Dannevirke-based Damian’s Computers and Security Services has seen strong growth in both hardware supply and the personal service to customers since its inception two years ago.
Its owner and operator, 33-year-old Damian Spittal, has 16 years experience in the IT industry with several of those years working with electronic security systems and monitored alarms.
Spittal also harbours a passion for classic computer games, with a penchant for modifying Sega gaming consoles. His YouTube videos have lead to a surprising amount of international work, modifying and fixing classic video games. But Spittal is now so swamped by the security, computer service and supply business that he’s scaling back the Sega repairs for a while.
He started the company two years ago with the realisation that his previous employer, with whom he was working on security systems and a retail computer business, was not doing very well. Spittal realised he could operate a much leaner structured business and create a profitable and sustainable business if he worked from home.
“People weren’t buying as much as they were, due to the recession and things, and of course your overheads never change," he explains. "I took the lead and went out on my own. My business is mostly mobile but I’ve got a workshop set up here, for any of the bigger jobs that need to come back, but most of the time I go and see people and do the work on site. It means I don’t have to rent a large store.”
Spittal says that fact has lead to a larger turnover of hardware than his previous company’s business. “Ultimately I actually sell more product now than I did when we had the store [which he says he would rather not name].
People like having variety and they like having a store to come in but a lot of the time you do get a lot of people who do just wander around. They don’t buy anything, they wanna just look and invariably you’d have everything that you could possibly think of in stock but you’d still not have the odd item that they wanted at the time.”
He says the personal service he offers now is much more targeted to what his customer wants and therefore his sales and knowledge skills are utilised to a much more effective degree. “These days I go and see people and if they’re looking at purchasing a laptop or a computer I talk to them about it and see what they want, then show them a few different items and deliver what they chose and get it set up.”
He says he finds sales easier without the browsing distractions of a retail site. “As odd as it sounds, when you have a retail store you’re constantly in competition with every other retail store. When you’re going to see people in person you have a point of difference straight away with that extra bit of service. You make life easier for people because they don’t have to go around and look at all the different models and get confused and walk out with not knowing what they really need.”
Spittal says it helps knowing the locals. Although not from Dannevirke he has lived in the town for 12 years and says the town is a relaxed place with great people. “People like things fairly easy here. They like it if you can make things as simple as possible because the IT industry has got so large now that most consumers are not actually sure what they need. So it’s about offering a point of difference with personal service.”
Spittal says the two businesses of alarm systems and computers are becoming highly integrated. “The alarm systems now have computer touch screens and work with most computer systems. But I find that with any small town these days you need to have your finger in more than one pie if you want to survive and succeed. Say if you only sold Apples. If nobody wants one, you’re not going to sell many.”
He says that providing cloud services or hosted services is not yet his aim, simply because his business is now growing so fast that he is currently considering taking on more staff. “It is a good thing but staff is always a scary thing. But where it goes I’m not entirely sure really. It seems to be proving very popular.”
With slim margins on hardware sales Spittal sees the future in providing the service to back up those sales rather than the sale itself. “The service part of my business keeps me very busy, and I’m kind of happy with what I’m doing, I find it all works.”
At the moment variety is the spice of life for Spittal. “It varies quite wildly. You’ll see one week where we’ll shift a lot of hardware, then other weeks I’ll just be busy fixing everything.”
Spittal says he is a big fan of Acer, citing its reliability and he prefers Cannon printers, with Paradox being his vendor of choice for alarm systems. “Laptops in particular I tend to sell Acer. I really like the Acer products, very reliable. At the end of the day the customer is the most important thing and how they feel about what they bought and are they happy with it, that’s the important thing. So you’ve always got to look at what you’re selling and try and pick the right item for them.”