DIY

Supporting home users? Share your experience and take the poll

It seems that supporting home users could provide a huge market for IT pros, but most would prefer to focus their attention on the business user. What are some pros and cons of supporting home users, what are some of the pitfalls to avoid, and what would be the right way to do it?

It seems that supporting home users could provide a huge market for IT pros, but most would prefer to focus their attention on the business user. What are some pros and cons of supporting home users, what are some of the pitfalls to avoid, and what would be the right way to do it?

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Over the past month or so, I've received a couple of e-mails from IT support pros asking me if I have ever supported home users, and if I had any pearls of wisdom for them in that regard. From my perspective, the only wisdom I could provide, at least initially, was to avoid it like the plague. These two, however, apparently have their sights set on breaking into that niche market. One of them wanted to make a small business out of it, and the other simply saw it as a means to provide some temporary income, after an untimely layoff, while seeking more permanent employment.

I couldn't provide much in the way of suggestions to them, at least not how to make a real go of it. I've only treaded on those grounds a few times, and it's always been more trouble than it's worth. Actually, since I never charged anyone for it, the worth came in the form of doing a favor for a friend or acquaintance. I did share an experience that illustrated what kinds of things they might be faced with, and I described how a conversation went while trying to help someone over the phone.

It seems that when she sent something to her printer, the text was exceptionally large, and the whole thing wouldn't print on the sheet of paper. It started happening, she said, when someone made her desktop icons bigger. I assumed, after quizzing her a bit, that the bigger icons was a result of someone changing the display resolution. But I couldn't think of a connection to a printing problem. Anyway, I went on to ask her what application she was printing from. She asked, "Application? What's an application"? I explained that an application was a program like Word or Excel from which she would send the print job. "Oh," she said, "I'm using Windows. "

Okay, as far as I'm concerned, nuff said. Those are the kinds of things I'd just prefer not to deal with -- even for big bucks. I suppose short of a house call, establishing a remote connection would be the way to go. But still, a lot of home users just aren't savvy enough to even have a conversation with. I suppose I don't like holding someone's hand or explaining every little detail every step along the computing way. It simply wastes too much time getting to the root of a problem, and then when you try to explain something to them for future reference, you know how little they might understand by seeing that glazed-over look in their eyes. And then, of course, when the next thing goes wrong, it must have been something you did. Well, thanks, but no thanks. I think I'd rather hang wallpaper.

I know there are outfits that do it, places like the Geek Squad, but since I've not had any direct contact with them, I can't comment one way or the other on how well they might do. And I do know a guy who's been doing it for a long time, but only if people bring their computers into his shop -- and that's not the bulk of his business; most of his customers are small business users. If I ever did it, I think I'd want to have a shop and avoid going into a person's home. But still, that leaves a huge void that could be filled. I've often thought that providing support to home users could be a huge market, but its path is paved with pitfalls that are both difficult to overcome and would require just the right kind of person. I suppose that's why I've never done it -- I just don't want to deal with those pitfalls.

Since I don't have a lot of experience in that regard, I didn't give these two much help in the way of an answer. But I did tell them that I might write a blog piece on the subject, and if I did, I'd send them a link to the ensuing discussion. So how about it? I'll ask you the same thing they asked me? Do you have any pearls of wisdom for someone looking to break into that ever-difficult home user support market?

53 comments
rwbyshe
rwbyshe

I do it for family, friends, and friends of friends. Not as a business yet but am thinking of giving it a shot. I DO NOT MAKE HOUSE CALLS !!! I will work on your pc in my own environment at my own leisure. I absolutely require all disks that came with the PC or the PC must have a "recovery" drive built into the hard drive. I will spend a few hours troubleshooting and hopefully be able to resolve the issue, but in most cases I find it's much easier to simply burn any/all of their data to disk and then rebuild the Hard Drive with any/all of the software they have and want reinstalled. That's my 2 cents...

Keywalker4God
Keywalker4God

I am a retired project engineer that maintains the computers and networking for a church that I co-founded in 2003 shortly after I retired. I have since worked a few part time jobs just to earn a little mad money. Invariably, after it becomes known that I can "fix" computers someone will ask for my advice or help with their computer. I have occasionally gone into a person's home and been surprised at their living conditions on both ends of the scale. Some live in appalling conditions and others much better off than I assumed. Regardless of the conditions I have to work in I will do the best I can to solve their problem. Most often the problem is that they don't want to spend the time or go to the trouble to do simple maintenance (ie. keep their anti-virus updated, let Windows update run, defrag their hard drive, manage start up programs, etc.) so this usually is not rocket science but just time consuming crap. I had one instance where I lost data but she was warned up front that this was very likely because I coundn't even get her computer to respond well enough to back up her data. The best thing I have found to really make a "customer" happy is once you get the crap cleaned out is to recommend more ram and install it. Most home computers don't come but with a 4th of the maximum ram. They are usually very appreciative of my efforts and this article is making me wonder if maybe I shouldn't put my name out there as an in home service tech. I could use the mad money. Also, the programs I use to tweak computers are all free. Free AVG, Advanced System Care, Spybot, Adaware, Startup cop (an old version I got for free years ago), Start.exe, and many others. I have worked with networking both PCs and Macs so I can address most problems with a fair amount of knowledge and experience. I have even set up Linux, though I don't really like it for home use. So, what do you think? Should I go for it?

santeewelding
santeewelding

So long as you can get through the occasional household that adheres to the Religion of Scum.

SmartAceW0LF
SmartAceW0LF

I have a shop set up to do inhouse work on mostly "home-user" PCs. I also do onsite work, but I do not do it cheaply. The fact is that the hour or two I am away from my shop doing onsite repairs costs me a considerable amount of potential revenue that could be generated in my shop, so I charge accordingly. I do not leave the shop for less than 100.00. Period. End of story. And before making house calls, I warn/advise the client that if their problem is of such a nature that it has to be brought back to the shop to complete, that they are essentially doubling their fee to get the system fixed. I encourage my clients to bring the computer into the shop for repairs, I offer them a flat-rate to fix virtually any problem with the computer. The flat-rate fee is absolute unless there are necessary parts involved in the repair. I spend perhaps as much as 30 minutes troubleshooting malware problems to try and resolve them. If serious headway is not made in that time, I abandon the troubleshooting and begin my "routine" on the system, which includes backing up the users data, wiping the system clean, installing windows, all MS updates, Firefox, Adobe Reader 8, A good free Anti-Virus and a couple of other apps that are basically essential on most modern computers. Finally, I restore the users data back to the system and call them to come pick it up. Some return within a couple months to have the same thing done over again for the same price. Others are not so wreckless, but nonetheless call me again. So how do I make money doing this? In a word, "volume". I can knock out 5 to 8 boxes in a days work given things are moving fluidly (and eliminating the ridiculously time consuming troubleshooting element from the equation nearly assures that smooth flow of work) Yes, I do have several business clients as well, but my home user client-base is equally if not more profitable than my business clients. Home users worries are basically centered around 2 important factors that must be addressed to make them happy with your service. Number 1, they are justifiably concerned about being taken to the cleaners by the PC shop. (I say "justifiably" because it surely does seem that most shops really do not want their business and charge at a rate to discourage it) Number 2, they don't want to lose their data. And third, they want their equipment back in a reasonable amount of time. Address these things with them in your initial interview with them, and they will flock to you and spread the word near and far about you. For those that weren't already aware of it, Geek Squad has their rates posted on their website. Go check them out. I have no doubt that you will realize the potential. One final thought I will leave regarding capitalizing on this market is this. You do yourself and your customer a great dis-service by not being frank with them regarding your efforts (and their monetary value) by not encouraging them to update their equipment. By update, I mean basically anything that was at least mfgrd for XP. Anyone that calls me about working on a Win9x machine is gently encouraged to get a newer one.

TheOlderEd
TheOlderEd

My latest was one of the "best"(?). I was explaining a minor problem with Windows, and attempting to tell this woman what to do to fix it. "I don't use Windows." "Do you have a Mac?" "No." "Are you using Linux?" "No." "Then what are you suing?" "I use Netscape." It took about 2 hours to first of all convince her Netscape is no longer supported, and that she DOES use Windows, just not Windows Internet Explorer. (I still don't think she "got it."

itpro_z
itpro_z

Some of my users will ask me questions about their home systems, many times looking for tips on how to solve a problem themselves, or help deciding what to buy. They see me as a knowledgeable source, and I don't discourage that. Do I also work on their systems? Sure, sometimes for free, sometimes for pay. Either way, it is good PR, something that should not be dismissed lightly. The extra cash now and then doesn't hurt, either. As far as home users being clueless and bothersome, I would argue not. Are they any different than my users at work? Both sometimes do unfortunate things, but with good advice learn and become better users. In my experience, it is the "somewhat knowledgeable" users who are the most trouble, not the average users. They are the ones least likely to listen to your advice, and the most likely to screw things up. But, then again, if you charge for your service, they can be your best customers.

jason.thomason
jason.thomason

I have been supporting home users in my area for the past 9 years for free, all others are charged $40Hour. I enjoy the relationships that are made in supporting the home users. I feel that many of them are being taken advantage of by the major retail chains, as well as the phone support from the companies they purchase their computers from. I don't charge for what I can't fix. Be kind to your neighbor and they will be kind to you. It's about doing what you enjoy not by the amount of money that comes in. We all know that you can't survive of pc support alone. Lessons learned on a home support business is always appreciated. Please let me know.

KaryDavis
KaryDavis

...I currently work full time as tech support for a great company. I also fix, repair and troubleshoot friends and family computers for free as well. I enjoy both the professional and home site work. I think both evironments have clueless users as well as more savy users. Users are users, no matter where you find them. My goal is to work as a home tech after retiring in about 10 years. My current activities in helping others is preparing me for that time and the transition should be pretty smooth... at least that's the plan anyway. My thinking is.... as long as there are clueless users in need of handholding...I will always have a way to make a living. :0)

V
V

The hours that you're expected to work should be reflected in the final bill. It's no 9-5 job. With some folks, the more 'free' time you give them the more they expect, so get your money and get out of there. Or you'll be fielding a 'free' Q&A session.

Joe_R
Joe_R

In that case, I might have to consider.

Joe_R
Joe_R

.....would be no fun. But then, neither is dealing with [i]some[/i] home users.

V
V

If you thought I meant the type of iron for removing creases, then no, that's not the one. revised: Any pointy object hot or cold.

Tech NO Babble
Tech NO Babble

My clients don't know what IT stands for and I don't explain anymore. I am an "it" guy as in the computer guy can fix it! I have more home users than business clients that I serve. My goal is to get more of each. In our smallish town, most SOHO and small businesses don't have IT departments or if they do, its the salesman, receptionist, or family member who has another position in the company. The home users try to listen to advice, however the business ones fight advice until their crap breaks. Then I am called fix it, but no maintenance or managed contracts are needed, thanks anyway. So I wait for stuff to break again and hope they call me again. Thankfully, we offer web development, SEO, and graphic design (print & web)which has its own group of my son, or bff or whoever is my web designer and it looks great right. Hardly, but since we do SEO, I can use the excuse that the code is not SEO friendly instead of saying your site is ugly. I thought I was the only one who was receiving drinks, food, and much chatting. I do get leftover hardware too. OMG, smelly people, dirty places, are not the norm but they are out there waiting for you! I say 20% chance of a home user grossing you out!

edward5252
edward5252

I got a call from a freind that said his computer was really slow, he was not computer literate. I told him to cownload adaware and spybot search & destroy, update them and then run them. Problem solved. Working with home users can be easy most of them do not even know of these free programs and most problems I have encoutered have come from people surfing the wromg sites ( even the samll businesses). I work production mostly as my day job and think that sitting running programs such as this for a couple of hours is just easy money. While I sit there I can warn them of problems that can arise even from surfing the web or explaining what programs to use to do the projects that interest them. WHAT FUN and they love me. It's very satisfying.

wanttocancel
wanttocancel

I support home users along with business users and the home users need more hand-holding. They want to know what caused the problem but when you tell them many listen then their eyes glaze over because they don't understand and/or they begin not to care. Business users are more apt to understand what's going on with their computers and in my experience follow my suggestions. Many Home users just want the computer to work with little intervention from them.

sidekick
sidekick

I don't mind sitting down with a friend from time to time to help them out, but there is something about those home computers that give me the willies. Probably the "no holds barred" environment they live in, where anything and everything is on them. I try to avoid these free-range computers as a general rule. Even at work, unless they use the home computer for work, don't even bother asking me. Ick.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

Usually, though, the people I work with in their homes are using them as home offices w/company supplied equipment. So the 'pain' I have to go through to earn the $$$ is minimal compared to the typical rigmarole of supporting home PCs ("oh, you mean I need to renew a license to continue getting my anti-virus updates"...fun fun fun).

Joe_R
Joe_R

A whole different thing to deal with. What if you know there's pirated software? What then?

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...I've only had to deal with pirated software issues a few times. Each time was in the physical office environment, and not for remote users. In each case, I wouldn't touch the system until the software was adequately licensed or permission given to reformat. I had policy on my side, though, so it wasn't a big deal.

jck
jck

I am working on establishing my LLC, getting a list of low-cost advertisement mediums together, and putting word-of-mouth out that I am doing both PC consulting in the home (after-hours and weekends) plus writing custom Windows applications. I would rather deal with home users than business. Business generally wants either business hours support or extended hours support. After hours only support generally isn't enough for most companies. With a lot of home users, the after hours support ends up being preferred. Being available after people are off work and have gotten the kids home makes it easier for them, and they don't have to ferry a PC back and forth to you. Would I not support a business? Of course I would, as long as their terms and the money was agreeable. However being a dual income person, I have to work a way to handle my full-time salaried job with my second, off-hours source of income. At least, I will until I make enough in the second income to either quit the first job and/or retire.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Not a bad strategy. Thanks.

r8tdr
r8tdr

Its a great way to keep your feet on ground. Like everyone else we tend to venture on new items and new technology as IT grows. I support my client (there is only one actually and has not grown - this is probably because i don't advertise well) with simple task such as backup and hardware installations. I love the professional relationship I build because I know I will need them someday when I need reference. Pros: You get to do what you love and teach them how to be independent. Cons: It depends where you want to point at it. Because us IT personnel are always busy and we don't really want to keep on coming back on a problem that would not fix itself. I have always tried to analyze the problem and come into conclusion if a project is feasible or avoidable. If and when a project is not in my league I turn them to a professional that will be able to handle their needs. I try not to present my services if I know I can't fix it in a matter of hours not days. These are home client for me. Like they said its hard to compete out there for home services because of Geek Squad or Fire Dog. They are now a common household name among users that are not able to fix their computers or peripherals right away. But we always try our best through word of mouth and possibly charge less than them so that they keep calling you when ever they need help. For me, i get a phonecall from my client about 2x a year. Maybe none at times. Bottom line - IMHO, Patience and always teach and document so that they can always remember what to do for little stuff. Oh yes, once you are working with them they do tend to ask all the questions - good and bad, again to us it is second nature what we do, for them it is new - keyword: always be happy to serve and be patient because to a point we were once like them.

sbrooks
sbrooks

I support Home and Business users equally, unfortunately you didn't have an option for that. Whoever calls, be it business or home, we attempt to support, although home users are far more sensitive about prices. There are a few rules to keep in mind. 1) Never haggle about prices, you charge what your rates are. If they start "oh but," etc then don't go back, if they aren't willing to pay what you think you're worth then they aren't worth the hassle of supporting. If you give one inch on price then they will try and get you lower next time. Now I am not saying , "never give a sucker a break," I sometimes do, but its MY choice, not their arguments, that gets them a break. 2) Know when your customer is to much trouble. As earlier mentioned, if you fix someones computer they think the next thing that goes wrong is also your fault, no matter HOW unrelated that can be. This can be a problem both in business and home customers. Never retain a customer beyond the point the relationship becomes strained due to excessive unwarranted demands, its not worth it. Let Geek Squad or GFire Dog, or whoever your big competitor is, have them. Better they pull them down than you down. Steve

Joe_R
Joe_R

.....yours falls under [i]Other[/i]. Many thanks for those great suggestions.

Jaqui
Jaqui

Supporting the home / end user is very frustrating in many ways. They are worse for ignoring the av / firewall updating, and use. They refuse to follow any sane practice to protect themselves from malware. They will have work for even the simplest tasks, like installing a plug and play usb printer. BUT, they are also a richly rewarding client base. coffee and dinner when you actually make a house call. christmas cards / gifts when they have been with you for a while. They become the type of client you can make "stupid user" jokes with. [ P.E.B.K.A.C. Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair ] One such client will show up at my place, just to get me a coffee. :) The "competition" for the home user business, Future Shop, Staples, Geek Squad, Best Buy ... It can be a hard market to break into, and it can be frustrating, but it can also be rewarding in non financial ways. The home user isn't going to have deep pockets for services, don't expect to have a lot of business if you charge high rates. Don't under value your work though. Chip's Independent Consultant blogs here on TR are very applicable to this market.

Joe_R
Joe_R

This is the kind of stuff they were looking for.

Jaqui
Jaqui

that it was the type of info needed. One of the major hurdles is in setting the right price point, to high and no work, to low and no respect for your opinion or qualifications. Try to avoid the storefront until you have enough regular business to support it and you. Susan Harkins just had a blog entry about small Independent consultants having a web presence, which also applies to this one. :) http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/project-management/?p=272

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Yes, that can be a hard call. You have to try to figure out several factors: a) where is your break-even point? b) where is their price tolerance? c) what are the intangible benefits? c) is (b + c) > a? When figuring (a), you also have to include the cost of not doing more lucrative or career-improving business with someone else.

Jaqui
Jaqui

These can sometimes be worth far more than the actual cash from the client. Their good word about you can get you a contract for a project that pays far better than a home user can. It can get you the small business clients. That really does depend on the actual client in question. I think it would be a mistake to ignore the other opportunities that the home user can steer your way for work less help desk type and more specialist contractor type.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Thanks for chiming in..

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Sometimes we focus too much on the net income from a particular job. It's easy to do that because the intangibles are, well, intangible. You can think of it as a marketing expense. The same thing goes for blogging. You might not be getting paid for the time you spend on it, but the benefits can far outweigh the costs if you do it right.

Lodai
Lodai

Jaqui hit the nail on the head. There is nothing like word-of-mouth advertising (providing the "word" is positive.) I generally do home support as an add-on to my income. It doesn't generate a lot, but it sure helps. My rates vary depending on the problem, and I find that this makes dealing with the "penny-pincher" much easier. The way I look at it is the home user has a problem and it needs to be fixed. If I can fix it I will, and if I can't I will recommend someone. Frustrating as it is sometimes, it is pretty fun.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Re: the original piece. http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/helpdesk/?p=323 It seems that supporting home users could provide a huge market for IT pros, but most would prefer to focus their attention on the business user. What are some pros and cons of supporting home users, what are some of the pitfalls to avoid, and what would be the right way to do it? Do you have any pearls of wisdom for someone looking to break into that ever-difficult home user support market?

davidt
davidt

I want to be sure that our remote users have their home systems patched and up-to-date, so, on company time (and pay), I will help them.

Wee Willie 20
Wee Willie 20

However I work for many private clients, but mostly for 6 non-profit organizations. My hourly rate is $40.00/hr for non-profits & $45.00/hr for private.

sparker
sparker

Being an in-house tech at a large firm, I get questions daily: "which laptop should I buy?", "Why does my pc do.....?" I try to answer allo questions or at least I will look up some info for the person. If asked to do service on a home pc or laptop, I'll try and have them bring it in and look at it on my own time; often for no/minimal charge. I have also gotten gifts of football tickets (go Cowboys), bottles of wine, (too bad I don't drink)restaurant coupons, etc.. If I have to make a home visit, I let them know my rates up front (more than Joe Blow neighbor, less than Geek Squad) and they can decide to have me come or not. Because they pay by the hour, I try not to chitchat on their time but coffee afterwards is fine. I have been doing field service on and off for more than 20 years, both on site and in house. In home repair is definitely a good source of income, but be sure to keep exact records, mileage reports for IRS, as well as any investments in equipment, hardware, software, tools, specialized training, etc as these can be deductions at tax time. Just because you're in someone's home doesn't mean this is'nt a serious business. Treat it as such and enjoy meeting all the new people.

Joe_R
Joe_R

And it sounds as though you're probably selective.

TechieRob
TechieRob

It depends on your personality and preferences for work. Typically home users will not have a lot of experience with computers and you will need to break down complicated computer-speak (even for doing 'simple' tasks like printing or performing a backup) a lot more than what you would do for a business-type client. In my experience the users I have supported at work have been either on the same level as home users or just above it. I work at a hospital, so I support a lot of nurses and doctors. A lot of nurses that I deal with haven't learned the 'basics' of computers and doctors assume that their computer will work anywhere without any intervention from IT and they can't understand why their computer won't connect to the network without having an up-to-date virus scanner I find that in supporting differing levels of computer understanding in your day-to-day work makes it much easier to transition to supporting home users. The main 'plus' of supporting home users is that you get to choose who you work for; if you want to get rid of a pesky client you can always refer them to someone else At work, I can't get rid of the pesky users :) I enjoy working with the people at work. Most of my 'home' clients I have are fellow work colleagues and people that they have referred me onto. I've found a few key things that you will need to 'expect' to deal with 1. Find a language in which you can 'talk' to your client. I don't mean to learn another language other than english - but learn to communicate with your client. Be an active listener; and an active communicator. Use simple analogies 2. If your client has had a bad dealing with a particular company or tech, expect to hear a lot of complaints. Re-assure them that you will do your best to fix their mistake - but don't dig your own grave at the same time. 3. Expect the job to run overtime. If you get called out for what seems to be a simple job, expect it to run longer than expected. A simple question will generally be followed by a few more simple questions; or a cup of tea and a chat 4. Be polite, but be good with your assertions. This relates to 3. Sometimes, enough is enough and a job needs to end or you have somewhere to be. Let them know that you can come out another time to have a look at the other things 5. Expect to be asked to look at non-pc related problems. I have been asked to look at the strangest things. If it has anything remotely to do with it having electricity or batteries, you will be asked about it 6. If the client has kids or teenagers, expect to see the most virus-wridden, spyware infected gunked up pcs in your wildest dreams. Expect rampant p2p programs and 'smiley' applications everywhere. Be brave Thats all I can think of for now, but good luck to anyone who is looking to transition into the 'home user' market

hsnelson
hsnelson

I echo TechieRob's remarks. I love supporting home users, and most of them are friends of friends, or parents of friends (the most grateful), etc. And every single one has been a word of mouth referral. While it's true that their problems can be more complicated than you might have thought going in, most of the time I find them to be the easiest ones I have to deal with, compared to small-medium business problems, which are my other clients. And the home users are always grateful ("you saved my life!"), and spread the word about you. Just don't patronize them, and they will want you back. So, yes, good people skills are probably key to being a good home-support person. I have definitely considered quitting my businesses and becoming a "geek squad" type supporter exclusively. BTW, I have had to clean up after the Geek Sqaud more than once.... So, is this a niche market? I think so!

Joe_R
Joe_R

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

itpro_z
itpro_z

Some of those skills pay off at work, also. Being able to describe technical subjects in layman's terms is a vital job skill in the IT field, as department heads and execs are not always, or even usually, tech knowledgeable. I also have some users who totally gunk up their work PCs with crap that sometimes takes hours to remove. Have you never had a user "accidentally" install or download something with unfortunate results? I have also been asked at work to help with non-IT issues, and have ended up servicing a wide range of equipment, from plant control systems to electrical problems. Doesn't that just help make me more valuable to the company? Nothing wrong with that. I find that most employers appreciate people that are willing and able to help outside of their job description.

racornett
racornett

I work with mostly seniors in their homes. It helps that I am a youngish female senior who learned computers after retirement. For this job one definitely needs a lot of patience and the ability to explain things in a way the clients can understand. It is rewarding though, because you almost always leave the hero. And I don't charge as much as most other in-home support businesses, so the seniors know they are getting a good deal. The other thing I do is guarantee that if I can't fix the problem they don't pay anything. So far, that hasn't happened.

j_woods
j_woods

Home users can be a piece of cake. Yes, it can suck at first, but once your realize how it's going to be, you get a routine and get better and better at it. It's better if you live in a small to medium-size town. First, you call everyone in town who does housecalls and undercut them, even if it's by $5 an hour. Then, you spend a little on advertising, making sure the bold print mentions how you're cheaper than Geek Squad with more experience. The advertising is worth it because your only expenses are: Gas & Cell Phone. No rent, no electricity - if you need parts you order them with your customer's money at the time of the housecall. Why talk people into buying licenses for their antivirus? Better that they give their money to you. Install avira or avast, for free, spybot, spywareblaster, etc. etc. Make people happy and they'll come back for more. Sometimes the troubleshooting can be difficult sometimes like the lady who shut her phones down by plugging her phone into her nic. i stayed a little longer, updated software, cleaned stuff up and made $100 for a little over two hours. She calls me once a month. I work my own hours, schedule the housecalls AND I HAVE NO BOSS... Nuff said.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Thanks for posting

road-dog
road-dog

I did a mercenary gig for a hospital group once where home based medical transcription people needed an upgrade on ISDN routers. Before (and after) this I was strictly a 'place of business' guy. It. Was. A. Nightmare. It seems some folks telecommute because they have no business being in public. Even their employer thinks it's a good thing that they don't come to the office. After 3 visits, I told the hospital to have their people bring their gear in for upgrade. Visits 1,2,3 Straight out of the box, one of the top 10 worst days of my career: 1) The lady with the great dane with a serious skin condition that stunk so badly I couldn't breathe. 2) The lady who spent the entire onsite fighting with her drunk husband and tried really hard to get me to take her side. 3) The guy who weighed 400 pounds and worked from his bed. His CPU and router were on the floor where a nightstand should be and the monitor was on one of those hospital type trays that sit across the bed. He used his computer gear as his nightstand and there were about 20 medications and piles of take out food debris piled haphazardly on top. After I rebelled, the company had another guy take over the remote work. Within a week a telecommuter insisted that he had run into the security gate at his house and broken it. Quite frankly, I don't do house calls unless you're a buddy and we fix something during half time.

Joe_R
Joe_R

That deserved combat pay.

V
V

It's amazing how people degenerate when they don't have to get cleaned up to go to work. I trust you wore gloves when handling the keyboards and mice. urgh...Nasty!

robo_dev
robo_dev

I've done my share of home-support, but mostly for friends and family or for beer. Couple of Tips/Thoughts: 1) Never touch ANYTHING unless a backup of the PC exists. If data is lost, you're in the doghouse. I've seen the smallest simplest change result in data loss, and if you touched the PC last, you are gonna get blamed. 2) Label EVERYTHING with one of those brother or P-touch label makers. Label the router with the IP address, user name, password. Label the wireless AP with the security settings, label the power switches for things, cables, where cables go, etc. Especially for older clients, never assume they know the diff between the printer USB cable and the power cord for the printer. If later you need to help them on the phone, those labels will save your hyde. Since I had labeled my 76 year-old neighbor's router with the IP, and password, I was able to get his DSL connection going over the phone.

canyouhearmenow2
canyouhearmenow2

'Nuf sed.

uberg33k50
uberg33k50

$25 an hour?? I don't answer my phone for less than $50. Home users are way too much of an aggravation for $25/hr.

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