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steve805

Taking the plunge & scared to death!

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Here goes! My husband and I are working out a business plan to start a shop. I'm trying to fill the role of "brain" to his "braun" so Iooking to get lots of practical business advice before we make the investment. We found a great location in our home town (right off the highway). A two bay shop with lifts for 1600/mo. Our family name is associated with a great reputation in the area, so the plan is to use that to our advantage in marketing along with a referral program. We have a $17,000 line of credit already established. Is this a realistic amount to cover start-up in your opinion? We don't plan to have employees in the beginning. Thank you!

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First, I want to wish you the best of luck!

 

Scared to death! I know how you feel. Business is not easy and it's a daily renewal. Before I give you advice, we need a few facts.

 

  • Who will be employed
  • what will your job description be
  • do you have equipment and other needed tools
  • With your business plan; did you factor in any start up costs: Insurance, utilities, uniforms, tools, furnishings, etc.
  • Are you planning a grand opening (you should consider it)
  • How will you promote the shop

This is just a start. I can tell you that you will need to understand the numbers of the business. The better you are as a business person, the better chance for success. Like the past post, know the numbers.

 

Don't be the cheapest, DON'T compete on price. Find out what the competition is doing and do not be like them, be different. Find your niche, that something different that will make you stand out. If you don't differentiate, you will just blend into the background and will not get noticed.

 

Find out what you want to bring to your market area, and do not try to be everything to everyone. The more narrow you define your business the more you can target your customer. Starbucks knows exactly who their customer is and they don't waver from that position.

 

You mentioned the family name. What is your strategy to build upon this?

 

As far as the $17,000 is concerned, it all depends on what initial start up costs will be, and what your one-time expenses will be.

 

This is exciting, the more planning and homework you do, the better.

 

When is the launch date?

 

This is just the start, keep the dialogue going, We'll help you thru the process.

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The reason you may feel scared is what I call the many "unknonws", since you lack the experience and have not had the opportunity of dealing with the many issues of running a business, you feel that anxiety that comes when going into a new adventure. Don't be scared, think logically and many things will come to you.

 

There are certain fundamentals that should be obvious, yet they are not if you have not given them any thought, for example:

 

1. ) There are only 24 hours in the day, of those hours, how many hours will your shop be open? That means someone that is qualified will have to staff the shop for the hours it will be open.

 

2.) If your billable rate is $100.00 per hour and your mechanic bills 7 hours per shift that will bring in $700.00 in revenue into the shop.

 

3. If you pay your mechanic $15 per hour and the state taxes and benefits cost you another 30%, mark up your labor cost by 30% for example: $15 mechanic pay x 1.3 = $19.50 effective cost per hour. That means that mechanic is costing you $156 per 8 hour shift in hard dollars.

 

4. Break down your rent, insurance, and utilities down to a daily cost, that way you will know your daily break even sales target.

 

5. Learn to use excel and make a dashboard that will help you keep track of your daily numbers. This way you will know day to day how your business is doing.

 

6. Learn to know the difference between mark up and margin, as a rule of thumb, mark up things higher than your expected margin, for example, your cost is $10, mark it up by 50% for an expected margin of 33%.

 

...

Edited by HarrytheCarGeek

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Don't worry about making mistakes and don't feel intimidated by the whole thing, it is a lot of fun running your own business, but it also has its challenges.

 

Keep an open mind, don't be afraid to ask questions. The most successful people I know do not mind sharing their secrets to success.

Edited by HarrytheCarGeek

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I have a bunch of notes I have jotted down for you, but have not had the time to log in and post them in a coherent script that would be of much help to you.

 

One thing I can tell you from this process though, a lot of the things I have been writing down to post have caused me to go back and re-examine my own business experience, and what I could do to innovate and improve my present business.

 

Myself, I have a very difficult choice to make, sell the business, stay at the present size or grow to more locations. More locations doesn't necessarily mean bigger profits as a percentage of sales, and I am not sure if my wife is willing to spend more time with me growing the business.

 

One thing I can tell you though, I am an odd bird in regards to this business. I really like the smell of the shop when I come in early in the morning to open up, and look forward to help my customers get their car problems solved. With this in mind, no doubt anyone with a passion for something can find success in anything they do, the kicker is, I find it a bonus for getting paid for what I do.

 

So, don't be scared, take some business classes, learn to listen to your customers and solve their car problems and you can find success in this industry.

 

More to share soon, Divine Providence willing,

 

Harry

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I started my shop with no capital... no money...and no idea how to run a business. I basically started with one test light, one tool box, and one can of WD-40 (no kidding)

If ASO would have been around back then I certainly would have read every scrap of information I could have. I'm like a lot of guys in the biz, a really good tech, but don't have a clue how to run a business. This site is a great help to learn what to do or what not to do.

 

You're on the right track... Go For It... you won't regret it. Gonzo

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I started with 700 bucks, 200 grand in tools ( hello my name is Jeff and I am a tool junkie ) and a podunk 1 bay shop. There have been some highs and some real LOWS. I have quit, cussed, kicked, left and came back. Ultimately I like workin on cars. The cash flow could always be better and the challenges never end. With all that said ASO is a blessing. I participate in several forums and ASO is at the top of my list. The one thing I would add is to Market yourself and track your returns. I only advertise in 1 publication that proved over time it had the best returns. I do have an internet presences thru repair pal and other similar sites. All of it is tracked thru my software (Mitchell). That is the other thing...a good repair and management program is crucial! Good luck and check in often.

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It's a lot of work. I love my shop and it is the best thing I ever did for my financial well being. It has been 2 years since I opened and I just surpassed 1mil in sales in that time. There are been many tweaks and changes, but as I grew I learned how to deal with them. Fired my first employee, hired another, worked my butt off and I have a lot to show for it.

If you have your head on your shoulders and a good tech in the back, you can make it. I set myself apart from the rest by focusing on just BMW's and Mini Coopers (I'm a BMW master tech), and slowly expanded into other German makes. We operate at a 60% profit margin and are on target for $750k this year. I say go for it! Best of luck...

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A $17,000 line of credit is all relative, I opened with 100 grand in the bank and all equipment paid for on my opening day, and there were times I felt I was under capitalized, but if you keep track of all the numbers, incoming and outgoing and work smart, you will win. Working for yourself is so rewarding and when you win, makes you feel like you accomplished something. Good luck

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In addition to your business plan, take some time to review your FAMILY'S budget. When you are starting a family business and relying on that business to put food on your table, your business finances and your personal finances will get very interwoven. I do not mean formally interwoven ... you're going to have separate checking accounts. But in reality, what impacts your family financially will impact your business financially.

 

Practically, this means shedding every unnecessary expense you have before you start this business. Your family finances should be lean-and-mean going in. Did you just buy a new boat with $600/mo payments? Sell it. Are you living in an expensive condo downtown? Move out to somewhere a bit too small. Are you spending $500/mo on restaurants? Time to start eating beans and rice.

 

If you can get your family's finances in order, your business finances will follow suit. I can speak from experience on this. Three years prior to starting our shop, my wife and I did a Dave Ramsey course with our church. We then lived off 12% of our combined incomes for the next three years. When we walked into the banks with our business plan and finances in order, all six banks we visited were begging to give us very sizable loans.

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Welcome to ASO and good luck in your business!!

 

We have been open for about a year. (Nov 22 would be our 1st year in business) We started with nothing. We had enough savings to lease the facility and that's about it. The thing that helps us was that my husband is a great tech and he had all his tools already.

 

Don't give up and learn, learn learn.

 

I have been on ASO for about a couple of weeks and I'm learning so much thanks to all of you that have some great advice. I'm still learning and I know that I have way more to learn about the business.

 

My husband is the tech. I work inside the office and take care, of almost everything except working on cars. (not yet)

We have had our disagreements because I want to do it one way and he wants to do it another way. It has impacted our relationship quite a bit. I hope that you guys have a lot of communication involved and you both agree on things concerning the business. We are getting better at communicating but we still need a lot of work.

 

Good Luck and keep in touch.

 

Zulma

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