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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.