Quantcast
Jump to content
Gonzo

Article: The American Dream - - - The experience of going into owning your own shop.

Recommended Posts

The American Dream

 

Like most young lads, I grew up with a lot of the same dreams and aspirations as we all did. Things like owning your own home, a nice car, maybe a few “boy” toys, and … most of all, the ultimate American dream… owning your own business.

 

Looking back on things now, I guess my interest in owning my own business probably started with my paper route. My family lived out in a rural part of the country, just outside a small college town, and delivering the paper took a bit more than a stroll down a sidewalk. This was farm country, and houses were sometimes miles apart. Luckily, my dad let me ride my mini-bike to make my rounds, and since it was so rural even the county cop looked the other way. Besides, I had his paper in that sack as well… if he wanted his paper he’d have to ignore the half-pint kid on the little Briggs and Stratton powered motor-scooter. At least as long as I had that huge sack over my shoulder and I was delivering the paper, he didn’t seem to mind. But, I’m sure any other time he’d have a few words. (I don’t think you could get away with that today.)

 

I saved my money, counted it often, and thought it was pretty cool that somebody would pay me money to do something that I was having fun doing in the first place. Yep, I thought this sole proprietorship thing was pretty awesome. Then as we all must do, we grow a bit older and find out rather quickly that a few dollars from a paper route doesn’t add up to a tank of gas in that hotrod you’re now driving to high school.... ya need a better paying job. So the self-employed thing gets put on hold.

 

For some, the idea of being self-employed goes no farther than the newspaper route or the lemonade stand. It becomes a part of your past, but for others, including me, owning your own business draws you back in.

 

It could be because of the smiles and wonderful comments I would get as I pulled up on that little mini-bike when I was delivering the paper. Maybe that was part of the motivation to go into private business as an adult. I still remember how some of my older customers I delivered to would be at their mailbox when they heard that scooter coming up the road. They’d smile and hand me my change, then wave goodbye as I took off for my next stop. It was a Norman Rockwell moment to say the least.

 

Ok, time to snap out of that nostalgic dream land and back to reality. Is owning your own business for everyone? No, it’s not… it’s a tough road of ups and downs, argumentative people, bad choices, poor investments, lack of working capital, and long hours. At that’s on a good day. Not every day is that way; some days remind me of my paper route customers greeting me at the mailbox. But, owning your own business can be a rough, tangled road that takes years to figure out how to make it all work, and even tougher to figure out how to keep it going for another day.

 

Being self-employed “sounds” great until you realize the hours you put towards your success is based on the hours you put into it. Which generally means, 12 – 16 hour days, no vacations, no paid holidays, no paid health insurance, and no time off just ‘cause it’s your birthday. You have to be totally self-motivated and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. As well as keeping up with the advanced education needed to stay current with your chosen field. It’s not a dream anymore… it’s certainly not a nightmare (unless you let it be.) It’s just not as easy as it was when all you had to do was ride that scooter up and down those country roads with a sack full of papers.

 

Is it any easier after you put a few years under your belt? Well, that depends on the effort you put into it in the beginning. I’ve been at this independent repair shop thing for three decades now, and I don’t think it’s any easier than it was thirty years ago. Mind you, with the skills, the patrons, and the reputation you gain over the years (decades) things do get a bit better. But, you still have to show up every work day ready to take on the next challenge.

 

When I first opened my shop there was an elderly man in the rented space next to mine, and he would come over to check on me from time to time. He had been in private business his entire adult life, and would tell me stories of how he made money and lost money. With his various ups and downs his stories reflected upon my concerns about starting up my own business. I’ll never forget what he told me about being in private business.

 

He said, “Don’t let the banks own ya, and don’t let the business own ya. You run the business; don’t let the business run you.”

 

I take that to heart every day. What I got out of it was that you have to make sure you remember what you were trying to accomplish in the first place. That is, to create an opportunity for yourself and others while doing something you liked to do. But, don’t forget to take time off, get away from it when you can, and reminding yourself that running your own business isn’t just for you… it’s for your family too. They’re the real winners in your choice to follow the American dream.

 

Blink, and those days on that little scooter are just a memory, another blink and you’re looking at retirement square in the face. Make the best of your time, and don’t forget your family along the way. Private business ain’t bad. It’s not for everyone, but I do think it’s something everyone should experience. And if you do decide to follow the American dream, just remember that kid on that noisy little mini-bike heading down that country road on his way to the next house. All he was looking for is another smile and a bit of change.

 

Hopefully, we can all run our business like that, with a smile and make a bit of change, while taking our own personal ride on the American dream.

 

 

Click here to view the article

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites





  • Similar Topics

    • By BNC173
      I don't spend a lot of time working in the shop on a day to day basis, but do have to do some after hours services or jump in to help. The shop has a few sets of tools that have been placed around in the shop so you don't need to go looking when you need common tools. Yesterday doing a couple simple tire changes & I needed a pair of pliers they station should have 2 they had none I asked a mechanic he went across the room to go get one pair. I then use the machine to breakdown the tire & it wouldn't bust the bead, so I went to the other machine & it was the same way so I went to do it the manual way. Put it on the rim clamp of the first & it wouldn't close, so I went back to the second & I had to clean & oil so it would clamp. I head to balance & had to move tires that will be installed or had been taken off but had life left so we hung on to.  So a 30 min job took 45 min. I asked come in this morning & before I could ask or say anything I see one of the tire guys doing a car tire by hand, I asked you always do it that way & he said yes neither machine is working. I said I found that out last night & have called the repair guy but how come nobody said anything, I got the I don't know answer.  So my question is how does everyone handle the putting tools back, checking machines & notifying of needed repairs & even sweep the floor. Do you have a person with a checklist go to each station every night, sweep the floors every night. Just seems like we have everyone working right up to quitting time or after hate to push more but our running after tools stepping over tires & machines not working correctly is costing us. Just getting ideas of what has worked for others. Thanks
    • By Elite Worldwide Inc.
      Our team at Elite is excited to announce that we're now offering online peer groups for shop owners through an all-new service: Elite Synergy Groups.
      Our Synergy Groups have been designed to help shop owners access the guidance, support and motivation that peer groups deliver, but exclusively in an online environment with no travel required.
      Shop owners who become members will be able to attend regular face-to-face web meetings with the other members in their group, and have open discussions where they can learn what’s working well for other shop owners throughout the country. Elite will also provide group members with a platform to communicate outside of the face-to-face meetings so that the shop owners in each group will have more opportunities to build relationships, and create a culture where each group member is truly invested in the success of their fellow shop owners.
      Every group will be led by a shop owner with an extraordinary track record of success (who is also an Elite Business Development Coach), and each web meeting will include a presentation from the group leader on recruiting, marketing, sales, shop management or whatever the group votes is in their best interest.
      Group members will also have access to a group Resource Center, where every month we’ll be adding new videos, webinars, guides and training content that will help you build a more successful auto repair business.
      The first group will have its first meeting on Oct 10th, and as a special promotion, Elite is offering a $50 discount for all shop owners who enroll in the inaugural group. There is no contract with this service, so if you ever feel the group is not meeting with your expectations, you're free to discontinue at any time. 
      Call 800-204-3548 or visit our Synergy Group web page to reserve our spot today!
    • By abs
      Hi!  I'm looking to open a new automotive repair shop and I could use some help assessing a specific opportunity from the experts here.  To put this in perspective, I would be a new owner without prior repair shop experience, however, I understand repair work and have done almost all of my own work on my personal vehicles for nearly 30 years.  The scope of work I have personally performed included transmissions swaps, suspension, brakes, ignition systems, fuel systems, computer diagnostics and so on.  My formal training is in science and management and I've been in corporate positions for 20+ years.  I also have experience running my own real estate rental business.  I've always been interested in auto repair and I believe this business would be a very good fit for my aptitude, skills and experience.  I would plan to operate as the business owner and bring in skilled staff to handle repairs and customer engagement under my leadership.
      Here is the scenario I could use help with.  I found a 10,000 sq. ft. building which is split up between 6 existing bays (3 front and 3 rear), office space and retail area.  The section with the bays has about 5000 sq. ft. , about 1000 sq. ft. of office space and another 4,000 sq. ft. of retail area.  The property has not been used for auto repair in a long time but could be converted back very quickly along with opportunity to do something interesting in the retail area.    I have many potential ideas for the property.  I am running into two primary challenges in evaluating the opportunity.  The first is the competitive landscape and the second is how quickly I could ramp up the business along with how much business I would likely do from the location after ramp up.
      The property is located on a main road with 20-40k total vehicles/day depending on the day of week.  About a mile up the road, in a cluster, there are 6 name brand auto dealerships.  On the same road, within just a few miles from the site, there are three tire shops, one local and two name brand, along with a Midas and another local 6 bay garage.  Think of this as 5 competitors, each with 6 bays plus the new car dealers.  There are a handful of smaller local shops with 1-2 bays locally as well.  Also, there is a State DMV location, with inspection services in the same zone.  The overall geographic area is in a town that contains a Wal-Mart, Lowes, BJ's and a Costco plus restaurants, etc..  These stores are all within 10 minutes from the potential new location.  The next closest big retail areas are 30 minutes north or 40 minutes south of the target area described.  The demographics of the area skew affluent and population density is moderate - this is not a big city - however people are drawn in from at least a 30 minute drive time radius due to the shopping and other resources. 
      I have a few ideas to differentiate my business from the rest in the area although on Google, it appears that most of the competing businesses have decent reviews overall.  My shop would do all types of repairs including the heavier stuff and the bays are very tall so we could potentially accommodate trucks too.
      So, my questions are:
      Is this an opportunity worth considering given the competitive landscape? If I were to open a shop, how quickly should I expect business to ramp up? I am really looking for solid feedback from folks with deep experience in this industry to help me evaluate if this is a business proposition worthy of consideration at this location.
      Thank you!
    • By CAR_AutoReports
      Hey Everyone,
      I'm Ricardo from Complete Auto Reports.  You may have heard about the shop management software that we made at a shop in Linden NJ. 
      We've been really busy over the last year trying to refine the process at a shop through the software.  We have come up with something we think that people can and will benefit from.  We want to start with smaller auto repair facilities who are looking for something to transition out of paper and pen, as well as word documents and/or excel spreadsheets.  
      We've taken our software and made a free package that allows the following from any device with a updated and functional browser:
      Take appointments from your customers Digital Vehicle Inspections - Included in every service request and sent to each customer if performed Workflow - Pending, Under Process, Awaiting Approval, Approval Completed, Work In Progress, Completed Ratings - Customers can communicate ratings directly to you Messages - You can communicate with customers through the platform Customer App - All service history available, can schedule appointments with the app, transfer vehicle records to new owners Sales Reports 100% mobile - Works on everything from your 5inch iPhone to your desktop. 
      You can presently upload all of your customer information: name, address, phone numbers, email.
      Paid for versions offer parts ordering through PartsTech.com and Employeement modules that track employee time on jobs.
      Are there members here who are interested in trying the free platform to see if it's a fit for their business? Anyone interested in the paid for versions, can also get 60 days of free use and discounted rates available from our SEMA promotions.

       
      Our 3 plans can be broken down into these simple differences:   Free:  No inventory, no online parts ordering through PartsTech, only one photo/video per service request, one login, no employee management $50 per month (also have yearly options to save $): Includes online parts ordering through PartsTech and includes inventory, one login, no employee management $100 per month (also have yearly options to save $): includes everything with 5 logins to access the system. We often get asked, "What use can a bigger shop possibly get from the free plan?"
      With the free plan, you can take appointments digitally from your customers and then upload a copy of their receipt from your existing system to their profile in CAR. Reducing paper waste and creating a digital record for your customer to always have.  You can also use the free plan to send your customers a video or photo of the services you are performing, complete with billing the customer through the free plan at the end of the service.  These are all features that you pay for with add on systems, they are all available for free with us as you learn to adapt to smarter, more efficient technology.
      Data:
      The data you enter is yours, we do not have any agreements presently to share it with anyone and we certainly will never be sharing any personally identifying information with anyone.  Majority of the data we are interested in is to build better features to serve you better.
      Should you ever decide you no longer want to use our platform, your account will be available to you for free for one year at minimum.  In addition to that, we can and will provide you a complete data dump of all of your records within 72 hours of the request.  These companies that make it impossible to recover YOUR data is the reason for our open policy.  We want everyone to change their practices and we're leading by example.
      Cancellation:
      If you decide to cancel your subscription for any reason, all of your data can and will be exported and delivered to you via a USB stick you provide or through email in the way of an Excel file(s).  Additionally, you can access ALL OF YOUR information on our server for one year without any interference from anyone at CAR.  Most of you may not know, but I actually own a shop and if it's one thing I can not stand behind, it's these companies getting access to all of our information for secretive reasons or keeping us from having the very data that belongs to us in the first place.  You will never encounter this experience with us.
    • By Elite Worldwide Inc.
      Let’s say you’re looking to hire a superstar technician. You find one who has a proven track record of success, and put them through a well-constructed interview process. You decide that the person sitting in front of you is the perfect fit, and you make them a formal job offer in hopes that they will agree to join your team. They agree, and for the first time in a while you’re able to sleep throughout the night, because you know you’ve done your due diligence, and have finally found the top tech you’ve so desperately been needing.  All good so far, right?
      Your new hire comes to work on Monday, and you’re off to a great start. And then…. it happens. Within the first few weeks you start to get the sinking feeling that you may have hired the wrong person. There’s no question that they can fix cars the right way, and they do it quickly. They also show up every day on time, and they keep their workplace clean. The problem is, they don’t follow your procedures very well. Your key employees are telling you that the new guy seems to complain quite a bit about meaningless things, and they’re sad to report that he’s not very social either. 
      You start to hope that he’ll either “adjust or come around”, or that he’s just dealing with some personal issues that will soon pass. But after a month or two you reach the inevitable conclusion – this guy doesn’t like to follow rules, he has an attitude that doesn’t fit well in your shop, and your other employees are not very pleased that he’s working with you. After many sleepless nights, you decide to let him go, and you start the process all over again. 
      Unfortunately, many shop owners live in this world of high employee turnover, or end up telling themselves that they’d rather keep someone who’s not a good fit than run the risk of simply swapping out one bad employee for another. If this sounds all too familiar to you, then consider this:
      The trap most shop owners fall into is they hire people for what they know, and they end up firing them… for who they are.  
      To put it another way, shop owners often hire people for their skills, and they fire them for their behavior. So, the best-kept secret to hiring superstar techs and advisors?  It’s going a step beyond learning about their skills and experience, and learning more about who they are as a person. As someone who has grown some of the most successful shops in America, I’ve learned over the years that in order to hire top employees that my entire team will really enjoy working with, I have to pay very close attention to their personalities and behaviors during the interview process. I do that to this day with Elite, and it’s been one of the most important keys to my hiring success. However, I also know that my perception of someone’s personality will only take me so far, so I have every applicant complete a 45-minute online behavioral assessment before the first interview.  Here’s why.
      An assessment can tell us whether an applicant has the propensity to follow rules, how social they are, their level of optimism, how open they are to constructive feedback, and a whole lot more. Not only do these assessments help us conclude whether the applicant is even someone we should interview, but they also give us direction on where we should dig deeper, and the questions we should ask during the interviews. For example, if the assessment suggests they are not very social, then you know you need to ask questions about how they worked with others in the past so you can discover if there were personality conflicts, ego issues, etc. If the assessment suggests they have a propensity to ignore rules and procedures, you can ask them specific questions about how they inspected and repaired cars, and how they interacted with the advisors. 
      So here’s what I’m going to ask you to do. First, think about the people you’ve fired. Hopefully it hasn’t been many, but I suspect you will discover that with rare exception, the reason you fired them had little to do with their skills, but was because of who they were as a person or how they behaved. Secondly, I’m going to ask that you accept the fact that there are many behaviors (and propensities) that will show up on behavioral assessments that you or I would never be able to detect during an interview, no matter how thorough we may be. And lastly, consider that if you do the math, hiring the wrong person is going to cost you at least $5,000.
      If you now agree that you need to dig deep and learn more about who the person really is before you hire them, you need to do what Fortune 500 companies and the top shop owners in America do, and have every applicant complete a behavioral assessment before the first interview. There are many companies that provide such services, such as Predictive Index, Berke, and Myers-Briggs, to name a few. We use Berke, and have been quite pleased. 
      If you do begin assessing the people you may hire, then you have my promise: You’ll have a much higher probability of hiring the techs and advisors that your other employees will enjoy working with, they’ll follow your rules, and you’ll be able to go to sleep at night knowing you have an incredible team…of superstars.

      “Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite (www.EliteWorldwide.com), a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while elevating the industry at the same time. The company offers the industry’s #1 peer group of 90 successful shop owners, training and coaching from top shop owners, service advisor training, along with online and in-class sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can contact Elite at [email protected], or by calling 800-204-3548."

      View full article
  • AutoShopOwner Sponsors



×
×
  • Create New...