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Topic Review (Newest First)
04-08-2009 04:58 PM
deadbodyman All true just like 35 window said.I still have trouble getting the money part out of the way,and I cant tell you how many people tried to store a car for free thinking I'll never get around to it.It takes years of experiance just to run a business and thats after you've learned the trade
04-08-2009 04:09 PM
35WINDOW For me (and I don't do Car Repair at Home but I do run a Business (I'm over 2 Locations) that does Sales/Service/Parts on Heavy Equipment-John Deere Ag and Construction), I will suggest a couple of things that I run into with Service a lot-

1. Know the Laws in your State regarding Liens (Mechanic's and otherwise)-in my State, you must file a Lien within 30 Days of the last day of Labor you performed-

2. Get 1/2 (or more) up front! A lot of people are just looking for free Storage, or have intentions of paying, but life gets in the way. I have seen so many of my Customers' in the last Year go down because they did it on Credit or on Account-don't do it!

3. Talk about the money before you do the work-I realize that I said something like this in #2, and people are always hesitant to talk about it, but ask! If you are doing a Hot Rod (that isn't primary transportation), have they saved the money to pay you? Do they have a plan or know how they are going to pay you? Talk about it-this is the hardest part for most people.

And, as pointed out earlier, if you are doing this as a Hobby and start doing it for money, it can (or will) take the fun out of it. I used to be a die hard ATV/JetSki/Motorcyclist until I ran a Business doing it-it took over 10 Years to get enthused about it again after wards-

There are so many other things-who is going to pay if the Car gets stolen while in your possession? Are you buying the Parts and then making a profit? (you should). Do you have a place to store it? On and on-

Remember, this is a Business-if you want friends do not charge for the work-
04-08-2009 03:04 PM
deadbodyman As soon as you get money involved everything changes.The best advice I can give you is if you really like working on cars as a hobbie keep it that way,as a hobbie.You and your friend should buy a car and fix it up then sell it.Be your own customer and enjoy the work.I almost ruined a great hobbie working with wood. When people saw what I could do they all started throwing money at me then thought they could call me every day and complain about the time it took,so I just gave them their money back and called them when I finished .After that I only built things for me and my grand kids and never involved money with a hobbie again.Cars are my business,cars are cool, the people that own them are not so cool,all you have to do is read some of the differnt threads on this site and you'll see what I mean,you'll need thick skin dealing with these people.Have fun with it ,mabee buy and sell parts on ebay for cash
03-20-2008 04:10 PM
Originally Posted by bentwings
I do an Excell spread sheet outlining exactly what I will do and what will not be done. You can't get everything but as you go communication is the answer. The more detail the better. Most customers really like this. when we are done we can check off the items and agree the project is done as decribed.[/I]
Excellent advice; new or old!
03-20-2008 11:10 AM
bentwings It was just said. "Friends and relatives will be your worst customers"

All the info above is pretty good.

I do an Excell spread sheet outlining exactly what I will do and what will not be done. You can't get everything but as you go communication is the answer. The more detail the better. Most customers really like this. when we are done we can check off the items and agree the project is done as decribed.

I keep additional pages for labor and parts purchases as well as payments and other notes.
03-20-2008 06:29 AM
Originally Posted by techron
chet..i noticed that after i posted last night and i have learned to look for the date of the OP. i see old threads posted regularly. i guess that one slipped by me, i felt retarded!!!...

I kinda like seeing the occasional "oldie" dug up. Especially one this good. As I used to say, "Quit Learning, Quit Living." Definately no need to feel retarded.

In a while, Chet.
03-19-2008 08:56 PM
Part-time customizers need advice

I agree with many here, NEVER do a car for a close friend or relative... AND never ever sell a used car to a friend or relative, no matter how great that car is,..... I do a fair amount of work for spare $$$, I keep it simple @ brakes, timing belts, body work just mechanical...The shop in town is $95 a hour, I charge 20 hr. I keep it simple, no hurry, one at a time, never get ahead of yourself...
03-19-2008 08:39 PM
techron chet..i noticed that after i posted last night and i have learned to look for the date of the OP. i see old threads posted regularly. i guess that one slipped by me, i felt retarded!!!...
03-19-2008 07:16 PM
schnitz Tons of great (alright, downright excellent) advice is being offered here. However, the OP has not even been active as a signed-in member in just over a year. I hope he has learned enough to be successful. Even so, that does not mean that the advice should stop. Please keep it coming.

In a while, Chet.
03-19-2008 12:48 PM
Twisted Minis Okay, what kind of work do you want to do? It seems like everyone is addressing paint, or repair work. Is that what you want to do?

I do chassis building and modification full time now. I started out doing it after hours, then part time, then I got busy enough to quit my day job and make a comfortable enough living out of the garage. I'm still growing quite rapidly, and I keep buying more and more tools. Eventually I will be moving into a larger industrial shop since I am running out of room fast here. The only advertising I ever did, was word of mouth, some professional business cards, and posting pictures of my work on the internet. Nothing else. It started out slow, but quickly grew. I didn't really plan on it, but once it started moving I started adjusting for it.
03-19-2008 09:49 AM
sharpe427 Start small and build by word of mouth. Take in work one at a time! Finish it to a standard you can be proud of, and ship it. DON'T take in work just to fill the shop! Stick to what you know best and build slowly. Too many guys go nuts and get too far in debt/overworked the day they open the door, and have to rush work to get $ flow going. Leads to lower quality, less work in the long run. You can work out of your house IF the word of your customers is strong enough. Push the advantages of your shop to lower cost due to overhead, better security (24/7!) and a 1 on 1 relationship to get the customer EXACTLY what he/she wants. KEEP BOOKS. Too many guys try to run shops out of their pocket...BAD IDEA. Keep receipts, notate your margins and be sure you are making worthwhile money. Design/buy receipts for customers and yourself. I liked to use Quicken Retail when I had a small shop (now I am all uppity and have a home grown system and a CPA ). You can have fun and make money...just be careful!
OH! And build a GOOD relationship with a good parts house! They can make you or break you!
03-19-2008 12:55 AM
techron i don't want to discourage you or be the wet blanket in this thread, you are right where i was at 20. these guys have all brought up great points and advice, but i think i should point out some of the pitfalls. i followed the same plan you are contemplating and it worked out great for me. i was even able to retire early but had to work my buns off for years to do it. you are jumping the gun by 3-4 years. you need some real world experience before you start. i was lucky, i started in the days when cars wouldn't 5000 miles without needing repairs.

starting out, you are going to attract the cheaper costumers who are looking to save a buck.
you are going to have to cover overhead (rent, utilities, etc) from your repairs before one dime is yours.
you are going to need tools and equipment to complete any job you take on in a timely fashion (that is NOT like working on your own car in your parents driveway/garage)
you need the experience of being able to diagnose a problem QUICKLY! and CORRECTLY!!!--customers are not going to like you throwing parts at a problem until you find the right one. you need to give an estimate in time and labor before you start and it has to fix the car. you can't say "sorry, i thought that would fix the problem"
you have to have the experience to know exactly all the parts you will need to do every job and include them in the estamate before you start.
do you have flat rate books for every job you will do??? you will need these too.
to make any money you need enough experience to beat flat rate, can you do that, not even close if you haven't worked in a shop for a few years.
any job you even make the smallest mistake on you will be doing over for free--on your own dime $$$ so to speak.
do you have people skills?? you will be dealing with people who don't know squat about cars, i wish i had a dollar for every costumer who said "you did a tune up on my car 3 months ago and the brakes started to squeak last week, you must have done somthing wrong!!!"
customers are not going to like to hear "i charge X$$ an hour (unless you are doing custom work and have experience--known as "by the hour") they are going to want to hear "it will cost $574.83 to fix your car" and any cost overruns will be on you.
out here in Cal. the law is you have to give a written estimate before work starts and you cannot exceed that estimate without costumer approval.
unless you are just working on a couple of your buddies cars where the slip you a 10 spot under the table, you are going to need paperwork no matter how small you are. business license, franchise tax board reg. # , BAR registration, taxpayer ID number, employer ID # for when you hire a helper, etc.
there are a thousand other things a can't even remember, if you have the passion to live and breath cars for years to come you might make it.

i'm not trying to discourage you, heck, go for it. i just think you have not thought this through thoroughly and are jumping the gun a little. put a game plan together that makes sense and follow it.

you will make mistakes (no one is perfect) and the ones that will teach you the most are the ones that cost the most $$$, and it WILL happen.

PS: now that i have retired, i am financally independent, go out in the garage and restore the cars i have collected over my journey through life, one peice at a time to concourse condition. don't have to worry about flat rate. take the harley out for a cruise when the weather is good. living in nor-cal and enjoying my life is about as good as it gets. i hope your journey through life is as good as mine is--remember, do what you love, i have loved cars since i was a kid (OH, and also, i like having fun with all the great peeps on "" and giving out advice on things i know about) good luck to you, it will work out if you have the passion.
03-18-2008 10:46 PM
RacerJD13 Everybody here has great advice! I do this, i am in the Air Force, so i do it part time, i get to enjoy my hobby with other peoples money. What i do is get half the money upfront to cover materiels and such, then the other half upon completion, that way you are at least protected from eating the materiel money if someone is not happy. RacerJ
07-14-2006 12:19 AM
Originally Posted by Dreadlord
Heres what i planned on doing. Im graduating college at Lincoln Technical University next december. after that im going to get a job in some dealership somewhere in the US location doesnt matter to me really as long as the moneys there. As im working there im going to rent out a little shop where i do after hours work mabye a couple hours a night or so. Just to see how it goes. If it grows into something bigger i might cut my hours out the dealership or quite all together.

Sound any good, any advice?

i also went to tech school, i graduated about a year ago, trust me i learned a lot more in the field than i did in school. sure school does help, im an ase master tech now, i wouldnt be if it wasnt for the things i learned in school. but when you actually get in the shop you will see how things really are, one piece of advice i will offer you is this, it has nothing to do with side work but its good advice anyhow. when a customer is standing in your bay, dont send them away, work your tip. on a good day i can make like 40 dollars in tips, a bad day maybe 10. either way its money in your pocket.
07-12-2006 03:55 AM
adtkart I actually started working on cars when I was in about 2nd or 3rd grade, with my uncle. He taught me how engines worked by taking apart a lawnmower engine and explaining every part of it, and their purpose. He would pick me up and set me in the engine compartment to replace spark plugs and such. When in school, I took all of the auto shop classes that were available. I then worked with a friend that was a body tech, and mechanic at a local dealership. He spent alot of time teaching me how things are done and why they are done that way. We then went to work in a body shop, as the guy we did most of our work for decided that he could get us to work cheaper if he owned the shop.

From that point, I was in the military, worked at many shops, off and on, over the last 30+ years, doing mechanical and body work, and worked at home. I have taken advantage of every job I have had, by learning from everyone that I have worked with. I learned to watch everyone, and how they did things. There are always more than one way to do something, and someways are obviously better than others. You will learn that some people just like to cut corners, and still end up taking longer to accomplish the job. Some people will do it right and take less time because they only have to do something one time.

I always referr to the cars that I work on a "my car" for a reason. I work on them as if they are "mine". I don't believe in doing something to a car that I wouldn't do to my own.

Keep in mind that everyone has a lot to learn. You can pick apples for 30 years, and still not know everything there is to know about picking apples. Cars are constantly changing, as is the technology to repair them. You should always be open to learn new things. I always like to question newbys that are straight out of tech school. I find out alot of new stuff that is being taught. Many times they are not learning the "old school" ways of doing things, that they need to know, but are learning somethings that are an improvement.

Learn, Learn, Learn!

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