- Comments: 3
- Written on: March 11th, 2011
This week Schrock Innovations launched a new commercial in Lincoln and Omaha promoting the PC Preventative Maintenance Checkup Sale that is running through March 20th at both Schrock Innovations’ locations.
In the commercial you will see a computer’s processor fan that is almost 50% constricted by dust.
While Schrock does a lot more than a physical cleaning during a Maintenance Checkup, there is no disputing that the 8 hours of work that goes into a checkup is worth the $29.99 sale price!
Contact Schrock Innovations today for more information about the sale.
- Comments: 6
- Written on: March 29th, 2010
This morning Schrock Innovations issued a press release about what the company is doing to help businesses use their websites to weather the Great Recession.
Here is the text of the release:
Schrock Bets on Lincoln’s Digital Recovery With Hire
With the prospect of a double-dip recession looming, Schrock Innovations is betting Lincoln’s businesses will turn to the web
Lincoln, NE, March 29, 2010: Although Lincoln’s economy is the nation’s second best for its size, that doesn’t mean local businesses are escaping the pinch of the Great Recession.
Schrock Innovations, a local Lincoln computer company, has hired Brian Augenstein to captain the company’s Web Development Division as demand for their local web-based services grow in the face of a recessionary business environment.
Thor Schrock owns Schrock Innovations and he believes that businesses are turning to the web because, when used properly, it is less expensive to generate leads, sales, and profits online. Schrock has been buying media in Lincoln for 11 years and he is seeing the signs of a business environment that is scared to take chances.
“When I can buy commercials during the NCAA Final Four for $10 per spot, that speaks toward the business climate,” Schrock said. “Couple advertising cuts with layoffs, outsourcing, and rising taxes and the result is a timid business environment that is fearful for the future.”
For what it would normally cost to run a single television commercial, Schrock Innovations is redesigning websites to make them more efficient at delivering information, generating leads, and bringing shoppers through the doors of Lincoln businesses.
“For many businesses, their website is an afterthought in the marketing budget. With marketing dollars becoming scarce, tweaking a company’s web presence is becoming more attractive because local businesses see immediate returns that go on over time without continued investment.”
Schrock points out that many businesses have all of the information they need right now to boost sales and profitability through their websites, but simply don’t know how to do it. Rather than designing a website for a client and walking away, Schrock Innovations helps its clients see the potential in the present and the future.
“In the past it was enough to know who your customers were,” Schrock said. “In today’s web world you need to know who they are, where they are coming from, how to reach them, and what they want. If you use your website to get that information, sales and profits are a natural conclusion.”
Schrock’s team of internet marketers and designers evaluate a company’s web presence based on three criteria. If a client is missing any of the three, Schrock shows them how to claim the business they are missing out on:
- You don’t know how many of your customers or clients come from your website. There are numerous free online tools that allow you to track how many customers search for you, find your website, and then what they look at before they leave.
- Your website has few visitors. Many of the websites designed between the late 1990’s and the mid 2000’s were designed as an online brochure rather than a marketing piece designed to attract visitors and convert them into paying customers. If you didn’t own the company, what is the #1 reason you would go to your website?
- Your website is not reflective of what you do. Companies are necessarily focused on the day-to-day activities of running a business. Over time, businesses can evolve to offer new products, services, and even change their look. Does your website represent where your brand is today, or where it was 5 years ago?
“If a company’s website has traffic, tracking, and conversion that means they are making money. A website is more than a billboard. It should work for your company day and night. If it is not, your business is missing an opportunity to make money in the toughest of economic times.”
- Comments: 12
- Written on: March 11th, 2010
I received an email a couple days ago from a woman who had seen me in Next Internet Millionaire and wanted some advice on starting her own home based internet business.
Like many online entrepreneurs she was looking into buying the packages and the programs that promise fast results. She wanted my advice on how to build a real online business that would make money.
I have purposely refrained from posting links to affiliate programs in this post or recommending specific products.
I am also withholding the emailer’s last name so she does not get deluged with offers from TONS of people out there with programs to offer.
With that said, if you genuinely want to help this person, make a comment below and let her know how to get in touch with you. Here is her email:
Hi There Thor,
I found you via multiple internet clicks that ultimately landed me on the Next Internet Millionaire.
I watched a little of one of the episodes and you seemed to me to be the most genuine of the lot. That’s all interesting but you’re probably wondering why I’m writing to you.
I’m not looking to recruit you into any screwball thing, I guess mostly I’m looking for some advise / insight. I have my own home based business and I see lots of internet marketing, attraction marketing, magnetic marketing programs online and they all say they are the best.
They all say they have the “secret”. In fact one of your fellow contestants on the show Steve Shuitt along with a guy named Ryan Dunn are selling a “MLM Biz Builder Course”.
Even the show you were on is selling (and I see posted on your blog a contest to win) “The Secret Classroom” program.
I have purchased some of Tim Sales products and on Facebook I see lots of MLM’ers promoting themselves as ‘experts’ but in reality most of them don’t know any more than I do.
I do like Tim Sales approach and his products but other than just being friendly with strangers I’m not sure of the best way to get people who are looking for and open to a real work from home business in front of my product/opportunity.
Essentially how to drive traffic to a website and if there really is a tried and true way to do it on a budget.
I appreciate your feedback and wish you well.
Lanelle -Last Name Withheld-
This is what I told her:
Thanks for your email. Your question sounds easy enough, and if there was an easy answer I would give it to you right here. Unfortunately there is not.
Sometimes people online get so focused on pushing traffic to a site that they are willing do do anything, pay anyone, and believe anything to make it happen.
Most of the programs you buy are simply study at home courses that package and present information that is freely available on the Internet anyway. Don’t get me wrong, these packages can greatly speed up the deployment of your product and even increase its chances of a successful launch, but they are not a silver bullet.
There are three things that every business needs – Time, Money, and Differentiation. If you have any 2 of these in great supply, starting your work-from-home business is a snap. If you don’t have time, you can use money to buy other people’s time. If you don’t have money, you can use your own time. If you have differentiation your product is better than all of its competitors and you have either the time or money to let others know about it.
What happens a lot of time is that people get off the Time, Money, Differentiation track and get focuses on buying tools that allow them to get more Time, Money, or Differentiation. Time and Money spent on tools directly takes away from time and money that can be spent promoting your product.
While many people don’t believe it, there is no silver bullet shortcut to getting traffic. It takes time, content, and sometimes money to get your message out there.
With that said, the situation most new online entrepreneurs find themselves in is that they have little or no money, need to make money quickly, and they have an untested or unknown product.
Since there is no silver bullet, the best thing you can do as an entrepreneur is arrange the circumstances to give you the best possible chances of success. There are no guarantees, and the odds are 75% against you – but you know that going into it.
Here are the steps that I would do to get a product up and running as quickly as possible with little or no money:
1. You must have a good product. No amount of traffic, money or time can make up for a flawed product. To be a good, your product must fulfill a gaping need that the public has – whether they know they have it or not. Start with a specific problem that your product will resolve and then focus everything around your product from your marketing, design, videos, audio clips, and imagery toward showing people how your product solves their problem. If you find that your product doesn’t really solve a problem, or its a stretch at best to say it does, save your time and look for another problem to solve.
2. Get something online. Anything. Content first, beauty last. Now that you have a product that solves a real problem, start getting ranked in the search results. Use video, audio, images, local business center listings, press releases, blog posts, tweets, facebook posts, MSN spaces blog posts – anything you can do to get your message and backlinks out there without spamming.
As time goes on your talents and abilities will increase with every post, and every video you upload. You will learn the lessons you could have bought in some of the products you have looked into in the school of hard knocks. As your skills increase, your ability to communicate how it solves the specific problem will increase as well.
Traffic is a function of time because the more content you create the more traffic you will get. As time passes, your older content will gain traction and you will begin to see exponential results. Most online entrepreneurs pump out the content and then fizzle out. Those who keep going are the ones who succeed.
3. Stay Open to Opportunity. Best laid plans rarely work. Businesses are all run by people, and people who run successful businesses adapt to changing circumstances. You could build a year of content only to find that search engines changed a math formula and now all of your content has disappeared from search results. Some people faced with this would quit. Others would look back on their old content, revise it, and re-purpose it into new applications.
Time is never wasted. Old spent time can be used again and again to get results in the present. You just have to be loose enough to realize that things are changing so you can get back on top of the game again – and continue solving problems.
4. Look for Force Multipliers. Never stop talking to other people – especially within your industry. The more you stay involved with others the more you will learn about what they need to make their own projects succeed. You may even find that you can provide a resource to them that they need to help reach their goals. Likewise, the odds they can help you are good as well. By working together you can use all of their old time to push your current efforts while leasing your old time to push theirs.
Imagine how much more quickly you would get your product off the ground if you had three friends who instantly would help you by giving you access to their old time?
I hope this helps in some small way. Good luck!
- Comments: 1
- Written on: October 24th, 2009
New York Times best selling author Chet Holmes is renowned for his business growth strategies. He’s perfected them over the past two decades, working with over 60 of the Fortune 500 and countless small to mid-sized companies and is now helping businesses of every kind and size implement these strategies to achieve breakthrough growth for themselves.
I am pleased to announce that the Computer Repair Business Weekly podcast has scheduled Chet Holmes to talk to our subscribers about the importance of a revenue model in your PC repair business. Chet will also talk about some of the methods he uses to transform average companies to award-winning powerhouse organizations.
The Computer Repair Business Weekly podcast will be featured on the topITshop.com website and will begin posting in December of 2009. Chet is a VERY busy man and is in high demand as a speaker and as a consultant. We are fortunate he found the time to spend with us and I can promise you this is a podcast you will not want to miss.
Follow topITshop on Twitter to receive a notification as soon as the podcast goes live!
- Comments: 2
- Written on: September 21st, 2009
Every day in the news you hear more bad news about the economy, but great news about your 401-k value. How does this contradiction translate into opportunity for your business?
You can hire the best talent available in the marketplace on a contract basis because people are out of work and they will be for some time.
If you hire clearly overqualified people, they will simply take your position until something better comes along.
Instead, hire the people you need on a contract basis. The differences between contract employees and regular employees are subtle (but important).
Most importantly it opens up a door of opportunity that can help your small business get the talent it needs to grow. Eventually you might grow to a point where you can permanently hire your contract help!
How can the stock market keep going up if the economy is tanking?
Remember that stock values are based on company profits and activities. The economy on the other hand, is primarily driven by individual consumers.
Companies can generate huge profits by reducing the number of people they employ, as long as they can manage to somehow continue delivering their products and services with their remaining workforce.
Experts often cite recessions as times when employee productivity goes through the roof. Employee productivity goes up because a company’s remaining staff must pick up the workload of the laid-off employees or face the chopping block themselves.
Fewer people doing more than ever is a recipe for business profits, and hence the stock market does well. On the other hand there are tons of highly trained and qualified people who are stuck on the sidelines polishing their resumes.
Turning on the 1099 Tap
With so many people out of work for such a long period of time, the small business owner has a unique opportunity to leverage talent they otherwise could not afford.
When you hire someone to help your company you can bring them on as an employee or you can hire them as a temporary contractor. There are certain advantages and disadvantages to each:
- Advantage – You control their every activity
- Advantage – You invest in their training and development to make them more productive
- Advantage – The employee relies on you as their main income source
- Disadvantage – You are responsible for benefits, including unemployment payments if things don’t work out
- Disadvantage – Over-qualified people might take your under-paying position to tide them over while their resume circulates in higher-paying circles
- Disadvantage – Employees come with HR nightmares like paid time off, sick days, maternity leave, office politics, and government compliance regulations
- Advantage – You tell them what needs to be accomplished, and they make it happen
- Advantage – Lack of a regimented management structure can sometimes lead to better results and new ideas
- Advantage – Contract employees are less expensive because you don’t have to worry about benefit packages, overtime, or payroll taxes
- Disadvantage – Contract employees are like for-hire mercenaries. They can work for anyone, including your competitors
- Disadvantage – Contract employees are typically less committed to big-picture corporate goals
- Disadvantage – You can’t control them. If you have control and direction of their activities you have to pay taxes on them as regular employees
Using Contractors to Grow
From time to time my company has used contractors as gateway labor when launching a new division, testing out a new product or service, or simply when we could not hire an employee at an agreeable rate.
Eventually, all contract relationships end – abruptly. Typically, the best you can hope for is a 30-day notice provision in your contract.
While that sounds better than a voluntary 2-weeks notice form a regular employee, it can be devastating to lose a key person in the infancy of a product.
Employees are typically more loyal to the corporate goals, so the odds of them seeing a project through to a transition point are typically better.
Once your product, division, or service is viable, transition your contractors to employee status, or replace them with qualified people. Whenever possible, have the new employees train under the contractor.
Opportunity is Everywhere – Even in Bad Times
No matter how you decide to find your people, know taht the “bad economy” has created a pool of very talented labor that can be a game-changer in your business strategy.
All you have to do is know how to tap it affordably and control its growth to cash in.
- Comments: 5
- Written on: August 28th, 2009
Most computer repair companies are started by technicians or IT professionals. They are usually confident in their technology skills, have experience serving customers for others, and believe they can earn a significant income if they were only working for themselves instead.
When an IT professional takes the entrepreneurial leap, the immediate focus usually lands on how to acquire clients, customers, or jobs.
As the newly-born entrepreneur sets out to build a business, he or she finds that for some reason they are having a tough time making ends meet even though they are working twice as hard as they did in their previous job.
That single misstep is why many IT professionals will fail to find success within the first year of their entrepreneurial venture and will be pressured back into servitude as an independent contractor or employee.
What good does it do to ferociously hunt new clients and customers if you are not able to have profitable interactions with them when you do find them?
Before you leave your job, before you invest the first dollar in your future, and before you even attempt to get your first client, you need a revenue model.
What is a Revenue Model?
Simply put, a revenue model is how you plan on making money by satisfying your clients’ needs.
Take a moment to think about the businesses you have interacted with today. Why did you buy what you bought?
Gas stations will offer inexpensive fountain drinks, hoping you will grab a bag of chips or a candy bar to go with it. McDonald’s asks you to try their latest sandwich for free with the purchase of fries and a drink in the hope your come back for more. Even my plumber was using a revenue model when he tried sold me a “hydro-scrub” of my sewer line for $50.
The point of a revenue model is to have a basket of products and services available that your customers might need, and then moving them through those products and services in a way that maximizes the profitability of each interaction with those customers.
Components of a Sales Model
Revenue models have 9 basic components. No matter what mix of products and services you keep in your basket, you need to know exactly what they are and how they interact with each other in your revenue model.
Your revenue model needs to:
- Have a client (A Customer Who Presents A Problem)
- Have a solution that resolves your client’s problem
- Bridge that Solution to Another Item in Your Basket of Products and Services
- Provide an Opportunity to Investigate for Further Up-Sell Opportunities
- Close the Sale With the Customer in a Compelling Way
- Back-sell With Customer to Reaffirm Their Decision
- Deliver the Products and Services that Were Promised
- Back-sell Again in Person to Prevent any Buyer’s Remorse Feelings
- Stand Behind Your Warranty With a SMILE if it is Called in
How to Build Your Revenue Model
Building a revenue model is not a daunting task. In recent years there has even been a counter-push against revenue models in light of hyper-successful companies like Google that did not have a revenue model when they started.
The truth is that for every Google there are hundreds of thousands of business failures that a good revenue model might have prevented.
It is easiest to think about your revenue model as the thread that links your products and services together. Just because you offer a Maintenance Checkup, or Anti-Virus software, or memory upgrades doesn’t mean that people will come to you looking for them.
You need to have a planned way to let your clients know what you have that they can use and give them compelling reasons why they should let you solve their problems.
Steps to creating your revenue model:
- List all of the products and services you offer. It might be easier to list each one on a note card so you can literally line them up in the order they might happen.
- Determine which of your products or services will satisfy the largest number of clients. I creat5ed the Maintenance Checkup because it has a little of everything. Every computer problem touches the Maintenance Checkup in some way. It was a great way for me to get my leads into my revenue model. This is called your gateway offering.
- Starting from your gateway offering, develop lines of reason – based on specific problems – that would lead you to recommend each of your other products or services under certain circumstances. For example, if you offer data recovery services, a customer complaining of a blue screen of death may be suffering from a failing hard drive. When this happens what options will your customer have?
- Take the model one step further into your product and service basket. Continuing from the example above, does that data recovery customer need a new hard drive? Did the hard drive die because it was being over-used for virtual memory because the computer does not have enough physical memory? Find one more thing that the customer needs (assuming they truly need anything additional) and figure out how you would offer it.
- Rehearse your pitch. Nothing sounds worse than a person who sounds like they don’t believe what they are saying or know what they are talking about. Find someone who won’t think you are crazy and role play. Ask your partner to challenge you. This is best done with a non-technician because that is who your customer will be.
- Make real-life adjustments. When you are implementing your revenue model there will be times when you have to make adjustments based on input from your client. For example, if your customer does not have $390, you are better off getting the $100 than having the customer just take the unit back home again. Use your model, and then back pedal if necessary. Never start with a rate lower than your model. People don’t buy what they can’t afford.
Up-Selling is Not Evil Unless You are Evil
Some technicians find the revenue model – or selling in general – to be distasteful. I even consulted with one business owner whose entire reason for going into business was because other repair shops i town were “always trying to sell something.”
A good revenue model does more than generate profits for the company that employs it. Businesses that are successful in the long-term rely on repeat customers and word of mouth.
A good revenue model is designed to extract as much profit from a customer interaction as possible while at the same time providing superior services that are deserving of a premium price.
Life Without a Sales Model
Consider for a moment how awful your experience as a consumer would be if the companies you visited today did not employ a good sales model.
If the gas station didn’t have the inexpensive fountain drinks, you may have never found what has become your favorite snack. If McDonald’s didn’t get you to try that new sandwich you might have eaten the same old thing every day. If my plumber didn’t sell me that hydro-scrub, the scent of old poop might be wafting up my drains right now.
Superior revenue models deliver good products and services at a price the customer is willing – and in most cases eager – to pay.
Failing to recognize the need for a systematized sales model is the single greatest factor in the failure of small businesses in general. Having a good revenue model will put you 10 steps ahead of most of the IT shops and consultants in your market. Ignore the need for a revenue model at your own peril.
- Comments: 3
- Written on: July 14th, 2009
A recession is a massive opportunity for a small business that is willing to take a few calculated risks for a big reward. While your competitors are petrified by fear – real or manufactured – about what the future holds, your business needs to seize the present. By moving aggressively with calculated marketing moves you can snatch customers and marketshare for your company while your competitors’ fears become their reality.
Over the past few months I have written about:
* Yellow Page Advertising Strategies for a Start-up Business
* Radio Advertising Strategies that Work Fast
* Why a Recession is the Best Time to Lead Your Industry
* How to Use Dunn & Bradstreet to Identify & Target Weak Competitors
I know these strategies work because I employ them in my computer repair company, Schrock Innovations. Schrock was started in 1999 and controls a commanding share of the Lincoln and Omaha computer repair marketplace. We have zero debt, great cash flow, and we are taking in an average of 162 new customers each and every month in 2009. We are GROWING in a recession.
- Comments: 1
- Written on: March 30th, 2009
A few months back I wrote a post about why a recession is the perfect opportunity to use the assets you have to position yourself against your small business competition. I also encouraged my readers to make a plan based on your businesses strengths and not the strengths of their competitors.
If you are successful in gaining market share during slow economic times, that market share is coming directly from your competitors.
There is no doubt that recessions can be stressful on businesses, and if you are soaking up market share form your competitors their ability to pay their bills on time will be effected.
- Comments: 3
- Written on: January 19th, 2009
Circuit City’s announcement that all of their remaining electronics retail stores are closing exposes a fundamental but often overlooked lesson that all small business owners need to know and understand.
Before reading on, ask yourself a simple questions – does my business respond to the actions of our competitors, or do we make our competitors respond to us?
Best Buy’s Changing Plans – Background
A massive Q3 2008 downturn in Best Buy’s sales forced electronics retail giant to reassess their plans of placing new stores within 5 miles of Circuit City locations in an effort to grab more market share from their rivals.
Best Buy was aggressively working to choke off competition from Circuit City by saturating only the markets where Circuit City had a retail presence.