There is a movement going on that is gaining ground that of starting an automotive repair shop. Folks are just plain tired of lining the pockets of others in order to eke out a living. Some couples and families have converted old school buses, RVs, and vans into living quarters. This is part of the minimalist mentality. There are even how to guides online on google.
Many of us want to use our talents to work and make a living with dreams of starting an automotive repair shop. We recognize that much of the cost of doing business is tied to the cost of the property and building required to do the work. When looking at investing over a Million dollars to starting an automotive repair shop, it just does not make sense, or does it.
So, what if we as craftsman could ditch the brick and mortar and become Nomadic entrepreneurs regarding starting an automotive repair shop? For most of my life, I have been an automotive technician. I have worked for others repairing vehicles. In the Automotive world you are required to bring your own tools. You normally work on commission or flat rate. You don’t get paid unless you complete the work. Every job has a time allowance. Beat it and you make more than your negotiated wage. Fall behind and you make less. Make a mistake, the rework is for free. It is unlike any employee situation that I know of. The risk is high, and the rewards are average. That’s when the thought starts creeping in about starting an automotive repair shop.
So why would any skilled technician want to work for someone else under those conditions when they could start an automotive repair shop? If they have to supply their own tools and skills, why give away money to “the man” that could be in your pocket. It is convenient. Work is provided for you. The shop owner takes care of all the expenses. All the paperwork and accounting are done for you. You are provided a lift, air, light, power, and a roof overhead. This is why you give up 70% of the shop rate and all profit on parts. In a nutshell it is because you don’t want the hassle of starting an automotive repair shop.
There are many “mobile mechanics” springing up across the country and starting an automotive repair shop. They work in the general area where they live. The most successful mobile guys work in warm weather states where one can work 12 months of the year outside. The Northern states create a problem during the coldest time of the year. It is difficult to do good work during a blizzard. Somehow, they keep it going by starting an automotive repair shop or at the very least finding a warm bay somewhere to get through the weather. Maybe even doing alternative services or working out of their garage at home.
Technicians that do standard remove and replacement work are easy to find. They are available in any market. For working in your home area starting an automotive repair shop mobile is OK. You can find customers with some good social media and word of mouth. For the nomadic technician, they need skills that are hard to find. Electrical and diagnostic skills are what is needed to make this work with starting an automotive repair shop. Hard to fix problems are their specialty. No-Starts, Programming, Immobilizer, Board Level, EEPROM and so forth.
The concept is that one could build a van suitable to work and sleep in. They could travel to where the work is when starting an automotive repair shop, later as they grow, they can maybe get a small brick and mortar place. Because it is a short contract, the dollar value is higher than if a regular employee. During the winter months, one could move South. During the hot seasons, either endure the heat or move to a cooler area.
Potential customers for this type of starting an automotive repair shop situation would be either farms, fleets, or automotive shops. You could find some vehicle owners, but most repairs are not going to maintain your employ for more than a day or two. For end users you can make much more money per job in parts and labor with this type of automotive repair shop.
There are work brokers out there now. I am not sure how good the pay is. They are more suited for shops looking for permanent employees.
Night parking is a challenge. In much of the West you can find BLM or Forest land that you can camp on for up to 14 days. In some areas, Wal-Mart will allow overnight parking. It is only to their benefit as you are likely to shop while there. It is likely that the client that hires you would let you park at their facility with your new automotive repair shop mobile business.
Showers? I hate to get up and going without a shower every day. On hot days I end up showering at night and in the morning. Truck stops have showers that you can rent. They are a little spendy. Maybe find a nationwide Gym membership. Go in and work out for 30 minutes. Shower, Shave, and you are off to the races. For me, the space in my van is precious. Giving up space for plumbing is not an option for me.
Eating out is very expensive. It would be good to have a fridge in your rig so you can cook all your meals on the weekend and have ready to go for the week. Part of your contract may include a per diem. Spend as little as possible and save your money.
Banking can be a challenge. I have an account with Chase Bank. I have found branches in most of the states I travel to. I have made deposits in these states with no problems.
In theory, as a traveling independent automotive technician and from starting an automotive repair shop, mobile is a great way to get started. You can go to where the demand is. Instead of $25 to $30 per hour, you can ask for $100 per hour (Straight Time) or more. The customer will be willing to pay for your services because it is temporary, and you have a skill needed at the time. Because you have smaller living expenses, you can put your money in the bank vs. paying for rent or a mortgage. Have the advantage of all your gear being with you. When you are done, pull up stakes and move on. You can see the USA! Have the opportunity few have. Imagine seeing all the National Parks while making a living! Work during the day, hit the beach in the evening. Hunt for big game in the AM then spend the afternoon changing a clutch. It is like having your cake and eating it at the same time!