Shaun Minifie of The Computer Shop in Masterton says the trust a business wins through social media marketing will never replace that which emanates from a brick-and-mortar shop front.
Minifie set up his business after working for the franchise company Computer Troubleshooters.
He says his company now has a customer base of around 1500 to 2000, most being home and small business users.
“Today I’m building a new machine, fixing two old ones and dodging the rain,” he said.
The weather system causing the rain prevented him from seeing a Southern Lights display which was sparked by a solar storm, the sort of event that can cause computers to lose data, and a talking point he uses with customers on the importance backing up everything.
“At the very least, they should back up to an external hard drive," Minifie says. "You need to have two copies of everything. People often get an external drive and move everything across, and then say, 'I’ve got back up.' They don’t understand that if you have two physically separate copies, you haven’t got a back up."
He advises businesses using MYOB, for example, to use either Google Drive or Drop Box when their their back-up files are relatively small.
Introducing customers to cloud services without selling them something is a strategy that has long term advantages, Minifie contends.
“It’s not always about getting the most money you can out of them. It’s an investment," says Minifie. "If your customer knows you’re looking after them and you have their best interest at heart, they’re far more likely to stay with you.”
As a techie, Minifie is a big fan of Linux operating systems, especially Linux Mint, but what really keeps him busy is removing viruses from peoples’ computers. “Sometimes it seems no matter what precautions you take you’re still going to get them from time to time. Viruses and malware, they’re all mixed up together now.”
He says no two machines are the same even if they are the same make and model and have the same virus.
Minifie broke away from the Computer Troubleshooters to work independently and develop business relationships with partners that share a "similar vision" to his mantra of "service, plain and simple".
"All customers are individuals," he says. "Give them the service and the personality that makes them realise that you’re a person rather than just a business. That’s what people really want.
"People appreciate you taking five minutes out of your day to explain something to them in terms that they can understand rather than just saying bugger off and I’ll fix it, which is what a lot of people do.”
Despite his enthusiasm for the face-to-face experience, Minifie finds Facebook a useful tool for staying in touch with his customers.
“It supplements everything else," he says, adding that his Facebook presence is getting 'likes' slowly but surely.
"There’s more and more discussion going on, and I get private messages through it and I have had work come through it," he says. "Facebook is so ubiquitous that people are far more comfortable with it than anything else."
Minifie's life in Masterton is just how he likes it.
“I have a son, two daughters, a dog, three goldfish, and two cats," he says.
"And this is a great place to bring up a family. It’s a great place to be. There’s always stuff happening and the people are remarkably friendly, considering how jaded a lot of the rest of New Zealand is," he jokes.
Minifie says he may branch out one day from Masterton. “World domination is always on the books but the Wairarapa is a big place and there’s a lot to do here and I’d rather do it properly than grow too fast.”
Shaun says bricks and mortar are the future for his business. “People do want that service. It’s difficult to get that any other way. There’s a place for the online stuff but maybe I’m just old fashioned when it comes to business and how you treat people but bricks and mortar, having somewhere physical so people can come and see you and talk to you is a great way to work.”