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Jeff,

 

I think the general feeling is that if you keep your operation as a 1 man you are not able to step away from the business. You rise and fall with your presence. If you decide to take a vacation, slack off or get sick then your business will feel the affects. A business should be separate entity in which can operate without you in the picture. Ideally you would want to have a business that can go on without you by developing processes that a trained employee can pick up. In that regard a 1 man shop is more like building a job for yourself opposed to building a business that can operate without you.

 

Just my 2c. I have a lot of respect for anyone who can go at it alone and still kick ass!

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I've been trying to do it, but I just don't see it as feasible anymore. Like mentioned above, everything is tied to you, you get sick or hurt, everything stops but the bills. It's too stressful. Find a kid who wants to learn and just have him as a helper at first, thats what I'm doing now and it's a huge help to productivity and he's not costing me anything hardly at the moment.

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I know it's not exactly what you asked, but another way to look at it is from the customer's point of view. In their mind, they are taking their car to a 1 man shop where they probably assume they will get a better deal since they came to a smaller shop. With that in mind, it may be that much more difficult to charge appropriately for parts, diagnostics, shop supplies/hazmat, etc...

 

Just a thought. It definitely makes it harder to relate when talking with other larger operations. You miss out on the fun of payroll taxes, unemployment, I9 forms, etc...

Edited by mmotley
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One man shop here Jeff. I've been running my shop for going on 16 years this coming April. As all one man shops I do it all. I can relate to what has been said from every one else before me. I've worked sick , I've worked with a broken left arm and let me tell you that sucks changing tires with one arm. Even a broken foot ( no were as bad as the arm) lol. And there right again about not charging enough when your a one man shop. Since joining this site I am learning very valuable things that are helping me mold my business and I'm taking there advice and making the changes to where my business will not hurt like it does now it something is happening with me. If I can help you in any way please feel free to ask. Good luck with you brother!

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One man band here as well!

 

Took the Guerrilla Shop Management course from RLO a year ago and that was the best first step I've made yet!

 

Started charging a fair amount on labor and parts. Starting running it more like a business. I pay myself 30% of labor sales per month. Implemented a bunch of new strategies and processes to increase productivity and efficiency.

 

Hired my first employee (my wife) as a service advisory in July. Put her through a SA course to get caught up. She has been awesome at the front counter. I have now bumped up my productivity numbers and can raise car count. Bottom line, we are on pace to DOUBLE our gross revenue from last year. Very exciting times.

We have been looking further ahead and are actually in the process of purchasing a piece of commercial property here in Edgewater to expand into a 4 bay operation. Hoping to close first quarter of next year if all goes well with the environmental inspection.

 

We've brought on private investors who believe in us and our vision and are eager to hop on board as we take our business to the next level.

 

We went to AAPEX earlier this year, took every shop management course we could take to fill our noggins with knowledge. Implementing even more tools and strategies to grow even more.

 

We now have a business coach with RLO. This is so worth it as it will minimize our mistakes as we make this next big step.

 

Bottom line, if you have the drive/vision/determination...you can do this. I may work on cars 10 hours a day, but an additional 6 hours is generally spent before and after the days work to work ON the business. That's how you grow!

 

Read books! I've been reading Dale Carnegie, Michael Gerber, Tom Peters...all great authors on leadership and small business.

 

Stay in the industry! Go to trade shows, read all the industry trade magazines like R+W, Motor, etc. Keep tabs on this forum!

 

We've built a business plan and put together 2 year projections. The numbers look very exciting. During this whole roller coaster I have never really felt overwhelmed or stressed. This is what I want! We have a purpose, and that purpose drives us to succeed. Don't even think about taking that next step unless YOU have that purpose or mission.

 

I'm tired of owning a job. The time and money spent now will pay dividends as we will be able to enjoy life later down the road.

 

All the best,

AJ

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I don't think there's anything wrong with running a one man show, as long as that's what you want and are content.

 

I'm a one man shop too, and I like it that way, at least for now. I don't kill myself either, I work from 8:30 - 5:00 and I am out the door at 5:01. I'll work half a Saturday if I feel like it or if it's super busy, which it usually is. I keep it simple though, easy in and out work. I'm not cheap either my labor rate is right on par with most indy shops.

 

You could define my shop as both a job and a business. There's no question I have to go to work everyday and do my job, but it certainly is much more than a job and it's very satisfying to build up a successful shop. I make at least 3x what I could make turning wrenches at any other shop and it's only going up. My business plan does include stepping back and out of the shop though. I've had a summer helper the last 2 years and I'll hire a full time tech this spring. My son will be 16 this winter and wants to work at the shop this summer so I'll keep him busy as well. I purposely held off hiring help as long as I could but I barely got through last summer in one piece it was so crazy busy. At this point if I don't hire help I'll be hurting my business and customers.

 

 

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I was a one man band, and followed all the traditional business advice and had 5 people on the payroll. Gross sales went way up, my stress level went through the roof, profits remained flat. I reverted back to one tech, and I'm much happier. With a full time tech that can also run the front we always have someone working on cars. If I'm at auction or on vacation someone is still working on cars, because fixing cars is what pays the bills. By myself I couldn't book 40 hours of labor without spending 80 hours at the shop. Half my time was answering the phone and selling the work, plus the other stuff that goes along with keeping the shop open. Made for a long week.

 

One good tech works perfect for me, we bill 60 hours a week and I'm physically there 50-60 hours. I can focus on fixing broken people, my guy fixes broken machines. And most importantly someone is always there to greet a customer. By myself if I had to go on a long test drive customers would be left with nobody there. Bad for business.

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I will say the one thing that kills me working by myself is interruptions. I lose at least an hour a day or more just waiting on customers and answering the phone. There are days it's so busy I cannot get my scheduled work done and I'm there till 7 finishing up. I'm really looking forward to hiring a full time tech come spring.

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Running a one man shop was the hardest thing I ever did in this business.

 

I really do not like to look back at that time of my life, I was young, stupid, and naive. I did ok. Got burn a lot and left a lot of money on the table. It was really a school of hard knocks for me.

 

For those of you that run a one man operation, you have my admiration and respect, God knows the sacrifices, sleepless nights, and loneliness you have to endure by yourself since there is no one to talk to.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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