Mechanical Business Startup PART 1

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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.