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  #16 (permalink)  
Old 07-05-2006, 08:32 PM
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Kallie.... While I can agree with your point about it not being fun anymore, I look at it a little different. I have worked on cars professionally off and on for over 30 years. What I have found is that If I only do work that I enjoy at home, it makes a big difference. If there is a job that I really consider as being "work", I pass that up. Since right now, I am basically only working at home, it has gotten a little more difficult to do that. I still will not do "collision" work here, as long as I can stay busy enough with other stuff to keep my head above water.

I don't believe that you should avoid doing something to make money, just because you enjoy it.

Aaron

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  #17 (permalink)  
Old 07-06-2006, 01:33 PM
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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?


Brett
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Old 07-06-2006, 03:03 PM
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Aaron,

What I posted about my other '57, and a lot of what Kallie49 posted is the exact reason I painted my other BelAir Hardtop myself between late 1990, early 1991. How did it turn out? Okay it's not as fancy as a Boyd Cottington paint job, but I don't think it turned out bad.

Sure it could be better. For one I didn't take any real pains block sanding the quarters. I knew the car wasn't going to be a show. But it turned out better then I expected it to so I do drive it to shows and cruise ins.

Some tell me it turned out better then the paint job I paid for from this guy. Who knows?

I'd certainly try again if I could get certain things I gear. Mainly getting my very first car back to a shape where it could move under it's own power again.
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  #19 (permalink)  
Old 07-06-2006, 09:43 PM
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I have a general rule when it comes to working on someone else's car. I explain to them that I am not a professional painter. I am definately not a painter, but am a reasonably good body man. I tell them that I do not do "show car paint jobs". I then do the job as if it is supposed to be a "show car", because in reality it is. It is shown off to everyone that the owner knows. No one can ever say that my paint jobs are flawless, in fact they are far from that. The cutomers have always been happy with the results, under those conditions. Even though the paint is not flawless, I get good advertising that way. People are getting more than they expect, and they let other possible customers know that.

You have to remember one thing when dealing with customers. if you only do the quality that you thing they expect, they will not be happy, and will be looking for something wrong. Always try to give them better than they expect. It will pay for itself in advertising.

Aaron
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Old 07-07-2006, 08:11 PM
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Dreadlord... I just re-read your last post. If I understand, you are still in school, but planning on doing "side work" as soon as you graduate? If that is correct, let me give you some additional advise. Get some experience before you start that. I know absolutely nothing about that school, so I'm not bashing it. The concern that I have is that so many people think, as soon as they come out of school, any school, they are ready to take on the world with this gained knowledge. I know people that have worked in the automotive field, as mechanics and body techs, for 15 or 20 years, that will tell you they learn alot every day. The main thing that they learn is that they knew nothing right out of school. The real world of doing repairs, body or mechanical, is completely different than school. Concentrate all of your efforts on learning as much as you can from the people that you work with. Then in a couple of years or so, you can revisit that idea, with some real knowledge of what you are getting into.

Aaron
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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 07-07-2006, 09:05 PM
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Aaron has some good advice there..Know what you are doing first and I will stick on plan as to building something that I enjoy and if someone wants me to do something similar I will think about it..Most of my answers to people is "What part of retired do you not understand??" But then I do not mind doing some teaching and helping show a young fellow about doing some things that may help him along the road..

As far as work I do have some regular things to do..

Sam
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 07-08-2006, 01:46 AM
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I understand what your saying about that. Because ive been there (background of me) while in highschool me and my buddy would tinker with our vehicles and make them look good and go fast. Even the "Professionals" said we did a damn good job. We did work here and there nothing to much because of school and work. Ive only had a couple of people complain out of the work weve done. (on topic) I know its a constant learning experience thats why im not jumping in and opening a shop. But the school will give me a head start on what i "should" know. I know i could do it, the question in this forum is kinda how you all did it and made it work. you all gave great advice and you all have knowledge and experience beyond me. I have the ambition and the resources to do it. Im just kinda wanting to get some better ideas and motivation.

P.S. Im not boasting about my background nor saying i do it perfect everytime. I know im not and wont and i dont have all the answers. I was just clarify the situation.

Thanks,
Brett
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  #23 (permalink)  
Old 07-08-2006, 03:36 AM
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I know i could do it, the question in this forum is kinda how you all did it and made it work.

I started doing work for others in my garage when I was 13
My trade as an adult was flooring installation, hard surface and carpet, but my love was working on cars. There was always something to work on for someone else. I did flooring for a living and did general auto repair in my garage and my front yard at night and weekends. For fun, experience and extra cash. Then I piled up my motorcycle and tore up my knee. I needed a new trade and so I went to work for a fiberglass shop that specialized in reproduction car bodies. I worked there for 12 years, eventually becoming shop foreman. I still did side work, more and more work was on street rods whose owners I'd met through the glass shop. They would ask me to do things that the production shop would not do, (I would never steal work from my employer. Never.) I learned to do many things that I would have never done at the glass shop.

Then I met a guy who had money and no talent who wanted to open a street rod shop. I had talent and no money so it was a match. I did some work for him on and off for a couple of years until I knew that we could make it. I quit my regular job in jan 97. We opened our shop in jan 97. I made 8000.00 the first year ( the prior year I had made 45,000.00) The partner ship was good, no problem there, but there was always a learning curve. We would learn how to do one thing and buy the equipment and spend the extra time to do it right while were learning, (an education is costly. no matter where you get it.)and then someone would come in with something different. You want the experience and the work so you start the whole process over again.

Even with all that experience at the glass shop and doing side work it is hard to know everything you need to know to run a customizing shop.. Every day is a learning experience. For me anyway. I find that the HotRodders BB has helped alot. As well as several friends in similar businesses who share knowledge.

Eventually my partner handed me the keys and split. We are still friends and I owe him alot for helping me get started.

I have had the shop by myself with no helpers or partners for 4 years now. There is always something new coming in. It is challenging and rewarding and painful and discouraging all at the same time sometimes. If you mess something up it is on you. You eat it. Again, the cost of an education. It is a tough way to make a living. I do not know of one guy who has a small shop who thinks the business is an easy street. The overhead for a real shop, licensed and insured here in california is huge The distractions are many and it isn't very glorious work except when that customer smiles and starts laying out the cash. Even then it's a pain because you know that every dollar in your hand is already spent. Seeing a car you built or worked on in a show or win some award is a rush also.

I know this, doing the work is secondary to doing the business. If you are not a good businessman you will not even come close to making it on your work alone.
(mikey knows this firsthand)

If you have a specialty, you need to concentrate on that specialty in order to survive. I stick mostly to automotive fabrication and assembly. No restoration of bodywork, (custom bodywork only) no upholstery, painting or engine building.

Doing custom work requires the ability to think of all the aspects of the modification. Will it steer/ride/run right/
pass inspection/have room for people .....the list goes on.
I see alot of custom shops turn out things that don't work well and some are just plain unsafe. I learn alot from those guys...What not to do. Fixing their screwups is a good part of my business.

If you want to modify systems then you must understand the function of those systems at the design level. If you don't understand the physics and theory then stay away unless you are willing to take the time to learn it.

. If you don't already know these things or can't learn these things on the fly then you will have a hard go of it.

If you do good work then word of mouth will do it. I have no website, no ads, no yellow pages no cards. I have a sign over the door and a single line in the phone book. thats it. I have alot of work. I am backed up at least 3 months before I can take anything else in. If anyone gets impatient or pushy then they are disqualified as a customer. In 9 years I have seen every one of my customer come back for more work. Not one complaint about the work.(very few have whined about the money either. most give me tips.I take them.) One customer even gave me a car. See the thread "mikeys new puff"

Most everyone here has good advice for you. Adkart, One More Time those guys are smart.
I do know that my hobby is now my job. I miss my hobby. (beenawaytoolong knows about that)
But I also know that at this point working for someone else is out of the question.

And living vicariously through others while spending their money isn't so bad. If I really want to cruise a hot rod around I can borrow any one of several. And It is cool to know that even though it isn't mine, I still built it. Isn't that what the hobby part is about?

If you have read this far then I thank you. I shared my little story with you because as early as 15 years old I wanted nothing more than to have my own shop and do work for folks who would appreciate my talents. Now I do. All in all, I'm glad. Your plan sounds alot like mine turned out. Do it if you can.

Later, mikey
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Last edited by powerrodsmike; 07-08-2006 at 09:09 AM.
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  #24 (permalink)  
Old 07-12-2006, 04:55 AM
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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!

Aaron
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  #25 (permalink)  
Old 07-14-2006, 01:19 AM
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Quote:
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?


Brett
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.
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  #26 (permalink)  
Old 03-18-2008, 11:46 PM
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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
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  #27 (permalink)  
Old 03-19-2008, 01:55 AM
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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.
pitfalls:

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 "hotrodders.com" and giving out advice on things i know about) good luck to you, it will work out if you have the passion.

Last edited by techron; 03-19-2008 at 02:47 AM.
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  #28 (permalink)  
Old 03-19-2008, 10:49 AM
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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 doubters..like 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!

Last edited by sharpe427; 03-19-2008 at 10:55 AM.
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  #29 (permalink)  
Old 03-19-2008, 01:48 PM
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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.
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Old 03-19-2008, 08:16 PM
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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.
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