The ramp-up and roll-out of Microsoft Windows Vista is around the corner. As small office, home office (SOHO) users and businesses face this new look, feel, and function set for their PCs they are also -- in record numbers -- relying on remote access service providers such as Rent-a-Geek.
These "geeks" from their own PCs can, with permission and only during a discrete session, enter a user's PC and fix it or maintain it. From fixing Windows 95 to tuning Vista, these remote access "geeks" are building large-scale business based on the power of such low-cost products and services as LogMeIn's Rescue and LogMeIn's IT Reach.
When PCs face trouble, or when users want their maintenance and malware protection automated, PC remediation companies are not just asking users to drop off the hardware in the next town -- the technicians can actually enter the PC remotely via the Internet and fix the problem at the users desk ... anywhere. All it takes is a phone and an Internet connection.
I recently produced a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast on remote PC remediation and maintenance services with Rent-a-Geek Founder and President Keith Schiehl. Here are some excerpts:
Our customers are in every state in the U.S. and every province in Canada, so North America. We have got Australia. We’ve got a little community in China, where it's all U.S. executives. They have their own little community over there to do business. So we have several clients there. And then also in Europe: in England and in Germany.
Actually many of our clients call us for on-site service because that’s all that they know. Then we have to educate them and say, “Hey, you know what? We are not in Illinois, but we can fix this right now. Do you want to try this and sit back and watch?" And they go, "okay." Then, we begin and they are just blown away that we can actually do that.
And really we consider ourselves as relationship counselors first, and technicians second -- and we mean that. Because the relationship between the end user and their technology can be as tenuous as any marital relationship. And that always comes down to communication, just understanding why the other person -- or computer, in this case -- is behaving that way, and that it's not personal. We can help you guys communicate better and help fix this. And sometimes it’s a case of helping to fix the user.
In the last two years we have grown at an average rate of 500 percent per year. It's been phenomenal, but really that’s just been off of referrals and people in our valley referring us to family and friends all across North America.
Beyond that, the opportunities here are astounding. Our target market, the people that we really serve, are the small-office, home-office (SOHO) end users. We have a very fiercely defined target market. These are the people we work with, and there's a total market of $30 billion right now for outsourced IT support. So, how much of that and how big we can go is simply a matter of how scalable we make our operation. And that’s a whole other story. We’ve got a business model and plan in place to address that.
Our guys are actually trained to actively listen first, before they formulate a response, to ask the right questions and then look for that opportunity -- to really make someone’s day. Because if they can do that everyday, for 365 days a year, times the number of technicians, times the number of years we are in business, then we can create a massive change out there in tech support.
Before LogMeIn Rescue came about we had for years used things like PCAnywhere. It almost required a technician on-site to set up the software, to do a remote session. But after that we used another product that came out a couple of years prior. But the problem with that one was that it was at the price of about $450 per user-license, and you’re only enabled to do one session per license at any given time.
So, we used that for two years, but every month when we paid for it we just sat there shaking our heads saying, “There’s got to be a better way.” And then when LogMeIn’s product came out, when Rescue came out, they were offering it as a free trial. So there was absolutely no commitment. But it was $99 per month thereafter, if you chose to keep it. Moreover, you could do up to 10 simultaneous sessions with the LogMeIn product as opposed to the one with the $450 product.
So, for us, we immediately downloaded it onto five machines in the shop and began generating revenue. And at that point there was just no turning back. In fact, we felt so bad about generating revenue on a free trial that we signed up right away.
By the way, there's a promotion available in conjunction with the podcast. For an instant trial of LogMeIn Rescue, the solution Rent-A-Geek relies on for its highly successful remote support business, visit www.LogMeInRescue.com/podcast. Within five minutes of signing up, you can conduct your first remote support session. And, through this special link, you’ll receive an automatic three-week trial (a full week longer than the standard trial). Get your trial going at www.LogMeInRescue.com/podcast.