sell outside of eBay. Buy off eBay if it’s some little button or thingamajigie that is not sold in volume, that would only be available because someone is parting out their machine. Something where there are no “grades” of quality. But don’t buy keyboards off eBay. If you are ok with it being ripped out of a broken laptop and cleaned with windex and it never being tested, sure, use eBay. If you are ok with the keyboard having keys that don’t work because they came out of broken laptops that were returned because, maybe, they had BAD KEYBOARDS, use eBay.
Otherwise, use a serious vendor. Pay an extra $10 to not get stuck with garbage.
Secondly, there are no knockoff keyboards for Apple laptops. There isn’t enough volume for there to be demand. Knockoff iPhone screens, sure. Knockoff batteries, sure. These items are both difficult to find, expensive, and have very high demand. However, original keyboards are easy to obtain new for cheap, so there is no need for knockoffs. Further, there isn’t the same volume with them as there are with other parts – so there are no knockoff keyboards for Apple computers. There are used and new, there are broken/semi fucked up ones and working ones, but there is no “this doesn’t feel the same because it’s a Chinese knockoff.” There is no market, and no demand, for knockoff keyboards to Apple computers, in spite of what you may hear from uninformed fucktard AASPs looking to scare you out of fixing your own computer.
The layout you can buy is totally based on the top case of your machine. Some have squiggly keys towards the side. Check that to make sure it’ll fit. Reconfiguring the OS so it sees your layout, I’ll be honest, I have no idea. I just don’t deal with it enough to recall from experience how it works.
How the keyboard feels totally depends on the job you do removing the old rivets and how hard you screw the new one into the case, not on the keyboard you buy. Getting the new keyboard to sit the same as the original in an air is difficult because it utilizes far fewer screwholes than the standard Unibody model. You will see sections where screwholes are skipped and wonder why they are, because that’d be a great place for a screw.
There’s been a lot of criticism of FIOS in NYC as they have not fulfilled their obligations to wire the entire city.
The only way to get a franchise agreement, was to agree to wire just about all of the city. They certainly knew this was impossible, but what many pundits do not understand is that MANY MANY BUILDING OWNERS make it IMPOSSIBLE to wire their buildings!
I discussed this briefly at dslreports.com, and thought it was worth reposting here.
I am not a Verizon cheerleader. At the same time, some people just like to complain about big corporations for the sake of complaining about big corporations, and I’m not a fan of that either.
Right or wrong, many landlords simply can't understand why they can't just get existing services repaired. Others don't want the added disruption of gutting and installing new fiber hardware.
We don't feel like leaving our homes if we do not have to. We do not wish to lift a finger for our buildings if we don't have to, and hell, if a building were on fire and I had a full bladdar - I wouldn't even pass by to piss on it, and you expect me to drive over to my property to unlock the door to INSTALL FASTER INTERNET? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
NYC landlords are the scum of the earth, and I do not expect people like Karl to understand this unless you have had the experience of dealing with at least one dozen of them over a long time period, from commercial to residential.
Unless you are dealing with a large development, they do not care. NYC landlords know that they do not have to do JACK SHIT to create demand for their properties. Every day, hundreds upon thousands of people move to this already overcrowded shithole MORE THAN HAPPY to pay $2200/mo for a 400 sq ft studio apartment in a dilapidated, unmaintained building with nothing but 3 mbps DSL.
So, why should the landlord care? Why should they get off their ass to do ANY WORK when they are used to raking in money without having to care?
NYC is littered with buildings that only house 4-12 units. These are NOT owned nor managed by people who care about anything. They want to
a) receive a check at the end of the month
b) do the BARE MINIMUM REQUIRED to ensure the space is habitable to a 19th century factory worker's standard of living.
I lived in a low income high rise in Staten Island. Apartments were $800something/month, which is dirt cheap for a decent apartment in NYC that's 1 bedroom. I had FIOS.
Bigger developments play nice with telecoms. Verizon doesn't feel like chasing down apathetic slumlords of 3-4 unit buildings any more than the three-letter system they have in place, and I don't blame them.
You’re used to hearing this, I’m sure, in many introductions to marketing & advertising.
What is the average sex, race, age, etc, of my targer audience?
People in the repair community ignore this, because, frankly – it DOES NOT apply to us! People are not choosing to buy Proliant servers instead of Thinkservers based on sexual orientation, or gender, or age, or poltiical affiliation.. they’re just not.
For this reason, many repair companies ignore the target demographic. Many SMALL BUSINESSES ignore the idea of catering to a target demographic, because they do not believe their products or services can be pigeonholed to one such demographic.
This is a big mistake, because there are many more metrics OUTSIDE of sex, race, age, gender, political affiliations, etc.
There’s more to a target demographic than age, sexual orientation, race, etc. Think “ideal client.”
Think of a target demographic as a group of people you would consider your ideal client. Take the ideal client – the client you make a healthy profit from while doing sustainable business(meaning, you’re not ripping them off, or doing a one-time-sale based on special circumstances).
Who are they? Are they your ideal client because they value something you offer that others do not offer? Are they your ideal client because they share your philosophies?
Allow me to create an example, with our business. My ideal client is someone who is
Willing to spend an amount of money proportional to their problem. If they have a $300 problem, they’ll spend $300. if they have a $30 problem, they’ll spend $30.
Impatient. They value the speed our business offers over others.
Parts consciencious. They’ll spend an extra $10 over the $0.99 store because they think that’s worthwhile to have an original, new LCD installed instead of a copy or a refurb.
Looking for me to tell them what their problem is. They want me to tell them what they need – they do not come in with a self diagnosis, where they want me to apply their $30 solution to their $300 problem.
Well informed. I want them to understand why we operate the way we operate because they’ve called around and understand the alternatives.
Not paranoid. They are curious as to why I do not put adhesive over the wifi cable on an iPad 2 when putting new adhesive there because they are interested in the repair process. They are not curious so they can be paranoid about how the repair won’t be as well done as a result of our strategies.You see, I have a target demographic – an ideal client in mind. I want as many of these as possible.
The myth – marketing to a narrower base means less customers.
A lot of people have this mistaken idea that if they have a target client base, they will get less customers. This is the wrong way to see it. Allow me, through a terrible illustration, to get my point across.
The business with marketing specific to their demographic did not receive any type A or type C customers, but they received 30 type B customers.
The business with generic, copycat marketing received customers from all demographics, but it only totals to 10 customers!
The truth – marketing to a narrower base means receiving MORE customers. More of the customers YOU WANT!
I used the word copycat marketing. Allow me to explain that that is.
Copycat marketing is when you see what everyone else offers, how everyone else markets their business. You grab a little from this guy’s website, a little from that girl’s commercial, and you have your marketing material. You have your website, you have your online ads. Great, right?
No – you have the same shit everyone else has. Nothing differentiates you from anyone else. You have all the material necessary so someone else will think “ok, they do X.” You have NOTHING in your marketing to get them to think “they do X – AND THEY’RE THE ONLY ONES WHO WILL EVER DO X FOR ME!”
Your marketing MUST incite that type of desire in someone in order to be effective.
Businesses need structure to grow. Understanding your target demographic IS that structure.
My business is built around making my ideal client happy. My marketing is based on attracting my target customer.
The beauty when everything is in sync – and I don’t mean iPod/iPad/iMac/iCloud/imeth integration a la apple products, is that BUSINESS BECOMES EASY.
My employees are liked by the customers. My marketing brings in people who will be made happy by our policies, and keeps people from walking in who do not appreciate how we do business.
Which direction we go in – who I hire – what policies I put into place, is all based on our ideal client. Without an ideal client, a target demographic, it is very difficult for a business to grow without collapsing on itself.
Your business will grow most easily & organically when you understand who it is you are trying to please. So, do you know your target demographic?
I posted this to eTech Parts’ facebook page a while back. Editing it slightly for the blog.
People think that insurance is competition for independent repair shops. Some customers will discuss how they can just use insurance, but more often, lately, I speak to mobile phone repair shops that actually feel threatened by insurance.
Your competition is very rarely insurance. Please realize that most people would sooner perform fellatio on a homeless person than wait on hold for 45 minutes with a brainless dolt or fill out tons of paperwork to get their phone replaced by an insurance policy. The bureaucracy involved works in your favor, being the small, lean business you are. You can offer better service. We can offer better service.
Even if it’s at a Verizon store, the amount of time it takes to wait for a rep to get to you is less time than what it takes for my junior receptionist who started 3 weeks ago here to fix your phone. Leave your name & number and come back in 20 minutes out of a storefront owns insurance every time – even when insurance IS CHEAPER.
I can’t tell you how many people have come back even when, for their particular reason, insurance would have been cheaper. It’s not fun. A premium should be put on convenience.
Apple has offered flat rate mobo repair to many people for $280, we charge $325, and yet it still accounts for over 20-40k/mo in revenue. Some people just don’t want to deal with the hassle involved in having the job done by “the man.”
I’m fairly certain the person writing this has no experience in this industry. So they have no idea that the best cellphone motherboard component level repair shops in New York have absolutely no ESD safe workstations. The best reverse logistics providers could care less about ESD. Something tells me this person hasn’t worked on even3 devices, much less 300, or 4000, or 6000 – enough to have a clue what the practical ramifications of ESD really are, or what they are not.
Is ESD something worth discussing? Absolutely. I’m not trying to go on some “EST doesn’t exist” rant. I’m staying focused here, on a “quit criticizing people for shit you know nothing about” rant. A “think for yourself outside what the yellow sticker on your package says” rant. Think for a second about this. Maybe, just maybe, these people who’ve been doing this for years before you ever met them know something you don’t?
No. Of course not.
I’m tired of hearing people give advice on that which they lack personal experience of. I’m tired of dealing with people who tell you what’s best for you when they don’t know what’s best for them. I’m tired of reading uninformed opinions from a judgmental perspective. And, of course, as always – I’m tired of Yelp! 🙂
If you care as much about this guy’s complaint as you do about ESD, like this post. 🙂
I fucked up this Nexus 7 that I just bought. Dropped it into a sink full of water. No more power button. 🙁
I was dreading opening this. I don’t have a Hakko at home, any prytools.. but wait. This ISN’T some overpriced, nonsensically put together Apple piece of crap! There may be ANOTHER WAY.
I am so used to working on iJunk all day that it never occurred to me that they actually make these parts user accessible.
You mean I can pry off the back with my nails in 20 seconds? You mean I DON’T need specialized tools to remove glass that is glued to the power button & antenna? AND this shit costs less money than an iPad?
I got rid of some crap on the power flex and it was back to working in under one minute.
Yeah, can’t say I’m getting off the ASUS/Lenovo/Linux/Android bandwagon for a while. Three cheers to ASUS for making something user serviceable instead of a pile of glue and ripped flex cables.
Today I’d like to talk about how to set labor rates.
This sees to be incredibly polarized – older technicians often do not mind charging whatever they can get, whereas younger technicians price jobs based on how easy the job is to them. I will have to plead guilty to the former for a good part of my career.
The way my current system works; every slot of my time has a price. It is not based on what I am doing for you – it’s based on what I COULD be doing for somebody else! That price is based on what somebody else is willing to pay me for that block of time.
For example, virus removal. I do not offer this as a service. It just never fucking works enough of the time that an hour or two hours were wasted cleaning a destroyed Windows installation.We offer reinstalls, for $100 using the license key on the bottom of the laptop – and data transfer for $20-$50 depending on the amount of data. People will occasionally say “gee, that’s EASY – even I can do that!!!”
The proper response to this line of questioning is not to lower my price, or feel guilty. The proper response is for me to ask them why they’re asking ME to do this work if they find it easy? What a waste of time to walk down here only to complain that you can do it yourself.
I am going to charge that rate for a good reason. During the hour I spend installing windows, half hour installing updates, ten minutes hunting for drivers, 10-20 minutes I spend transferring your data back and forth, I could have made $200.$300. $400 replacing Macbook Air polarizers or doing motherboard microsoldering. I’m not going to do an “easy” job for $20-$30 because it’s taking up time I COULD have been using to make more.
My time is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. If I do work for less, I am robbing myself of money because I am not using that time properly. It has nothing to do with what I am doing. If someone wants one hour of my time operating a cash register and this requires I leave work to do so – I am going to ask $150 to operate that cash register for an hour.
Also, let’s move onto the “but that’s easy and I don’t want to rip them off” line of thinking. The fact that a job is easy to you, does NOT mean it is easy to others. When pricing a job, do not price it in terms of how easy it is to YOU – price it based on the difficulty the first time you ever thought about doing it. That feeling you had when it was new and you had to waste time doing the research to figure out what tools, what procedures, were necessary so the job would be done properly. Don’t base the price on how easy it is NOW, because that isn’t how they see it. That isn’t fair to you.
The reality is, it may be very easy to you. It may take less than ten seconds. You may be afraid that someone is going to say “that’s easy!” You might agree, because you find it easy. When someone opposing us is correct on a point they are making and we agree with them, it triggers a switch in our brain. Once triggered, we cave in; we agree with them and do as they please.
What we SHOULD focus on is not us, but rather their request. You’re not being unreasonable in asking $75 for an hour of your time. They are being unreasonable in asking an experienced technician to do something and lower their ate just because they perceive the job as “easy.” You wouldn’t ask a master surgeon to apply a band-aid. You wouldn’t ask Kobe Bryant to teach you how to pump up a basketball with an air compressor. It seems silly, right? Just as well, someone shouldn’t be asking me to put a USB connector on their heart rate monitor for under $30. That seriously happened today. Can I do this? Probably, but the time I am going to put into doing it properly and looking up what I need to look up to do it and finding the wiring & connector is going to cost you some serious fucking money – money I know you aren’t going to want to put into charging your heart rate monitor via USB, so why the fuck are you even here?
You need to price services by the highest common denominator. This means you price your time according to the HIGHEST amount someone is willing to pay you, on average, for you to work on whatever project it is they have for you.
Let’s say your skillset allows you to make $100 per job, where a job takes 15-40 minutes. You should not take on work where you make $20-$30 for a similar potential amount of time invested. If there is even the slightest chance the job is going to take you that amount of time, you have to charge your standard rate or turn it down, because it is going to interrupt REAL work.
My biggest problem in my day is not having enough time. Too many people want things done, and it can’t wait until tomorrow because they want it right now! As such, I need to focus my efforts & concentration on my core business. You may be thinking that simply prioritizing the lesser paying job will work. Put it off until tomorrow.
What happens tomorrow? You think you’ll do the lower priced job? Fuck no! Five other people will walk in for the $100 profit jobs for the $200 profit jobs, and the $20 job will get pushed to the side again. You ‘ll put the lower priority job off until tomorrow, apologize, rinse & repeat until you beat luck or your pissed off customer leaves and tells everyone not to use you.
The business reality is that you need to charge a specific amount for your time, regardless of what you are doing. This rate is not set by the difficulty of the job. It is set by bids – how many people are out there hounding you for your time? What are those other people willing to pay?
If the average person is willing to give you $100-$200 for an hour of your time, a job that is easy still needs to make you at least fifty bucks. Just because it doesn’t make business esne to take n lower paying jobs in place of higher paying ones.
You may feel guilty doing this, because “it’s so easy.”
CUT IT OUT!
As I have said many times before, put the ball back in THEIR court. Why is someone coming to you to add icons to their start menu? Why is someone coming to you to clean programs off their Android device? Let them ask their 9 year old nephew who’s computer savvy to help them with that, because chances are there aren’t 30 people a day beating the door down to give him $100-$300 for other jobs. He has the TIME and the LUXURY to fulfill this request at a price within your budget.
Keep in mind that we do not live in a society in which we’re forced upon people as their service provider. Anyone can do anything we are doing themselves. We are no monopoly. You should not feel badly if you charge a rate that someone finds objectionable so long as that person has a choice, and as long as you are candid about the reasons behind your rates.
It’s obvious for anyone who follows my posts that I am not a fan of Yelp! “elite” culture. I don’t subscribe to the idea of armchair connoisseurs who self-appoint themselves to the position of judge, jury, & executioner of local businesses.
At the same time, my heart pumps piss for crybabies who blame online reviews for their business failing. This article is such a bunch of self-pity inspiring nonsense from business owners who suck at what they do.
People who subscribe to this don’t understand technology and don’t understand customer service.
We all deal with the same pool of assholes. The assholes who leave bad reviews because you won’t perform a service for free will spread their disease EVERYWHERE. Do you really think there is only one asshole in town, and that this one asshole will ONLY visit YOUR business? Are you so far off the deep end that you are deluded by your sob story that everyone is out to get you, and only you?
The reality of having a business in the center of Manhattan is that we occasionally attract asshole customers who post BS reviews. However, so does Dr Brendan, so does LaptopMD, so does L2 Computer, so does BnyTech. Every local business has to deal with the same pool of assholes because the same pool of assholes will come to all of us. We all get slandered by nonsense. It’s on all of our review pages.
As a result, it’s not going to be a deciding factor for most people. All of our businesses have 1 or 2 or 3 miserable reviews from people who conjured up everything they wrote, and since we all have a few of those, they cancel each other out.
Customers who are discerning enough to do online research & read reviews are not idiots. Start thinking better of your client base. Remember how your 1st grade teacher could tell when one person did everyone’s book report? Yelpers are the same way. If the same review is posted by the same person 3 times with two or three words swapped around on the same day, Yelp readers will see it for the bullshit it is, the same way your fourth grade teacher did your book report you paraphrased from sparknotes(been there, done that).
Business owners who want good reviews must learn the difference between happy and content customers. You want your reviews to change? Start impressing people. Start doing more than saying it’ll be done in two weeks for $300. Go above and beyond. Break your back enough that content customers become HAPPY customers. I
You think you’re making customers happy, but often, you’re not. You’re making them content. People who are HAPPY will actually put off watching their Seinfeld rerun, or rolling their evening joint, to sit there for 5 minutes verifying their new Yelp! account to rave about how awesome you are. People who are content will go “OMG, THANK YOU!”, then forget about you the second they leave. You did what they asked, and they said thank you. This just isn’t enough to motivate people to choose to spend 5 minutes of their time helping your reputation after they’ve received what they’ve paid for. You need to provide more if you’re going to compete with everything else they can choose to do with their free time.
I am tired of hearing business owners say “but that’s not fair to us” or “it would be a nightmare to offer X in Y timeframe.” Fine, keep thinking like that. I’ll keep breaking my back doing work that “isn’t fair” to my time; where I may actually risk working five minutes outside what I billed the client for. You don’t have to do that. You also don’t have to have a good online reputation.
You’re welcome to Google us – it seems to be working.
And don’t stand there and tell me you’ve been doing that. Don’t tell me you’ve been in business for five years and can’t bum one good review. Seriously? Come up with some promotion or some service that will make people happy enough to leave reviews.
Every dime you spend on an attorney, every second you spend in court; a waste. This is time & money that you could put into improving your business, and you’re spending it crying to online “journalists.” I do not see the sky falling when I receive a bogus bad review, because I understand a reality of social media. If it’s not the norm, it’ll be buried under the truth in no time. I don’t put time & effort into suing the douche who made something up. I put time & effort into impressing people who walk into our business so that the negative sinks to the bottom. If I am doing my job right, that’s where the negative belongs.
I’m very direct, and do not come off as the traditional “professional.” We’re not the cheapest. I wear a t-shirt to work. We have no gimmicks, a very plain looking store in contrast to many slick looking competitors. Yet somehow, we maintain an amazing online reputation(at the time of this writing, at least). My point is not to brag with this statement. Rather, I want to get across the point that if I can do it, so can you. Put down the lawsuit and take charge of your business.