What were you doing in your college dorm? Bryan Ward and his brother were laying the foundation for Friendly Computers, a highly successful computer repair franchise.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
My family and I founded Friendly Computers in 1992. We are now the largest on-site and retail computer repair franchise in the country. We provide quick, affordable, and no-hassle computer repair services. In addition to repairing, maintaining and upgrading computer systems, the acquisition of Computer Renaissance better equipped Friendly Computers to offer new, refurbished, and custom-built computers.
We offer on-site help with any computer need. No problem is too big or too small.
Our certified professionals are ready to help with anything, from a simple software installation to full network support.
When did you start the business?
My brother, Steve Ward, began to help his peers while studying at Brigham Young University. Over time, he realized that most people that came to him were unhappy with prior computer repair experiences and needed a more approachable and friendly service provider. In 1992, Steve founded Friendly Computers in our garage in Las Vegas and recruited family members to the company, Michael, Timothy, our father Verlan, and myself. The family eventually opened the first flagship store in Las Vegas, which still operates today.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
Our family has owned several businesses over the years, ranging from pet stores to restaurants. It is through Friendly Computers that we are able to connect with our customers as leaders in the service field.
Where did you get the startup money?
We started our business out of our garage. We kept a low budget, until we were able to put enough capital aside to purchase a retail store front. Now, through franchising, Friendly Computers has grown to be the country's largest computer retail and repair franchise with 131 retail locations in 39 states.
Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
We're changing the face of the computer industry from `geek' to `chic'. Consumers and businesses are fed up with long hold times, pricey service calls, deficient equipment and downright ineffective resolutions to computer problems that are typical of our big-box competitors. As our footprint expands across the United States, businesses and households in every corner of the country will have a better answer to their computer needs.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
Friendly Computers is the first company that we have owned and franchised, so we were limited on expectations. Through trial and error, we have learned that setting up our franchisees for success is the key component in positioning our company for strategic growth.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
There isn't one thing I would change about our business model. We have controlled a growth pattern that allows for careful yet timely decisions. A strategic expansion plan ensures that our franchisees are continuously tended to and our customers always come first.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
Friendly Computers is touted for reliable and "friendly" customer support. The company's emphasis will always stay true to its core brand differentiators, including customer service, value and community relations. Our franchise systems share the same core values and we regularly supply our franchisees with recipes in providing reliable, affordable, headache-free computer service.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
No matter what business you plan to start, your focus should always be on the customers.
Wow! What a great family business. Thank you Bryan for sharing your story.