topITshop.com Website Off to Coding

  • Comments: 0
  • Written on: September 28th, 2009

tis-logo-002If you follow my Tweets you might know about a project I am working on called topITship.com.

Schrock Innovations does a great job breaking technology down for our customers and clients into understandable and practical servings. One of the reasons Schrock has been so successful is that its somewhat rare to find a tech company that can do that.

What is topITshop.com?

The idea behind topITshop is to serve the other sode of the equation – other IT shops.

The website will feature video reviews that you can’t find anywhere else (not even cNet), informative articles about how to conduct business more efficiently, as well as marketing advice and proven-effective techniques for building a sustainable business.

Every year thousands of IT professionals ditch their employers to venture out on their own, and unfortunately most of them will fail. They typically fail because the owner is a technician, not a businessman.

When the new venture is created, the entrepreneur fails to realize that the skill set required to be a good technician is completely different than the skill set needed to build an effective revenue model and execute it.

topITshop.com is designed to help tech entrepreneurs and their employees bend the learning curve, survive the initial volitile start-up years, and prosper in an ethical way.

When Will it Launch?

We have the website designed, and have released it to our coders this week. I am anticipating a November / December launch, but there are a lot of loose ends that need to be wrapped up before that can happen.

Some of the content for the website includes:

  • A Weekly Podcast Called “Computer Repair Business Weekly”
  • Video Reviews of Components you will actually order (not cool stuff you can’t sell)
  • Marketing Advice Articles
  • Guest Contributors
  • ID10T Stories (shop owners you know that we all have these)
  • Tips on Refining Your Business Practices

Want to Be a Part?

If you are involved in the IT industry and believe you have content that would be valuable to others in the industry, we might be interested in talking with you.

If you are interested in becoming a contributor, email me your information, a description of what you believe you have to contribute, and what you want in return for your contribution.

This website is based on predictable, accurate, high-quality content, so make sure you bring your A-game!

What is a Revenue Model and
Why Your Business Will Fail Without One

  • 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:

  1. Have a client (A Customer Who Presents A Problem)
  2. Have a solution that resolves your client’s problem
  3. Bridge that Solution to Another Item in Your Basket of Products and Services
  4. Provide an Opportunity to Investigate for Further Up-Sell Opportunities
  5. Close the Sale With the Customer in a Compelling Way
  6. Back-sell With Customer to Reaffirm Their Decision
  7. Deliver the Products and Services that Were Promised
  8. Back-sell Again in Person to Prevent any Buyer’s Remorse Feelings
  9. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Lynn Hinderaker is the Change Agent Your Company Needs

  • Comments: 4
  • Written on: June 1st, 2009

If you have ever eaten at Taco Bell, you have this man to thank. Without Lynn Hinderaker it is very possible that Taco Bell would not exist and that the concept of the fast food “value menu” may never have seen the light of day.

In the 1980’s Taco Bell was a struggling subdivision of PepsiCo and was about to be closed down completely. One struggling franchise owner contacted Lynn and said he wanted to make his restaurant’s last stand on an idea that surrounded a value menu. His idea was that if customers could buy their food through inexpensive small transactions, they would buy more of it and profits would follow.

Lynn helped design the concept, the marketing pieces, and then shepherded the franchise owner through the process. Success soon followed and as the word spread, other franchise owners asked Lynn for his help.

Corporate Acquisition Group Issues Valuation Refund

  • Comments: 11
  • Written on: April 6th, 2009

I am leaving my listing with Corporate Acquisitions Group because I believe that as the economy improves, Ty and his team are the people I want brokering my business.

You should know that I have contacted every single person who has posted a comment on my blog with something nasty to say about Ty or his company. I asked all of them to provide me a copy of a letter, an email, even notes from a phone call to document their claims. Not a single person did.

It has also been popular to try and associate Ty with a group of people who are under an investigation by the Secret Service for perpetrating some kind of fraud with a service guarantee that is similar to the one Ty offers. I can now report to you from PERSONAL EXPERIENCE that Ty is an honest businessman and there is no credible connection between him and these other people that always seem to come up in the comments section.

If anything more develops, I will keep you posted. Also from this point I *will be comment scrubbing on this post*

Buy *EVERYTHING* Now Before Obama Inflation Hits

  • Comments: 2
  • Written on: March 17th, 2009

Some of my friends have questioned the wisdom of expanding Schrock Innovations and hiring so many new people when the news on the economy is so dire.

I am by nature an optimist – often to a fault. But I believe that this recession is going to be the single greatest thing to ever happen to my company and here is why.

Yellow Page Phone Book Advertising Strategies

  • Comments: 14
  • Written on: December 30th, 2008

Learn the Yellow Pages Phone Book advertising strategy that will get you the best deal, generate the best results, and will launch you past your competition.

Business Strategies for an Economic Downturn

  • Comments: 6
  • Written on: December 16th, 2008

There are some of my basic business principles that will help your business thrive in a bad economy. Never Stop Advertising. Don’t Become a Low Cost Leader…

Thor Schrock Interviewed on Podnutz

  • Comments: 1
  • Written on: May 4th, 2008

About a week or so ago I was interviewed for a podcast that is currently up on Podnutz.com. The interview was originally supposed to be about techie computer stuff, but it kind of morphed into an interview about starting a business and learning your marketplace.

iPhone Pros and Cons by a PC Guy

  • Comments: 11
  • Written on: March 10th, 2008

As was reinforced by the device in that associate’s hand, going with Apple is cool and all, but as soon as it comes to getting the money in the bank, even Apple relies on a PC 😉

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