Would starting a repair buisness be profitable?

Discussion in 'Mechanic and Repair' started by singleguy18901, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. singleguy18901

    singleguy18901 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    I read the 23 page novel concerning dealerships and am considering starting a repair business. I'm no expert but do enjoy it and seem to have a knack for it.

    My concerns are with the current and likely future business models in the industry.

    Seems as it is not a good idea to be a dealer at all, but only a service and repair facility.

    Seems good mechanics are getting older with no new younger generation wishing or willing to step in.

    Would enjoy a discussion of the pros and cons of what might be a good business model to try for.

  2. MowerMedic77

    MowerMedic77 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,164

    Have you ever worked in a dealer or shop setting?
  3. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,586

    I think I wouldgo work for a dealer for awhile until you learn the ropes in getting parts and an idea of what you can make.
  4. singleguy18901

    singleguy18901 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    yes, I worked for a dealer.

    A very small dealer.

    As in the other thread, which after 23 pages slowly boiled into an 'us versus them, versus them' scenario, we were also pressed between the LCO's/customers and the manufacturers. Parts availability from the manufacturer on a timely basis was always a problem.

    As a business model concerning the internet and parts ordering; and the LCO's stocking some of their own parts; could a mechanic make a go without being a dealer?

    I feel that a mechanic could open and do well with LCO's if all their equipment was computerized and wear-n-tear was noted. Replacement parts could then be purchased before failure and replaced promptly.

    Kindof like the scenario from the other thread where the LCO hired the mechanic in his off time, but in my case the mechanic making a company out of it, and thereby serving many LCO's.

    Another question. Storefront or mobile service vehicle of some sort?

    Thanks for the quick replies.

    All info appreciated.
  5. AmsoilPower

    AmsoilPower LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 938

    I firmly believe you can make it as a repair shop alone. Don't get sucked into becoming a equipment dealer as it will suck you dry of profit. The interest alone will eat you alive. Plus if you have no indoor storage you have the "weathering" factor on equipment sitting outside in the elements. Paint starts to fade, rust forms, you start paying interest and then you have Joe Blow walk in after he price shopped 3 other dealers and want your rock bottom price. Oh, and it took 2 hours to tell him the pros and cons of 2 different models/brands, fill out the financing papers, etc. and you made $500.00 on the sale BEFORE you figure in how much interest you paid prior to the sale.

    Stay w/ parts and service only. Both are high profit margins. Waiting on parts for more than 2 days is absurd. I have all my parts in 1-2 days with very few backordered from manufacturers. The key is to order the parts when the equipment hits the door. Look it over and order your parts ASAP. Don't take in the equipment, let it sit outside for a week, then bring it in to check out what parts it needs and then order....wait 2 more days....so on....so on.....

    Mobile service is gonna be key very soon. The problem is this.....Customer does not know what he has, therefore you don't know what you need as far as parts on the truck. You could bring in back to the shop, but then what good is a mobile service to do this every time?

    Bottomline.......treat your customers the way YOU would want to be treated and your service business will be very profitable.
  6. singleguy18901

    singleguy18901 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    I was thinking for a mobile service to have some parts, but mainly for the customer to stock their own parts.

    There are just too many variables. Makes and models, mid year changes, whatnot.

    I'm thinking maintenance as 2/3 thirds and repair as 1/3.

    Continual maintenance should show eventual wear signs, especially with computer records and digital camera photos. Early warning signs would be much less costly than down time.

    PRO-active rather than RE-active.

    Which brings me to this...

    Do LCO's figure into expenses maintenance?

    Not repair, but maintenance?
  7. Grass Happens

    Grass Happens LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 682

    I'm guessing by computerized you meant something like how car dealers are set up? where they send you a notice saying "hey, our records indicate that you are soon due for X service". Its a good idea, but i haven't seen a program out there like that. Doesn't mean there isn't one. Look at Ideal computer systems and C systems, they seem to be the most popular for lawn and garden CS. Do take care of commercial guys asap, but make sure there bill is paid, and that they are really a business. Being service only is a blessing and a curse. Other dealers may not give you a discount, since you have nothing they want. However if you tell the customer what he needs, and then he brings it to you, I guess that wouldn't be a problem. Get hooked up with aftermarket companies like stens and Oregon, but make sure stens gives you their gold level pricing, otherwise its not so good. Rotary is ok too, but I like those two the best. The mobile service has been tried by sears and MTD, and neither have been very successful. The only time i have heard of it working was when a dealer had it, and only did services to units he had sold, so he was stocked with all those parts; everything else came to the shop. I'm sure I'll think of more later
  8. Restrorob

    Restrorob LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,029

    Doing this would be a start, Line up a few aftermarket parts suppliers and learn the repair part of the business. Then as business and your knowledge progresses check with OEM's about a dealership.

    Oh, You don't know how hard it is to find qualified people in this field, Young or older. I've been at the same shop going on 17yrs. and couldn't guess the number of guy's that's been through the door. Most all say they worked X years at X place so we hire them, They come in the next morning to start work carrying a plastic Walmart toolbox. That's a good sign of little to no experience and the sad part is they just didn't have it in them to even train.

    One with little experience can be costly if having to cover their mistakes, Damage to customer's equipment as a result of improper repairs or having to pay another more experienced Tech. to straighten out the improperly repaired unit.

    I still haven't found a qualified helper to this day, I just keep plucking away. But, Least I don't have to go behind somebody else or stand over them to make sure the job is done right and have disgruntled customers for having to return.

    Good Luck
  9. singleguy18901

    singleguy18901 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    Grass Happens

    Yes. Thank you.

    I've seen the Sears mobile vehicle around here.

    Not Ideal software, but as far as computerized I was thinking of contracting with LCO's and as I maintain their equipment, things would be noticed and noted, recommendations made, through spreadsheet or excel or whatever.
  10. AmsoilPower

    AmsoilPower LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 938

    Sounds ok in theory, but in reality......Most Joe Blow's only service their mower once a year, usually in the spring. More than half only service their mower after it does not run, because they think changing the oil is a fix-all. A mower is one of the largest necessary evils to the customer. They don't want to spend any money on it (routine REGULAR service), but the first time it does not start, or it doesn't "move" itself or whatever the crap hits the fan and the world stops!!!! Soon they will be the "laughing stock" of the neighborhood because the grass is 4" tall. All this while they are on the back 9 with 3 buddies drinking beer complaining it is taking 5 days for mower repair.

    I say all that to say this----I do not think you will survive as a preventative service shop as your main money maker. Eventually the "service" work will run out, but stuff will always break.

    Yes, I work at a large dealership. Just when I think I have heard or seen it all, something or someone else creeps up with one hell of a story!!!

Share This Page