Computers are like cars. They’re supposed to work all the time. When they don’t, it feels like life comes to an abrupt halt — one that demands the machine be fixed as soon as possible.
That situation causes increased stress now that the COVID-19 pandemic has many people working from home, giving David Garcia's work even more urgency.
Garcia is the manager of Computer Doctor in Homewood, which he said is a business that prides itself on fixing and refurbishing computers, and providing a personal touch, too.
In the last two months, Computer Doctor has seen a steadier flow of clients than it did before the pandemic.
Illinois’s stay-at-home order has forced businesses to limit their services or close their doors completely, while causing other employees to work from home.
Garcia said many clients are dealing with older home computers they have recently dusted off.
“It seems like a priority for everyone now because they have to work from home on systems that have been put away for months or years,” Garcia said.
Computer Doctor specializes in technology solutions, computer repair, data recovery, and malware removal and prevention.
Ever since Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the first executive order on March 20, Garcia noticed an influx of customers looking for new hard drives and to get operating systems installed. Previously, Garcia said business had been sporadic.
“Before, the days were pretty slow to a certain extent, and we would only have really crazy weeks sprinkled throughout the month,” he said. “But now it’s very consistent. We know every week is going to be kind of crazy.”
Computer Doctor is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for drop-offs and pick-ups by appointment only, measures Garcia said were put in place to reduce personal contact among staff and clients.
This schedule may also contribute to an influx in customers, Garcia said. Staff receive anywhere from 30 to 65 calls per day, not counting the number of calls they receive when the store is closed.
“Phone calls have definitely seen a huge increase because people are calling on the days that we’re closed, so they call again the next day to set their drop-off appointment,” Garcia said.
The company has tried to be proactive in finding ways to keep both customers and staff safe, he said. Only one client is allowed in the lobby at a time. Signs are used to show customers where they can stand and what they can touch.
Two to three staff members are allowed to work at the same time, and they must wear personal protective gear when interacting with customers.
Despite the increase in business, Garcia is surprised by how patient customers have been with staff.
“We’re used to people blowing up because they may feel like they’re the only person with a problem or they may not understand service work.” Garcia said.
“But I do feel like there’s an increased respect for service workers and I think that's the biggest takeaway right now. As a service worker, I’m feeling seen by the general public.”