Magazine article Marketing

One to Watch: Geeks on Wheels

Magazine article Marketing

One to Watch: Geeks on Wheels

Article excerpt

PCs pack up all too often, providing this computer repair brand with a fast-growing customer base.

Johan Rall, a Geeks on Wheels computer technician, arrives at a flat overlooking Brighton harbour to call on a young entrepreneur who is in turmoil, having lost several days worth of business somewhere in the bowels of his hard drive.

The fault is diagnosed within minutes and explained in plain English.

The customer is reassured, advised on the repair options and likely costs, and left to make up his mind without being subjected to a sales pitch.

Rall hops into his branded Nissan, which sports the simplest of taglines, 'We fix computers', and returns to base, a garage unit in the Bell Tower industrial estate in Brighton. There, Jamie Shaw, who founded Geeks less than two years ago, is planning a controlled expansion.

The Brighton-based operation has since set up in London, where growth has been such that Geeks is to open a workshop on Baker Street this week.

A nationwide roll-out is planned to take place within the next 18 months.

The company offers a straight-forward no-fix, no-fee service. Call-outs cost pounds 60 an hour and, if the computer is taken to the workshop to be fixed, the customer pays a flat fee of pounds 250. The company also offers a passport scheme for firms that want IT support but are unable to afford full-time technology staff. This enables clients to purchase 10 call-outs at a reduced rate. Now bigger customers, such as betting company Sporting Index, are coming on board.

Although Shaw, a former computer programmer, is optimistic, he does not allow himself to get carried away. 'I'm aware of trying to grow too fast,' he says. 'If that happens, your customer service suffers and the whole thing can collapse.' These days, Shaw concentrates on generating new business, but will fix computers if the repair team is stretched.

When the company started out, Shaw and director Michael Scates promoted their service to individuals and small businesses by delivering flyers by hand. Geeks has since embraced many marketing techniques. The first port of call was Yellow Pages, which has had mixed results. Encouraged by the droves of new customers in the Brighton area, the company also paid for advertising to run in the Crawley edition of the directory. …

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