In the Money section of today’s Omaha World Herald Schrock Innovations was featured as a “business makeover”. After our recent improvements to our Lincoln Service Center, our Omaha location is paling in comparison and I know we need to do something about it.
We have a set of plans in place for it, but when Stephanie Monge offered me the opportunity to sit down with not just one, but a team of consultants about our plans I could not pass it up. Here is the article as it appeared in the paper today:
Thor Schrock started Schrock Innovations, a computer repair and Web site design business, in Lincoln in 1999.
He initiated a weekly radio show that provided troubleshooting advice to callers, and his business grew. Schrock wanted to replicate his business model in Omaha and opened an office here in 2003.
The business generated $125,000 in revenue within six months of opening but has been stagnant for the last few years, he said.
The Lincoln location, however, continues to thrive. It moved to new, larger quarters in February and has since hired four new computer technicians.
Schrock wondered how to re-establish his presence in the Omaha market and attract more customers to that location. The Omaha store doesn’t even have a sign, he said.
Cliff Mosteller, director of the Nebraska Business Development Center’s EntrepreneurShop in Omaha, said Schrock has a successful track record and a strong reputation in Lincoln. Schrock Innovations has been deemed the No. 1 independent computer repair company for several consecutive years, he said.
Mosteller said that he should leverage that success in reintroducing his business in Omaha.
Schrock has a knack for helping customers understand and work through their computer repairs, Mosteller said.
During difficult economic times it is important to use marketing techniques that have proved successful in the Lincoln market, Mosteller said. He said investing in new, unproven strategies might not be the best use of scarce marketing dollars.
Schrock shouldn’t target consumers for whom price is the most important factor, Mosteller said, because those people probably will shop at large retailers. The business’s target audience is those people willing to pay a little more for an extra level of service, he said.
Schrock should use marketing techniques that accentuate his passion for the business and his company pride. Mosteller’s suggestions include speaking engagements, use of social media and free workshops for children and senior citizens.
Such efforts would be more time intensive, Mosteller said, but would help build trust and rapport between the business and potential customers.
Mosteller said that Schrock has invested nearly $70,000 in equipment and training to establish the only certified computer data recovery facility within 300 miles of Omaha. The technical term for the facility is “class-100 data recovery cleanroom.”
Mosteller said Schrock could open a new market in retrieving sensitive data by registering with the NBDC Procurement Technical Assistance program. The program assists businesses in marketing to all levels of government and obtaining federal, state and local government contracts.
The company also should modify its Web site to make it easier to navigate, so customers can find information more quickly. Mosteller said the company should make forms available online for customers to schedule pickup or drop-off of their computers.
In addition, Mosteller said, Schrock Innovations should promote its ability to provide factory-authorized service on most brands of computers. That is another way to differentiate the business from the big computer stores that generally must ship damaged computers back to the factory.
Schrock has an excellent track record for customer service, which it should emphasize during a recession and in its efforts to revive the Omaha store, Mosteller said.
Mosteller said Schrock and his wife should alternate between the Omaha and Lincoln locations in order to spread their expertise beyond one location.
“His model has proven successful,” Mosteller said. “So stick with it.”
I really appreciated Cliff’s input, as well as the input from his team and we will be using some of the specific suggestions (that did not appear in the story) to regain a dominant foothold in the Omaha market.
Some of the specific items that Cliff suggested to us in our meeting were:
- Use marketing techniques that have proved successful in the Lincoln market.
- Promote No. 1 ranking in the “Best of Lincoln” annual survey in marketing materials.
- Reach out to the community by, for example, speaking to community groups and offering free computer workshops.
- Divide time between the Omaha and Lincoln locations.
- Make the Web site easier to navigate.
- Allow customers to schedule pickup and drop-off of their computers via the Web site.
- Market services of the data recovery cleanroom with local, state and federal governments.
- Promote the ability to provide factory-authorized service on almost every brand of computer.
- Tell new Omaha customers, “If you are not satisfied with our service, call Thor Schrock. If you are satisfied with our service, call a friend.”