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dharmaj02 03-14-2004 07:40 AM

Is opening my own shop realistic?
 
Hi all,

I'm considering a career change and going to Wyotech or UTI for training. I've always loved cars and trucks and think it may be more enjoyable to me than my current profession (counseling, which I've done for 4 years).

My question is...If I did complete the training at a technical school (e.g. UTI), and then worked for someone for a few years...how realistic would it be for me to open my own garage?

I could probably get my family to cosign for a building, but why don't so many other people do this? Why work for a dealer or shop owned by other people?

Please help?

dj

crazy larry 03-14-2004 08:09 AM

only reason i can think of NOT to own your own shop, is it's nicer getting a paycheck than trying to figure out hth your gonna cover everyone else's paycheck come friday........

how mechanically inclined are you? if you are, then i don't see why you couldn't do it, just remember, anytime you do something you enjoy on the side, and turn it into a job, thats exactly what it becomes.

as far as shops go, there is a shop in town here, the guy who ran it was killed street racing, well the building owner owns the lifts and other heavy equipment, i'm don't know if this is a semi-normal practice, but i do know that the equipment comes with the shop lease, might be like that elsewhere, just have to look.... that would cut way down on start up expenses.

Troy-Curt and Nairb are shop owners......
as is KristKustoms, and several others here......

oh, and don't forget the government regulations..... osha makes it damn near impossible to stay open unless your stuff is wired tight, so to speak......

kristkustoms 03-24-2004 07:14 PM

If your mechanically smart, you will make an excellent mechanic. If you are business smart, you will make a great business manager. If you are both, then you would make a great business owner/operator. A true entrepeneur is skilled at his/her trade and has the business smarts to keep the doors open.

One thing that kills alot of businesses is owners that think people will just walk in their door and need work done. You must find your customers. Market your business to your potential customers. Make your business name be heard and seen. Someone might hear or read about your business today, but not need your services for years. Keep your name out there. My current monthly advertising budget is triple the amount of my monthly rent. Spend the money to have people recognize your business name. To be a business owner and operator, you have to be willing to spend money to make money. I have been in business for 5 years and have dumped damn near every penny that I possibly can back into my business. Budget your personal needs, save a little, and put the rest back into the business. It will pay off eventually. One of the hardest (mentally) things I did with my business was hire full time employees. You are now not only supporting yourself and your family, but the families of other people. Owning a business can and will be very stressful.

A word of advice, start out small. You don't need the best and the biggest of everything when you start. Avoid all loans and financing that you can. Rent yourself a decent low priced building. Don't get crazy and finance a bunch of tools and equipment, just get the bare minumum to start with. I did not start out with a small business loan. The only things I ever financed were my personal vehicles, one including a cargo van i just bought. A business can be started without going deep into debt.

Education. You may know your trade upside down and backwards, but you might need to learn business skills. When I knew I wanted to go into business for myself, I knew that I could perform my trade (upholstery) without a problem. But I knew I needed to learn alot in college. I majored in business marketing, and had a minor in business management. There is ALOT that you will learn that you would never even think you would need to know to run a business. Marketing, management, organization, statistics, accounting, economics, etc, etc. Your on the right track with the technical school, but there is more to learn than just the trade.

Thanks mom, for keeping my *** in school.

walt 03-24-2004 07:32 PM

If you really enjoy working on cars, Then work for someone else. If you enjoy being a business man then start your own business.

I have been in business for myself for about 16 years. If I would have stayed at either of my two previous jobs I would be retired now. As it is my business is now failing in this soft economy and I have no meens of retiring.

So if you are asking me.......get a job.

Sandflea427SS 03-25-2004 09:39 AM

Do you want to jump in right away? I would suggest either working at nights and weekends or getting a third shift job and then opening your garage for regular hours. All those hours are tough but you would be assured the bread money would still be coming in. I started slow while still keeping at least a part time job. I now realize back in the early days I never would have made it. Not because of any less knowledge of cars, but the few first slow years I learned so much about actually running a business, dealing with customers, and utilizing time correctly.
I'm spoiled, I work for me. And I love my boss. I don't think I could ever go back to punching a clock. The stress is pretty high sometimes but the freedom is great!!!!

badknuckles 03-26-2004 07:16 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by walt
If you really enjoy working on cars, Then work for someone else. If you enjoy being a business man then start your own business.

I have been in business for myself for about 16 years. If I would have stayed at either of my two previous jobs I would be retired now. As it is my business is now failing in this soft economy and I have no meens of retiring.

So if you are asking me.......get a job.

walt that was beautifully said. with the economy the way it is small business owners are eating it big time. mechanics at dealerships (higher up mechanics) make more money than the average small business owner. i blame bush but i dont want to argue about it.:mad:

SirSpeedy 04-03-2004 04:51 PM

Like KristKustums mentioned, with the proper business education, you will be fine.

90% of small businesses fail or do not meet the owner/operators expectations due to underfunding and over capitalization.

I have never held a job in my life. I have been in business for myself since I was 14-15 years old. Buying used bicyles at thrift stores and yard sales, getting them detailed up, and running a "used bike lot" at the flea market on the weekends. I did body work in a rented bay in high school at night and weekend. When I went off to college, I ran an internet business, and started a rental property management company handling rentals around campus for off-campus housing.

I all depends on how bad you want it. Plan ahead and you will be fine down the road. My dad always said the best thing about being broke is it is only a temporary condition.

Good luck.

60convert 04-04-2004 08:44 AM

small shops
 
actually if you are a good reputable small 2-3 bay shop you are probally makeing 2-3fold what all the good years firestones car-x and tires plusses are making even the dealers are kinda slow now but the smaller shops will always be busy, but you have to be reputable to get that way and that takes a lot of time
Jesse

speedingpenguin 04-04-2004 10:44 AM

Yeah...while starting out you could try and do other work to other cars just so that you're constantly doing something to make $ and get a reputation...I dream of doing something SIMILAR (Selling exotic cars :-P) and it doenst look like it would be THAT difficult to do....just need to study business and get a really good plan together......Good luck :-)

badknuckles 04-04-2004 07:12 PM

Re: small shops
 
Quote:

Originally posted by 60convert
actually if you are a good reputable small 2-3 bay shop you are probally makeing 2-3fold what all the good years firestones car-x and tires plusses are making even the dealers are kinda slow now but the smaller shops will always be busy, but you have to be reputable to get that way and that takes a lot of time
Jesse

way off.
my repair shop is a 3 time repair shop of the year and we don't make the kind of money a firestone or a goodyear make.
we are a small 2 bay repair shop with a dyno and we are always busy. you can't compete with big chains.
they will always make more than the small business man.

60convert 04-04-2004 07:25 PM

small shops
 
right now the only shops here in the cities that are very busy are the small independants with a good clientell all the others are slower. maybe its just this area but that is even what the tool guys are telling us when they stop in.
Jesse

bluesman123 04-06-2004 02:05 PM

I can't emphasize enough that it isdn't enough to be a great mechanic ... you have to be a businessman too. I spent many years helping small businesses (I'm a business prof in my "spare" time), and I honestly cannot tell you how many genuine craft masters were struggling or failing because they lacked basic business skills. I was working with a restaurant owner once, and he finally complained "Everyone has to eat, don't they?" My answer was..."Yeah, but they don't have to eat at your place!!"

Check out the Small Business Administration and your local community colleges first. Look at http://www.sba.gov/

They used to have a program where retired business people would give free advice to new startuips...maybe that is still in effect but I don't know, the SBA has been drastically reduced (makes sense...right??)

Good luck,

Dave


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