Cary small business owner Alfredo Caceres has never been afraid to make his own way. From immigrating to the United States as a young man to building his own business from the ground up, he tells us a few things he’s learned along the way.
Chasing a Dream
15 years ago, when business owner Alfredo Caceres took a job managing a New York electronics store, he was fulfilling two lifelong dreams at once. As a child growing up in Chile, he would visit relatives in the United States and always knew one day he would call it home.
In the meantime, he spent his youth pursuing his passion for computers. He wanted to know everything about how they worked, inside and out. He studied computers in college and then got the chance to come to the U.S. Although, it was difficult to leave his mother and father in Chile, he decided to take a chance on his dreams.
Making His Own Path
After 8 years running the New York store, he and his wife made the decision to move to North Carolina. The only problem was Alfredo wasn’t able to find the kind of work he was looking for in the computer industry. Never one to give up, he decided to make his own path and open his own computer repair shop and retail store. Today, Triangle PC Geek offers computer repair and support for personal and business customers. They service PC and Mac computers as well as mobile devices, cell phones, and tablets. Triangle PC Geek also sells products in their store and online.
A Different Approach
Making the transition from employee to owner took some adjusting for Alfredo. “It’s a totally different thing,” he said. “It seems like you’re working 24/7. And when you’re not at the shop, you’re thinking about what has to be done the next day or you’re thinking about the budget.” Alfredo knew he needed to keep expenses down and that his biggest expense would be rent. On one hand, he wanted his location to have exposure and visibility. On the other hand, visibility wouldn’t do much good if all his the money he made went straight to rent. With his background in technology, he decided to take a different approach. He rented a more affordable storefront that was less visible to traffic, and instead focused his efforts on online visibility. “If you don’t have the best location, you can make up for it with advertisement,” he said.
When it comes to advertisement, Alfredo has tried it all. He has had ads in the newspaper, on the radio, online, and paid for social media posts. In the end, the best advertisement turned out to be free. “Google is the main thing,” he said. “We ask customers where they find us and they almost always say Google. And they almost always say they read our reviews.” That’s why Alfredo recommends all business owners keep their information up to date in Google My Business and post quality photos. He asks all his customers to review Triangle PC Geek and he works to maintain a 5-star rating. He says that brings him more customers than any paid advertisement ever did.
Alfredo is never satisfied to just acquire a new customer, he wants to keep that customer for life. He says doing that means building trust. “It’s not all about sales. We want customers to make the best decision for them. Sometimes I’ll tell a customer, ‘Try this instead. It will save you money.’” Although it may seem counter-intuitive for a business owner to sell a less expensive option, Alfredo says he sees it as an investment. “If they trust you, they will come back again and again. Not only that, they will tell their friends about us. I might have just gotten another customer.”
While it’s hard to imagine a downside to rapid growth, it has forced Alfredo to take a harder look at his priorities in life. As a husband and father of a 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter, Alfredo wants to be there for everything in his children’s lives. “My father worked 7 days a week,” said Alfredo. “That taught me about the value of hard work. But it also taught me what it was like when he didn’t leave time for family.”
Striking a balance between work and home is difficult for nearly all entrepreneurs, but Alfredo has come up with strategies to help. He says one thing owners can do is make sure the time they do spend at work is productive. “We aren’t open all day on Sundays, because it doesn’t make financial sense to be open. That’s time I can spend with my family.” Alfredo also says after several years in business, he has figured out which times of the year are busier and slower. During slower periods, he will work fewer hours himself or will take an extra day off. He also tries to schedule family vacations during slower times. “Business is important, but family comes first,” said Alfredo.
Padgett’s 3 Wise Questions:
- If you could bake a success pie, what would the ingredients be?
Patience, hard work, and sincerity.
- If you could go back in time to the beginning, would you do anything differently?
There are things I know now that I didn’t know then. But many times, making mistakes is the only way you learn.
- If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would have lunch with my father. After I left Chile, we only saw each other once in a while and there are many things we never got to talk about before he passed away.
For more information, visit www.TrianglePCGeek.com or call the store at (919) 280-0350.