Consulting call with a mobile car mechanic (ep 64)

Show notes from Podcast Episode 64 where Nick mentors a mobile car mechanic who just quit his job to start growing his young company on a full time basis. The main theme here is an in person sales approach to gaining early clients.

Targeting a service technician like a plumber or lawn care guy with 8 vehicles in the back. His vehicles make him money every day so he can’t sideline them to take them in somewhere. If you gain trust with a company like that he’ll do $10k every year in maintenance with you and maybe more.

You can get scheduled and recurring business. Easier to plan staffing around. Easier to bulk purchase equipment and make money there as well.

Take the Max Maher approach and make a list of 500 local businesses that could possibly use your service.

  1. People who need the service themselves on a lot of vehicles (fleets of vehicles)
  2. People who need it for their personal vehicles

Walk in to each business and introduce yourself and what you do. Tell them you do reliable mobile work at really great prices. Try to have a meaningful conversation with them. Ask them about business. Leave your card and more importantly TAKE THEIR CARD. Follow up with them. Find out the owner and send him emails or maybe even a little gift. Keep following up just letting him know you are there next time he has a problem and needs help with.

Strategic partnerships – mobile car detailers. While you’re doing the brake job he is cleaning out the interior of the car and waxing it. You can help him get in with the fleets and he can in turn drop off your card in the cup holder of every car he cleans. You both have the same market.

Get connected with dealers or scrap yards. A lot of people end up abandoning cars when the repairs are too high or the vehicle is otherwise totaled. Be able to recommend someone to help them out there and in turn have the guy at the junkyard handing out your card. Junkyards have a lot of DIY guys coming in which isn’t necessarily your target market (especially if they want to source parts and think they know everything).

So what do you do? Add value first. Offer discounts on routine maintenance at first so you can gain trust.

Nurture the Google My Business location and write some really good content. Keep your iphone on you while you’re doing jobs and record little videos around the keywords in your town – the content is a lot less important than the volume and keywords. Brake job. Suspension job.

Work hard to get a good part supplier. If you specialize in brakes and know you’re going to do a lot of certain kinds see if you can negotiate better prices on parts.

I’m usually against a physical shop but in this case it might be a worthwhile goal to build into. Consider a 5 year plan of having a physical shop and work towards that. There are a number of advantages here – real estate tax advantages if you buy the property as well.

You can depreciate your building and write off your mortgage interest. Appreciation. Your building will become more valuable over time.

You can borrow against it because it’s a physical asset.

Lean out your life for now while you build the business.

If your end goal is global domination and scaling this business. People pay for speed and convenience. There is no time that you need someone like you more than if you’re stranded on the side of the road.

I know you said you don’t do roadside work because its not safe. Is there any way you could make it safer?

Long term you need to be doing this work because if you can build up volume and have enough coming in to keep someone busy your margins here would be MUCH better. People will pay $700 for a brake job if you do it at their house but they’ll pay $1200 if you do it for them on the side of the road. Contractors want this too. Their time is money.

Maybe a modified tow rig that can simply pull them to a safe location? I think long term you might want to have a tow rig that is also outfitted with the tools so you can tow the vehicle to a safe spot and get to work or tow it back to your shop for major work.

First hire should be an admin. Someone who knows enough to answer questions but focuses on billing and compliance and helping you from a computer.

But I have a warning. You need to start thinking about how you’d get a second mechanic on and how much money you’ll need to be bringing in to make that happen. Budget it and run cashflows of the true costs to have a second vehicle that you own with a full time employee in it.

It can start part time. You can walk into shops and hand out your card asking if guys are looking for weekend work. You should make your hiring at current shops.

Keep focusing on bringing in business. It will be really easy for you to get up to where you’re making $100k a year on your own labor. Itll be really really hard to make a hire and take your life back.

Do what you do best. Say no to a lot of work that you can’t train someone how to do. Focus on only brakes, oil change, and other quick turnaround simple to diagnose items for your first crew to take on.

Don’t be afraid to raise prices.

As soon as you have a full schedule of appointments and its reliable hire someone to take care of that while you shift to the on-demand roadside assistance and drumming up new business.

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.