Topic: Mechanical Business

Mechanics pay attention to little things in a car service

I want to talk about the most important things for a mechanic to pay attention to the most basic stuff in a car Mobile Car Services.

You could be the best mechanic on the entire planet; you can rebuild a performance motor and make a thousand horsepower; you might be an aeronautical engineer and can build an airplane engine, but there are a few simple things that if you do no matter how good you are as a mechanic, your customers will have no faith in you.

The first one happens before you even arrive on sight. If you’re a mobile mechanic and you can’t turn up on time or call your customer if you’re going to be late, they instantly lose a little bit of faith in you. So it’s just say 10% faith lost right there, meaning you’re down to 90% that they believe in your skill. So when you don’t arrive early or call, you do the service and after the Mobile Car Services is done, they come out and they notice that you’ve left just a little bit of a grease handprint over the door handle, they think you’re making a mess. So they lose another 10% faith, so you’re down to 80% of the mechanic that you were previously.

When they drive off and they have no idea what you’ve done to their car, it’s just that they typically think that we’re a bit magical and they’re not too sure of what happens in the Mobile Car Services. But three days later they go to use their window wipers and there’s no water fluid in it, you lose around 20%-30% of their belief in your skills as a mechanic from that one simple thing. They think “if he can’t remember to check the water fluid and fill that up, what else did he forget?” You instantly go from a competent mechanic to an average mechanic; they lose so much faith from one extremely simple thing.

The most important thing you can do as a mechanic; communicate well, turn up on time, be clean and then anything that a customer can see, you make sure 100% that you do it. So if they can see that you haven’t topped up the water fluid, that’s one of the biggest mistakes that we fall in, you won’t get a repeat customer simply because of that, because it’s so obvious they think “if he hasn’t done that most basic item, Has he even done anything at all”

So the moral of the story is “the little things that you probably don’t think matter are the things which are the most important. Pay attention to the little things”

Mechanical Business Startup PART 2

Mobile_mechanic_van

Now, tools and equipment. I’m not going to go into every millimetre spanner and socket set you should have because typically if you’re looking at starting your own mechanical business you should have already been in the industry for at least ten years. Between your apprenticeship and say seven years post trade to really get a strong experience you want to have that ten years and you should have 90% of the tools that you’ll require. The other stuff you want is not that expensive. I’ll list some things that you will need that you may not have for your van. Once again, one of the most important things these days is a high quality scan tool. Now, you can finance that through Repco or Bursons, so you just have a low weekly payment, you don’t go and spend $7000 straight off. Finance that once again, keep your cash in your pocket. Or someone selling one second hand is an option. You can pick one up for $3000-4000 but when it’s new you’ve got the peace of mind that it’s got a warranty.

www.repco.com.au / www.bursons.com.au

So, first thing is a scan tool and then I’ll list all the other big items below after the scan tool. Those following are also essential an air compressor with a retractable hose, a good lightweight aluminium jack (you don’t want a heavy jack if you’re getting in and out of a van all day), a good quality Snap On air rattle gun with enough torque too remove harmonic balances. The other tool you may not have that is pretty critical to a mobile mechanical business is a booster or jump pack, the highest cranking one you can get. You don’t want to be stuck on site trying to start some high compression turbo diesel motor and your jump pack doesn’t have the CCAs to crank it, so make sure you have the best one you can buy and you’ll always be using that. And then there’s just a multitude of other tools you should have over the years, which I won’t go into. I’ll put a list down the bottom there, so you can tick that off.

The next thing you need to is set up your relationships with your parts suppliers. Repco, Bursons, they’re our main two. You’ll have other options. On the Gold Coast there’s Cheaper Auto Spares, Global EFI, Ashdown Ingram, but they are the main two you want to go in and set up an account with as soon as possible. You’ll also need to get a relationship with dealerships. Typically the dealerships treat independents poorly, as they see us as a threat to their own business. They have an internal culture that independents are the enemy and as such they treat us that way. They don’t treat us with respect, their parts are offensively expensive with no margin as soon as you have to go genuine; wherever possible you should be looking at using after market equivalent quality parts as opposed to the dealerships and going genuine.

Now that you have your name, your van, all your equipment, your structure and your bank accounts there’s only one thing left to do. That’s to go and find some customers. Now all the stuff we’ve done so far is the easy stuff. Getting customers is the hard part, keeping them happy is even harder. Over the years there’s nothing we haven’t tried, we know exactly what does and doesn’t work. The first thing you need to do is have a website. If you don’t have a website you’re nowhere. Don’t be like all the other new business’s and just put your name up on Gumtree because all you’ll get is cheap, crappy customers that you don’t want. You need to invest money to make money. You should hopefully have a great name and a great brand and now what you want to do is have a great website that presents professionalism to anyone that finds you online. As for the marketing of your website that’s an entire book. We’ll do another blog post on that, but a professional mobile responsive website is an absolute MUST. There a plenty of providers that can assist you with setting up a responsive website with appropriate structure for search engines and all will charge various fees based on how large they are. Look at your competitors sites and contact the agency that built them, They will typically have their brand at the bottom of the page.

The next thing you need to do is networking. The best referral you can have is a word-of-mouth referral so that’s all good. You’ve asked your friends and family, now what? There’s networking groups. Go and join networking groups: BNI, Chamber of Commerce, any group meeting that you can go to with other business owners. Everyone at a group meeting will have got there in a vehicle. That instantly means they’re a possbile customer of yours. Finding a customer that owns a car is one of the easiest things on the planet. You just have to let them know that you’re a professional, can save them money and will do a better job than what the dealership will do on their own car.

www.bni.com.au

So Google’s number one, networking number two and there’s countless other channels and marketing that you can do but they are the first two most important, they are where 80%+ of your customers will come from. Once you get your website up and running and we will talk more about Google I’ll put a link down here for the AdWords and how it works. Click on that. But after your website your biggest source of customers will be referrals, so you have to have a strong call to action/offer for people that you’ve serviced to tell their friends about. So, a good voucher, or a call to action that we’ll talk about in another post.

http://www.google.com.au/adwords

You also want to have Facebook. It’s nowhere near as effective as Google. People go on Facebook to be entertained, not to purchase, but it’s good for branding. People go on there to ask their friends, so if you have a good, branded Facebook page that ties in with your website when people ask about a mechanic or if you’re active you can go on there and answer questions. Another good online source is forums. Go and answer questions for people. The more you give people, the more you get back. The more content you offer, it will come back to you, so try to help as many people without asking for anything in return and that’ll be the quickest way you can get customers.
www.facebook.com/business/products/pages

Now the next thing you need after you’ve got customers calling you and you’re doing work is a way to manage it. How are you going to manage your business? We have an extremely simply system which works to the stage where we do over three thousand customers now. If you’re just going to be a man on your own and you’re going to do twenty five customers a week you know that our system that does six hundred a week will be more than fine for you. We use Google Premier account recently renamed “G Suite”. So it’s just a premium account to your Gmail account. So you have your emails come in, you use the calendar and it sends to your iPhone all the details. You can put all your bookings in there, you can create pop up reminders and it syncs with your maps so that when a job comes up you just click on your maps and it takes you straight there. You ideally don’t want to be taking your own bookings. It’s madness when you’re a mechanic, you’re going to be charging say $110 an hour, every minute you’re on the phone is essentially a $1.50 that you’re losing. If you’re not charging that hour out on a customer’s car you’re losing a $1.5 every minute. You want to outsource the bookings on your work to someone on $20-25 an hour. They can spend five minutes on a call and it equates to the same amount of money as if you spend one. You want to outsource that to your wife or a professional company TRAINED in your industry, you don’t want to do that yourself. As soon as possible you want to be doing nothing but being on the tools and billing out those $110 hours.

www.gsuite.google.com

One of the other things you’ll need is service software for quoting jobs, you should know a lot from how long stuff takes on average but you also want to be able to reference and know straight away how long something’s going to take, so you want a good software program. We’ve put a link to the system that we use below and we found very proficient in helping us with our close to three thousand customers a month.
http://www.repcotrade.com.au/go/html-page/repco-navigator-faster-online-ordering-with-vin-search

And that’s it essentially it. We’re always happy to help if you have any questions about setting up your own mobile mechanic business. There is an abundance of work out there. We don’t feel threatened by anyone else and are always happy to help and we’d love to have a good person on the team with us. If you want your own business and you want help getting up and running and as part of a team with over 250 years of combined experience that assists 3000 customers a month backing you just drop us a line below and we’ll be more than happy to organise a time to have a chat.

Mechanical Business Startup PART 1

contactVans

Today we’re going to talk about what you need to do to start your own mobile mechanic business. Why should you listen to me? Because I have learnt all the lessons the hard way and know exactly what does and does not work. I currently have 23 vans on the road and service over 2500+ customers every month. We are growing into new markets using our current business model at a rate of around 1 new van every 1.5-2 months. When operated correctly a mobile mechanical business is very profitable

First you need to work out what the endgame is. What do you want to be? If you just want to have a better lifestyle, a higher income and no boss then you may just want to be one man by yourself. Someone that never has any staff, except maybe someone that helps you with your bookings so that you can charge out your labour rate and don’t have get bogged down taking phone calls and the admin stuff. (Note: It is imperative that whoever is taking your calls is highly trained in both customer service and most importantly SALES!!! I have lost count of the number of competitors that i have called to offer work to when we are booked out that can’t even answer the phone professionally or show any hint of a sales path for inquiry). If you cannot convert inquiry to a booking you will be doomed form the start! On the other hand you might want to start a brand and have the goal of being the next national automotive company with the likes of Ultra Tune or Midas in ten to fifteen years. So, that’s the first thing to work out. What do you want to be?

After you work out what you want to be you need to come up with a name that’s catchy and relevant to what you want to do. You don’t want to call yourself ‘Bondi Mobile Mechanics’ if you plan on servicing all of Sydney. You’d want to call yourself ‘Sydney Mobile Mechanics.’ Likewise, you wouldn’t want to call yourself ‘Sydney Mobile Mechanics’ if you were planning on being a national Australian brand. You’d want to call yourself “Australia’s Mobile Mechanics”, or something like that. That said, you actually don’t want to go with a generic name, exactly like that, ideally you want to create your own. For example, Auto King, although not highly original, is original enough and catchy. It’s pretty simple, two words mashed together. So you don’t want to go with ‘Chris’s Mobile Mechanics.’

It also wants to be something that will stand out in search engines like google, something people will remember when they go back in. If you do register Sydney Mobile Mechanics there’s going to be a heap of people bidding on that search temr and potential customers will be confused about which one you are. If your name is something like “Autoxax Onsite Servicing” you’ve got more chance of them remembering your name.

After the name, you want to go and see if your website URL is available. If you’ve come up with a fantastic name but you can’t have a short, punchy URL that directly relates to it you may want to reconsider the name. All new customers these days will find you online. If you can’t be found online you’re invisible. You need to find a URL that ties in with your name, is short as possible, and easy for people to type in. You don’t want to have ‘ZQRSTQQRS Mechanical’ or something silly, which we’ve seen. So once you come up with a name and a URL Google your name and URL. Does anyone else already have it? Are there similar names? Does it stand out? What results come up when you put that name into Google? These are all things you want to check before spending any money on a logo or going down a path of spending anything setting up with that name. Use the below link to search for URL’s that are available:

www.godaddy.com 

After you’ve chosen a name and you’ve checked it’s not taken, you then need to check your trademarks. Use the below link so you can do a search on IP Australia for your preferred name prior to registering it:

www.ipaustralia.gov.au

You don’t need to spend thousands with an intellectual property lawyer, this is all stuff you can do yourself and I wish someone had told me years ago. We spent thousands and thousands on intellectual property lawyers and all they do is go and do this stuff that you can do yourself. If your name isn’t trademarked and registered you can register it yourself for $200. A trademark solicitor will charge you thousands. Do not use a trademark solicitor if you don’t have to and it’s extremely important to trademark your name. Our first business, which was called Just Car Loans was Issued a “cease and desist” letter by Just Car Insurance though if we’d got our trademark in that would not have happened. As we were only a little guy we thought it was easier to cease trading and change the name. We changed to Car Loan King where Auto King was born from.

Next, you need to pick a structure, which brings us back to the very first thing I said. Are you going to be a sole trader? Are you going to take over Australia and be the next big thing? (So do you need to be a company?) Do you have a partner? Are you going into it with a mate with two of you running round in vans? Or is one going to be in a workshop, one in a van? Are you going into it with your wife, a spouse? These are all questions you have to ask. If you don’t know what structure you will need get an accountant to give you advice. We’ve got a link down the bottom. There a very good accountant. You can call them and have an initial talk as to what your plans are and what they think is the best structure for you.

www.ips.com.au

Now depending on where you operate and what you plan on doing you’re going to need licensing. Make sure you apply for the relevant licence and you comply with all government legislation. This is extremely important. If you don’t comply they’ll shut you down and there’s nothing like spending thousands of dollars getting up and running and being excited about your new business just starting to get customers and then having a government department tap you on the shoulder and say you haven’t done something correctly. So make sure you check that. Once again, if you don’t know what you need to do, seek professional advice.

Now that you’ve got your business name, your structure and all the legislative side of things sorted out the next thing you need to look at is making sure you’re insured. You don’t want to go and work on someone’s car and then find yourself liable in the event of an accident; so you need to get appropriate insurance. That’s also for all your own equipment. You want all the equipment in your van insured, as well as the vehicle, and then your public liability and then professional indemnity. Once again, insurance is a very specialised thing so I’ve put a link below you can click on to talk to a professional and they’ll be able to give you advice on the appropriate policies that you will require when conducting a business.

www.oib.com.au

Once you’ve got your business registered and your certificate of registration and asset registration you then need to open a bank account so that everyone can pay you. (We’re starting to get to the exciting stuff). Once again, all banks have their pros and cons but are ultimately the same. We’ve banked with three of the big four and found Westpac to be the easiest and most business friendly to deal with. I’m not saying that will work for you but we definitely prefer them over the other options, so you’ll need to take in the paperwork they want and open your bank account. You’ll also need to get a payment gateway; either an online one or an EFTPOS terminal for you to process credit cards. About 70% of people pay with credit / debit cards these days. Most people are using card and credit cards, so if you don’t have that facility from the start there’s a lot of business you’ll be missing out on. There are also a lot of third party providers in the way of Stripe and PayPal that offer that service as well, so you’re not forced to get a bank. If you have issues with the bank facilities, because sometimes they do set up some barriers, there are other options. Stripe and PayPal, Vend are listed below as some alternate alternatives, But be aware they all have higher fees than the banks solutions:

www.paypal.com / www.stripe.com / www.vendhq.com

Now that you’ve got all that boring stuff that I know no tradie likes out the way, you’re getting to the fun stuff. You need to start getting your logo designed, your feel. What do you want your business to feel like?  What do you want people to think when they see it? Get your logo designed and then get your branding tied in. It’s very important that you get your branding and logo right from the start because that’s going to speak to customers when you’re not speaking to customers. If your van is pulled up somewhere, that’s your mobile billboard. What does it say? Is it an old, crappy E300 Mazda that’s about to fall to bits with some terrible stickers up the side? Or is it a new, shiny, well presented, recent model that instantly gives them confidence when you pull up in their driveway? In regard to what vans we choose and recommend, firstly we don’t recommend buying it. You want to save as much cash as you can for your business. Cash is king, so finance your van. Two reasons. You want to keep your cash and the payments on the van and van depreciation are tax deductible. I’ve put a link below to someone who can help you finance your van.   They’re specialists in all asset finance and insurance, so they’ll be able to help you with your van:

www.clickoncarloans.com.au

Now in terms of van choice we really only recommend two, you can’t go past the Toyota Hiace. A current shape, ‘05 plus HiAce. They are a fantastic billboard with nice big flat panels and they just look amazing with good sign writing. The other vehicle that some people like is the Hyundai iLoad. We are aware that they have some maintenance issues. Given the difference in price we recommend that you get the Hiace. It’s a little bit more, but a turbo diesel with very low running costs and you can’t kill them. As you know, they’re a fantastic vehicle and that’s what we advise everyone to look at for commercial use. We search Car sales for all our fleet:

www.carsales.com.au

PART 2 to follow.