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Custom PC builder by profession?

The_Ish

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#1

Fourstaff

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#2
I think Tigr does it. You can certainly do it as a part time job, but for a full time job I think its a bit harder, given the relative cheapness of prebuilts and the people who wants a powerful computer will do it themselves anyway.
 

cadaveca

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#3
Darth Beavis has been making many builds, cases for like nVidia and such for trade shows.


There are a few guys around that do it successfully.
 
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#4
Yup, TIGR does it and seems to be quite good at it. You have to be very heavily customer focussed, and you have to remember that people who don't want to put a rig together themselves will want warranty. Lots of warranty will swing the deal a lot of the time.

IIRC Tigr offers an extra years warranty just for leaving feedback. Customer focus is the key IMO.

Since Tigr isn't allowed to link to his site (advertising) I'll do it :p

http://www.tigrcs.com/h.html

Reviews:

http://www.merchantcircle.com/business/TIGR.Computer.Services.507-430-2524
 

The_Ish

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#5
Thats awesome :d
 

Fourstaff

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#6
Fuuuuuu, went to merchants and accidentally clicked 4stars for no apparent reason. He needs an apology. I blame Scam for causing this.

Edit: Be careful when you visit the site in case you click on the wrong rating like me.
 
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#7
Fuuuuuu, went to merchants and accidentally clicked 4stars for no apparent reason. He needs an apology. I blame Scam for causing this.

Edit: Be careful when you visit the site in case you click on the wrong rating like me.
It doesn't count AFAIK. I just clicked 5 start and it didn't even recognise my click as a vote.
 

Fourstaff

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#8
It doesn't count AFAIK. I just clicked 5 start and it didn't even recognise my click as a vote.
Bulls**t, it was 45 ratings before I clicked, 46 after I clicked and now its 47.
 
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#9
Oh hi there guys. :laugh: Fourstaff, no apology needed. It's no big deal.

Ish, my company will have been open five years this November. I was twenty years old when I opened it and have learned a great deal since.

Firstly I learned that it's important to do what your clients do. If you're building a gaming computer, you should at very least be familiar with the games the client will play. If the client wants a video editing workstation, do some video editing (actually that's something I'm doing and learning more about right now). If the client needs an audio recording rig, get familiar with DAW hardware and software. If you do all the things your clients will do, you will gain invaluable insights into how to build better computers for them.

Secondly, be constantly learning. Keep up-to-date on the latest products and technology, and buy and test components all the time. Buy new hard drives, video cards, CPUs, cases, etc. when you can, then test them out as thoroughly as possible (and document your findings), then sell them. You'll usually have to sell at a loss, but this is another thing that will provide invaluable insights. Do not put faith in online product reviews; don't expect anyone to be objective.

Thirdly, be organized. I built 300 computers one year and at that rate you have got to have a system and infrastructure for organizing your work. This is essential if you don't want to screw up when you have multiple builds in different stages at any given time. It's not as big a deal if you're only doing one or two systems at a time, but you're not likely to earn a sustainable living on that alone.

Fourth and this will be the last point I'll for now unless someone requests more: find your niche, and don't try to cater to everybody. The big brands are going to be a better choice for some clients and you need not be afraid of that. In fact, if a potential client comes your way and you realize that they would be better off getting a Dell, tell them to get a Dell. That type of integrity will pay off in the long run. In the case of my business, I don't for example try to compete in the $450 computer market because I'd be deceiving people if I said I could build a better system in that price range than the mass producing big brands.

I could go on about things like support and warranty, marketing etc. But FYI I am shifting the focus of my business away from custom computers and more toward local computer services. I will continue to do both because each offers its own benefits. I find building a new system to be a more rewarding challenge, but servicing systems locally will, I think, be much more profitable once I get the new business web site I'm developing online, as it will have some—well this will sound arrogant but I've been working hard on it and am proud of it—innovative functionality for streamlining local services.

Sorry for writing a book but I do hope it is useful to you. Hopefully others will chime in with more insights.
 

Fourstaff

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#10
Oh hi there guys. :laugh: Fourstaff, no apology needed. It's no big deal.
Don't really want to spoil reputations, it means a lot in the interwebs :)
 
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#11
Don't really want to spoil reputations, it means a lot in the interwebs :)
Every few months I've been sending out an e-mail to several customers at a time requesting they leave a review there, and then I extend their computer warranty if they do. But I don't think that damn web site has brought me a single new customer yet. So I don't think it matters anyway. :laugh:

I'm not sure how the ratings work when you click on them. I'm afraid to click it in case they ban you or something like that for trying to rate your own business. But nobody has mentioned the ratings not working to me yet. Then again I think they were all too focused on getting a free warranty upgrade to pay much attention. xD
 
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#12
I did several years ago, back in the boutique heyday when $2K to $4K machines were common.

Over time, bigger, more legit looking companies started offering custom-ish high-end computers and more people were asking for custom boxes under $800. Could only say "Get a Dell" so many times. So that, along with everything 5-Star TIGR said is why I don't do it anymore (except for friends, family) :)
 

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#13

Paulieg

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#14
I think there are several of us who build customized systems for income in one way or another. I do it "on the side", buiding maybe 20-25 systems a year, as well as some computer repair work when I have the time. Now I don't do mods or water loops for clients, but I do build air cooled systems to spec. I will sit down with a customer and customize a system based on their needs. A huge selling point is that I offer solid service after the build, and that I always maximize their system within the customers budget. That being said, I wouldn't could on this as my primary source of income. I only make $75-$100 on each build I do. I've also run a couple of classes where I teach people to build their own systems. Their is a small office that I'll rent that's in the same building as my wife's office. I will charge $50 a person for 3 classes, in which time we complete a build together. This has been profitable at times, and it's a service no one else locally will provide.
 

The_Ish

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#15
How does one person offer service for what eventually be hundreds of computers? :s
 

Fourstaff

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Video Card(s) Mobility Radeon HD4570 512mb \\ Zotac 660Ti OC 2Gb
Storage 250Gb \\ Samsung 840 250Gb + Toshiba DT01ACA300 3Tb
Display(s) 15.6" 1366x768 \\ LG 22EA53VQ
Case Laptop Chassis \\ NZXT Phantom 410 Black/Orange
Power Supply Power Brick \\ Corsair CXM500w
#16
How does one person offer service for what eventually be hundreds of computers? :s
Quality build. As long as the parts you choose is good servicing will not be needed.
 
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#17
How does one person offer service for what eventually be hundreds of computers? :s
This is just a brief overview but it's a place to start:

  1. Identify and avoid customers who are likely to be more hassle than their money is worth. In general, people looking for rock-bottom deals will never be happy and will be the most incessant customers, so don't try to sell the cheapest crap on the market if you don't want to waste all your time giving support. And to people who haggle you over everything, you'd do well to recommend Dell.
  2. Smart component selection and good build quality. Both of these points warrant their own threads and neither should be ignored. Take into account the track record and warranty of components you are considering for a build. Build assuming the system will be used as a football by the shipping company and used in an environment without air conditioning or filtration, full of kids, pets, and smoke. (I ask every customer about the environment in which the system will be used; a system going to a smoker's non-air conditioned home with three Bernese Mountain Dogs in Oklahoma isn't going to be built the same way as one going to a climate controlled recording studio in NYC even if both systems will be used for the same things.)
  3. Testing. Another point that warrants its own topic and there are many topics around here about testing different components. My systems all have to pass 72 hours of stability testing before they go out the door. Any HDD shows a single S.M.A.R.T. error gets sent back (this is of the utmost importance). If that system is ever gonna break, you want it to be in your hands, not the customer's.
  4. Warranty. Carefully specify warranty period, inclusions and exclusions, restrictions and other details. My standard warranty is three years, upgradeable to six years. If you're not confident in the quality and longevity of your builds, you'll screw yourself over by offering an excessive warranty. If you are confident that 99% of your builds will last for three or six years, then offering long warranties can be a major selling point. Allocate a certain percentage of your earnings from each build into a "warranty fund" and use it to purchase replacement parts when a customer has a valid warranty claim. And if a customer has a non-valid claim (you did remember to exclude damage caused by "acts of God" from coverage in your warranty, right?), stand your ground and put that customer on your "too much hassle to be worth selling to" list for future reference.
  5. Limit the service and support you provide. You can't afford to spend all your time providing support for things that are beyond your control. Did the customer get his system infected with malware while browsing for porn? Does the customer want your help learning Excel since you included it with the system? Is the customer getting DirectX errors because they messed with something that was far beyond their understanding? As much as you may want to help, there is only so much time in the day and providing two hours of unpaid support for every hour of paid work you do will cripple you.