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Old 10-16-2006, 06:00 AM
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If one were starting a restoration shop...

If someone were starting a restoration shop, besides tools and a heated building, what would exactly be needed?

What would be needed at the business end?

how can the restorer take recourse on people that either lag on picking up their vehicle or do not want to pay for services?

and how would one deal with the customer that always want the work done cheaper or wants the restorer almost pay the customer for working on their car?

Thanks again,

~J
Geneseo, NY

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Old 10-16-2006, 06:49 AM
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Sounds to me, that you need to take a business course.

Being is business is a hard row to hoe.....................You need to be a hardnose, thats for sure.
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Old 10-16-2006, 07:05 AM
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Keep in mind that the saying goes......

There are two great days for being a business owner, One is the day you open your doors, the other is the day you close your doors.....

For me the later has not come yet

Like Poncho said take a business course, then DO your homework and find out EVERYTHING that you will need to start. Its not as easy (I mean cheap) to start out and STAY in business. Anybody can start a business, but you need luck and good well rounded skills to stay in business.

Steve
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Old 10-16-2006, 07:22 AM
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I am curious, please enlighten me on the areas of business?

To my understanding, as long as more comes in then goes out... then we're doing ok. please tell me more!
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Old 10-16-2006, 07:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by low budget rodder
I am curious, please enlighten me on the areas of business?
What is it that you want to know?

Steve
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Old 10-16-2006, 08:20 AM
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The following article is written to the car owner but the info applies to both car and shop owner. TAKE SOME BUSINESS COURSES!!!

Of course the line I always liked is "I am the owner and I can work half days if I want, and I get to pick which 12 hours"

Confessions of a body shop owner.
By Brian Martin



The following is my generalization of restoration shops that I have owned, seen or worked at. There are exceptions to the rule. Please don’t beat me up if I have rolled your shop into the mix when you are an exception. But, if you do see yourself, I suggest you get down to your neighborhood junior college and take a course or two in business. One of the great myths is that we each think our business is so unique, we can’t learn from a “regular” business class. Well after much instruction and exposure to the business side of things I can tell you, business is BUSINESS. Whether you are running a liqueur store, a cat house, or a body shop, they are all exactly the same. Sales are SALES, period.

So, we can agree a body shop is a business, being a good body man does not make you a good businessman. Restoration shops are usually owned by good body men, not good businessmen. It is very hard to make money doing restoration work, it is very easy to make money doing regular collision work. The business man makes his money doing collision work and tells all the customers with restoration work to go to Joe’s Body shop down the street, he does the restorations. Joe loves doing what he is doing, but seldom makes much money. He is an artist, a true master at his craft. Joe sees things at what they can “become”, not what they “are”. When Joe sees a car he doesn’t see the time it will take to make it the show winner he knows it will be, he only sees it as the show winner. I really don’t believe he means to lie to you when he says it will be done in a month, he is looking at through rose colored glasses, his vision is altered. Like a woman forgets the pain of giving birth, so does Joe when he gazes upon the beautiful car he has carried for nine months (or longer). And when the next rust bucket rolls in, he has forgotten about the hundreds of hours needed, he only sees a luscious rose garden.


The rest of the article can be found at Team Camaro (click here)

Brian



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Old 10-16-2006, 10:12 AM
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To oversimplify things:

1.) Write up your business plan, with all your expectations. Be sure to calculate for bad times, no business to speak of for the first 6 months, bad customers, etc.

2.) Write a general "Policies" outline, on how to handle your customers

3.) Employees.... The baine of business. They either make you or break you.
Be sure to contact an accountant on how to handle employees taxes/requirements well in advance of hiring. Should be part of your business plan.

4.) What experience do YOU have. Completed projects? You simply can't open the shop door and stick a cardboard sign out and say youre a shop.

5.) Meet with an accountant and a business lawyer to get their opinions. Best money you will ever spend. $500 now, is $50K later!




In the world of restoration and bodywork, I suggest you work up a schedule with your customer. And also a contract. Be sure to put in stipulations for parts needed, that you were unable to determine on the estimate. That way , both of you are protected.

Something like:
1.) Raw metalwork $xx,xxx
2.) Finished metalwork/ Body in E-Prime
3.) Mechanicals (Engine, brakes,etc.)
3.) Paint ready
4.) Finished paint
5.) Interior
6.) Final delivery

Now, depending on how far out you want the customer to pay, or how far you want to carry him, would determine all the terms and conditions. And it will vary from job to job.
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Old 10-16-2006, 12:30 PM
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Funny you ask how to do it! I would say your not ready. Like everone said take a class on running a shop.
Now days it takes a lot to get going. And know one is going to beat down your door just because you started a shop. It take years to make a name for you self. and about about 5 years to really get going where your not wondering how your going to pay your bills.
It only take one customer to wipe out a small start up guy buy not paying his bill or wrighting you a bad check. Take two or three guy like that and you can see where all the stress comes from. My cars not right that not what I ask for. Sound like fun been there done doing that.

Now if your retired and your doing it on the side and money it not a problem. then its not so bad when someone won't pay your and your the only employee. you can afford to set on a project or two tell they can pay for it.

Its all good. Just ask your self one question Are you ready to deal with all the problem. If thats something you can do the put a plan together go down to your bank and work out all the detail and lets not for get you will need a good Attorney, account that will not steal from ya.


Craig
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Old 10-16-2006, 01:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by low budget rodder
....how can the restorer take recourse on people that either lag on picking up their vehicle or do not want to pay for services?
........
Thanks again,

~J
Geneseo, NY
Well answer this part of your question from experience; As your customer walks into your shop, you should have posted at eye level for everyone to read, you will do as they ask and agree upon for the work to be rendered to their ride. Once the work is completed, payment is expected!
In cash or by credit card only. Now here is the large bold print, if a vehicle is left more then 48 hours after the customer has been notified, you will proceed with leagal actions to place the auto into a holding compound and will charge them a minimum of $25.00 per day for storage fees. After 30 days, the automobile in question will be concidered abandond and then legal actions will proceed for collections of debts unpaid for services rendered.

Then you will have this disclosure in print on every authorization form that you use as the work document your customer will sign before you take possesion of the keys to said vehicle. It is a legal and binding contract which is and can be used in the court of law for collections.

Good luck, I have never had anyone stiff me on my work, due to the fact they cannot afford my legal system in gainning control of their assets.
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Old 10-16-2006, 03:56 PM
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I took a business course. One thing they can't emphasize enough is "Do your homework". Lots of good advice has been given so far. To add to that, ask yourself these questions, then get your answers.

-How much demand is there for that type of service in your vicinity?

-How many shops already exist in the vicinity offering that service?

-If you start another shop in the area, will the number of customers you attract be a large enough slice of the market to keep you in business?

As was stated earlier, these rules apply whether you're selling paint jobs or bananas.

Good Luck

Paul.
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Old 10-16-2006, 04:40 PM
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In my opinion you should go and work in a Restoration Shop so that the mistakes you make (and you WILL make them) will not cost you the Bank. Starting out (even with enough Capital) will quickly drain that Account because you will buy stuff you don't need, have losses that experience will hopefully minimize AND go to School at night for Business Management courses.

I was lucky and have wasted my Boss's money while learning the Trade that I'm in-it's scary to think how far I would have made it on my own money (which would now be a large lack of).

I am not a proponent of people going blind (with great ambitions) into such a large endeavor without prior first hand knowledge of that particular business-the statistics are not good.

Take a few years and learn (practically and academically)-you will save a LOT of money-
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Old 10-16-2006, 10:28 PM
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Get everything in writing. Get everything in writing. Cant stress it enough. Most hot rod, custom car business owners tend to do most of their customer relations by "word" only. What i mean is, the customer drops their car off, and the shop owner and the customer discuss what needs to be done. For most of the customers, this works, because most people out there are truly honest people. But you will always run into a jerk every now and again. Once you run into a jerk, you will never regret all the paperwork. Have your customers sign an agreement to the work being performed, liability forms for insurance, have them sign the receipt when they pick the car up stating all work if final and acceptable.

One thing that is pretty common in this industry, when a customer has picked their car up, has it in their possession for awhile, decides they want something changed or modified, they think they can bring it back and get it fixed/changed for free. I get this alot. A customer picks their car up, they decide they want to add something or change something, bring it back and expect it to be free because they have "already paid thousands of dollars." While they are correct, they dont understand from a business stand point, the small changes here and there can add up to thousands of dollars really quick.

I have my customers sign a few things now (learned the hard way). When i put them on my schedule, we mail out a copy of our policies with their scheduled date on it, have them sign it and mail it back to us. When the car is dropped off they sign an insurance/liability waiver. When the car is picked up, they sign the receipt which basically states they have ap[rove of all of the work done, all of the work previously agreed upon is complete, and they agree that any changes or alterations from here on out will be paid for. I never thought a hot rod interior shop would have all these forms to sign, but they are worth it.

Hopefully my midnight ramblings made sense.......
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Old 10-17-2006, 05:15 AM
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Other Shop

I have recently started an endeavor in a very small way. A few things to add and hope I'm not the only one. You have to have working capital, while you can get some money up front for parts, the bulk of your labor will be owed to you. Can you survive this? And you would not believe what you will need, I thought (lol) I had a pretty well equipped shop until I started taking on outside work. Little things (sandpaper, cutoff wheels, end mills, and drills and taps, heli-coils etc) add up in a second when you need it right then and don't have the chance to search the web for best prices. Read all these posts several times and realistically admit where you are at and move on from there.

Best of luck
Randall
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Old 10-17-2006, 08:42 PM
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everyone is giving me some excellent pointers here, and I do truely appreciate it! I know that if one were to do some of these things mentioned (ie writting a plan), I know everything will be benefitting "me" (the restorer) while producing the best work possible.

How can I be sure to be fair (in service, cost, craftsmanship, etc) in the statements that I create (or should I say, be reasonable)? What is fair?
and how would one keep the customer from "walking all over the business owner"?

Thanks again,

~J
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Old 10-17-2006, 10:33 PM
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On Employees, Mules or Race Horses?

A couple of things to put away for a troubled day.

There are basically two way of running a business when it comes to employees. One, which is about 99.9% of most business types, is to get a team of mules and whip them until they die. Then get another team.
Also called the Mack Truck School of Business; That being, you can go outside and get run over by a Mack Truck and it doesn't matter. Your replacement is waiting for your job.

The other much more rare employer subscribes to the Race Horse School of Business. You own a stable of race horses and you go for the real money and the big races, where it matters in time, money, and respect.
You can't treat these employees like a mule team, they won't pull for you, they pull for themselves.

The ebusiness academy says that there is only one reason to even consider starting a business. That is to obtain the life you want by and through the growth of a business. Eventually removing yourself from it's operation either by sale or some pyramid like growth in management.

After some thought on these insane ideas of starting a business, I too, began to realize the magnitude of the undertaking. Tools, Work Space, Materials, were all the expected things, but where and how do you get race horses.
I still consider starting a business, but as a co-op, which I found an interesting scheme.

Now dream of a simple life with 25 cent gas and an Olds 98 rocketing down the highway with nary another vehicle around. Certainly no cops with radar.
Restoration Shop!
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