Computer wholesaler - recommendations?

I worked as a maintenance electrician in a factory for 26 years (+ 4-year apprenticeship so 30 years working total). Back injury resulted in medical retirement over 9 years ago so been receiving Incapacity Benefit since then. Had a DSS medical almost every year, the outcome of which has always been that they concur with my GP and hospital consultant and agree that I'm not fit to work.
Now the government have changed the goalposts and despite my condition getting worse, surprise surprise, I'm now classed as fit to work. 56 years old with 10 years of bad (and worsening) health and cannot do any physical work, ie, gardening, shelf-stacking, anything I've been used to anymore means that I'm not the ideal candidate for an employer. The only other thing I'm good at is computers so I'm thinking my only option is to go self-employed as a one-man-band computer repair chappie doing repairs, upgrades etc.
I live in Lancaster so does anyone know of any computer parts wholesalers who would supply what would essentially be a small-volume business with parts a few quid cheaper than the high street in order to make a small markup? Do you have to tell your mortgage provider that you're going to be using the spare bedroom to run a business?
TIA
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I think you'll find that life no longer works like that, especially in the computer hardware business. There are several quite big 'computer parts' suppliers who offer fairly reasonable prices across the range of what they sell (e.g. Lambdatek, CCL) but I guarantee that for any particular item you can find another supplier (often on eBay) that is cheaper.
Don't expect to make money on 'mark up', make the money by charging for your time.
--
Chris Green

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snipped-for-privacy@isbd.co.uk wrote:

OK, cheers Chris - makes sense when you think of it :-)
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I doubt you'd be able to make much from this type of job, computer parts arev quite cheap and unfortunalty get cheaper with time in general so keeping a stock is a bad idea and will lose you money. Also unless yuo are realy experinced in this sort of thing you won;t do well as time is money, a lot of computers can be brought with reasonable warrentiews anyway and by the time they run out it's usually cheaper to buy a new computer. Laptops are the latest computers and taking tehm apart is very tricky and time consuming. There's also lots of students and hobbist about that do favours for other like I do myself, so dispite all the wealth of PC problems out there few are willing to pay good money for them to be fixed by a PC repair chappie when they can go to a Pro company, not that a pro company would be better they're just more likely to BS a person into investing in a new machine.
A few local small shopes advitise repairing PCs from 30 ....
By the sound of it you couldn;t offer an specail home service either to entice customers.

We use http://cpc.farnell.com/jsp/bespoke/bespoke1.jsp?bespokepage=/cpc/en_CC/computer_one.jsp

I don;t know, but it's not the sort of info I'd volenteer unless I considered what I was doing as dangerous to the property or those in it, but the Tax man might be intersted if you're claiming it as a buiness expense, but again I have no experience or knowledge of that side of things.

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whisky-dave wrote:

I know what you mean but computers are the only thing apart from my trade that I know enough about to be able to even think about making some money from, and thanks to our caring government it's this or starve/lose the house/end up on the streets. I can't see any employer choosing me over a fit, healthy, 20 or 30-something for a vacancy.
My injury isn't a debilitating one in that I don't need a wheelchair or even a walking stick (so maybe I could do that home service after all) but it's the constant, all-pervading pain that I'm left with that's the problem. I get very little sleep (a very broken 3hrs/night), I'm on prescribed ketamine and morphine and just the relentlessness of it has left me a shamboling depressed wreck of my former self - but I didn't want to bore everybody with all that. The point is, I don't know how to do anything else so I can't see any other way of making money.

http://cpc.farnell.com/jsp/bespoke/bespoke1.jsp?bespokepage=/cpc/en_CC/computer_one.jsp
I was more thinking along the lines of having to have insurance to cover other people's computers at my house and/or any mistakes I might make, so as the insurance people will have to know I'm assuming the mortgage people will too - or maybe I've got that all wrong.
Thanks for your reply Whisky :-)
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Fred wrote:

I really would not bother with telling anyone - they'll only try to make you pay more one way or another. Thousands of small businesses run from people's homes without anyone being bothered. The council (re rates/tax) only care if you have a lot of comings and goings.
It might also be easier to do repairs at the customer's site - less lifting of equipment.
Have you thought about having some other services too - like installing WIFI (inclduing securing and testing) and that sort of stuff?
--
Tim Watts

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Tim Watts wrote:

No, I hadn't - but will now! Cheers Tim :-)
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Fred wrote:

There are a whole raft of side services that people get stuck with...
Just at Dave The Medway Handyman actually gets paid to assemble flat pack furniture for people too busy/lazy/useless to do it themselves, so thus you could also find similar work in the electronics field.
There's printer setup, VoIP phones, HiFi assembly, as others have said dekludging broken software (ie Windows), perhaps particular training tasks like how to download photos from their camera and upload to Google Picasa, Flickr, Facebook and order prints (eg photobox.co.uk) or print locally.
The possibilities are endless but only you would be able to decide what's likely to have a market where you are. Maybe offer everything and see what sticks?
You could recommend laptops (I like Lenovo and you can order those to spec - but would the average punter be able to make sensible choices about RAM, disk etc without wasting their money??) or whole systems...
People might want to know how they can backup stuff (like a little 100 quid NAS box in the corner automatically backing up their precious photos).
One thing: never undercharge...
And as someone else alluded to, there are small businesses that often get in a twist and are so completely clueless that anyone with some nous could make apoitive contribition.
And if you wnat a bit of advertising, you could get some magnetic signs made up for your car and leave it parked in the supermarket car park (I think Dave did something similar - at least with a van).
Have a rescue CDROM and USB key handy (see my blog on how to make a pretty nice Debian boot stick/CD:
http://squiddy.blog.dionic.net/2011/08/debirf-building-custom-debian - usb.html
or look at one of the many rescue-cds that are out there. The linux ones can be very useful - they can mount (V)FAT and NTFS filesystems to rescue data, there are tools to reset passwords and you will also want all the main manufacturers' hard disk test utilities (free) (eg Hitachi, Seagate, Western Digital, Samsumg) so you can check failing disks - also memtest86 (free) is the best RAM diagnostic available for dealing with PCs with "weird" problems. Some of the rescue CD images come with fairly upto date versions of those.
A swiss army knife USB+CD is invaluable.
I recommend this toolkit (I use it at work):
http://cpc.farnell.com/ck-tools/t4826d/ratchet-screwdriver-socket - set/dp/TL10952
That has most bits you're likely to need.
Having a USB hard disk too is handy in case you need to back up the data before attempting a difficult repair.
Some velcro on a roll is also handy for tidying cables. Small thing but can mark you out as a real pro and get more ord of mouth :)
Cheers,
Tim
--
Tim Watts

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Tim Watts wrote:

Now that's a whole new ball game. I've never been self-employed before but have often helped out friends and family and been rewarded with a few beers, but how on earth do you work out what you can charge when it's actually your job? I suppose some research into what other firms in the area are charging is the starting point.
I'm fairly confident in my ability to do the job but a businessman I am definitely not, and never wanted to be either.

Once again Tim, lots of good info so thanks again mate
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I would say that, given the overheads of travel etc the lowest that you can charge for 1 or 2 hours work is 20ph
I would also guess (BICBW) that the most a domestic household will pay for a trivial computer fix is 40 or 50 pounds.
tim
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On 01/09/2011 15:02, tim.... wrote:

I would suggest having a look at TMHs pricing scheme (everyone else seems to pinch it, so I am sure he won't mind another! ;-). It front end loads a little to allow for the difficulties of dealing with small jobs.

Depends on what the actual problem is I suppose - and also if there are parts to be replaced. A shagged motherboard can be a trivial fix, but will cost a good deal more all in...
Its often better to set out how you will charge up front certainly. Sometimes having a cutoff price is handy - say you will spend up to 50 of their money attempting a fix, and if its going to cost more you will tell them as soon as it becomes apparent and give them the option to give up at that point or change tactics.
--
Cheers,

John.

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On 01/09/11 19:06, John Rumm wrote:

Difference is that computer repairs are usually software rather than hardware: people can't really see what you are doing. Take a pile of flat sheets and turn it in to a wardrobe and people will be grateful; spend hours backing up, fixing, and restoring a PC and all that people see is something that is back to normal.
Quote a minimum price to look at the problem, and as you are doing a paid job rather than helping friends and family. Don't be afraid to say it is beyond economical repair rather than spending hours on a job. Especially if someone wails that they have lost all the work they failed to backup, ask how much it is worth not to have to do it again rather than spend hours recovering data that they could retype in half an hour.

--
djc


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On 01/09/2011 19:30, djc wrote:

Oh indeed. Not only that tell em you just solved a nasty race hazard problem with a nifty scheduling algorithm you designed and they will glaze over. Point at a few bits of timber you nailed together and they will say "oh you are clever!"

Yup... although oddly some businesses in particular will pay to fix something that is messed up, but not buy new even when the latter is cheaper.

Sometimes a genuine data loss is the only way they will finally understand the point about backups etc.
--
Cheers,

John.

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On 1 Sep,

Often a problem with local authorities too. 50 years ago we bought a hoover floor polisher in parts to polish a laboratory bench, as it would otherwise be a capital item requiring councillor's approval. Last year I bought swimming pool lane ropes in parts, as a "repair" as to us (the user) it was cheaper than new. To the council, it was more expensive, /and/ it took me several hours of my own time to assemble each one. To the supplier it was a bonus. So much for beaurocracy and outsourcing!
--
B Thumbs
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On 02/09/2011 00:52, snipped-for-privacy@privacy.net wrote:

I worked on contract for one firm where they agreed an hourly rate for hours supplied, but then put a "limit of liability" on the contract. A maximum spend figure designed to flag up to the more senior bits of the purchasing department when spend on a particular order was going to exceed pre agreed limits. Seemed simple enough. Apart from when you actually reached the limit due to doing far more hours than they anticipated, all they did was issue a new contract with a new limit since it was easier than the bureaucratic palaver of doing what the system actually expected them to do.
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Cheers,

John.

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For corporates you have to consider the tax situation
A repair is 100% deductible, a new item can only be re-claimed using the capital depreciation rules
tim
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tim.... wrote:

BUT you can reclaim the expense of the unit you replace: if its scrapped the value goes to zero. Whether its 5 year amortization is up or not.

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On 02/09/2011 20:13, tim.... wrote:

A new machine is 100% deductible in the sense the total cost comes out of pre-tax profits. The ongoing expense of the depreciation is then scheduled over time. So a repair will add not capital to asset value of the business, whereas a hardware purchase will. (many accountants will depreciate software purchases 100% on in the first year as well - arguing it has no resale value)
--
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John.

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On Thu, 01 Sep 2011 21:14:51 +0100, John Rumm

Difference between revenue and capital accounts. Many years ago I worked in a grain store bagging up 25 or 50kg sacks. There was a mini hoist to lift it to shoulder height, then you poped it on your shoulder and dropped it on a pallet. THe mini-hoist was hydraulic and leaked like ....ery. Plenty of fluid to fill it up was available to produce a brief respite. From the prices I was given, it was easy to work out that if you bought a new one, it would pay for itself in six months from the savings on hydraulic fluid. I was told I didn't understand accounting and company policy. They could buy any amount of the fluid through the revenue budget without authorisation (or question), but a new piece of kit was captial expenditure and needed loads of paperwork, committees and other authorising rubbish - so needless to say, the old one stayed and I left.
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On Thu, 1 Sep 2011 15:02:58 +0100, tim.... wrote:

before

with a

when

firms

Aye. One has to be competative but you also need to make a profit after taking into account all your overheads. Don't under estimate how much it costs to run a vehicle for example, reckon on 40p/mile to include depreciation and something put aside to replace it.

Of that order, look at TMH's website he charges a minimum fee that includes the first n hours and a hourly rate after that.

IIRC from the notice above the service desk in PC World their minimum is over 60.
--
Cheers
Dave.




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