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how do i compete with mobile/backyard mechanics?


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I'm sure everyone has had to deal with this so hopefully I can get some advice. How do you compete with these mobile & backyard mechanics. I've been losing so many jobs to them just simply because I can't compete with their prices. Example- a customer called asking for an estimate on replacing his motor on a 1998 cadillac deville. After finding a low mileage used motor with a decent warranty I gave him a price of $2000. He seemed very happy with it and would call me the next day to let me know. He called back a few days later saying he found someone who would do it for $900 and demanded I match his price. After a bit of questioning i found out his other price would be doing it in his backyard, and has never done a northstar motor swap(the subframe,motor,trans has to come out at the same time) I told him I couldn't even get close to it and he went with the cheaper price. So i lost the job. This is almost a daily happening from almost every call I get. How do I get people to see past the ridcliously low price that these backyarders can give and go with a quality repair at a decent price???

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I can tell you that I have been there. Customers that are worried about price (like your example) you don't want. I just lost a big cat converter job because I wasn't willing to budge on the price. I need to be able to keep my doors open and pay my employees. Don't lower your price just to get business, it will only cost you in the long run.

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I don't compete with them. I have a professional shop with service bays, specialty equipment, resources, insurance, and a warranty. They don't. I have heard of tons of bad repairs with backyard/mobile mechanics.

 

What is the customer going to do when their new engine doesn't run properly, is the backyard mechanic going to be back? What is the customer going to do when the backyard mechanic abandons the job half done in their driveway?

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A northstar engine out of a deville is not a cake walk swap. I'll bet dollars to donuts that the customer will end up with a half taken apart car that never gets put back together for $900.

 

In all varies by area, but around here about $1300 in labor is probably average for that replacement plus engine cost and any lines/hoses that need replaced during the removal and reinstallation.

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I don't compete with them. I have a professional shop with service bays, specialty equipment, resources, insurance, and a warranty. They don't. I have heard of tons of bad repairs with backyard/mobile mechanics.

 

What is the customer going to do when their new engine doesn't run properly, is the backyard mechanic going to be back? What is the customer going to do when the backyard mechanic abandons the job half done in their driveway?

 

The backyard mechanic will eventually disappear or raise his rates. I treat all my customers and potential customers fairly so that they return or that they remember that I am here if ever they need my service.

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In the first few years of business I found myself competing with those guys alot. I always find it amusing when I give someone a quote, and they respond with "oh, well my friend said he will do it for free at his house this weekend". So am I supposed to pay you to fix your car? Thats the only way I can beat free!!!

 

I can tell you that I do not want the customers that are using the mobile/backyard mechanics. I most likely will NEVER make enough profit off of ANY job they bring to me. That goes for their vehicles, and most of their referrals too. In the last year or so I have been able to "weed out" all of the price shopper type of customers that I used to have. I make much more profit and have alot better customer service experiences by only dealing with the right kind of customer. I take all of that time that I used to spend on making a couple of dollars from the discount oriented customer, and apply it to keeping the ones that see the value in what we do. That has been the most rewarding decision I have made up to this point in business.

 

It is very hard to turn away work when things are slow (and money is tight), but I still don't give in. I always try to build value in my pricing when explaining a repair. I mention my great warranty, my quality parts, and my trained staff. If they are not interested after that conversation then I send them down the road. I can tell you from experience that is a good thing most of the time! From my experience they were the ones that take up most of my time, give me the most headaches, and at the same time pay the least. That is just not the business I planned on owning when I started it.

 

It really all comes down to what type of business you want/need. You can't have it all, and either can your customers!

 

 

JP

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All great comments. And I agree: How to compete with the backyard mechanic?...You don't.

 

Every business must define their customer base. Never compete on someone elses terms. Be fair and honest and profitable. If you know what type of business you want to run, you will know what kind of customer you want. Find those customers and don't worry about the rest.

 

In the 32 years I have been in business, I have seen many of these backyard, under the table shops. They don't stay around for long and the ones that do are never, ever profitable.

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When it is all said and done I guarantee you that this guy will be sorry for his decision and the guy doing for $900 will be sorry. You can't fix stupid.

 

I agree that both will be sorry for the repair. Unfortunately you are also correct that you can't fix stupid and the consumer will submit to his/her stupidity again and seek out the cheapest price without regard for quality or integrity. They will not learn from their mistake. Sadly we can't fix that. All we can do is keep our heads up and serve those who allow us to.

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All great replies, thank you. Im assuming that caddy still isn done and im sure ill get call from that customer wanting me to finish it. Thats fine, ill be glad to charge them for fixing the mess and repairing it rigjt. Great site, ive learned alot from it.

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  • 6 months later...

I'm sure everyone has had to deal with this so hopefully I can get some advice. How do you compete with these mobile & backyard mechanics. I've been losing so many jobs to them just simply because I can't compete with their prices. Example- a customer called asking for an estimate on replacing his motor on a 1998 cadillac deville. After finding a low mileage used motor with a decent warranty I gave him a price of $2000. He seemed very happy with it and would call me the next day to let me know. He called back a few days later saying he found someone who would do it for $900 and demanded I match his price. After a bit of questioning i found out his other price would be doing it in his backyard, and has never done a northstar motor swap(the subframe,motor,trans has to come out at the same time) I told him I couldn't even get close to it and he went with the cheaper price. So i lost the job. This is almost a daily happening from almost every call I get. How do I get people to see past the ridcliously low price that these backyarders can give and go with a quality repair at a decent price???

 

Old post,but haven't been on here in a long time :angry:

 

I can understand the resentment or dislike of back yarders but as a current Mobile Tech and shop owner I ask that you don't lump us all together. I run my Mobile business with full insurance, business licenses and taxes, I offer warranties, and quality repairs JUST like in the shop. Granted I can't do it all like a regular fixed structure shop on "the road" but I can tow it back and do it in the shop. I offer rates close to what the other local shops charge,just a little less because of the low overhead I have.

 

Having said the above, I know of one other legit mobile business in my area (Lic, taxes, insurance etc...) and few other ones that make your average DIYer look like professionals. I guess I'm saying don't judge us all because of a few bad apples. Hell, regular shops get judged like this too and we all hate that! :rolleyes:

 

Not starting a war here just wanted to vent and hopefully stand up for the good ones. Hope all are having a good day/night. Be safe!

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Old post,but haven't been on here in a long time :angry:

 

I can understand the resentment or dislike of back yarders but as a current Mobile Tech and shop owner I ask that you don't lump us all together. I run my Mobile business with full insurance, business licenses and taxes, I offer warranties, and quality repairs JUST like in the shop. Granted I can't do it all like a regular fixed structure shop on "the road" but I can tow it back and do it in the shop. I offer rates close to what the other local shops charge,just a little less because of the low overhead I have.

 

Having said the above, I know of one other legit mobile business in my area (Lic, taxes, insurance etc...) and few other ones that make your average DIYer look like professionals. I guess I'm saying don't judge us all because of a few bad apples. Hell, regular shops get judged like this too and we all hate that! :rolleyes:

 

Not starting a war here just wanted to vent and hopefully stand up for the good ones. Hope all are having a good day/night. Be safe!

 

I know the OP listed mobile guys but I think the reference was to people who work "under the table" but are mobile, not professional, licensed mobile operations. Do you show up to a mobile call in your personal car hauling your tools in a hand carry tool box (or cardboard box)? Or do you have a professional setup and show up in a marked vehicle? The difference here is you are a legitimate competitor. The only difference between you and a brick-and-mortar repair shop as you describe it is you go to the customer. That is your competitive advantage. Nothing to be ashamed of or be derided for. But I see your point, sometimes that differentiation is not made by the brick-and-mortar shops.

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Thanks guys!

 

I was having a bad day yesterday and hope I didn't come off sounding bad or anything.

 

I had this discussion with some of our local shop owners during or bi-weekly breakfast get togethers and I understand the fustration 100%.

 

What set me off was the other day dealing with a "client". She was not happy that I couldn't pull her engine and basically do an overhaul to it and have it done that evening. Note: she called me at 4:30pm and wanted it done by 8pm. I explained to her that even back at a regular shop it couldn't be done unless all the parts were already ordered and any machining that needed to be done was ready. I told her I could have it done by the afternoon the next day....... well she got all uptight and said all I was "was a fake mechanic operating out of a truck trying to make a quick buck". Needless to say I educated her and gave her the numbers of local shops to call. She called while I was there and guess what? They couldn't do it by 8pm either......

 

But anyway, i've been lurking around on this site for awhile and just had to throw my two cents in.

 

Hope all have a good day and be safe.

 

P.S. Be careful, I'm lurking around the corner and going to under cut all your shop rates and steal all your business LMAO :lol::lol:B) (For those that don't know me, thats a joke from my bad sense of humor)

Edited by Patrickcn
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Yes, if a business is legit with all the credentials, than I don't think anyone would have an issue. I do think that no matter what form of honest, legitamate business you have, we need to all help to raise the image of the industry, and not focus on price but the value we bring to consumers.

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Yes, if a business is legit with all the credentials, than I don't think anyone would have an issue. I do think that no matter what form of honest, legitamate business you have, we need to all help to raise the image of the industry, and not focus on price but the value we bring to consumers.

 

Joe You hit the nail on the head! We need to improve the over all image! I'm tired of the statements we always hear, especially when the person doesn't know we are there: "My car is acting up and I guess I'll have to take it to a mechanic and get ripped off" or "damn mechanics are nothing but a rip off and I could've done it myself for less" (well why didn't you?). I hear this all the time when I'm out shopping or somewhere with the family and people are talking and you hear it all. But as soon as they find out what I do they get real quiet and say they were just joking etc... :lol:

 

Image is everything. Intagrity, education of the public about us and what we do, and the value are rated at the top with image. (Does that make sense? I'm going to bed, been up all night and just getting back home).

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