PC Repair will provide computer support in both a consulting and technical capacity to small business owners as well as home PC users. Since PC Repair is currently a one man operation, its growth in the first three months will be limited by the owner's capacity to complete work. However, these first three months are critical for establishing our credibility and a reputation for getting the job done quickly and well. We will focus on delivering excellent service, and using the good word of mouth from this initial period to network with other potential clients.
Personal market research by the owner indicates an attractive market niche for our services, of which PC Repair will take full advantage. The very nature of the computing industry, with its extraordinary rate of technological development, creates a constant need for businesses skilled in updating and advising customers on computer-related issues.
National chains, such as "Geeks on Call," and Best Buy's "Geek Squad" have seen rapid growth in demand for these services in the last few years. Customers are seeking skilled help with everything from installation of software and hardware components, to networking, to transferring files from an old computer to a new one. Those who can often enlist their tech-savvy children's help, but others are not so fortunate, and small-business owners need reliable and quick help with all their computer needs, since every hour down may mean an hour or more of lost revenue, especially for any business with a website or those doing e-commerce.
4.1 Market Segmentation
The existing computer service market is so extensive that categorizing it is rather difficult. We have broken our potential market down into two groups, based on their needs: home PC users and small business clients.
Home PC User Our home PC user market includes non-tech-savvy residents of the local area (15 mile radius), generally between the ages of 30 and 70, with at least one home computer. We are not expecting income from users below 30, who tend to be more comfortable with technology and willing to attempt repairs and upgrades on their own, without seeking professional assistance. Such home users generally own a computer to do email, play games, write letters, scan and print photos, and occasionally to do bookkeeping or taxes. Home PC users with more sophisticated applications generally have enough tech savvy, from tech experience at work, to do their own repairs and upgrades. Their hardware needs will include the computer itself, monitors, keyboards, mouse, printer, and scanner.
This group is growing slightly faster than the overall population growth in our area, in part due to the increasing demand for computers among retired people and young families, about 7% a year.
Small Business Users Small business users will provide the majority of our business revenue. The small business market will be defined as customers within a 15 mile radius, with 2 or more computers or a network which they use for business purposes at least 25% of the time. Their business use may include minor usage, such as updating a business website for a brick-and-mortar store, keeping the books, designing graphics or ad campaigns, and writing copy for press releases. It may also be more extensive, incorporating inventory tracking, POS systems, customer databases, online product/service delivery, or product development. The more intensive their computer usage for business, the more critical it is to them that their technology work well and reliably, and that quality repairs and support are available in a crisis. Their hardware needs will include the same items as home users, plus servers, backup systems, data storage, and wireless networking.
The portion of the small business market we are targeting is growing at around 2% a year.
Home PC Users
Small Business Users
4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy
Although there are more potential customers among home PC users, we expect the majority of our revenue to come from small business clients, since their need for our services is more urgent, and they are willing to invest in technology as part of their business plan. The majority of our marketing efforts will thus be focused on small business owners. These customers typically don't have a full-time IT person, but have full-time IT needs. Home PCs are often used by multiple people, and serve multiple purposes. Our home PC users need help with managing their settings to integrate the different needs of all household members as much as they need technical assistance.
ComputingNet magazine recently reported on the substantial need for timely and cost-effective computer upgrades and repairs in this region; Jack Hacker has seen this market need in person, as frustrated clients waited for days or weeks for their critical components to be returned to full capacity, with no inexpensive alternative to the existing computer repair shops. All of our clients need technical assistance, but we are also selling peace of mind: our clients will know that friendly, efficient help is just a phone call away. As more and more companies switch their support services to automated call centers or touch-tone menus, the simple reassurance of hearing another human voice on the phone within a few rings is immeasurable. Even better is knowing that within a few hours, someone will show up and take care of their problem.
Both the software and hardware side of the computer industry continue to turn out new and revised computer components at alarming rates. For PC Repair this means job security well into the future. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, there seems to be no end to the development of the computer market. Business Week expects the computing industry to grow at a rate of 12% and the processor speeds to continue to expand for years to come.
4.3 Service Business Analysis
Secondary market research shows computer service customers tend to be very loyal to providers that do good work and satisfy their needs. An analysis of PC Repair's main competitors shows no overwhelming strengths that would be significant barriers to entry into the market, as our local competitors have serious weaknesses.
The computer maintenance and repair industry is fragmented, with a few large, national players and hundreds of small, local stores. While most computers are actually repaired in-store, near the customer, parts for the repair come from major manufacturers and distributors; delays in receiving necessary parts can significantly slow down the repair process. Large chains have solved this problem by keeping vast amounts of inventory in stock at all times, while local stores offer customers the trade-off of personal interaction and trust that may make up for some delay.
PC Repair has established a relationship with a local distributor to do rapid special-ordering; although this capability is more expensive than normal channels, it will enable us to quickly establish a reputation as efficient and responsive to customer needs, particularly for our small business users. We will leverage this customer loyalty into great word of mouth marketing and steady growth.
4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns
Customers choose computer repair and assistance services based on reputation, previous experience, and price. They may choose to return to a mediocre provider with whom they're familiar, rather than try out a new unknown company about whom they've heard nothing. Large stores, especially the service departments of national chains, have a great advantage simply in their affiliation with an established brand. Establishing our brand identity and a great reputation in the first few months is critical to our success. Once we have broken in to the local market, our great service will turn new clients into permanent clients.
Our services will be second to no one and our prices will be very reasonable for the high quality service we offer. By providing superior service, word of mouth alone will bring in many new clients. The satisfaction our consumers find will keep them coming back. There are two main competitors for the computer upgrade and repair business in this area:
Competitor A. They are a well established provider of computer upgrades and services, and do quick work. However, they have a high staff turnover, a young and inexperienced staff, and are more interested in selling new components than in maintaining existing machines or finding custom solutions. They do not offer any kind of pick-up and drop-off service, and do not offer on-site help. They really only offer hardware support.
Competitor B. Smaller and less known then A, B provides many services for residents living in east and south parts of town. They are more willing to spend time with a client, figuring out exactly what his or her needs are, and suggesting new options than competitor A. However, they have an inefficient ordering system and an unkempt shop, which deters potential customers and can turn existing customers to the competition. They also do not offer on-site services, although they are considering instituting a trial pick-up/drop-off service. They are in the best position to copy our innovations and steal customers, but their management is complacent and may not respond to competition.
Both of these companies charge rates in excess of PC Repair; we will be able to attract the price-sensitive market without much work.