Do you use a general work agreement? If so make sure that it mentions that you are not responsible for lost information. This will protect you incase something goes wrong. Explain that since you repair computers often things can turn bad when you are trying to fix things. This is due to the current state of the computer they have.
She may be able to get her emails from her ISP. If at all possible get software to clone their drives so that you can return them to there crippled state.
If she needs her emails have her forward all of them to herself. While she is doing that be sure to walk the dog
Being a house call tech is hard. I did it for a while and I had a decent Contract that covered loss of data. I retired because I was tired of the guilt trips.
Here is what I would do if I got back into the Computer Tech biz
At first contact with a possible client you want to educate them as well as gain their trust. The client is going to want to just tell you what is wrong immediately. You don't want to do that in most cases, if you do then they will base their choice on price and price alone. What you need to do is stop that so that you can gain their trust.
Here is what will most likely happen
Phone: Ring ring
Unknown Caller: is this the computer shop?
Spooky: yes sir/mam it is, My name is Spooky and what is your name?
Unknown Caller: My name is n00b
Spooky: Hi n00b I appreciate your call and hope that I can give you the help that you deserve. Are you calling because you need your computer fixed up or for another service?
n00b: Computer fixed.
Spooky: I am sorry to hear that you are having computer problems have we worked with you before?
Spooky: I am sure you want to tell me all about the problem but first I would like to take the time to give you some information which will help you better understand a few things that you should know when you let anyone work on your computer. Do you have time now or should I talk about it while on site.
[Note] At this point you only gave them two options and most people will pick one because they don't want to come across as rude. At this point they should already trust you a little bit. If they have time they will listen which is what you want because it will build trust. If they don't have time they may trust you enough already to have you come on site. Lets assume they say continue. If they don't have time you should let them know that you will have your tech explain it when they get there. Use my information below to let them know about your free phone estimate and your on/off site services. Now lets continue on to telling them what they need to know about computer repair.
n00b:I have time.
Spooky: Computers are very complicated machines that change everyday and never seem to be perfect. The problem in my industry is that our technicians have trouble communicating to our clients some times. The reason being is because we are fascinated and love computers inside and out. When we talk to people about computers we may end up speaking a different language. I will try my best to make things easy for you to understand using analogies. Don't worry I am not going to teach you everything about computers. I only want to tell you what you need to know so that we are on the same page. I will verify that you understand after each explanation. Lets get started.
One awesome thing about computers is that they are generally bullet proof when it comes to hardware . Hardware is the stuff that holds the software Basically the guts that sit inside your computer.
The software that it holds is all of the stuff you care about though. Hardware is like your brain, and software is the stuff you learned. If a computer dies there is a strong chance that I can bring it back to life. The only problem is that if I can't recover the systems software then the computers brain has terminal Amnesia[It lost all its files]. I have the cure for Terminal Amnesia, the only side effect is that the cured brain can't remember anything.
So hardware is the guts inside your computer. Your RAM, Hard drive, CPU. ETC...
Your software is Windows, MS excel, Word, and all the files you created with them. Also known as Data.
Does that make sense?
Spooky: In most cases I can fix things and get you back to normal in no time. In some cases you may loose some data. We offer data backups but I can't guarantee the back up unless I did it before the problems existed. I highly recommend that you consider a back up plan for your data. In this digital age you would be surprised how important your computer files can be "A few months ago I worked on a computer for this sweet lady and there was nothing I could do to restore her hard drive and she lost all of her pictures she had just took at her daughters wedding. I was able to fix her computer and we set her up with a back up plan for the data".
Hardware is usually an easy fix for us. It can be more difficult if it also caused software problems.
Before we schedule an appointment let me give you a brief rundown on the services that I have to offer.
- I offer On site diagnosis with off site repair
- This will allow me to get a Idea of cost and repair time.
- On site diagnosis is $40
- Off site service is based on a per service pricing plan.
- On site service is $30 an hour
- Clock starts after diagnosis
- My diagnosis comes with my professional opinion which includes much more than the the cost to repair your computer. We discuss your hardware and then your software.
- Here is what my Diagnosis entails.
- First we perform some tests to see the basic condition of your computer, and identify what hardware you have.
- Next we decide if your hardware fulfills your needs
- We discuss what you use your computer for now, and talk about what you wish it did better.
- We then decide if there is anything you would like to do that your current computer can not perform.
- If your needs are not met I will suggest a few upgrade paths. I will also inform you of anything that I think you may be interested in that you may not have known about.
- Based on your needs and wants I will estimate how much it would cost to fulfill your needs and wants.
- This will include Estimates for the following
- New computer to fulfill the wants
- Upgrade to fulfill the wants
- New computer to fulfill the needs
- Upgrade to fulfill the needs
- repair back to working order
- Then we need to decide if we want to try and recover your Software and files.
- If they don't want a back up make it very clear what all they will loose.
- If they do make sure they understand [no guarantees]
- If a new or major upgrade is required explain the process of migrating from one computer to another. [Charge a little more than a back up]
Now that you know how we work. You should understand that we want to make your computer experience the best that it can be. What time would you like us to drop by?
n00b: Wednesday at 9am
Spooky: that works for me. I only need a little more information from you.
Spooky: I need your phone number and, address.
n00b: n00bs address
Spooky: Also I will call you before I visit to make sure that I have everything I need for a on site Diagnosis. Can I call you before 9:00am?
n00b: No just call me at 9:00am and come by after.
Spooky: Thank you for your time and see you soon.
n00b: Thank you... Bye
- Take notes and ask questions when you call
- If the PC is broken ask what is broken, if they know something specific you can plan for it. If you don't you may need something you have at your shop/home.
- If the PC doesn't turn on ask if the monitor is displaying anything. If its black your going to need to bring a monitor. You will look dumb if you cant work on the computer and the monitor is the only thing thats broken. You need to have a monitor to demonstrate that the rest of the PC is working.
- If the PC is making noises Bring a bunch of Fans and a can of air.
- If it is giving off a smell bring a fire extinguisher
- There are lots of questions to ask on the phone, but if they don't have good answers or sound too dumb just take your whole kit.
- If they decide on off site repair don't call it home call it your shop.
- What to bring to their house.
- Make two part PC repair kit
- what you will always need
- A variety of common hardware that fails for testing purposes
- This has some good software
- Your typical PC tools
- Multi tester
- PSU tester
- Spare PSU, that will work with most PCs PATA, SATA,PCIE, 20/24 pin main, 4/8pin 12v connect. If you don't have all of them buy standard molex adapters if you can.
- Cheap small LCD monitor [If monitor displays nothing]
- Spare common internal cables
- 2 Standard IECs [International Electric Cords or Cable]
- Base your cable choices on your phone phone call reveals.
- If the scanner doesn't work you may need a cable
- Get the model number of the scanner to find the cable [pray for no scsi ]
- External hard drive
- USB to PATA/SATA adapter
- If you don't have a laptop you can't try and back up computers that have corrupt OS without Using some sort of bootable CD or installing another hard drive in there computer and hoping that you can boot with that drive.
- You can say that you will have to fix it at your shop.
- Once on site Diagnose their computer and assess their needs quickly and decide if they would be better off with a new PC. And off them choices.
- Simple fixes should be done on site for an hourly rate
- On-site back up takes time explain this and ask if they want you to back it up first. [Make sure she understands that this still doesn't guarantee the safety of your files]
If things are too far gone for a simple fix [Virus, spyware removal, windows repair] let them know quick and explain their options
Options for typical system restoration
- File back up. [Only files on her computer]
- Pictures, media, etc..
- Important Text
- Have her forward her email to herself [Or charge for the service]
- Program restoration. [Programs that she installed]
- they must have the software for legal reasons.
- Cant install software that she lost the discs to.
- Downloaded programs [Painful task]
If they do not have the software let them know that any files created with software that they do not have any more may not be readable. [Word files created with uncle bubba's copy of office 1963]
Now that you know what they needs break down what you have to do and how much it will cost. If you are going to do the whole thing on site
Say the following or similar. I won't go into the specific failures I will just tell you what services I will need to perform to get you back up and running. In most cases you don't need to say things like I am going to replace your bad PSU, and RAM. They will not care or know what you are saying.
For software only repairs that can boot into windows
On site should be a per hour charge. Figure out what the pros in the area charge and beat there price.
Take home should be a per item charge.
- Simple File Back up
- Do a disc image for your safety
- Then copy the whole hard drive so that you can grab files quicker from an external hard drive.
- Software installation [from disc] Flat price or Per title
- Damaged discs will require replacement [software price + above]
- Downloadable software installation
- explain that free downloadable software changes often
- These changes may remove or add more features.
- Often they will change the GUI [Don't say Gooeee, Say program layout. then explain the buttons basically move]
For software repairs that do not boot
- If this is the case you will install the shareware if available , and keep track so you can let them know its price and expiration date.
- Some Downloadables no longer exist. Older versions of AOL or whatever can be found on www.oldversion.com some times. Getting their version of AOL will make life easier if they are is old.
Explain that you cannot perform a typical back up and moving forward with trying to repair the software without an advanced back up will increase the chance of data loss.
- Offer to attempt data recovery. [more advanced back up]
- It takes time. [Take home service may be cheaper] home recovery rate for files only should be 5x your hourly rate or around $150 [explain the not guaranteed part again]
- Pull the drive or take the computer
- copy the entire contents of the drive
- try to repair windows
If you succeed call them and explain that you were able to recover the files. Then ask if they want you to continue with the repair.
For hardware repairs
This usually breaks down into two cases
- Simple replacement
- CPU, RAM, fans, PSUs, Non storage drives, and other peripherals
- Explain that if the old hardware came with OEM software suites they may not work with the new hardware
- Replace and restore
That took longer than I wanted to.I will let you finish the rest. I Hope you got some ideas on how to run your business better.