Thinking of opening a custom pc & parts store

Hello, I am looking for advice/feedback on the possibility of opening a small computer shop that builds custom PCs and sells parts, along with providing limited services initially (more extensive service offerings down the line). There are no competing stores to speak of in my surrounding area, although I do have a Micro Center and several Best Buys nearby (within 30 minutes travel time). I realize that there is no way I can compete with Micro Center on parts prices and selection, but I feel my marketing idea just might be enough of a selling point to allow me to make a go of it. As far as Best Buy.....everyone knows they are a joke, I can easily beat any price they have and still make a profit.

Now to the crux of the matter, my marketing idea (main selling point if you will): I am proposing to do in-house warranty coverage and guarantees. In other words, no more packing and shipping the defective part/machine back to the dealer/manufacturer and waiting forever to get the replacement/repaired unit back, I intend to do immediate replacement of defective parts or same day/next day repair of any computer I build. I would then do the RMA process myself and when the replacement is returned, it will go into my "refurbished stock" unless I wind up getting a new replacement (lol). That way, I have the hassle of the RMA process, not my customers.

I have not set my guarantee/warranty plan in stone, but I was thinking that on any pc I build, any first year failure would be replaced with a new component, second year replacement from refurbished stock. Additional years of extended warranty service could be bought. I am also considering applying this guarantee to any component I sell.

My question is, would this be feasible in your opinion? Would it be a good enough reason to entice consumers to buy from me, although I would not necessarily have the lowest prices? Also, I realize that hardware sales is a risky proposition as far as making money goes. In all liklihood, to be profittable, I will need to generate the majority of my profit from the sale of services and extended warranties. Also, I will only be carrying mid to upper echelon parts from reputable manufacturers with a proven track record for dependabilty and RMA.

Additionally, what other things might I do to entice customers? I know many of you are regulars and very knowledgeable concerning many aspects of the computer market.

Many thanks to those that choose to reply! I look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions!
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  1. Firstly, I have to say I know nothing about the American market place so I can't comment specifically on your business model. That said, so long as you don't overstretch or mortgage to much of the value of your home, go for it. Service is king in my country and although I could make more in my PC fixing business, I prefer to give a better service and that results in advertising cost saving because so much new business comes my way by word of mouth.

    If you do the same, you'll do well but I have to wonder how many people want custom builds that they can't put together themselves. Over here in the UK, I can't compete with the big boys on new builds of standard systems and I simply don't get asked for special gaming rigs because those folks want to be in control of thteir own build.

    Good luck in whatever you decide. I notice your age and can only say it's a good time to start something new.

  2. Ads for that site have shown up here before and been slated or removed for failing to declare a proper company name or to show a VAT registration number. Anyway - the OP of this thread is in the States where prices are usually half those in the UK.

  3. i realize this is a month late... but for one starting a business a little advice late is better than none at all!

    i do like the concept of you taking care of any and all rma but remember to not overstep your bounds. i would match this "rma service" to whateve the factory warranty is unless you are fully prepared to handle any possible issues a warranty extension might cause.

    for example lets say you built 100 systems, 50 of which used ABC hard drive which comes with a 1 year warranty. you sold 50 "extra year warranties" and the drives are found out to be lemons. you just might end up paying for new drives out of your own pocket unless you have a clause in your warranty which limits replacement.

    the average buyer respects real service from professionals who know what they are talking about. so called geeks at best buy are not very knowledgeable and always recommend the high priced items to increase their commission. what the end user expects is to be given a system that meets their needs and budget.

    you might want to have a few prebuilt systems to choose from in your small store that are hand picked for reliable components. subtle details like pre-activating windows, adding firefox or chrome, adding a free virus scanner and malware scanner and the little details can go a long way in impressing a user.

    perhaps having a once a month "how to use windows version ____" that your customers can attend once when they buy a pc from you. go over all the basics of windows, the internet and common applications such as office. a few hours of your time could greatly impress the computer illiterate.

    you might also consider offering an assembly service or a parts ordering service where someone wanting a custom computer that knows what they want but is afraid to build the system can bring you the parts or give you the parts list and have you build the system with a small fee attached for the assembly. you could then assemble the system and set it up like i stated above for the end user. i've seen quite a few people posting on here looking for an "assembler" since they wanted to buy the parts but did not think themselves capable of putting it all together (in case there were issues).

    just an idea....remember dont try to compete with the big boys. give the customer what the big stores lack which is service.
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