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I am a ASE certified master tech with my L1, master emission repair license , and state inspection license. I have worked at a Branded gas station for the last 24 years, I am looking for information on how to get started in my own shop. I wanted some input on how to do this if to get a service station or a repair shop . Also a realistic view of what it would cost to get started . If anyone could steer me in the right direction I would be appreciated . Besides obtaining a shop my other worry would be finding good Mechanics, I am a person that believes the work has to be done top notch , I can't stand people that guess or throw parts at cars nor people that gouge or rip customers off like selling 4 oxygen sensors on a car. Never happens, it is like buying 4 tv's at the same time what are the chances that all 4 die at once? anyway any help would be appreciated.

 

thanks,

S.M.

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Move to western NY and work for me. You nailed the biggest problem in shop ownership - finding people that can repair cars and customers as well as yourself.

 

Sign up for some professional help on doing a business plan, that will enable you to answer all your own questions about regulations, advertising, supply/demand, cash flow, feasabilty, and so on but like I said all that stuff is pretty easy compared to finding excellent people to work for you.

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Where are you located?

 

So like Joe said, the plan will be extremely important and here's how you do it. How much do you want to make/year? The average you the business will take home is 25% of whatever your business brings in. Now do the math and divide it all up and see how many hours you need to bill/week.

 

Are you planning on having employees right off the bat? Renting or buying a shop? We need to know more of your plans to give you any real startup costs.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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The cost is COMMITMENT! The rest is Organization. You will need these things below for starters.

 

Goals - Clearly written and easily understood. What is the destination? What do you want to have?

 

Purposes- What is the fuel to this fire of having and operating your own repair shop. Is it greater security for yourself and your family? Is it because you want to travel around the world saving the elephants? You need purpose! That will keep you going when things seem arduous. That is the fuel to the fire!

 

Policies - Ethics and integrity. What will you stand for?

How will you operate? What will bring the greatest survival potential to the organization?

 

Also:

 

Reading, listening, sorting out information (useful data from non-sense), practicing, lots of doing toward positive results.

 

Owner/Executive Counsel

Manager

Technician

Pick one: If you try to be all 3, you'll be a one man show, even if there are other employees. If you pick 2, you will certainly be dispersed and overwhelmed sooner or later and from then on out.

PICK ONE AND BECOME A PROFESSIONAL AT THAT!

 

As for making money, that is the easy part, everyone makes money, some make more, some make less. Everyone has some, even if its only a nickel.The making money part will be a direct reflection of your COMMITMENT to the business and your goals, purposes, and policies.

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I appreciate everyone's advice! I am actually have a very good knowledge on how the station that I work at runs I was always very friendly with the owners and got to know the ins and outs of the business, until the station was sold to people who are just worried about money and not the business. I am looking to open a business so I can better my life, and have some kind of nest egg for retiring. I am not sure If a branded station or a repair shop is the way to go. I know with a station you can have a little back up with gas and store for the slow times. I really feel and have been told by many that I will have no problem doing it, I guess my main concern was failure. I think that is a normal concern though. I have lots of people that want to back me but of course I feel that those people really want to invest money sit back while I do all the work and collect off of the business, which I am not willing to do. I have seen to many "partners" fail. I hope this thread will continue to grow with all the great advice that can be shared. once again thanks for all the solid advice so far !!!

 

SKM

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I appreciate everyone's advice! I am actually have a very good knowledge on how the station that I work at runs I was always very friendly with the owners and got to know the ins and outs of the business, until the station was sold to people who are just worried about money and not the business. I am looking to open a business so I can better my life, and have some kind of nest egg for retiring. I am not sure If a branded station or a repair shop is the way to go. I know with a station you can have a little back up with gas and store for the slow times. I really feel and have been told by many that I will have no problem doing it, I guess my main concern was failure. I think that is a normal concern though. I have lots of people that want to back me but of course I feel that those people really want to invest money sit back while I do all the work and collect off of the business, which I am not willing to do. I have seen to many "partners" fail. I hope this thread will continue to grow with all the great advice that can be shared. once again thanks for all the solid advice so far !!!

 

SKM

 

It can't really grow since we don't know what type of shop you are wanting. Location, number of employees, type of work are all huge factors in what advice we can give you.

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well that is kind of what I am looking for advice on... I don't know weather a branded station or an independent repair facility would be best. I of course want to have at least 2-3 other techs there. I want to transition away from doing all the work I don't mind doing the diagnostics and getting keeping my hands dirty to keep the quality and work flow going , but do want to slow down a bit. I am in Maryland as far as exact location well Im not sure at this point. As far as work general repairs and maintenance . I am not looking to run a shop that swaps engines and transmissions out , I my self enjoy diagnostic work, no starts etc. computer related stuff, so basically a all around repair facility.

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I would focus on location first. You know better than anyone what you do best. Focus on your strengths as far as the servicesun you will offer. If you have a good following you won't need a brand name. Just yourself and quality work to start off.

That is what everyone tells me. I should just find a location that isn't too far from where I am now and once word gets out the loyal customers will follow. The thing is I now work 20 miles from where I live. Not a huge distance but I would like to get a little closer to home. I guess what it boils down to is I am afraid of how long it will actually take for the customers to find out where I am since I have been at the same location for 24 years and never passed out business cards or anything like that they just know where to find me and we have a service writer that is their main contact , although they do know me and that I do their work for them. So I guess I am mainly scared of loosing quite a bit of income till they find me. The biggest problem is I am 100% sure that where I work now will NOT pass on my new location.

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I have done a little searching around, and it seems as if it is a huge feet to get a business going, what I mean by this is that to start with all the locations have a pretty steep rent if you want more than an empty hallway with a garage door on one side. So how would you be able to get a business going with out a huge chunk of money? I seems as if it would be impossible to start with out having some techs in line to start work as soon as you open. My case I don't know anyone at the moment I would hire . It would be nice to find a guy who has failed at the business due to poor work and being able to take over that business and grow it, but that seems to be something that is far and few . How did most get started?

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I have done a little searching around, and it seems as if it is a huge feet to get a business going, what I mean by this is that to start with all the locations have a pretty steep rent if you want more than an empty hallway with a garage door on one side. So how would you be able to get a business going with out a huge chunk of money? I seems as if it would be impossible to start with out having some techs in line to start work as soon as you open. My case I don't know anyone at the moment I would hire . It would be nice to find a guy who has failed at the business due to poor work and being able to take over that business and grow it, but that seems to be something that is far and few . How did most get started?

If you are going to succeed in business, impossible can't be a part of your vocabulary. There's always a way. I was unemployed and broke when I started. Had less than perfect credit and most people telling me no. Started out by myself and put in countless hours just to get by. Reinvested every dime I made for the first year and a half and only pay myself the least amount I absolutely need to survive. Finally getting tools paid off and almost to the point I can start paying myself. Its a lot of work with little or no return to start. If I gave up at every road block or every time it seemed impossible, I certainly wouldn't have this business now.

 

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I would advise that you immediately sign on with a capable coaching organization and use them to augment your skills and experience. Don't try and go it alone. Everybody needs a coach. It will pay for itself.

what do you mean by coaching organization? I know I am going to need help and a lot of advice . That is why I posted on this site to try to get advice on how to get started. I have gotten a lot of sound advice, but it is always vague advice. It is like someone asking someone how to drive a car and they hand them the keys and say "start the engine put it in drive and go" I'm looking for someone to point me in the right direction, such as bureaus etc. that can be contacted where I can get the guidance and information to start moving forward. I definitely don't want to come across as disrespectful I appreciate everyone's advice and input. I am just one of those people that want to learn as much as I can about something .

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I have done a little searching around, and it seems as if it is a huge feet to get a business going, what I mean by this is that to start with all the locations have a pretty steep rent if you want more than an empty hallway with a garage door on one side. So how would you be able to get a business going with out a huge chunk of money? I seems as if it would be impossible to start with out having some techs in line to start work as soon as you open. My case I don't know anyone at the moment I would hire . It would be nice to find a guy who has failed at the business due to poor work and being able to take over that business and grow it, but that seems to be something that is far and few . How did most get started?

I started with no savings in the bank. Zero dollars. Every penny I had went into startup. My first day open I made $25.00, I repaired one flat tire that day. I spent the whole day doing maintenance and repairs on the property. My second day open I made $90.00 I think if not less. My shop overhead was approximately $10,000. a month in Long Island New York with no employees. Just mortgage, property taxes and insurances. I was sure at that rate by the end of the month I would be out of business. I stayed night and day with the lights on and the garage door open so people would see the shop open and know I existed. I did anything that came through the door. It did not matter as long as it was income. You know what? At the end of the month I made more than $10,000. Next month same story. This went on for months. I hired my first employee after a month and a half.

 

Then winter came, slow times were upon me, I thought I failed the public and they just weren't coming to me anymore. I was falling behind financially, overdrafts and all. A couple of late payments here and there and a huge drop in my own morale.

 

I pushed through. I had to look at myself and my past experiences and my determination towards goals I had set and achieved in the past that at those times felt hopeless. That helped me tremendously because I realized that alot of my past endeavors in life (academic, sports, relationships, etc.) started off in an apparent failing state because I didn't know what I was doing

but then turned into gains and victories because I was getting more and more able and competent. It took time to learn what was necessary to succeed.

 

_____________________________

 

 

Then all of a sudden business started picking up again. More than before.

The first 2 years were the toughest because they were the most unpredictable. By year 3 I could predict seasonal patterns and cycles.

 

In the beginning you will have to tough it out. There is no comfort zone. You need to get REAL SMART, REAL FAST. The faster you improve your operations, the sooner you will be successful. There are many lessons to learn and at least for me there were tremendous set backs and failures. Enormous fees and penalties. Money stupidly wasted. Tremendous amount of bad debt for the company, I believe my losses the first year were somewhere between $30,000 to $60,000. that I never collected for parts and labor due to my own stupidity and disorganization. But I, you, anyone must push through that stage. Everyone's business adventure vary's, but for everyone it's an adventure. For some people the adventure is a dream come true for others it's an absolute nightmare. But guess what? It's your tenacity that will get you through, not your hope, not your savings account.

 

Success is a choice, failure is a choice.

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I am a ASE certified master tech with my L1, master emission repair license , and state inspection license. I have worked at a Branded gas station for the last 24 years, I am looking for information on how to get started in my own shop. I wanted some input on how to do this if to get a service station or a repair shop . Also a realistic view of what it would cost to get started . If anyone could steer me in the right direction I would be appreciated . Besides obtaining a shop my other worry would be finding good Mechanics, I am a person that believes the work has to be done top notch , I can't stand people that guess or throw parts at cars nor people that gouge or rip customers off like selling 4 oxygen sensors on a car. Never happens, it is like buying 4 tv's at the same time what are the chances that all 4 die at once? anyway any help would be appreciated.

 

thanks,

S.M.

Selling someone 4 oxygen sensors is not necessarily ripping them off. In fact one of the models we work on if all 4 sensors are not done at the same time, the check engine light will come back on in a few miles. The last bosch article I read on the subject stated oxygen sensor life was 60,000 miles. If a vehicle has over 100,000 miles and you don't suggest 4 oxygen sensors, I think you are doing them a dis-service. Suggesting them and explaining why, is different than telling them they must replace them.

 

Scott

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I am a ASE certified master tech with my L1, master emission repair license , and state inspection license. I have worked at a Branded gas station for the last 24 years, I am looking for information on how to get started in my own shop. I wanted some input on how to do this if to get a service station or a repair shop . Also a realistic view of what it would cost to get started . If anyone could steer me in the right direction I would be appreciated . Besides obtaining a shop my other worry would be finding good Mechanics, I am a person that believes the work has to be done top notch , I can't stand people that guess or throw parts at cars nor people that gouge or rip customers off like selling 4 oxygen sensors on a car. Never happens, it is like buying 4 tv's at the same time what are the chances that all 4 die at once? anyway any help would be appreciated.

 

thanks,

S.M.

Selling someone 4 oxygen sensors is not necessarily ripping them off. In fact one of the models we work on if all 4 sensors are not done at the same time, the check engine light will come back on in a few miles. The last bosch article I read on the subject stated oxygen sensor life was 60,000 miles. If a vehicle has over 100,000 miles and you don't suggest 4 oxygen sensors, I think you are doing them a dis-service. Suggesting them and explaining why, is different than telling them they must replace them.

 

Scott

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Someone mentioned the local small business helpers and you asked for a bureau of some sort. Out here it is called score. Look on the Internet for small business help and you should find the local non profit that helps small start ups. Best of luck. Prepare to suffer. It helps if you expect the worse and hope for just enough.

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Selling someone 4 oxygen sensors is not necessarily ripping them off. In fact one of the models we work on if all 4 sensors are not done at the same time, the check engine light will come back on in a few miles. The last bosch article I read on the subject stated oxygen sensor life was 60,000 miles. If a vehicle has over 100,000 miles and you don't suggest 4 oxygen sensors, I think you are doing them a dis-service. Suggesting them and explaining why, is different than telling them they must replace them.

 

Scott

very interesting Scott. I would like to know the Model you work on that the light comes back on after a few miles if all four are not replaced? I don't know of such a thing in my 25 years of working on cars have never seen this. The computer is looking for lambda and building a long term fuel table off of the short term fuel table (reflection of the o2 sensors) the rear o2s are primarily used by the computer pretty much as a monitor of the converters seeing what the up stream does in relation to the down stream, yes they can also show exhaust leaks post up stream o2s. I have my own personal vehicles with over 160,000 miles on both never replaced and o2 nor a converter on either. I follow maintenance schedules on vehicles at work, but I don't sell what they don't need. If it says flush coolant and the ph and coolant strength is good and the coolant is clean I leave it, if the cabin air filter or air filter is clean I leave it. I understand wanting and needing to make money to keep a business going, but lets also be fair to our customers. I am sure when you do repairs on a car and the manual tells you to do it a certain way and you find an easier way you do it the easier way right? Not following the guidelines of the manual . That is all these things are , guidelines then you must use your judgement of whether it needs it or not. Not by how heavy or light your wallet is on that particular day.

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SKM, Find a older owner of a honest reputable shop, see if he has a exit plan, which he probably doesn't, that will open up a lots of conversation, buy him out , let him continue to work. You have a positive revenue stream , money is cheapest we have seen in years. He maybe be willing to finance it for you. In Florida there are lots of shops like that. Just a idea. Good Luck

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

         5 comments
      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
      Here’s one more thing to consider, for the most part, technicians don’t leave one job to start a new career, they leave one shop as a technician to become a technician at another shop. The reasons why they leave can be debated, but there is one fact that we cannot deny, people don’t quit the company they work for, they usually leave because of the boss or manager they work for.
      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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