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Can anyone offer advice for starting a home computer repair/upgrade business?

I work as a Network Admin but my interest really has always been PCs.  I have recently built a website and put my name out there on Google and Yahoo for a computer repair business.  I kind of market it as a Geek Squad except better prices and service.

I am looking for ANY advice on getting some more business and how to go about getting my name out there.  I am doing it out of my house but have a real hard time giving out my home address for the couple of people that have wanted to drop off their computer.  Any suggestions?

I have also come across someone looking for a receipt or something when I take their computer (with good reason) but I don't really know what to give them.

Should I become and LLC?  

Is it just me or does anyone feel weird just going into random people's homes to fix their computer?  

These are just some of my questions but ANY advice would be appreciated.
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Well, getting your name out on the net for your area is good.

But you need to target your community directly - mailers - putting a flier on community bulletin boards such as at the grocery store - join the local chamber of commerce - door hangers - flier dropped off to local small businesses - that type of thing.

as far as reciepts go there are plenty of invoicing applications out there that will print receipts off for you, at point of contact and when they pay you.

as far as drop offs at your home go, thats he price of doing service work from home... maybe you could find a local shop, like a tv repair shop that will let people drop their comps off there for you, for a small fee, like 5 bucks a tower.

yes form an llc, its easy and cheap and protects your personal matters by separating the two. Plus if your llc'ed and working from home you can claim portions of your mortgage/rent as well as other expenses such as toilet paper etc. on your business taxes.

Please note: i am in no way a tax professional - you will need to consult one in order to find out what percentages and items you will be able to claim.
tchristmanAuthor Commented:
Wow!  Great info.  Thanks so much.

Where can I get these fliers/mailers printed?

As far as the invoicing applications go, do you recommend one?

I love your idea of asking a local business if I can have them as my drop off point for a fee.  I live in a suburb outside of Chicago so it is not very big at all.

Thank you also for the info on LLC.  I am not very established so far (only 4 customers from the website this month) but do you think it is still worth the LLC?
As far as fliers go design something yourself then take it to a kinkos or whatever and have them print out as many as you need.

As far as the drop off idea goes just remember that the place of business that the comps get dropped off at is also representative of your business.. make sure it looks professional.

I cant give any opinions on invoice software, havnt used any.

for receipt of the computer you could just lay something out in word.. make sure it has customer name, date, phone number, an area for computer description - be specific here - all drives etc.
and an area for them to describe the behavior - be specific her also, you dont want them dropping off a computer that doesnt boot then saying it did when you got it and you need to pay to fix it. also be sure to include a statement to the effect that any computers left or not paid for with in 60 days or so become your property... whether you choose to enforce that or not is up to you, but if you dont notify them of this your home  will quickly become a storage house for computers that you legally cant do anything with.

make sure you give what ever business is acting as a drop off point plenty of these sheets for the customer to fill out.. you get one and they get one.

As far as llc goes,, its really up to you - just make sure that you let people know that theres no guarantee of services... theres is no way to guarantee that you will be able to recover the data on a hard drive that their dog has been using as a chew toy, theres no guarantee you will be able to get a cd rom drive that the lady has been using the tray of as an ashtray holder (happened to me) working,, etc.
and do not forget the disclaimer on your Bills, or receipts !
also - print out the warranty you give on your repair in BIG sized lettering - a good practice is 6 months around here
and have a good insurance !

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