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Are You Considering Mobile Services & Repairs?


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According to Lang Marketing Aftermarket Consulting, Mobile repair and service is on the rise. I have mixed feelings about this, since repairing and servicing cars today is so complex.

BUT, can mobile service be used to attract new customers, or used as a strategy to check the car out at someone's home or work, with the ultimate purpose to get the car to your shop? 

From Lang Marketing 

"Mobile Repair currently represents only a small portion of the Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) market, but it is growing at an explosive rate. As the DIFM light vehicle market plunged during 2020 and rebounded in 2021, Mobile Repair grew many times faster than the overall DIFM market, unhindered by the onslaught of COVID-19."

Sources: 

Lang Marketing Resources, Automotive Aftermarket Consulting, Research and Analysis

 

 

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20 hours ago, Transmission Repair said:

Free pickup and delivery is a lot better that mobile service.  No investment in a mobile service vehicle, etc.  Uber to their house, pick the vehicle up.  Deliver the vehicle after the service and Uber back to the shop.  Since most customers live within a 5-mile radius, Uber is cheaper than using 2 employees to pick up and deliver.

No doubt, a great service for your customers.  

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9 minutes ago, xrac said:

None of the m9bile service guys who tried it local have survived. Mobile serve seems to be the way a lot of guys boot strap there way to eventually having a bricks and mortar location. 

If you think about all that goes into servicing and repairing cars these days, it's hard to imagine being efficient at it. It has to be limited to basic and simple tasks. 

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Yes, I was starting to plan that out when Covid hit so it was tabled, but it’s back in play for 2023 planning. I am in a town with a lot of cars and a decent amount of auto repair facilities. We are probably the number one or two independent in regards to volume and revenue and growing steadily, but growth has been bottlenecked due to amount of bays and parking. There are no more facilities zoned for repair in the immediate area. When I moved here, my plan was to conquer this town one car at a time. Only way to get into the other shop’s territories to get those cars is to drive to them. So mobile will be part of the expansion into those territories. We be selective about what we do and what we drive back to the shop. It’s really just about expansion without another brick and mortar 

 

 

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1 hour ago, tomkatv10 said:

Yes, I was starting to plan that out when Covid hit so it was tabled, but it’s back in play for 2023 planning. I am in a town with a lot of cars and a decent amount of auto repair facilities. We are probably the number one or two independent in regards to volume and revenue and growing steadily, but growth has been bottlenecked due to amount of bays and parking. There are no more facilities zoned for repair in the immediate area. When I moved here, my plan was to conquer this town one car at a time. Only way to get into the other shop’s territories to get those cars is to drive to them. So mobile will be part of the expansion into those territories. We be selective about what we do and what we drive back to the shop. It’s really just about expansion without another brick and mortar 

 

 

From my perspective, the key point in your strategy is in the last few sentences when you state that you will be selective about what you do. It will be interesting to see how your plan progresses. Keep us posted. 

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On 9/3/2022 at 8:58 AM, xrac said:

One of the problem the mobile guys have is the employees that are loafing and not working because they have no visual supervision.  My friend who was a manager said guys would go out and sleep in the truck. Then either the business eats the hours or the customer gets over billed. This was in a mobile fleet business where they billed by the hour not by the job.  

Wow, now that is an issue that is worth discussing: How do you set up a process that keeps track of your mobile employees?

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On 9/4/2022 at 8:28 AM, Joe Marconi said:

Wow, now that is an issue that is worth discussing: How do you set up a process that keeps track of your mobile employees?

Well, I have a friend that builds an application for Service Industry businesses...  Anyone that schedules repairs, has cars/trucks on mobile jobs, etc. (Carpet Cleaners, Handyman, etc)   His product is called ServiceMinder.io   It tracks driver locations, plans the routes, handles invoicing, etc.   It's probably overkill for a small mobile team.   I'd have to guess that there are other such products on the market.   Probably search for mobile worker tracking app.

In the old days before GPS, you'd see the telephone linemen (and many others I'm sure) taking a nap on the side of the road, and no one knew that they were not "on the job".   Now, with GPS, you are on a leash.   I'm betting that it also reduced the revenue on the golf courses too.   Some people like siestas and some like to play.  

The new GPS technology reminds me of a story that a friend told me about another new technology that started back in 1974.....  Direct Deposit.   Many people would get a check on Friday, cash it and then bring home, let's say 80%, pocketing the other 20% for fun money.   The wife didn't know how much the husband really made.    He said his team was livid about having to use Direct Deposit.   It worked out well for those wives as their husbands FINALLY received that long over due "raise".  😁    Technology is both great and evil depending on context.

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4 hours ago, bantar said:

Well, I have a friend that builds an application for Service Industry businesses...  Anyone that schedules repairs, has cars/trucks on mobile jobs, etc. (Carpet Cleaners, Handyman, etc)   His product is called ServiceMinder.io   It tracks driver locations, plans the routes, handles invoicing, etc.   It's probably overkill for a small mobile team.   I'd have to guess that there are other such products on the market.   Probably search for mobile worker tracking app.

In the old days before GPS, you'd see the telephone linemen (and many others I'm sure) taking a nap on the side of the road, and no one knew that they were not "on the job".   Now, with GPS, you are on a leash.   I'm betting that it also reduced the revenue on the golf courses too.   Some people like siestas and some like to play.  

The new GPS technology reminds me of a story that a friend told me about another new technology that started back in 1974.....  Direct Deposit.   Many people would get a check on Friday, cash it and then bring home, let's say 80%, pocketing the other 20% for fun money.   The wife didn't know how much the husband really made.    He said his team was livid about having to use Direct Deposit.   It worked out well for those wives as their husbands FINALLY received that long over due "raise".  😁    Technology is both great and evil depending on context.

Even with tracking your employees, I still say that only a limited select few services can be performed on the road.  Technology and the necessary tools are just a few of the driving forces that makes it very difficult for mobile repairs. 

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On 9/10/2022 at 3:27 PM, Joe Marconi said:

Even with tracking your employees, I still say that only a limited select few services can be performed on the road.  Technology and the necessary tools are just a few of the driving forces that makes it very difficult for mobile repairs. 

Agreed.  Multiple times now, I've had a customer say that they called out a mobile mechanic and he tells them what is wrong and then says that you need to take it to a real shop for work.  The implication is that this is not a candidate for mobile repair.  Then, we get to start all over.  Seems like a wasted and expensive first step. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Mobile technician here!

I'll start by saying I love this site! My name is Jarvis and I started Get Started Auto Repair in Las Vegas, Nevada in February of 2021. I joined this site last year and haven't posted yet, since all of the posts are from shop owners and I was a bit intimidated to bother posting since I'm just a mobile guy. That being said, this topic is right up my alley, so I thought I'd provide some insight on the mobile tech experience.

It seems the concensus or possibly even the misconception regarding mobile techs are the work will need to be simple or only a few types of repair jobs can be performed. Here are just some of the jobs I've completed successfully at the customer's location:

  • Strut and shock replacement
  • Steering rack replacement
  • Steering column replacement (and EPS recalibration)
  • AC compressor replacement, AC condenser replacement, AC refrigerant hose replacement - including refrig. evac., recovery & recharge
  • AC system cooling issue diagnostics (leak testing etc)
  • Fuel pump replacement (inside of gas tank)
  • Fuel injector & pressure pulse dampener replacement (after a series of diagnostic tests)
  • Starter replacement
  • Brake rotor, pads & brake drum/shoe replacement
  • Timing belt replacement
  • CV axle replacement
  • Exhaust system replacement (from cat converter to flex pipe to resonance pipe down to the muffler)
  • Engine performance & driveability diagnostics (using bidirectional scan tool & an oscilloscope, with a few self-made tools)
  • Headlight replacement (on vehicles requiring removal of  bumpers and other components)
  • Thermostat replacement, coolant flushing & air bleeding
  • Oil pump rebuild (on GM engines where timing cover has to be removed and engine partially raised)
  • Knock sensor code diagnostics, testing & wiring harness repair
  • Transmission removal & replacement

These are just a few repairs that come to mind that I've completed on a customer's site, within an hour and no more than 3 hours (except the tranny swap -- I'll never do that again!). The trick is to know your limitations when the quote request or referral comes through. I research ALL quote requests briefly, to get an idea of the labor rate average and what the job will entail to complete. If the quote request states they have white smoke coming from the tailpipe and their coolant is disappearing daily, I tell the prospect it's likely they have a blown head gasket and that job is outside of our scope to do since it's a job that may not be finished in one day. And as a mobile tech, I don't take on any job that won't allow me to have the customer's vehicle fully assembled and ready to roll on the same day (unless more parts are needed and I planned a return visit).

As far as sending them to a "real repair shop," I would never use the term "real" because that downplays what we offer and my value as a tech. But I do like to be able to tell a customer "while we can't perform the repairs on the diagnostic we gave you, feel free to contact our partner, XXXXXXX auto shop and tell them Jarvis sent you for a great deal and customer experience."

I'm still in the process of finding an actual shop I can refer customers and prospects to when the work is beyond my scope, but the same reason I got into this as a mobile mechanic is the same reason I haven't yet found one -- lack of trustworthiness among so many in the industry and it's tough to find one you can trust without actually experiencing their services as a customer.

 I do think once a tech gets some experience offering mobile services, the natural progression is to open up a brick in mortar, simply because you start to see the limitations posed by being mobile, which the number one concern being scalability (or lack thereof). As well as dirtbag prospects who feel they can get over on you because you're a "mobile guy." Until they realize you have processes and procedures in place to make them as accountable as a brick and mortar would.

Hope my little $.02 brought a little perspective to those of you who may not know how a mobile repair company operates and the types of repairs that can be done on the road. And I'm glad to see a mobile conversation on the site. I'll definitely be trying to post more as time allows and people engage.

 

Edited by GetStartedAuto
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10 hours ago, GetStartedAuto said:

Mobile technician here!

I'll start by saying I love this site! My name is Jarvis and I started Get Started Auto Repair in Las Vegas, Nevada in February of 2021. I joined this site last year and haven't posted yet, since all of the posts are from shop owners and I was a bit intimidated to bother posting since I'm just a mobile guy. That being said, this topic is right up my alley, so I thought I'd provide some insight on the mobile tech experience.

It seems the concensus or possibly even the misconception regarding mobile techs are the work will need to be simple or only a few types of repair jobs can be performed. Here are just some of the jobs I've completed successfully at the customer's location:

  • Strut and shock replacement
  • Steering rack replacement
  • Steering column replacement (and EPS recalibration)
  • AC compressor replacement, AC condenser replacement, AC refrigerant hose replacement - including refrig. evac., recovery & recharge
  • AC system cooling issue diagnostics (leak testing etc)
  • Fuel pump replacement (inside of gas tank)
  • Fuel injector & pressure pulse dampener replacement (after a series of diagnostic tests)
  • Starter replacement
  • Brake rotor, pads & brake drum/shoe replacement
  • Timing belt replacement
  • CV axle replacement
  • Exhaust system replacement (from cat converter to flex pipe to resonance pipe down to the muffler)
  • Engine performance & driveability diagnostics (using bidirectional scan tool & an oscilloscope, with a few self-made tools)
  • Headlight replacement (on vehicles requiring removal of  bumpers and other components)
  • Thermostat replacement, coolant flushing & air bleeding
  • Oil pump rebuild (on GM engines where timing cover has to be removed and engine partially raised)
  • Knock sensor code diagnostics, testing & wiring harness repair
  • Transmission removal & replacement

These are just a few repairs that come to mind that I've completed on a customer's site, within an hour and no more than 3 hours (except the tranny swap -- I'll never do that again!). The trick is to know your limitations when the quote request or referral comes through. I research ALL quote requests briefly, to get an idea of the labor rate average and what the job will entail to complete. If the quote request states they have white smoke coming from the tailpipe and their coolant is disappearing daily, I tell the prospect it's likely they have a blown head gasket and that job is outside of our scope to do since it's a job that may not be finished in one day. And as a mobile tech, I don't take on any job that won't allow me to have the customer's vehicle fully assembled and ready to roll on the same day (unless more parts are needed and I planned a return visit).

As far as sending them to a "real repair shop," I would never use the term "real" because that downplays what we offer and my value as a tech. But I do like to be able to tell a customer "while we can't perform the repairs on the diagnostic we gave you, feel free to contact our partner, XXXXXXX auto shop and tell them Jarvis sent you for a great deal and customer experience."

I'm still in the process of finding an actual shop I can refer customers and prospects to when the work is beyond my scope, but the same reason I got into this as a mobile mechanic is the same reason I haven't yet found one -- lack of trustworthiness among so many in the industry and it's tough to find one you can trust without actually experiencing their services as a customer.

 I do think once a tech gets some experience offering mobile services, the natural progression is to open up a brick in mortar, simply because you start to see the limitations posed by being mobile, which the number one concern being scalability (or lack thereof). As well as dirtbag prospects who feel they can get over on you because you're a "mobile guy." Until they realize you have processes and procedures in place to make them as accountable as a brick and mortar would.

Hope my little $.02 brought a little perspective to those of you who may not know how a mobile repair company operates and the types of repairs that can be done on the road. And I'm glad to see a mobile conversation on the site. I'll definitely be trying to post more as time allows and people engage.

 

First, thank you for posting!  Your perspective as a mobile technician is very informative.  It is obvious you have great technical skills, as described by the work you perform.  And I see that you do advise customers that some jobs are beyond the scope of what you do.  

A few questions: How do you bill your jobs?  Would you mind sharing your labor rate, and part pricing?  And what does Your future look like?  Do you have plans on opening up your own brick-and-mortar shop?  

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I was doing mobile for about 3 years. I made pretty good money. I really enjoyed it once I get my license straightened out I think I might get back into it. But if you do decide to do it I suggest making that your only thing. Cause running a shop and doing mobile would be like burning a candle on each end before you know it your burnt out. If your trying to get into it I suggest making a 1, 2, or maybe a 3 man crews that only does mobile or hire a manager. But I really liked it cause there's a lot of perks. it never gets boring, with the change of scenery and quick pace, it gets exciting. And the sense of freedom is awesome. There's Also no overhead so the only expenses are mostly gas, food, cellphone, cleaning supplies, occasional tool here and there, and maintenance on your vehicle. Everything can be a write off that helps. It makes it convenient for the costumers, that in return compells them to want to tip. Granted a shop makes things easier but it's still very possible to complete any job no matter How big or small...

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21 hours ago, Jonathan Thompson said:

I was doing mobile for about 3 years. I made pretty good money. I really enjoyed it once I get my license straightened out I think I might get back into it. But if you do decide to do it I suggest making that your only thing. Cause running a shop and doing mobile would be like burning a candle on each end before you know it your burnt out. If your trying to get into it I suggest making a 1, 2, or maybe a 3 man crews that only does mobile or hire a manager. But I really liked it cause there's a lot of perks. it never gets boring, with the change of scenery and quick pace, it gets exciting. And the sense of freedom is awesome. There's Also no overhead so the only expenses are mostly gas, food, cellphone, cleaning supplies, occasional tool here and there, and maintenance on your vehicle. Everything can be a write off that helps. It makes it convenient for the costumers, that in return compells them to want to tip. Granted a shop makes things easier but it's still very possible to complete any job no matter How big or small...

You bring a whole different perspective to the mobile service business.  I guess with your talents and your positive mindset, along with the fact that you really enjoy what you do, it works. Keep us updated, it's a great topic for future posts. 

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