What It's Like to Own a Computer Repair Franchise
This dependable duo is on hand when technology gives you a hard time.
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As owners of a Computer Troubleshooters USA franchise, John EnotSr. and Sandy Schaap's days are filled with computer-relatedrescue missions. Attending to technical matters including computerrepairs, upgrades, Web site design and IT consulting, they work onlocation and don't leave or charge for a job until the problemhas been fixed. But their lives haven't always been devoted tosaving distressed computer users.
Both Schaap, 57, and Enot, 62, spent the majority of theircareers in the automotive industry prior to becoming franchisees.When Schaap was asked to retire from his postion as CIO forToyota's technical R&D center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, hewent in search of another job. He came across an article aboutComputer Troubleshooters when his wife was having computer problemsand recognized it not only as a solution to his wife'stechnical troubles, but also as a solution to his own dilemma. Hestarted researching the franchise and approached Enot, his friendof 20 years, about going into business with him.
Enot had retired from his job as a plant safety director at GMand had to weigh the pros and cons of going back to work beforedeciding to give the franchise a try. "I had to think aboutwhether I wanted to get busy again, to make that type ofcommitment," says Enot. "I figured I'd give it a goodfour or five years."
The pair purchased the Northville/Novi, Michigan, territory inJanuary 2003 for $10,000 and immediately got off to a runningstart, completing both their business and advertising models beforethe franchisor's two-day training had even begun. They alsobuilt their client base early, attracting 30 to 40 percent of theirinitial customers by joining their local Business NetworkInternational chapter. By March, they had recouped their initialinvestment and were feeling confident enough to purchase a secondterritory. "Suffer the pain and anguish, but write a businessplan," advises Schaap. "Without it, you'll never knowif your business is growing or shrinking, because you'll havenothing to measure it by."
While Computer Troubleshooters franchisees are expected to betechnically proficient, they're not required to have anyspecial certifications or degrees. Schaap and Enot appreciate theirfranchisor's support system and turn to their regional directorfor technical support. They also regularly access ComputerTroubleshooters' 24-hour, worldwide forum to seek assistance ontechnical matters from other franchisees. "We have yet to findourselves [out] on a limb," says Enot.
The partners project sales to reach $180,000 in 2004. Inaddition to enjoying the financial rewards, Schaap is happy just tobe out of the corporate world. "I was working 15 hours a dayin corporate technology, getting my brains beat out for someoneelse," he says. "Now I'm still working 15 hours aday, but it's because I want to. And no one is beating mybrains out."