Saving the world, one computer at a time.
It seems a scenario that’s too good to be true: your computer crashes, you pick up the phone and within the hour, help arrives. Geeks on Call is helping to make that scene a reality, with a tech-savvy mobile team that zips around the Washington area. Michael Vanderslice, vice president of operations, talks about the journey from non-profit administration to full-on geekhood.
How did Geeks on Call get started?
A few of our founders discovered it was difficult, if not impossible, to find someone who would come out to their home or small business to service their computers, so they started a company that would focus on the small business community and overlooked residential and home-based business market. After testing the concept for almost two years, a decision was made to franchise the concept.
How has the current economic climate affected the company?
It’s actually assisted in our growth. Many of our franchise owners are out-of-work technology workers. I hear the same story over and over from new franchisees, who tell me they decided to buy a franchise since they were sick of bouncing around from job to job only to be laid off again. Another result of the economic climate has been that more companies are outsourcing IT needs. Many small businesses find that they don’t need a full-time IT person which might cost them $45,000 a year in salaries and overhead when Geeks on Call can do the same thing for a fraction of the cost.
Do you notice any trends lately; certain kinds of calls that crop up more than others?
Virus issues and operating system errors are the most common break-and-fix type of calls, coupled with computer upgrades. The largest growth in call volume is in networking, however. Most small businesses and many residential customers now have networks. We’ve been working with many home-based businesses, homeowners and small businesses that have multiple computers and need a network setup or support. The availability of broadband connections and the need to share these connections, files, printers, and information has caused a boom for networks with 10 users or less.
You were the executive director of a non-profit before moving to Geeks on Call — how difficult was the transition?
The move from a non-profit to Geeks on Call was actually quite easy and was very much planned. I left the non-profit after seven years for a hiatus and to focus on developing a business plan for a computer support business. I’ve owned two businesses before and I knew there was a great need for this type of business. After doing some research and finalizing my plans, I had a chance meeting with the president of Geeks on Call, Walter Ewell. After meeting with him and so-founder Richard Cole a few times, I saw we had a great opportunity to meld our ideas together to build a great company with great service. The rest is history, with more to come.
What future directions do you see for the company?
Our goal in every market is to become the part-time IT department of small to medium-size businesses and continue to provide support for homeowners. As smart homes and other technologies evolve, we are positioned to support those trends. We have a great team working at our corporate office and in the field. People recognize the Geeks on Call name and it makes them smile. How can you not enjoy that?
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