January 2007

Fast -Teks...Before You Throw Your Computer in the Lagoon

Author: Paul deVere

If you haven’t noticed, the digital age is upon us. From South Beach to Sun City, sophisticated computer systems are as common as coffee makers—which makes Shireen Place very happy. As owner of the Fast-teks franchise for southern Beaufort County, an onsite computer services company, she knows that computer-related problems are just as common. And that is definitely good for her business. Fast-teks is who you call before you impulsively throw your computer into the nearest lagoon.

Place, who had prior experiences with franchises, wanted to find something that would fit the Hilton Head market. After six months of intense study, she chose Fast-teks in November, 2005. “It fits,” Place said. “It’s working very well.” Other than Hilton Head and Bluffton, her technicians go as far as Callawassee Island to the north and Hardeeville to the west

While her company has office clients, Place estimates that about 75 percent of her business is residential. “People love it when we come to their homes. We’re fully insured; all our technicians have background checks, and all are A+ certified.” she said. “Fifty percent of our customers are either repeats or referrals.”

“The most common problems we see are viruses and spy ware,” she continued. “They create all sorts of havoc on computers. After we clean it out, we teach people how to maintain their computer so it won’t happen again.” Fast-teks also repairs hardware and software problems on PC-based computers in the home. They do not service Mac-based machines.

Another area of interest to her customers is going wireless and setting up home networks. According to Place, because so many people in the area have home offices and multiple computers at home, wireless systems have been extremely popular.

While Fast-teks keeps franchise owners and technicians on the cutting edge of technology through ongoing training, one of the more exciting developments has been its partnering with “Dr. Backup,” a service company that automatically backs up computer systems via the Internet. “I tried it for a month with QuickBooks. You just walk away from your computer in the evening, and next morning they send you a little e-mail saying ‘we took care of this and that.’ It’s wonderful. No more ‘click here’ and ‘save this’ sort of thing,” said Place.

But Fast-teks isn’t just about repair and maintenance, it is also about training. Fast-teks technicians also teach people how to operate a computer and run various programs. “Whether you’re a beginner or opening a new business and don’t know how to use a program like QuickBooks, we’ll train,” Place said. The company sells training in three hour blocks which can be divided up into one hour segments. “We get people who are new and just got a computer. Maybe they know how to send e-mail, but that’s about it. Then they get stuck and they get frustrated, so they say, ‘Come help!’ and we do that, too,” Plate explained.

The company also offers website development, technology consulting and online support. With over 80 franchise owners throughout the U.S., Fast-teks was created as an offshoot of Club Z, the largest one-on-one tutoring program in the country. “The computer side just came about naturally,” Plate said.

Plate is also pleased with being a Diamond Club business partner. “I had a gentleman, just a couple of weeks ago, who very pointedly asked, ‘I get my discount, don’t I?’ I had to laugh and reassure him he sure did.”

For more information about Fast-teks, visit www.fastteks.com or call 843-682-4744.

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