Where Do I Go From Here?

One of the services I have in mind is to make housecalls for computer problems and support. I learned that it’s bad to go out of your geographic comfort zone to go on-site, unless it’s well worthwhile. While living in Quincy and working in Easton, I did work for a client in Fall River, all of which I have labeled on one of the maps below to give a visual of what that means. While living in Stoughton and working in Easton, I did work for a client in Quincy, which had pretty much ended by the time I moved to Middleboro. The earliest work I did for the Quincy client involved driving to a temporary office in Framingham.

I’ve been agonizing, probably too much, as it will change, and it will be dependent on how much work I get, who I get for help, and where they are located, over what my coverage area should be. Originally I thought I would have help in West Bridgewater and Hanson. I figured a large radius from my location, and a smaller one from those. West Bridgewater will be available on the side, off-hours, if needed. Hanson will only be available for now if I need an extra body with me and provide transport. I also have possible on the side help in Abington, which is not labeled but is the town immediately north of Whitman.

If I tighten it too much, it limits the target market and potential work. If I go too far out, it gives too much potential for worthless work. Suppose the minimum fee is an hour. If I drive half an hour each way and spend 20 minutes on a problem, I’ve generated an hour of revenue for 80 minutes. I could be happier, but hey. The customer has paid an hour for, from their perspective, 20 minutes. How can they possibly be thrilled about that? Worse for me, if I spend an hour, it’s two for one. It gets better after that, so a lot depends on what the average visit runs, and whether people will actually pay that.

It’s a conundrum. Obviously I can hold myself willing to travel anywhere… for a price merely to show up. Or for jobs inherently large enough to justify the travel.

I have to start somewhere. My theory of business as a constant beta applies here, in that if the coverage area isn’t working, it can change later. So what did I come up with? Here’s the map. The green towns are considered core territory; especially close. Yellow is the next tier. Blue is the final tier. Plymouth barely made it. Brockton barely missed. Click the map to open a larger version you can see better, in which the names are visible.

What I ended up doing was using Google Earth to determine the distance in minutes and miles to the town center of each prospective town. The results were sometimes surprising. I then applied dollar figured per mile and per minute, ordering them by the result. Every town that fell within a half hour of dollar value at the rate I used was included, and the others were not. The downfall is that the town center and the far points in the town can be worlds apart. Thus my concern about including Plymouth. At the same time, you can see how the locations of highways influenced the shape of the map. Highways are why Mansfield is there, but Hanson, two towns away, to my surprise is not. Below is a map that compares what’s above with what I expected or perhaps wanted to include, and what I expected or wanted to exclude. Again with the click for larger, though the need is less because this one lacks names.

The towns in gray; Brockton, Whitman, Hanson, and Pembroke, are towns I had thought I would include. Pembroke is the one I was shakiest about.

The towns that are a grayed shade of their original blue or yellow are ones I thought might be excluded; Freetown, Norton, Mansfield, Kingston, Plymouth and Wareham. Wareham might seem a little odd, but Middleboro is huge and I am in the tope third of the town. Wareham is only an adjoining town because it briefly touches Middleboro at its most northern and western point. Yet Google Earth liked it better than Rochester.

I think I’m going to run with this coverage area, shown on the map and listed below in order of score:

West Bridgewater
East Bridgewater

I’ll make exceptions for certain people (employees of current and past clients who will be a big focus of my word of mouth campaign) or larger jobs, but otherwise I think I’m going to have to concentrate on whatever I can get that doesn’t depend on being there. Which is a whole other story; figuring out what will sell for long distance help and marketing it.