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GMC Tech
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking into going into starting up my own repair shop. Would just be me doing a variety of auto repair, diesel stuff and maybe a little fab work. I've been at a tire store for the last 4 and 1/2 years and I believe I've established my reputation and a reasonable customer base.

I'm looking for advice from some of you guys that have started from scratch. Wondering what you have ran into that you didn't expect. I know it'll be a bit of a PITA to get started, and that every situation/location is different. I know I'll have rent, utilities, some advertising and the like. I guess I don't know what to expect for insurance and other unforseen expenses. Do you guys have any other advice for me? Thanks for any help you guys can give me.
 

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All done now
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Get a good accountant. One that want's to restore an old classic car. Trade mechanic work for accounting work if you can.
 

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keep your debt to a minimum. That is the only real advice I can give you.
 

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Don't pay for the advertising. Unless its $20 here and there. The word of mouth will get around
 

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A long time ago I use to work on cars/trucks. Did that for about 5 years out of tech school. Was really good at and was making good money doing it just didn’t want to do it for the rest of my life. I went back to school and became a Machinist and have worked my way up into a designer.

Any ways to make a long story short after work I would work on friends and family cars that then turned into friends of friends and so on. Word of mouth is huge. Also buy a couple inexpensive cars if you can and give them to people when you are working on there car. I’m sure you know this but a car is like someone left arm they are just lost with out it and give them a car for them to continue on with there life has made the deal for me a couple of times.

With in the last 6 months I have made more money working on people’s cars part time nights and weekends then I have been working a full time job.

If anything be honesty and upfront with people and don’t sugar coat things tell them how it is and what it will take to fix it. I always will bring the customer into my shop and take 10 min explain everything I did on there car. It gives them a personal feeling and they know that the works has been done.

Also as others have said keep a minimal dept. Bills add up fast. You can make a lot of money fast but you can also get in a deep hole fast with bills. Look for used tools there a dime a dozen on craigslist.

I’m not sure I will ever turn working on cars into a full time job but for know I’m having fun doing it and making great money on the side.

Mike
 

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GMC Tech
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244 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all of your replies. I'm also of the mind of limited debt.. hate oweing people money. This is kind of a scary idea for me.

I do know of some customers I'll be able to take with me. My best customer is the one that's got a shop they're willing to rent to me along with a 4 post lift. They've got a fleet of like ten Dodge pickups and travel a lot.

Keep chiming in if you're got anymore input. I could use a little :poke: to get me motivated to take the jump.
 

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just a welding fool.
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1,097 Posts
theres an article in one of the last few Hot Rod magazines about starting your own shop. read it. you can apply the situations and lessons to almost any business in our industry.

like most others have said, word of mouth is the best advertisement, but...

good news travels fast and bad news travels faster.

don't be afraid to spend a little money on advertisement. rule of thumb is you get a response on 10% of your advertisement. Some may not agree on the advertisement thing, but although 80% of my business is return customers, I get a lot of return customers that start out from advertisements, rather than word of mouth. if that made sense.

just don't be afraid to inundate people. when you shake their hand, give them a business card. if they're in the industry, give them 10 cards. those 10 cards go out to others and so on.
 

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just don't be afraid to inundate people. when you shake their hand, give them a business card. if they're in the industry, give them 10 cards. those 10 cards go out to others and so on.
That is VERY good advice.

I personally still say don't pay for advertisements like in papers, bill boards etc.

Best advertising to pay for is posters in shops across town, the feed store, tractor sales shops, etc
 

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That is VERY good advice.

I personally still say don't pay for advertisements like in papers, bill boards etc.

Best advertising to pay for is posters in shops across town, the feed store, tractor sales shops, etc
Not to mention sponsorship on Diesel Forums.
 

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One piece of advice I will give you is make sure to have enough working capital. A lot of time people start companies and dont have much as far as cash sitting in the bank for everyday bills and unforseen expenses. You can close up shop quick if you dont have funds to cover those type of expenses.
 

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Gandy Dancer
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You should start with a business plan.

You can see lots of examples on the net.

Business Plan (click here)

If there is a Small Business Administration office near you, give them a visit.
 
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