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Problems in owning your own building


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I was currently looking into purchasing a building to operate a outdoor sporting goods store. The problem we ran into came from the environmental testing. The building use to be a Service Station many many years ago with a potential hoist being buried in the concrete. The attorney handling the real-estate transaction closed out the contract without my consent went AWAL after the Phase 1 test discovered these REC’s which I told him would come into play before we spent this money. Now after all this, I ended up learning a few things on EPA, property, and Enviromental REC’s.

The property wouldn’t be able to be turned back into a repair shop as theirs one right by the building and is a small town. Plus think their would be major issues with even getting approval from the township. The building simply inst setup to be a repair shop anymore. It’s been changed too drastically.

I originally wanted to own my own repair shop. However, do to my finances this is probably out of the question, but maybe still possible just not to the capacity I wanted, or maybe at least a detail shop.

How are you guys dealing with the environmental issues in purchasing a building? Older buildings would already have REC’s such at possible UST’s, LUST’s, ground contaminations, and so forth. Not to mention even doing a BEA, surly this line of work would only cause failures to prevent making the situation worse, or am I wrong here?

Plus if you were to by a clean property with no REC’s, what to do when selling the property? Seems to me that the property would need cleaned up before it could be sold.

I am now scared to even want to open a shop after this whole ordeal after this mess with our attorney.

Paying for Phase 1 after Phase 1 to find a property is insane. You then are looking at a Phase 2 and cleanup costs associated. I really do not know How anyone is buying commercial property anymore, not alone for a repair shop. I’m sure the attorney has really got me filled with so much wrong and inaccurate information and really need someone in the industry to clear the air here for me, regardless if we can get negotiations opened back up for this property and do the sports store, open a repair shop, or open a detail shop.

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Maybe this varies by region, because a building behind from mine sold a couple months ago. It was originally a gas/service station and that was maybe 40 years ago and prior. Then it was a muffler and brake shop until it sold. Now it's going to be a farmers market, whole foods type of store, just like that! That's quite a change and there was no enviromental work or studies done at all. They got in a little heat for not pulling permits and changing zoning usage, but that seemed to clear up quick and they are back working on it.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      I recently spoke with a friend of mine who owns a large general repair shop in the Midwest. His father founded the business in 1975. He was telling me that although he’s busy, he’s also very frustrated. When I probed him more about his frustrations, he said that it’s hard to find qualified technicians. My friend employs four technicians and is looking to hire two more. I then asked him, “How long does a technician last working for you.” He looked puzzled and replied, “I never really thought about that, but I can tell that except for one tech, most technicians don’t last working for me longer than a few years.”
      Judging from personal experience as a shop owner and from what I know about the auto repair industry, I can tell you that other than a few exceptions, the turnover rate for technicians in our industry is too high. This makes me think, do we have a technician shortage or a retention problem? Have we done the best we can over the decades to provide great pay plans, benefits packages, great work environments, and the right culture to ensure that the techs we have stay with us?
      Finding and hiring qualified automotive technicians is not a new phenomenon. This problem has been around for as long as I can remember. While we do need to attract people to our industry and provide the necessary training and mentorship, we also need to focus on retention. Having a revolving door and needing to hire techs every few years or so costs your company money. Big money! And that revolving door may be a sign of an even bigger issue: poor leadership, and poor employee management skills.
      Here’s one more thing to consider, for the most part, technicians don’t leave one job to start a new career, they leave one shop as a technician to become a technician at another shop. The reasons why they leave can be debated, but there is one fact that we cannot deny, people don’t quit the company they work for, they usually leave because of the boss or manager they work for.
      Put yourselves in the shoes of your employees. Do you have a workplace that communicates, “We appreciate you and want you to stay!”
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