Yeah, I have mixed opinions about businesses that service the lower end of society. They definitely seem predatory but would rather have it this way than the taxpayers footing the bill for free telephones and cars. It frustrates me to no end when I deal with a person giving me the “poor me” talk looking for a pity party and they are driving a nicer car and have the latest iPhone.
I service computers for a living and it became pretty obvious early on that this demographic wasn’t exactly going to be my focus. They want their stuff fixed NOW but want to pay it off over a period of time, often several months. That would be fine with me but I would have to charge a lot for the service of accepting many small payments vs. one large one. I am mobile and onsite with my services. The cost in time for me to drive around and collect payments would eat me alive. The other problem is that they don’t want to wait to get their stuff back. They want is ASAP. Again, it isn’t worth it because the majority of them don’t intend to ever pay me back. I did this once early on and it made me nervous. The person actually paid! The next one didn’t and that was the end of that.
I basically came to the conclusion that the only way to make any money of this type would be to seriously overcharge them. Instead I chose to avoid the stress and drama of dealing with them and focus on more affluent customers. I advertise on talk radio and such. One of the stations plays Dave Ramsey.
Someone once told me that I should charge a premium for commercial customers vs. residential customers. I told them that this was the wrong way to do it. The commercial customers pay without a peep while residential customers are the ones that will try to nickel and dime you to death so if anything, I would charge them MORE. Something else I figured out is to never do “fixed bid” jobs. That is because you will get stuck for an entire day doing work that should have taken an hour because the customer insists on repairing junk that needs to be replaced or isn’t ready for me. For example, I spent hours moving furniture once for a job that wasn’t worth it. Had I not driven over an hour one way, I would have turned around and left. I should have done that anyway looking back. They have no incentive to streamline the job on their end so end up wasting a bunch of my time. All jobs are now charged by the hour. I will tell the person within 10 minutes of arriving if their equipment is worth fixing or not. It is up to them to decide to replace or fix it at that point. I had one of these just the other day. I kept telling her this computer was over 10 years old and that it wasn’t worth fixing. She insisted on fixing it. We were about 3 hours in and she asked how it was going. I told her that I was making some progress but the unit was so incredibly slow that she had better make a bed for me that night! It was only like 11AM so at that point she finally got the message. We went to the store and got a replacement unit.
I am sure it is this way with cars as well. People with an old beatup junker don’t want to pay as much as it would cost to service a new car. The problem is that the old car may be a basket case from owner attempted repairs and bolts, etc. are rusted, broken, and such. The old car actually COSTS more to work in in mechanic’s time…