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Planning to start my own car repair shop, any owners here?

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All_Kindz_Of_Gainz

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As many of you know I'm an engineer, but have always loved working on cars, replacing parts, tunes, etc. I'm planning to start my own car repair shop this year, in the beginning I'll focus in everything except engine or transmissions. I'm also studying online to get the diploma and take the ASE exam.

Equipment will be around $20,000k, then I'll have to look for a place to rent, I have some money saved but I'm planning to take a small business loan, I also can use HELOC that will be around $130/month for 30 years repayment. Don't know yet.

Is there any mechanics in here? or shop owners? I'm interested in knowing how you guys did it.
 

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sangheilios

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Not a mechanic, but I consider myself an entrepreneur. I think this would be a great hobby that you could turn into a money making gig/side hustle. It could be something where you could do basic work out of your own garage at home like replacing brakes, alternator, etc. While it's not all that complicated, most people don't really have any experience doing stuff like this, so they are naturally uncomfortable with it and would rather just pay someone to do it.

However, I think the idea you are presenting could potentially be way more of a hassle than it may be worth. I'd also add that you don't have any direct work experience in this field, so you probably haven't seriously considered the business end of things. I'd also consider liability issues and insurance as well, not sure if that has been factored in. While this isn't a dig at you, mechanics are honestly a dime a dozen and it could be difficult to attract a solid customer base. I personally just can't imagine investing this kind of time, money and energy into something with a high possibility of the business struggling to amount to much of anything or even it flopping all together.

None of this is a dig at you, just how I see this as an entrepreneur.
 
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jaygreenb

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As many of you know I'm an engineer, but have always loved working on cars, replacing parts, tunes, etc. I'm planning to start my own car repair shop this year, in the beginning I'll focus in everything except engine or transmissions. I'm also studying online to get the diploma and take the ASE exam.

Equipment will be around $20,000k, then I'll have to look for a place to rent, I have some money saved but I'm planning to take a small business loan, I also can use HELOC that will be around $130/month for 30 years repayment. Don't know yet.

Is there any mechanics in here? or shop owners? I'm interested in knowing how you guys did it.
I agree with just about most of Sangheilios said. My biggest question is how is revenue going to be generated consistently without any prior relationships with clients and different sectors of the auto community? With around 20k to make it work, the only advertising you will be able to run is you on your feet knocking on doors/going to events/putting yourself out there. This is actually very effective but if you are focused on that, you aren't going to have the time to be the labor in the shop as well. You are going to run through that cash very quickly if you have a lot of fixed costs each month like rent and insurances. Doing it as a side gig while also putting yourself our there and building relationships to at least start with a foundation of revenue would take away a lot of risk. Also know, if you ever actually want to make more money and be anything more than just self employed, you need to leverage other peoples labor. Your value has to be on building the actual business and not performing the work.

I started a business in 2010 in an industry I had zero experience in with no contacts. The first 5years the majority of my time was spent on sales. That meant cold calling, knocking on doors, going to events every day. Nights and weekends is when I was able to spend time in the office doing some of the accounting/financial side. My initial capital went to setting up my office and hiring an employee to answer phones, recruit and do most of the human resources while I was out generating revenue. If you want to be a business owner, you better get extremely comfortable with sales.

Just off the top of my head, probably easiest way to do that is find a niche community like 4x4, classics, tuner cars and start going to events and meeting the people in those communities and doing some work on their cars. Huge plus if it is something you are actually passionate about. If you are good, word will get around and you can probably start accumulating clients fairly quickly on the side. I know two shops that started like that.
 
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sangheilios

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I agree with just about most of Sangheilios said. My biggest question is how is revenue going to be generated consistently without any prior relationships with clients and different sectors of the auto community? With around 20k to make it work, the only advertising you will be able to run is you on your feet knocking on doors/going to events/putting yourself out there. This is actually very effective but if you are focused on that, you aren't going to have the time to be the labor in the shop as well. You are going to run through that cash very quickly if you have a lot of fixed costs each month like rent and insurances. Doing it as a side gig while also putting yourself our there and building relationships to at least start with a foundation of revenue would take away a lot of risk. Also know, if you ever actually want to make more money and be anything more than just self employed, you need to leverage other peoples labor. Your value has to be on building the actual business and not performing the work.

I started a business in 2010 in an industry I had zero experience in with no contacts. The first 5years the majority of my time was spent on sales. That meant cold calling, knocking on doors, going to events every day. Nights and weekends is when I was able to spend time in the office doing some of the accounting/financial side. My initial capital went to setting up my office and hiring an employee to answer phones, recruit and do most of the human resources while I was out generating revenue. If you want to be a business owner, you better get extremely comfortable with sales.

Just off the top of my head, probably easiest way to do that is find a niche community like 4x4, classics, tuner cars and start going to events and meeting the people in those communities and doing some work on their cars. Huge plus if it is something you are actually passionate about. If you are good, word will get around and you can probably start accumulating clients fairly quickly on the side. I know two shops that started like that.
That's exactly what I was getting at, it just sounds like a frustrating process with a trade that honestly isn't all that unique or lucrative. I could totally see something like putting up ads on craigslist or something and just changing people's brakes or something for a discount price. You could make some easy cash with that, and it would be fairly laid back to where you'd never be stressed and could still see it as a hobby. I don't know much about cars, but your idea about very specific niches for enthusiasts actually sounds valid.

I also agree with your idea about leveraging labor from other people instead of doing everything yourself. That's where the money is at with many trades. Imagine being a plumber and getting a good amount of experience, then starting to branch out on your own and then expanding from that.

There are tons of way easier ways to make money that don't involve large initial investments of your time, energy and money. Hell, if you live in an area with a good sized population you could go deliver pizza at a busy place in a non trashy area and make good money doing that if you actually hustle. I can't imagine downing 20k+ for a business that won't even bring all that much money in, if at all. This guy said he was an engineer, so I can't even see why he'd think being a mechanic would even compare to what he is making. I'm assuming an engineer being a guy with a degree in something like electrical or chemical or one of the fields and not just someone who likes to put things together lol.
 

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@All_Kindz_Of_Gainz

I have a wealth of experience in this field. My family owned a auto parts store, I worked at a 5 product line dealership in the shop for several years, my exwife's family owned their own repair shop. I've been in a ton of automotive repair shops. I have several friends that own them, as well as have a tenant that operates a shop out of a building I lease to him. I have a big shop for my personal stuff, can fix anything that breaks on them. I own every tool they ever made. I prefer to fix all my schitt myself. I've also built high performance cars from the ground up.

That being said, I highly recommend going to work under someone at a large facility. You can learn a ton that will benefit you and make yourself more profitable.

$20K to get started.....lmfao. for a basic tool box and some tools, but that is it. You'll need a lift, parts washer, a/c evac-recharge machine, air compressor, diagnostic/scan tool with updates, subscription to repair solutions forum-data base, battery charger, evap emission machine, jump box, brake lathe, something to push cars in and out with. You better hire some cheap labor to assist.

The easy money in automotive repair is made replacing timing belts, starters, hoses, 75-100K maintenance, brakes, alternators, a/c repair.

If you are really good at electrical trouble shooting you can make serious cash, especially if you can pinpoint a problem and have some grunts do the manual labor to fix it. I used to be one of those grunts growing up. Me and two other guys had this guy banking $180k in the late 90s.

If you rent a place you will need at the bare bones minimum a spot to stick two cars in. You will also need space to park about 10 cars outside that are waiting on parts, etc. My tenant struggles to pay me $1000/month rent at times. Best thing this joker ever did was hook up with a used car dealer to do their used car inspections before they put them on the lot. It gives him enough cash to pay the rent during the slow times.

All of the established shops struggle to find guys that want to work on cars these days.

Go to work at a dealership, they will send you to GM, Ford, Honda, whatever school for free. They will also send you to ASE school to get certified in certain areas. At a dealership There will be guys with years of knowledge that will help you out if you are willing to learn. Their health insurance and paid time off plan will be a helluvalot better than getting health insurance on your own.

You have an uphill battle. One, you dont know as much about cars as you think you do. You don't make money working on cars unless you are flagging more hours than you spend doing the actual work. If the book says the job pays 2.2hrs, you better be able to do it in 1.4hrs. You also have no idea about running a business.

No matter how good you are, there will also be comebacks. Meaning cars you thought you had fixed that you didn't. You get to do all of that again for free the second time. And those parts you billed for $400 that didn't fix it, well now you need to sell the customer another $400 part to really fix it because you misdiagnosed it the first time. But you can bet you will eat the labor. Yep, kind of like doctors. They don't always get it right the first time either.

And you will want some insurance to fix that windshield you crack when you drop a car off the lift or its outside with the hood up when the wind gets crazy and peels the hood back into the windshield. Or the time you spray carb spray on the valve cover and its gets to the spark plug/plug wires and lights the engine on fire. Or the time you are test driving listening for a brake squeal and drive a car into some random post in a parking lot you didn't see. Or the time you put new brakes on a car and the customer takes the car and rear ends somebody then tries to sue you. All true stories I have been a part of.
 
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sangheilios

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@The Duke

What exactly do you think is the reason for why they can't find guys that want to work? I've seen something similar with other trades, where they'd expect a plumber for instance to have all of his own tools to work for THEIR company lol.

From what I understand, there are a lot of mechanics that know how to do very basic stuff but there aren't that many that are true technicians that understand the deeper issues.

I not that long ago had my struts and shocks replaced, got a lifetime warranty on the parts, and the place I was at put the struts in backwards lol. I think finding labor that knows what the hell is going on, or at least has the capacity to learn, has become very limited in many trades, particularly since the pandemic.
 

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What exactly do you think is the reason for why they can't find guys that want to work? I've seen something similar with other trades, where they'd expect a plumber for instance to have all of his own tools to work for THEIR company lol.

From what I understand, there are a lot of mechanics that know how to do very basic stuff but there aren't that many that are true technicians that understand the deeper issues.

I not that long ago had my struts and shocks replaced, got a lifetime warranty on the parts, and the place I was at put the struts in backwards lol. I think finding labor that knows what the hell is going on, or at least has the capacity to learn, has become very limited in many trades, particularly since the pandemic.
It boils down to work ethic. Its hard work. Not enough grit in men these days. Your hands get dirty, dried out, and ache from turning wrenches all the time. In the summer time you sweat your azz off, in the winter time you are cold. Your head/neck/back gets kinks from laying under a dash on the floorboard. No one is there to hold your hand. Its on you if you fuhk up. Too much self responsibility required. Too much analytical thought process required.

A lot of mechanics can replace parts all day long. Most aren't actual problem solvers, they are part replacers. They don't spend enough time diagnosing a situation before they make a guess and order a replacement part. It takes a pretty smart guy to understand the electrical systems in todays cars and even then its hard to get it right.

We have also told all young people that they needed to go to college, not trade school. It sent a message that trade schools are second class so nobody wants to do that anymore.

When trade schools aren't turning out the numbers they used to, a company has to take whatever they can get. Unfortunately there isn't a lot of talent out there these days.

I pay contractors in my daily job to build/remodel commercial buildings for me. Every fuhking day I have to deal with some crew that half-azzed something. If they get 80% done right its amazing. There is no boss man standing over them to make sure its done correctly the first time. There is no inspector. They have no self-pride in their work. Most are not craftsmen like in years gone by. Its hurry up and get it done and onto the next job.
 

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It boils down to work ethic. Its hard work. Not enough grit in men these days. Your hands get dirty, dried out, and ache from turning wrenches all the time. In the summer time you sweat your azz off, in the winter time you are cold. Your head/neck/back gets kinks from laying under a dash on the floorboard. No one is there to hold your hand. Its on you if you fuhk up. Too much self responsibility required. Too much analytical thought process required.

A lot of mechanics can replace parts all day long. Most aren't actual problem solvers, they are part replacers. They don't spend enough time diagnosing a situation before they make a guess and order a replacement part. It takes a pretty smart guy to understand the electrical systems in todays cars and even then its hard to get it right.

We have also told all young people that they needed to go to college, not trade school. It sent a message that trade schools are second class so nobody wants to do that anymore.

When trade schools aren't turning out the numbers they used to, a company has to take whatever they can get. Unfortunately there isn't a lot of talent out there these days.

I pay contractors in my daily job to build/remodel commercial buildings for me. Every fuhking day I have to deal with some crew that half-azzed something. If they get 80% done right its amazing. There is no boss man standing over them to make sure its done correctly the first time. There is no inspector. They have no self-pride in their work. Most are not craftsmen like in years gone by. Its hurry up and get it done and onto the next job.
That totally makes sense for sure. From what I've seen, basically anyone with a decent level of intelligence was pushed to go to college or get into some non physical trade, like in healthcare for instance. You basically are left with a bunch of fairly unintelligent people that may seriously not do that great in a technical trade like electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc. Aside from the very basic stuff, these trades are going to require a high degree of technical skill that go well beyond what a helper would be able to do.

I also agree with your part about the physicality of these jobs. A lot of young adults honestly have terrible work ethics in general, so add that in with a job that requires you to work hard with your body and often being in physically uncomfortable positions it makes sense. I will add this to those seriously considering a trade, you will eventually get to the point where your body has a difficult time with the physical requirements of the job, referring mostly to age. I've off and on thought about getting into a trade but this was a big factor for me. I'd say out of all of the main trades electrical would probably be the better route, something like carpentry would be horrendous.

I'll also say that since COVID there have been tons of fields that are having a hard time with getting decent employees. Trades as you mentioned are one of them, law enforcement is a great example that's ALWAYS discussed. Nursing is another field where there are still a lot of shortages. In my opinion, you don't even need to be very smart to do well, I think it's all about finding a decent opportunity and just working hard at it consistently. Hell, even just showing up already puts you ahead of a lot of people lol.
 
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All_Kindz_Of_Gainz

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@The Duke Car lifts are under 3k online, diagnostic tools are about 500, 60 gallons compressor under 1k. I did the math and have the parts in a spreadsheet, everything comes out just over $10k for equipment alone. For a single bay. Will focus first on everthing but motor, transmissions or alignments.

Also, I've done everything on cars including audio and electrical, suspension, A/C, etc, but transmission, motors or tires replacement in which there is a machine that does the replacement and balance it for you.

@sangheilios mechanics can be everywhere, but good ones are rare to find, also if you to a mechanic you gotta wait a lot for your car to get checked. Also, see the shops around you, old people, younger generations don't wanna work, there are more focused on computers and office jobs. Any basic oil and filter replacement coat about 100-150.

The business is there and the more time passes more mechanics will be needed. However, I agree I need to build clients first. I talked to a mechanic to let me work for free on the weekends while I learn more, since I have a bunch tools and impact drivers I'll do fine.
 

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The market is saturated. Where I live, there’s a 3-mile stretch of established auto repair shops.

I think you mentioned you were an aerospace engineer, why not use that expertise to startup in that industry?
The market is not saturated, go to any mechanic shop and you'll see all of them are older people, men are going to universities more than trade school. There is a shortage of hands on labor, like electricity, plumbing, mechanics, construction, HVAC.

You might many shops but go there and ask how long to take your car. I remember one time about a year ago, I went to several mechanics to get my transmission checked, and they told me for that work it was gonna be about 2 - 4 weeks wait time.

A market that is saturated, is engineering, software, electrical, mechanical. Companies are hiring people from other countries cause is cheaper, therefore making the market very competitive, that and the fact that 136k engineers graduate each year.

I'm an industrial engineer, and I know a bunch of people with a degree in tech just painting there making $120k, while I was making $80k, cause we didn't get paid overtime.

In my actual job, I worked in a start up, and every single one of the blue collar guys, construction, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, were elderly and/or hispanics, never saw a young american working as a tech.
 
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BackInTheGame78

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This sounds like a hobby that you enjoy working on that will quickly turn into a pain in the ass once you try to make a business out of it.

Lots of equipment costs, lots of tool costs, etc.

Honestly would be pretty far down my list if I was looking to open a business in terms of generating wealth.

Maybe look into doing custom work? That at least has very high profit margins.

Here is reddit thread on it with a shop owner who said he makes 84K a year without insurance or benefits.

https://www.reddit.com/r/mechanics/comments/whey22
 
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jaygreenb

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That's exactly what I was getting at, it just sounds like a frustrating process with a trade that honestly isn't all that unique or lucrative. I could totally see something like putting up ads on craigslist or something and just changing people's brakes or something for a discount price. You could make some easy cash with that, and it would be fairly laid back to where you'd never be stressed and could still see it as a hobby. I don't know much about cars, but your idea about very specific niches for enthusiasts actually sounds valid.

I also agree with your idea about leveraging labor from other people instead of doing everything yourself. That's where the money is at with many trades. Imagine being a plumber and getting a good amount of experience, then starting to branch out on your own and then expanding from that.

There are tons of way easier ways to make money that don't involve large initial investments of your time, energy and money. Hell, if you live in an area with a good sized population you could go deliver pizza at a busy place in a non trashy area and make good money doing that if you actually hustle. I can't imagine downing 20k+ for a business that won't even bring all that much money in, if at all. This guy said he was an engineer, so I can't even see why he'd think being a mechanic would even compare to what he is making. I'm assuming an engineer being a guy with a degree in something like electrical or chemical or one of the fields and not just someone who likes to put things together lol.
The Duke definately has infinitely more knowledge about this industry than I do. As far as niche car sectors, this has just come from personal experience since I have started to get into different car sectors as a hobby the past 4ish years. I have built out a pretty capable 4x4/overlander and purchased/been getting a 90's JDM sports car dialed in. Very few people know how to work on these competently and the ones who do are booked out constantly. I treat the guys who work on them like gold. The niche is too small for the big players to commit a lot of resources too and people in these communities typically are constantly fixing/restoring/modifying because they actually use them and are passionate about it. It is embarrassing how much money gets plowed into these and am in the process of adding another one to the collection. Point being, not a bad place to for a small business person to operate in. Here are my money pits, 1991 nissan 300zx twin turbo, 2021 4runner
 

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All_Kindz_Of_Gainz

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This sounds like a hobby that you enjoy working on that will quickly turn into a pain in the ass once you try to make a business out of it.
I love it, why would it be if its something I enjoy?

Honestly would be pretty far down my list if I was looking to open a business in terms of generating wealth.
Okay good things its not for you haha jk. Wealth is not 100% my focus, I'm not married a have kids I don't need a ton , If I'm good a something and I enjoy, money will come eventually.

They say naturals don't go to forums to learn, I recognize I'm a natural at two things, with mechanical tools and talking to people.
 

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I love it, why would it be if its something I enjoy?


Okay good things its not for you haha jk. Wealth is not 100% my focus, I'm not married a have kids I don't need a ton , If I'm good a something and I enjoy, money will come eventually.

They say naturals don't go to forums to learn, I recognize I'm a natural at two things, with mechanical tools and talking to people.
Well, that's great but sometimes it's not so fun when it becomes a job, that's all I'm saying.
 

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I love it, why would it be if its something I enjoy?


Okay good things its not for you haha jk. Wealth is not 100% my focus, I'm not married a have kids I don't need a ton , If I'm good a something and I enjoy, money will come eventually.

They say naturals don't go to forums to learn, I recognize I'm a natural at two things, with mechanical tools and talking to people.
Bro, you clearly have no idea what you are getting into and very likely setting yourself up for major hassles down the road. You severely underestimate how much money, time and energy you will need to invest into this business to even get it going in the first place, let alone actually have it become lucrative.
 

All_Kindz_Of_Gainz

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Bro, you clearly have no idea what you are getting into and very likely setting yourself up for major hassles down the road. You severely underestimate how much money, time and energy you will need to invest into this business to even get it going in the first place, let alone actually have it become lucrative.
What do you do? Cause if you wanna spend all your life working for somebody else and not building something for yourself, that's sad. Unless you have daddy's money, in that case you shouldn't even be posting in this post.

Edit: I just remembered that you're one of the guys in here who pays for escorts, thanks for posting but I don't really take your advice seriously.
 
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All_Kindz_Of_Gainz

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Well, that's great but sometimes it's not so fun when it becomes a job, that's all I'm saying.
Its not unknown that all work "sucks" but I prefer to work in something I like and I'm good at it, that work for someone forever in something I don't enjoy
 
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All_Kindz_Of_Gainz

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Same ol’ Pedrito :D
I didn't ask permission or advice whether I should do it or not, I'm gonna do it, its my calling, my question was this " Is there any mechanics in here? or shop owners? I'm interested in knowing how you guys did it"

Meaning, how they started their own repair shop business, not giving unsolicited advice ;)
 

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Its not unknown that all work "sucks" but I prefer to work in something I like and I'm good at it, that work for someone forever in something I don't enjoy
Have you worked on other peoples cars while being paid before? Most likely going to be a different dynamic with different expectations than working on your own or a buddies. Nothing wrong with going after your dreams and there is something to be said about the motivation about having your back to the wall. Only that, I do not see any downside trying it out on the side first to make sure it is something feasible while still enjoying it.

Just saw this while scrolling lol

 
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