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)Here's the situation, and if there is anything else you'd like to know I'd be glad to offer up any information I have. I'm a 10+ year tech, both automotive and heavy truck/equipment repair. I have a good friend who owns a two bay shop with a large waiting area and office. He has been letting me work out of his building as it is up for lease. He found someone that wants to lease the building to open a second location for his successful used car dealership, but he has no use for the shop portion as he outsources his work. I've been offered to lease the shop portion, 10 of 32 parking spots, and share the waiting room/lounge for $500 per month. One bay has a 9,000lb lift, the other bay an oil change pit. There is already an industrial compressor there, a back room for a desk and storage, a coolant flush machine, differential fill machine, and a trans flush machine. I have as many hand tools as I need to get going, and a Snap On diagnostic scanner. I have yet to get quoted insurance prices, but have researched NYS Registered Repair Shop requirements.
I really think I can make something work with the low overhead, and I am in a position in my life (36, single, no children, no house) that I can scrape by financially while I build things up for a few years. I have good credit. I have a brother and several friends (technicians) who are able to help for minimal cost on an as needed basis, as well as an accountant in the family to take care of that side of things. Ideally the plan would be to get things rolling and as soon as possible fill the oil change pit/pour concrete in preparation for a second lift, as that's where the bottleneck would be I figure. The other benefit is that the used car dealer agreed to allow me to do his work, and he plans on having roughly 20 cars on the lot at any given time. I also have another used car dealer who brings me his work, roughly 3 cars per week. I live in an area where there is not a ton of money, as in a high percentage of people drive 10yr old or so cars.
Any advice? I really want to make a go of this but I am doing as much research as I can to be as educated as I can before pulling the trigger. I appreciate anything you might be able to add, and I am reading through many posts as it is just to garner whatever knowledge I can from those with experience. I should also add I have absolutely no issue working insane amounts of hours (70,80), as I do that already. I have always wanted to work for myself and someday make some money for me instead of making it for others.
After years of work to get to this point, we are finally opening the doors to my new shop on Monday. I did a small friends and family test on Friday. We stubbed our toes on all procedures but the actual shop work. It was horrible, but a great learning experience. Most issues were procedural in nature, so this weekend was procedure repair. We really weren't ready to open, but it needed to happen. Still not ready on all fronts. My website is built, but awaiting my detailed review to go online. It'll happen in the next day or so. We're still buying shop tools. Many are in, but I wanted to let my staff be part of the tool choices. (Yes, we're going to have to pare back some of their big wish list).
Hiring is still ongoing. I had my 3 critical positions covered for a while now, but I still have more left to hire.
I chose Protractor as my SMS. I'm mostly happy with this decision. My biggest gripe is that the software is unforgiving of mistakes and new users make many mistakes. I now need to learn how to undo my mistakes so that the accounting part remains accurate.
Today, my entire computer network went down and it took us over 2 hours to get it back online. Next on the list is to practice recovery procedures.
One of my major marketing spend items was to be on a busy corner. It appears that this may indeed work out for us. We serviced about 9 cars on Friday and turned away about 15 drive-up customers. Have 1 appointment booked for tomorrow. Wish me luck!
We are currently not open on Saturdays, but I'm thinking about it. I wonder how many of you are open on Sat and how it works for you, what your thoughts are. I've always appreciated the model of having a business that was closed evenings and weekends, and it's nice for the employees. However, we're trying to maintain a higher level of gross sales with more employees and I'm trying to keep an open mind. I went from 2 techs and a lube tech and one service advisor with a CRM, to 3 techs plus lube tech and two service advisors on May 1st. We've done well for the summer, but I'm nervous about keeping everyone busy through the slower season. Also, going forward with the challenges we'll face in coming years I'm wondering if being open on Sat will give us an advantage. Welcome any input.
By Jay Huh
Long story short, been in business about 2 years and started mobile. Current location for about a year, just opened up a second location about 3 weeks ago- HUGE step for me.
In my area, auto shop locations are REALLY REALLY RARE. There'll be months before a single shop will pop up for lease.
Well.. I was looking for auto equipment on craigslist and stumbled upon a listing of a shop moving and selling all his lifts. Found the location on loopnet- 5 bays, previous business extremely successful, great location, great price too....
1st location hit record sales this past week, 2nd new location held its own (divided by week, came out on top after expenses). I got both stores running self sufficiently. I am pretty much maxed out and I hate taking out loans but I have a line of credit available.
Am I crazy to want to do this?
I've been talking about opening a shop on and off with my former boss/friend.
I use to manage my friend's shop (then, former boss) + other businesses. He specialized in European repairs. I used to run diagnostics for the Mercedes via laptop. We closed his shop down. Reason being, he's more of a shop foreman, than a business-minded guy. I'm an IT and business guy. I build out networks and computers for clients.
He works at a big name dealership and he got me a job with him. He's a journeyman and I was a service advisor. This was over a year ago. I quit the job, due to terrible pay (practically slave labor) and terrible hours (65+ hours/week).
I now do mobile programming. What got me into it was, my last 2 weeks at the dealer, we had a car that came in. Brand new 2016 with 1000 miles. Had a check engine light. Dispatched it and the tech came back to me telling me it needed a software update. P Code was regarding low fuel pressure (generally a fuel pump). It got me thinking and I did a lot of research and 2 months later, I started to program cars.
I program cars on the side and I work another job so I'm always staying busy.
My friend and I got in talks again. He still has all his tools + more from his old shop. I have the IT stuff (laptops, computer hardware and more) + a ton of scan tools and subscriptions. I can program GM, BMW, Mercedes, Nissan, Kia, Toyota and much more.
I handle the business side + do programming/computer diagnostics and he handles the shop side + whatever techs we hire.
Stuff we will need:
Smoke machine (not sure if he still has his old one or not)
TPMS tool (Been reading a lot about Autel's TPMS tool)
Mitchell POS system (I used to use and loved it)
Stuff we have:
Scan tools / Programming subscriptions
All Data / Identifix subscription
Waiting room furniture (from the old shop. Still like new)
MPI Sheet (Multi-Point Inspection)
Stuff we'd like to do:
Carry common parts (air filters/cabin filters, etc)
Structure a streamlined hiring process.
Do book time and use Mitchell to keep track of book time. If not, create an excel formula to keep track.
Stuff I'd like to know more about:
What do you offer for benefits / What company do you go through for benefits?
Employee handbooks / how to come up with them?
What insurance do you have for the shop?
Alignment rack (Very expensive, but curious to what brand/model people have)
Possible hourly rate for shops that work on European + Asian/Domestic.
Do you start off a diagnostic charge at 1 hour and if a customer accepts the job, do you still charge them the diag fee + job fee or is diag fee discounted?
Do you use an outside payroll company/accountant or do you use Quickbooks or something similar?
I do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions to further learn and prep myself.
Thank you for taking the time in reading this.