Geek Unique? Suddenly every computer repair service has a sense of humor.
By Maggie Overfelt

(FORTUNE Small Business) – How many times can you recall holding your breath in reservation when your computer crashed? And not because your system was down. Because it meant waking the beast and dialing up the company's tech guy--in all his cranky, plumber's-crack-showing glory--to come bail (and bawl) you out. Next time, the techie who answers your page could be a happy geek from heaven. Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad, was the first to mix humor and high tech when he started making house calls to Minneapolis-area small companies in need of computer repairs (his crew wear highwater pants and drive Dick Tracy-inspired VW Beetles). Now Stephens' idea--professional but fun tech support--is infiltrating markets across the nation. A number of imitators, in fact, are capitalizing on Geek Squad's shtick, most notably franchiser Geeks on Call. Great, but do the car and the clothes make the man when it comes to tech know-how? We ran it by Stephens. "Franchising works for burgers and doughnuts, but not for high-class tech service," says Stephens. "It's too personal." Here's a tale of the tape in the geek-weight division: --Maggie Overfelt