This is a guest contribution from Garrett Tate of Don’t Panic IT Solutions, located in Fort Collins, CO
Hiring and Managing your Computer Repair Shop Employees
As a business owner since 2003, we have been through the ringer with employees. Sure, starting out, we were just doing all the computer repair and IT services work ourselves. I remember going into multiple businesses knowing that I was going to spend hour after hour simply setting up the servers and then the countless hours it was going to take to monitor and administer everything for that specific business. 16 hour days were the norm, I was tired, and I knew that I couldn’t sustain the long hours.
Fast forward 14 years, and we have been through 3 different storefronts, and have a very successful business. Looking back, there were the highs and lows, but every single long hour was worth it to build what we can now have. We are so proud to offer a valuable resource, whether that’s computer repair, managed it services, or just lending an ear to people who call in to help walk them through a simple issue.
What’s helped so much after the initial trials and tribulations are our coveted employees. We have been very fortunate to have many great employees, some who have stayed with us for many years. We have seen some employees that weren’t the greatest fits, and to be honest that was nobody’s fault but our own.
And that’s the reason why I’m writing this post. I want to help you, the computer repair shop owner, make sure that you have the resources to not only hire but manage the right people. If you can take one, or maybe all of the items listed below and apply them into your business, you will be on the winning side of things to come.
First, let’s talk about hiring:
- Hire based on Evidence. Not based on Enthusiasm. We took this piece of advice from Darren Hardy, and we wish we had made this the number one hiring thought right out of the gate! We hired one of our first employees because he was so happy, enthusiastic, and we thought he would draw customers in because of his charming personality. The problem was, he didn’t have the requisite skills to even send out emails, let alone work on computer. That hire didn’t last long, but we have gotten much better about making sure we read a resume and understand someone’s skills before pulling the trigger.
- Be Clear about what you want. As a hiring employer, we have to be incredibly crystal clear about what we are hiring for. If we need someone to be client facing and go into businesses to diagnose network problems, we have to make sure not only that they are pleasant to be around, but that they know how to look at a network and diagnose a problem. There are so many tools that we can use that will help us perform the network diagnostics, but if we hire someone that does not have that skill, they simply won’t last long. Make sure that wherever you post your hiring ad, you detail every single technical skill that your prospective employee must have, any soft skills that would be requirements, and discuss with your team anything that you may have left out.
- Ask your Advisors! I belong to a rotary club. You might have a few people you can trust either in a networking group, or, if you are really unsure, ask a trusted family member what they think your best hiring practices should be. You can run your interview questions by them, and ask them if they would recommend asking different questions or expounding on your current ones.
Now that you’ve got some great tips for hiring, here’s some tips for managing your employees:
- Make sure you put them in the best position to succeed. If your employees are better at repairing computers than speaking with customers, they might be better served being back in the shop working on motherboards. If you have an employee who is well spoken, smiles a lot, and gives a great handshake, maybe they can be in charge of your client interaction. If you are interchanging roles between two people who have different skills, and they are not a good fit for an alternative role, simply take them and put them in the best place where they can help you, and ultimately grow.
- Have weekly or monthly one-on-one meetings with your employees. Asking key questions about how they are feeling about working with or for you can work wonders with employees. They will not only feel like they are valued, but they won’t be afraid to speak with their boss – you, about problems when they come up. If you are offering a new server administration service, and one of your current employees is qualified to fill that role, you may be able to figure out that information through your weekly or monthly meetings.
- Compensate well. As the boss, you see the numbers for your computer repair business. You know how many clients you need to blow past your bottom line, and you know what your breakeven is. If and when you succeed, make sure that you give your guys in the shop a raise or a bonus. If they upsell a popular remote support service after they sell a PC, give them a little bonus for the improved performance. They will not only want to stay longer, but ask how they can sell more to earn more, which also benefits the business.
We have been fortunate to have some great employees stay around for a long time, and because of them, our computer repair and IT company has become a mainstay in Fort Collins.