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    9 Replies Latest reply on Mar 2, 2009 7:28 PM by FlAdMan

    Automotive business in trouble.

    drizzt Newbie
      I am starting my own business i have already had a few close friends and family members call me for work. I am a Mechanic and have all the basic tools (and a few specialized tools) what i need to know is this.

      What kind of time and effort does it take to run a business and what should i be looking forward to in the next two years? (good and bad forward please)

      Also I would also like to know what kind of advertising i should do?
        • Re: Automotive business in trouble.
          coffeebean Wayfarer

          Wow! Good for you! Welcome to the world of doing what you love--plus doing what you hate--ALL the time. I have a small tutoring business that will be eight years old next month. My philosophy on small businesses is that they are like toddlers: turn your back on them for a second and they will have gotten themselves into trouble.

          The worst thing about being in business is that when things go wrong, it's all your fault.

          The best thing is when things go right, it's all to your credit.

          I can't imagine ever working for someone else again. This little business is my baby and I'm soooo proud and satisfied (and frustrated) by the challenges it brings.

          My advice to you (and maybe you've already started these things):

          1) Get accounting software right away. If you're not the accounting type (I'm not), hire someone to set up the accounts if you can afford it (I didn't and my account names might confuse a professional accountant). I love Quickbooks, but it's the only accounting software I've ever tried. I think there's a current post here on Quickbooks vs Peachtree that you might check out. Quickbooks is very easy to use. I really recommend using the online version ( You can access it anywhere. Your computer IS going to crash and die some day. Not IF, but WHEN. Having important accounting and invoice information stored somewhere else, with a company whose job it is to protect that info, brings me a lot of relief.

          2) I'm into the whole guerrilla marketing concept ( Be creative. I got rolling with some of my biggest clients by volunteering a few times at local schools. I don't know how that translates for a mechanic, though.

          3) Looking back, I know that cold-calling works. "Hi, this is me and I do this. Can I drop off some information? Can I donate to your school's fundraiser?" You only need a few to get the ball rolling.

          4) Customer service is king. Know how to say "I'm sorry" when something goes wrong, even if it's not really your fault. However, that might be a different issue with a car. "I'm sorry I forgot to put oil in your engine" might not work so well. When needed, I refund money or comp the client a session if I believe that the company did something wrong.

          5) Know when you CAN'T help someone. Maybe the client's request is out of your range. Maybe the client is simply too much of a nuisance despite your best efforts.

          6) Try to pay attention to what you're NOT good at and hire someone to do that as soon as you can. I'm creative and can teach almost anything with a 3 x 5 card, but I'm not organized. Having a part-time office assistant has really helped. I can FIND things!

          I remember my first two years were spent working working working and thinking almost solely of this company. I worked every hour I could get and then brought on another tutor, and then another, as demand increased and word got out. That said, this isn't terribly conducive to maintaining a relationship. (Are there polls out there to link entrepreneurship with divorce?)

          I don't know how much of my experience translates to your business. I know that I am very, very loyal to my mechanics. I stay until their services no longer apply to my car. My mechanic helps me to nurse my aging 1994 Mercedes wagon. He does nice little things like screw the door panel back in when it starts to sag. He always sounds like he recognizes me.

          Good luck and keep in touch! As a sole proprietor I often feel like I'm on an island. Wave to me from your island! These business forums are great!

          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • Re: Automotive business in trouble.
            LUCKIEST Guide
            Automotive business, Welcome Todd

            Best of luck in your new automotive business. Coffeebean gave you some great advice.
            You ask "what kind of time and effort does it take" Like 25 hours a day 8 days a week.

            If I was starting my own business I would do TWO things to help you succeed.
            One - - Develop both a Business and Marketing Plan
            Two - - Contact SCORE. SCORE is FREE and can help both in person and online

            Good luck, LUCKIEST
            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • Re: Automotive business in trouble.
              amspcs Ranger
              Dear Driz,

              Congratulations on starting a new biz. I work with lots of merchants in your line of work, so perhaps I can help you out with some sound advise relating to my field of expertise, which is merchant services credit card processing. I'm sure you've already made arrangements with a processor already, but I often find initial training to be lacking.

              Here are some common mistakes for you to avoid, and things to watch out for that, if done wrong, can cost you big bucks. Mechanics fall into these traps all the time.

              1.) Make sure you swipe the credit card thru the terminal. If you can't make sure you get a manual
              imprint of the card. In your business, particiularly for big tickets, never never NEVER take cc info over
              the phone and key into the terminal.

              2.) Give estimates in writing, NEVER verbal. Be as specific as possible. Mechanics lose chargeback disputes all the time due to 'he said/she said' misunderstandings about what was to be expected and how much it would cost. And you WILL lose that type of dispute.

              3.) Don't gift wrap good business to you competitors by adoping a 'no checks accepted' policy.
              Do take checks, but do it the right way. Get set up for check conversion/truncation. Note this is
              NOT taking paper checks or merely using check guarantee services. Use check conversion.

              4.) Make sure you have a pin pad set up with your cc machine and you process _pin debi_t (different from signature debit) whenever possible. If your merchant services salesperson didn't provide a pin pad or suggest you do this, that's because they make next to no $$$ on pin debit. This is in YOUR best interest, not his.

              5.) NEVER fall into the trap of a customer wanting to take one big invoice and pay for it over several (more than 2) different credit cards. That's a trap that will come back to bite you---if the customer disputes, you WILL lose the entire amount.

              6.) Never fall into the trap of one person paying with another's credit card, even if that person 'has permission'. Accept cc ONLY from the one and only authorized user/signer.

              These are the kinds of mistakes that get auto mechanics in trouble, based on my many years experience
              servicing merchants who accept credit card payment. If you have questions, feel free to email me.
              If you're careful, you'll be fine. Good luck.

              Merchant Services Credit Card Processing
              • Re: Automotive business in trouble.
                drizzt Newbie
                I want to thank you all for your answers but to be honest i dont understand half of what is written on the page lol I am a country boy that is smart but does not understand business jargon i get the basic gist of it. As for cc i problly will not accept them for the reasons of the hastle of dealing with the bank. Also i am funding the business out of my own bank account currently because i do not have the business income to build its own account (20-30 dollars a week). I know the hours of 25/8 i am already pulling that it is an exellent compairson. And as for relationships and work if you consume your self in your work you will end up divorced because you no longer spend the time with your partner that you once did and they feel neglected. (such is the life for small business people in our society.). I have very few things i can not do but i do know my current limits. And i will say this if any of you are in Lexington, SC please feel free to let me know so we can sit over about 600000000 cups of coffee and chat i am always willing to learn, especally with my business on the rocks the way it is. Once again i thank you for your answers i will check back frequently to see if any new things have popped up. Thank you once again.

                Todd Wallace
                Kyttie Kat's Garage.
                  • Re: Automotive business in trouble.
                    amspcs Ranger
                    Todd, I certanly respect your feelings and understand the stress of beginning a new biz.
                    But are you really sure about the decision not to accept plastic payment??????????
                    Think about it. What's going to happen when somebody needs a major repair job, say $300 worth,
                    but doesn't happen to have $300 jangling around in his pocket at the moment (and these days,
                    that's just about everybody)? What do you think that person will do? Save up until he gets the
                    $300 so you can repair his car, and walk everyplace he needs to go in the meantime?? Of course not, what he's going to so is get his car fixed today at one of your competitors who does accept cc payment.
                    What I'm trying to say is: You can't even dream about being successful in 2009 by using 1940 business techniques, and the fact is, here in 2009, people use plastic to pay for major purposes.

                    So again, are you really sure about that decision? In my mind, I think that decision more or less guarantees failure. There are lots of purveyors of cc servcies who frequent this website, including us. I suggest you take one of them up and let them set you up for payment need not be either expensive nor complicated as you fear.

                    Good luck. Give our site a look-see for some valuable input:
                    Good luck to you.

                      • Re: Automotive business in trouble.
                        coffeebean Wayfarer
                        Hi, Todd!

                        Oh, my! I agree with the credit card vendor who just replied!

                        You're not going to accept credit cards!? The additional cost is worth looking and acting like a "real business"! I'm the tutoring company owner, and I accept all credit cards, even American Express, which is expensive. My clients like the benefits of their AmEx cards, so I just have to deal with it.

                        As business people who want to attract clients, I think we need to cater to them. It's that whole "you have to pay to play," "you've got to spend money to make money" thing.

                        That said, perhaps the credit card climate is very different where you are?

                        If you're worried about any form of payments, it should be checks.

                        Good luck!

                      • Re: Automotive business in trouble.
                        A_Ellicott Adventurer
                        Between work and family I own 7 cars. Because of this I visit in my local repair shop on average about once a week. If they didn't take debit/credit cards I would go somewhere else. To me, refusing to take credit cards marks you as an amatuer.
                          • Re: Automotive business in trouble.
                            drizzt Newbie
                            Ok you must understand where i am coming from. I am 20 i have limited knowledge with the functions of ccs other than my own which i use only at ATMs my biggest fear with them is that someone will charge something to it and try to screw me out of my money, as for checks i dont even want to accept them i prefer cash and cash only and with where i live (a small area in the boonies) most people rarely pull their cards out they prefer cash it is faster easier and much more widely accepted here than checks or CCs. And to be honest Ellicott I AM AN AMATUER. hence the reason i am in the STARTING A BUSINESS section. I have been to school to work on vehicles not run a business. (thats in the future) hopefully after a year or two i will be able to sit down with a company and do the legal mumbo jumbo that follows dealing with CCs but right now with 10 dollars in my account do you honestly think i have the ability to get that kind of equipment. And also i wish to establish my prices and my reputation for excellent work before i burden myself. i have thought long and hard about accepting CCs and i understand that it would make my business run smoother. I understand where you are coming from, BUT i can not afford a proper building much less an expensive set up for CCs. I do thank you for the information and when the time comes i will be looking into the CC machines. Once again thank you for your input.

                        • Re: Automotive business in trouble.
                          FlAdMan Adventurer
                          As far as advertsiing, it is good to use multiple streams, such as radio, print ads, business directories online, and if possible a website. Check out my website,, we specialize in affordable advertising for Local Small Businesses. Good luck!
                          1 of 1 people found this helpful