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 Post subject: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: May 30th, 2018, 22:23 
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Joined: December 8th, 2010, 11:37
Posts: 560
Location: Ottawa, Canada
I just returned a 2TB My Passport drive to a customer who cancelled the recovery because the donor would have cost $310 CAD, delivered (plus HST). The labour would have been $500 and she was fine with that. What killed the deal was having to paying $310 that was non-refundable -- even if the recovery was unsuccessful. It's non-refundable because I can't afford to eat $310 for a donor that may not enable the data to be recovered, e.g., because of platter damage or some subtle incompatibility. Even if the donor is not damaged by their platters, I might never need that donor for another case. There's a limit to how much small DR shops can invest in a donor drive inventory. Today I compiled a list of local computer repair shops and I'll start calling them to see if any of them have drives they can donate. However, most are reluctant to provide donors because of privacy concerns/ legislation.

Finding affordable donors is a huge challenge. The cost of drives on eBay usually makes the recovery unfeasible because my customers are ordinary consumers, not businesses. Since I can't afford to pay for donated drives I may never use, I was thinking of offering a generous discount on any recoveries I do for whoever supplies donor drives. Perhaps I should charge the customer a modest amount for the donor and remit that amount to whoever provided that donor. I would at least get paid for my labour, rather than nothing because the eBay donor was so expensive they cancelled the recovery. That approach sounds like an administrative nightmare.

Another possibility is sharing the risk with the customer, e.g., if the donor does not enable the recovery or is destroyed during the recovery, the customer and I share the donor cost 50-50, or some other percentage. If I use my own drive as a donor, I don't currently charge for the donor. Perhaps I should charge a "shop fee" for wear and tear on my donors because one of these days they will be "worn out" from being used in so many swaps. If I don't have a matching donor and have to buy one, perhaps I should just charge a fixed fee of, say, $100 (regardless of the donor's cost to me) on the condition that I get to keep the donor. Sometimes the customer wants the donor because they paid for it. Saying it may not be reliable after being used in a head swap may sound like a con job.

Anyway, I need to find a solution to this problem.

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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: May 31st, 2018, 6:04 
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Joined: May 13th, 2010, 11:17
Posts: 2347
Location: Kuwait
I Advice to set a Rule here for your work & clients

Example here of what we do :

- Min. starting price 100$ for example, there is nothing we do for less than that
- We do not return defected/clients drives after delivering their data and if they needed it then extra charge will be applied (labour + heads we used depends on our stock)
(you will end up with good stock of donors after some time.

- Value your service and have some faith on what you do/offer

For me here, i don`t mind "Doing Nothing" for example >> Zero Incom./profit rather than doing what i do best for CHEAP PRICE.
I believe in myself and i do believe that am doing the best i could regardless of the client which will NEVER be satisfied no matter what you do for them.

.period

this is my point of view :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: May 31st, 2018, 8:39 
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Joined: December 8th, 2010, 11:37
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Location: Ottawa, Canada
Thanks for your thoughts, @eingstein9.

No disrespect intended but my prices are irrelevant to the question at hand, I think. Since my target market is ordinary consumers and SOHO users, I set prices they can afford. There are price ranges for each categoriy (logical, media, electronic, firmware and physical) so I can match price to the cause of failure and extent of the damage. By default, the price is at the high end of the range unless there is reason to do otherwise. But as I said, it's irrelevant to the main issue here.

I tell the customer that the patient drive is unreliable and cannot be trusted and that I could use it for parts, but have only twice stipulated that the price will be higher if they don't donate the patient. I will make it a policy as you recommended and state it clearly on my Prices page.

Again, thanks for your thoughts.

Larry

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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: May 31st, 2018, 8:44 
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Joined: December 19th, 2006, 8:49
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Or you can try to stay away from "clean room" work and do only firmware repair + imaging of drives with bad sectors + swapping PCBs.

If the client do insist in recovering data from a drive needing head swap you will then either outsource to someone with a well stablished business and a huge amount of donors in stock or you will charge the price of the donor drive and you will not have any reasonable way to avoid it unless as you stated you can find someone willing to provide drives to you at a cheap price but then again even if you ask all the local computer repair shops to send you drives you will never know that you do have a specific drive needed for a specific head swap.

Also some drives like DM series of Seagate, etc do suffer alot from head damage so even if you do get broken drives out of computer repair shops most likely the heads will be damaged as well (will be the cause for them to consider the drive broken and send it to you as donation) and you will not be able to use it anyway ...

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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: May 31st, 2018, 9:00 
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I don't think Larry, of all people, is going to stay away from Clean Room work... not with the lovingly crafted custom flow cab he has ;-)


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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: May 31st, 2018, 9:23 
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LarrySabo wrote:
Thanks for your thoughts, @eingstein9.

No disrespect intended but my prices are irrelevant to the question at hand, I think. Since my target market is ordinary consumers and SOHO users, I set prices they can afford. There are price ranges for each categoriy (logical, media, electronic, firmware and physical) so I can match price to the cause of failure and extent of the damage. By default, the price is at the high end of the range unless there is reason to do otherwise. But as I said, it's irrelevant to the main issue here.

I tell the customer that the patient drive is unreliable and cannot be trusted and that I could use it for parts, but have only twice stipulated that the price will be higher if they don't donate the patient. I will make it a policy as you recommended and state it clearly on my Prices page.

Again, thanks for your thoughts.


Well Larry, i think you did not get the point here,,

what i mean is this, in order to have good donors in your Lab you have to either BUY it or Get it from somewhere (friend maybe or THE SAME CLIENT)

FOR HIM (client) the hdd means nothing more than his Data inside (maybe for security reasons they prefer to have it back which is OK with me here as long as they pay for the labor work which is returning his defected heads back)

like this way, after some time you will have a good donors in hand (no need to buy unless you have to)

But we all have bad clients like you here and maybe more worst, you take the green light and proceed with the repair/recovery and at some point either the client never come to collect his data n pay or calls and says "you know what i`ll do it later maybe" and @ that time your are maybe at the final stage or already did your job.


Final Advice,

The more you do heads swap the more you will know that some RULES are not necessary (the answer to Buying from ebay/amazon @ high prices)

good luck

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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: May 31st, 2018, 9:26 
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Joined: December 8th, 2010, 11:37
Posts: 560
Location: Ottawa, Canada
LOL at HaQue, who is dead right. Physical repairs pay the bills. :)

I've just amended my prices with the following:
⁕ Prices assume the patient drive will be donated for recycling, otherwise add $50.
⁕ * If a donor drive is required for parts and we use one of our own, a charge of $50 applies
⁕ * If a donor needs to be ordered, your prior approval will be obtained and the cost will be non-refundable and payable in advance.

@Splidit, thanks for your thoughts. I'm well aware that drives donated by other shops could have head and or platter damage but the majority of them are perfectly good head stack donors. Some are perfectly good drives that were replaced with SSDs. Even if some heads are defective, some recoveries only require a good head or two, not all head to be good. Anyway, thanks again for your comments.

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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: May 31st, 2018, 10:11 
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Joined: April 3rd, 2011, 0:19
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Location: Providence, RI
LarrySabo wrote:
⁕ * If a donor drive is required for parts and we use one of our own, a charge of $50 applies


I think you should be billing full replacement cost for the donor even if it's one you have in-house. And, even if it's an in-house drive, that should still be billed upfront non-refundable since the drive will be ruined afterward (in all likelihood) and can't be sold later on. If I have a drive sitting here that will work, but it's going to cost me $200 to replace it because it's rare, then I'm billing the customer $200 for the drive. Otherwise, I'd be better off just selling the drive to another lab that needs it later on. The money I make on donors is what pays for my time spent wiping, testing and keeping inventory on thousands of drives.

I think you're giving away too much.

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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: May 31st, 2018, 10:43 
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I'm not doing clean room work but one thing that you can do is to charge for the entire donnor drive if you don't have a matching donnor and if you do have one on stock and you don't damage the heads in the recovery you can just charge way less (like very small fee for the use of your parts), keep the original heads on the drive to return to the client and keep the working heads for your next work. If you ruin the heads then you charge the client for those.

I do this for PCBs.

Let's say that someone asks me for do some data recovery and the PCB on the client drive is dead.

If i don't have the PCB on stock i do buy one from somewhere like eBay after client aproval and i place it on the client drive. If the drive can still be used with the new PCB the client pays for the PCB + work and gets the data recovered to another drive, etc but at the end the client will have a working drive + new PCB that he did pay for. Of course this wouldn't apply to drives that were opened inside clean room and have head stack replaced.

If i do have the PCB on my collection i tell the "client" that there are 2 options. If he does want a working drive then i do have to buy the PCB out of somewhere else and he have to pay more. If i use the PCB from my collection i will then recover the data to another drive and place the original PCB back on the drive. In this case the client pays recovery fee only and don't pay for the PCB but ends up with a dead drive.

Of course that we are talking about cases where the drive can be safely re-used and doesn't have bad sectors and is properly tested prior to return to the client. Example is on drives where the PCB is damaged because of external power supply problems but when the PCB is replaced the drive tests ok without a single bad sectors after several verify tests, etc ...

On case of Heads if you do already have the head stack in stock and if you don't damage that head stack on the specific work and if you can re-use it you can charge just a simbolic "fee" for the use of that part that you do already have.

But if you are going to BUY parts then it's fair that you charge that to the client even if at the end you keep the parts to use later.

You can do something like swapping back heads and return the drive in original condition and keep the good heads for your next job, that way the next client will be lucky and will have a cheaper recovery.

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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: May 31st, 2018, 12:02 
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Thanks for the additional comments. Donors are usually re-usable but the proposed $50 charge assumed it would need to be replaced after 3-4 uses. I'll increase that to $100 to be more realistic ($300 average replacement cost and 3 uses before its replacement is required). These are in CAD, BTW.

Where a donor has to be purchased specifically for a case, perhaps I should assume the donor will be added to my inventory and be used on one other case, i.e., charge the customer 50% of its cost.

More though is required but I appreciate the suggestions.

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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: May 31st, 2018, 12:50 
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Joined: December 19th, 2006, 8:49
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LarrySabo wrote:
Thanks for the additional comments. Donors are usually re-usable but the proposed $50 charge assumed it would need to be replaced after 3-4 uses. I'll increase that to $100 to be more realistic ($300 average replacement cost and 3 uses before its replacement is required). These are in CAD, BTW.

Where a donor has to be purchased specifically for a case, perhaps I should assume the donor will be added to my inventory and be used on one other case, i.e., charge the customer 50% of its cost.

More though is required but I appreciate the suggestions.


Yes, looks a nice idea !

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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: May 31st, 2018, 16:51 
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Joined: December 13th, 2008, 13:35
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Hi Larry,
Just in case you're interested, this is how we do it:
1) We always do a partial recovery first, whenever possible.
2) After partial (if possible), we tell customer amount recovered and give the option to try a head swap if they will cover the cost of the donor drive AND agree to our partial recovery regardless of the head swap outcome.
3) If no partial recovery was possible, we first ask if they would be interested in a head swap, knowing a donor may typically cost $100-$250, we will keep the donor drive regardless of outcome, and we will keep their "bad' drive if the recovery is successful (meaning, they approve our file listing). They can opt to get back their bad drive if the recovery is successful for a $50 labor fee. If they decline the head swap option, they owe nothing and minimal time wasted on our end.
4) If they want to proceed with a head swap, then we find the most compatible donor and tell them the cost.
5) If they want to proceed knowing the cost, we get payment for the drive up-front, and non-refundable (and they agree to this beforehand). And, if we already got back a partial recovery, they pay full recovery amount also.
6) If the head swap is only partially successful or not successful at all (i.e. incompatible heads even though everything matched), then we may try one of our donors in order to get back more data (if we have one and think the chances are at least "decent." If we got some data after the first head swap, customer may have to pay/agree to proceed with the partial recovery if a 2nd head swap fails (varies on a case-by-case basis).
7) If the head swap(s) fails, customer is out of the donor drive cost, but nothing else (no attempt fee). And we get nothing, which sucks, but for now at least, it works out.

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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: May 31st, 2018, 19:41 
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Thanks Brian. That's similar to what I do, with respect to the partial recovery. Here's how the pricing stands at the moment:
Quote:
Logical Failure $150 – $350
Media Issues $150 – $350
Electronic Failure $150 – $350
Firmware Corruption $200 – $350
Physical Failure $300 – $500 + parts*
plus 13% HST.

⁕ Prices assume the patient drive will be donated for recycling, otherwise add $50.
⁕ Prices shown are for drives up to 3TB. Add $50 per additional terabyte for larger drives.
⁕ * If a donor drive is required for parts and we use one of our own, the parts charge will be $100.
⁕ * If a donor needs to be ordered, a non-refundable advanced payment of 50% of its cost will be required. We absorb the other 50% and assume ownership of the donor.


I called many computer repair shops today, with little success, unfortunately.

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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: June 13th, 2018, 1:50 
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Location: Mama Russia
Hi Larry,

Just refer advanced data recovery cases to other company and get your referral fee. There are "professional" data recovery companies, who is collecting $300-$400 from each case. Just grab the customer by advertising the low, flat rate price.

Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: June 16th, 2018, 9:39 
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Joined: April 16th, 2018, 14:13
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Hi Larry,

I also encountered this kind situation.
Most people are scared about paying for an expensive donor if the recovery fails.
One possibility is to apply a "no result - no fee" or a "no result - small administrative fee" policy and take more margins on you work in order to cover the risk of an unsuccessful recovery.
You can also examine the platters for possible scratches before ordering a donor and be transparent with your client about how you estimate the probability of a successful data recovery.

I believe the most important thing is to enter into a relationship of trust with your client.

In case a head swap is needed, I always explain to my customers that a donor hard drive requires to match several parameters and it would not suffice going to the multimedia supermarket and purchase the same kind of hard drive.

Then, I tell to the client that there are two options :

A) Purchasing a donor hard drive from a donor hard drives bank.

B) Searching a donor hard drive in standard marketplaces like ebay.

Then, I explain to the client the pro and cons of both options :

A) Donor hard drive bank

Pros
  • The donor hard drive can be found quicker.
  • The required parameters for a matching donor are already available, so that we don't have hardly trying reading them from oblique views or blurry pictures.
  • We know that the hard drive is unique.
  • The hard drive can be purchased immediately.
  • The hard drive will be quickly shipped worldwide.
  • The hard drive will be carefully packaged and when necessary with the declaration for the customs.
  • We deal with a professional company.

Cons
  • Because maintaining such an inventory requires storing hundreds/thousands of hard drives (--some of which will never be purchased--)
    recording tons of parameters in a database, a hard drive coming from such a database will traditionnally cost more than one purchased on a marketplace.

B) Standard marketplaces

Pros
  • We may find a hard drive at a cheaper price, but not necessarily.

Cons
  • Search results are polluted by listings for non unique hard drives.
  • The required parameters for a matching donor are most of the time not available (unless the hard drive comes from a donor bank)
    so that we have to try reading the parameters from the sticker of pictures that are often oblique views of the hard drive.
  • We almost always have to check with the seller that the drive the is going to be shipped is the exact one pictured and not another one of the same model.
  • We sometimes have to wait about one week until the auction ends.
  • Some sellers have no idea about how to package hard drives, so that almost always we have to give instructions before they send it.
  • Many auctions don't offer the possibility of abroad shipping, so that we often have to enter into negociation with the seller to ask if he would accept shipping abroad and at what cost.
  • We often have to give instructions about how the hard drive should be packaged, and that the declaration for the customs must be correctly filled.
  • We often purchase the hard drive from individuals, some of them being on holiday, a.s.o.


Then, show to your client how hard drives are inventoried in a professional hard drive bank.

I would suggest browsing the web with your customer and visiting us at http://drive-for-parts.com (or alias driveforparts.com).
Once you're on our site, do this:
1. Click on the [+] signs, expand the tree to : 2.5 SATA > Western Digital > Scorpio > Blue
2. Click the "See" button for the model "WD10JPVT".
3. You can hover or toggle the small squared buttons for each hard drive.
4. Click on the "See" button for one of the hard drives in the list.
5. Lastly, click the hard drive with Ref. "D503", which has lot of information on the miscellaneous tabs, including head maps, micro jogs, pcb and firmwares.

Following theses steps, your client will perceive that data recovery is not an easy thing.
By the way, this demo will value your skills in the mind of your client.


Then, be friendly with your client and check for free if his hard drive model is available on our site. It only takes a few seconds:
1. Click on Drive For Part's logo at the top left so that you go back to the home page.
2. Enter the hard drive model name directly in the search field. (You can enter it lowercase if you want.)
3. Validate by hitting the Enter key or clicking the lens button.
If the hard drive you're looking for is available, you'll be redirected to it.

If the hard drive is available and parameters are compatible, look at how your client reacts when seeing the price of the donor.
Concerning the shipping costs that we apply at Drive for Parts, click on the "Shipping costs" widget at the bottom right of our home page.
We usually ship in priority, with tracking number and signature on arrival.
Depending on the destination country and buyer, we also may accept to send in economy without tracking/signature.
We also accept grouped shipment of several hard drives together: one possibilty if your customer agrees to wait until you order more donors together.
So, if you need to spare on shipping costs, please contact us.
(There is a contact link in the left column and our phone is on the homepage.)

One benefit of this multi-steps approach is that it shows you if your customer is very price-oriented or not, and if his top priority is a fast recovery or a cheap recovery. It also gives you more time to better perceive what type of customer you are dealing with.

Tell your client that you can also search on other places, but don't forget to take into account the administrative work that it will require from you.

Then, I suggest giving an oral "all inclusive" price estimate for the data recovery, i.e. including the donor, your work, and a target external hard drive :
- with option "A", i.e. hard drive bank
- with option "B", i.e. marketplace

Your customer will understand that this overall costs is including the donor, your work and the output media.

One last thing: we speak French and German and provide administrative and shipping assistance if you want to acquire a hard drive listed on the
Swiss Ricardo marketplace (https://www.ricardo.ch/fr/c/disques-durs-et-stockage-39209/), or an European eBay site like ebay.de, ebay.fr and ebay.ch.

Hope this helps.

Regards

Julien


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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: June 16th, 2018, 16:10 
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Joined: December 8th, 2010, 11:37
Posts: 560
Location: Ottawa, Canada
rukana wrote:
Hi Larry,

Just refer advanced data recovery cases to other company and get your referral fee. There are "professional" data recovery companies, who is collecting $300-$400 from each case. Just grab the customer by advertising the low, flat rate price.

Good luck.


Hi @rukana, I just found your reply by accident. I do my own data recoveries, thanks. If they don't want to pay for a donor, they can go elsewhere but I don't partner with anyone. Most customers are loathe to have their drive shipped out of town so I just tell them the names of the other data recovery labs in Ottawa and let them pick whomever they like. I also tell them, although the others may have a more complete stock of donor's, their prices are approximately twice mine. I've changed my DR prices to add $50 if they don't donate the patient after the data is recovered, plus $100 if I use my own donor. The cost of paid-for donors is payable in advance and not refundable (no matter the outcome) and I keep the donor after the recovery. We'll see if that builds up my donor inventory but drives potential customers away.

Cheers,
Larry

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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: June 16th, 2018, 16:41 
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Joined: December 8th, 2010, 11:37
Posts: 560
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Julien (@DriveForParts), I offer a "no data, no fee" policy, free drive assessment, and am as transparent and honest as they come. I also explain the cause of failure in their drive and provide microscope images of contaminated/damaged heads and pictures of scraped platters when relevant. Testimonials on my site attest to my honesty, integrity and trust-worthiness. I also explain why donors from drive marketers are so expensive and that several parameters need to be matched to find an appropriate donor, including some that are not on the label. They understand that.

Aside from overall recovery cost (no matter the cost of the donor), the deal breaker for at least some of my customers is the risk of paying for an expensive donor and having no guarantee that it will result in the recovery of their data.

For a short while, I contemplated sharing that risk, i.e., if the recovery is successful, they pay the full cost of the donor and I keep the donor, but if not, I absorb half the donor's cost and also keep the donor. Given the high cost of donors, I've decided that's just not feasible for a small-time DR shop like mine. If they don't want to pay for the donor no matter the recovery outcome, I'll just wish them best of success with whatever they decide to do.

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 Post subject: Re: The donor challenge for small DR shops
PostPosted: June 17th, 2018, 6:55 
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Joined: April 16th, 2018, 14:13
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Location: Switzerland
Hi Larry,

Most people have no idea about how much a donor can cost.
So, they see the cost of labour on your web site, and come to see you with that price in mind

Let's say your website tells that the data recovery will cost between X and Y bucks.
Your new customers will expect paying X, or an amount in the middle between X and Y.
Not Y.
Because they're individuals.
Because their hard drive was not 100% full.
Because it cannot be the worst case, their hard drive was still working yesterday, blah, blah, ...
Because they hope that you'll make a friendly price, and not the highest one displayed on your website.
Many "good" reasons to hope some better price than the one displayed, independantly of your honesty, integrity and trust-worthiness.

Consider this scenario:
Code:
- Labour cost 500 CAD
- Donor 310 CAD
-------------------------
Subtotal: 810 CAD
--------------------------
- HDD for output 105 CAD
- HDD USB Enclosure 20 CAD
==========================
Total : 935 CAD

If Y=500 CAD, then the total of 935 CAD is 87% above the "worst case scenario" that people expected when coming to see you.
Most people do not fully read websites, they just photograph what they want to see.

In your case, I think it would be more efficient to tell that a data recovery requiring head swap will usually cost between 700 and 900 CAD, donor drive included, plus the cost of an external hard drive if the user doesn't bring himself an hard drive where to copy the recovered data.

Quote:
Given the high cost of donors, I've decided that's just not feasible for a small-time DR shop like mine.

People don't like uncertainty. People don't like having to pay for a donor if the data recovery fails.
Just take this to your advantage.

What makes the difference between an entrepreneur and most of other people is the level of risk an entrepreneur is willing to bear.
Entrepreneurship involves such a permanent risk, that living with it becomes an habit.
On the counterpart, most people are not entrepreneurs.
The ones having a very stable income (e.g. public school teachers) will statistically be the ones that are the most scared by uncertainty.

So, I would suggest that you bear the risk of the donor being purchased for nothing.
You can think it as an insurance, being your own insurer.
For instance, instead of 700 to 900 CAD for a data recovery including a donor drive,
you can make it 800 to 1000 CAD, donor included, and only a small admninistrative fee if it failed.

In your prices, don't forget that you can sometimes need two donors and also that bad series (unsuccessful cases that follow each other) happen from time to time.
Even if seldom, bad series happens in entrepreuneurial life.
So, 900 to 1100 CAD would be more secure.

Displaying an "all inclusive" price will filter out people who don't have the budget.
Others will come with the total cost in mind.

Quote:
If they don't want to pay for the donor no matter the recovery outcome, I'll just wish them best of success with whatever they decide to do.

The cost of a data recovery is sometimes not worth depending on which files are to recover so there is no problem if someone renounces recovering its data. It's part of the game.
The problem is the time you spend for people that are not ready to invest the necessary amount, especially if you do free diagnosis.

It is somewhat frustrating and demotivating not turning a prospect into a customer.
The more your website can filter customers upstream, the better.


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