Hi! I'm Dane Carlson, and welcome to the Business Opportunities Weblog. I've been publishing this website, by myself, and sometimes with the help of others for over twelve years now. You'll notice two things about this site right away:
No matter what industry you’re in, computers are almost always a necessity. They make it easier to keep track of your inventory but their upkeep also costs money.
Dean Casey and Cara Bronico are well aware of the needs that consignment, retail and resale stores have when it comes to keeping their computers online. Between the two of them Dean and Cara have 15 years of technical experience and they have over 7 in the consignment industry. They know how important it is to keep everything running and how tight a budget can be. Inspired by that experience they created The Computer Peeps.
Tell us a little about The Computer Peeps.
The Computer Peeps (Owners, Dean Casey and Cara Bronico) provide technical support and assistance with computer issues for consignment, resale or retail stores, as well as any small business that can’t afford a dedicated IT staff. We have a combined 15 years of technical experience and over 7 in the consignment industry. What sets us apart is we specialize in consignment software and Point of Sale hardware! Also, we provide support to customers anywhere. Yes, I said anywhere. We provide technical support using a remote support utility that allows us to access customers’ computers via a secure connection. Customers love this as we can work on their computers off peak hours or even after hours if needed. We offer per call pricing as well as monthly support plans. Calls range from $40 (for things like PC Tune-ups, printer installations, software installation, anti-virus installation/configuration and network setup/troubleshooting) to $60 (for things like advanced network troubleshooting) to $100 (for things like virus removal). We also offer Consulting for both software and hardware. One major benefit to The Computer Peeps is we offer training on the various consignment software packages, often at cheaper rates than what the software vendors can provide. For those customers that happen to be local, we offer all the bells and whistles any other technician can provide with the added assurance that we KNOW your consignment package like the back of our hands. More importantly we know the hardware that works with those software packages thus saving customers money in time.
What inspired it?
After working for the consignment industry’s largest developer of consignment software, it became painfully apparent that small businesses – specifically resale stores – were spending far too much for assistance with computer issues. Finding a good tech is liking finding a good mechanic. When they could find assistance, it either cost them way too much or delivered underwhelming results. Sometimes, both. We knew we could offer a better service, for a better price.
In what ways has it evolved since the idea for your business was first conceived?
We’re still pretty young as far as businesses go. What we didn’t expect was the amount of people who need help with their computers at home. It’s not uncommon for a resale store owner to ask if we can assist with computer issues at home. We have become more aware of the needs to residential computer owners. We keep our rates extremely affordable because we know Moms and Dads cant afford to drop $150 to get their kids’ computers running faster.
What are some goals you still hope to accomplish?
Our primary goal is to save resale store owners money. We would like to see The Computer Peeps become the primary go-to technical support company for each and every consignment and resale store in the United States. One of our long term goals is to extend our support services to both the medical industry as well as law firms. We also would like to spend a little more time marketing to residential communities, as it is extremely evident too much money is being spent at big box stores for computer repairs.
What separates you from the competition?
In all industries, there are specialized fields. When working with POS hardware and software, there are so many nuances and subtleties. A local computer tech might know how to install Windows and manage the basics, but they don’t have the time to do the research and specialize. We have been working with database management systems, POS equipment and resale store owners for years. We don’t have to “learn on the job,” which saves a store owner money; and provides peace of mind. Collectively, The Computer Peeps have over 7 years in the consignment industry. In addition to knowing and understanding ALL of the consignment software programs out there, we also work very closely with some of these vendors, going as far as testing hardware compatibility. As mentioned above one of the things that sets us apart from other technicians is that we have the ability to remotely help customers virtually anywhere. I’d like to say our main separating factor is that we charge based on 30 minute blocks vs. the standard one hour. More often than not an issue can be fixed in 10 – 20 minutes and people are stuck with a $150 bill to foot. Pricing based on thirty-minute blocks saves you time and money.
In what ways have your past experiences aided you in the running/growth of The Computer Peeps?
We worked for the largest developer of consignment software. Prior to that, we’ve worked for companies such as Dell and Embarq. The knowledge one gains from working with such huge companies is unparalleled. Having worked for the largest developer of consignment software sets us aside immensely as we literally know how the programs are made, which give us insight other technicians simply cannot attain.
Tell us a little about what it was like taking your business from idea to launch? How long did it take before you were ready to launch?
To be honest, it was completely thrust upon us. We started working on the idea last year. Sometimes life throws a curve ball at you and you just end up where you are meant to be. The process of becoming an LLC was much less painful than we thought it would be. We started with talking about starting a business. Then we bought a domain, created a business plan, created our website, obtained legal advice, created a financial plan, and finally became an LLC.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from your business?
Always do the right thing. It costs far less – both in time and money – to do things both the right way and in such a way that the customer is left with a smile on their face. Also, plan for the unexpected, you can’t plan for everything. One must rely on a solid foundation to stand on. Lastly, owning your own business can seem scary. Everything in life is a challenge and putting those efforts into your own business is worth its weight in gold.
If you could do anything over again, would you?
We would’ve started the business sooner! Looking back we spent far too much time planning instead of just acting upon what needed to be done. Helping people is amazing, but getting paid directly for something you whole-heartedly believe in is indescribable.
Any tips you’d like to offer fellow entrepreneurs that are just getting started?
Go for it! Everything in life can be a struggle. Much like having children, often the “right time” never unveils itself. If you believe in what you’re doing, it’s worth fighting for. We’re good at what we do and we believe in what we do.