Tips For Opening An Automotive Service Shop

Tips For Opening An Automotive Service Shop


hey everybody its Charles from humble mechanic coming today we’re talking about opening up your own shop all right so I’m here at the APEC show I am joined by Ryan who is a former howdy tech we decided a master champion outie Tech he was an IT tech for about eight years did the dealership thing and decided to make the leap that I think a lot of us really want to make and that’s opening up our own shop so we had a chat I thought it would be really great because this is a question I get all the time Charles I want to open up my own shop you have any advice should I do it shouldn’t I do it well the should or shouldn’t is not a question either one of us can answer but I think Ryan can give you guys really really awesome insight to what it’s like some of the things that are amazing some of the things you probably never thought you’d ever have to do as a shop owner so with that I’m gonna turn it over to Ryan tire Stormin absolutely yes so I worked for Audi for about eight years I went through traditional kind of setup once aut I went through the Audi Academy and then got placed at a dealership in Dallas Texas at County Plano and you know it was like most technicians a pretty typical ramp up you know spent more money on tools and I made for a couple years I remember those years very well I felt like I had all of the knowledge to succeed but not a lot of the you know if it was a motivation or a know-how or just kind of putting it all together and you can kind of tell you you know when you’re training and apprentice like when you see that moment when everything clicks yeah that’s love yeah and so it just all comes together and all of a sudden you know you’re running good hours you’re getting your ranks up through you know bugging your shop form and descending to classes and I finally worked my way up to master guild and had a lot of opportunities without II got to win the national tech challenge it’s like the twin Cup Challenge which looks like it also have yes I’m actually going to that next week it’s a lot of fun so it’s one of my favorite parts of my career there you know so there was a lot of opportunity but you know like all dealer texts there were things you know not big issues but things that you know hey maybe we could do this a little bit better or maybe we could interface with the customer in this way or you know concerns about you know is the customer getting the relevant information about their vehicle through you know an advisor that is maybe new you know you’ve had all those guys and you know by the time a car gets to you you write it up and a parts guy deals with you know the parts information and then it adviser deals with it gets all jumbled right there’s so many hands and yeah then I think to kind of sum that up you feel almost like your voice isn’t heard and you’re just you’re speaking the words out there and everybody’s like not hearing it period or hey that’s a really great idea and then just down the river it goes yes I mean everybody’s gotten that ticket back from the adviser with the highlighted sections of everything the customer doesn’t need and all the things that you know you really felt like they needed on their vehicle just go on answer and there’s really no recourse but you know little things like that red tape you know the whole corporate side of things you’re dealing with too because you got BW of America plus your dealer groups corporations so these these are all like the really common frustration points that most of those technicians even the guys are like me I work at a really great dealership right and I still have some of these frustrations and to be honest a lot of that’s never going to change in the dealership environment so what happened you got ad yeah so I was looking at you know some different options and honestly I considered a whole wide variety of things you know maybe I’ll get into real estate or I’ll go finish my bachelor’s degree or I’ll you know do any number of things at the end I decided to settle on leveraging the knowledge that I had accumulated into something different maybe doing it the way I wanted to do it at the dealer take a dealership almost approach to an independent because you know you weren’t your dealer tech while this car came in from that independent you know the brake helpers gonna be hanging off all the wirings gonna be messed up you know but what would happen if the independent was at a dealer level quality with OEM parts OEM scan tools chateau am access to information and the highest quality trained technicians doing the work you know would that work at an independent level and so that was basically the question that drove me to start Blair automotive and you know we started in a single stall one lift a storage unit and yeah people kept showing up you know and they really enjoyed the the more personal interaction you know being able to talk to you mechanic being able to talk to who’s actually going to be working on your vehicle at any given and I think that’s a really important like that’s always been the way I’ve approached it is I want my customer to know me because to me they’re not the shirt nerd the dealership customer they’re the shop customer but they’re my customer yeah I care about their car I want their car right and that is some of that red tape that a lot of dealerships are not cool right and part of it is because someone like you is going to come in and you know be really awesome and maybe capture some of that business away but flipside of that is if you didn’t want that captured yeah there’s a way around it you know so that was the the idea the dream the goal and I think when you know if we’re talking about starting your own independent maybe you’re thinking about I mean there are definitely some things to kind of be aware of that I just never would have thought of and you know some of those would be you know be prepared to not have an income for up to two to three years you know I’ve only just now started paying myself and I’m still the least paid employee in my business yeah you’re not gonna flip the lights on on that first Monday morning and you know we had a hundred thousand dollars that we you know so there’s definitely a a patience factor you know as the tech the average you know really good hours and the dealer that was definitely really frustrating for me you know at the beginning is just a lack of income and what does that mean for your personal life and their family and things like that and that’s something that you really have to think about and plan for ahead of time because otherwise you’re putting you know other people in positions that there’s not clear to them exactly and incomes not just the dollars on your paycheck it’s your health insurance it’s the taxes that your dealer or your employer pays that you you know instead of paying you know 14% Social Security you’re paying all of it it’s no vacation time it’s no retirement so it’s it’s not just the zeros that you put in the bank on Friday there’s so much more to it and that’s a really good point if you guys are thinking about this you can’t just be pissed off at work one day I’m going to start my own shop because you’re probably not gonna make it yeah and it’s one of those things that you know I I’ve looked at a lot of guys that my dealer that like I mean this guy is awesome he’s running all these hours he’s got so much versatility is really consistent you know why doesn’t he go do something else but if you look at it most technicians you get comfortable you’re making your we make we make pretty good money at the delusion then you gonna do you get a family and everything involved and your bills and everything and being able to let go of that for a period of time threat is really difficult it’s just logistically difficult but if you can manage it you know that’s definitely once you get through that first two years and that’s you know you build up you’ve got to have you know you start building up clients and and then you get into all these other issues that you never thought you’d have to deal with so we got we got the money what money things what else do we what else do we are we gonna run into so I was a mechanic full time never did any adviser work in my career and so one thing is when you’re really small it’s just one guy or maybe you and another technician you’re now a service adviser you’re another mechanic this technician their services janitor yep the janitor the accountant you’re here in the Facebook guy that’s where social media your everything and you can’t go hey boss what do we do because you’ve got someone coming hey boss what do we do and you know based on your different skill sets you know you may find like oh hey I’m actually pretty good at this or oh man I like I see so many pitfalls in the way that I operate doing this role you know and so I recognized pretty quickly that you know I was good at at marketing at social media getting out there at being the face of my brand and not very good at managing you know 50 emails and a hundred phone calls all while trying to do about clean on a two-layer you know so if eight the other guy did not be in a bed because we just got his butt kicked by a car I mean listen yes it’s a lot yeah we as whether you’re just an independent or you’re just a dealer if you’re just at that technician level we don’t see a lot of what those are we don’t always understand that the adviser is the punching bag of the building and the service manager not only is listening to me complain but the 12 on their tax and the poor advisers and all the mad customers yes it’s so important to realize that that becomes you I mean you get used to it the dealer like I’ll just go grab this ticket and okay here’s everything it needs let me just walk to the parts counter oh here’s my part it’s just magically here that’s that’s awesome and I’ll just go put it on the car and then park it in front of a carwash and I’m done right well that’s actually only about 25 percent of the effort involved in getting that car in getting the parts for it getting the car back to the customer making sure the customers happy I mean there’s so much else involved so that was definitely a big eye-opener for me when I first started you know and then on top of just the regular you know the cliche you know you’re a mechanic or you’re a plumber your electrician and now you’re running a business and there are all sorts of aspects to running a business that I’m thinking like getting licenses and making sure you have the air conditioning certification and your coolant traps and oil separators are work Danny it’s I mean it’s it’s your your building and everything involved with that and then all of your paperwork what type of business are you are you an escort do you have chairs do you even know what that means it out like so there are all these things involved in getting set up but really if you can get through that these initial kind of you know difficulties once you put everything together you start hiring yourself out of the roles that you’re not very good at I was able to bring on top to your advisor that I worked with at the dealership and I was able to get back into the shop and and start wrenching again full time which has been which has been really nice actually when when you’re wrenching because it’s something that you know you want to do and it’s because your name is on the product or on the building you can have a different perspective on it and I know a lot of you know being successful in the dealership or at an independent it’s a lot of mindset yeah but we need the mindset is just easier at the independent you know it’s a little bit slower paced you know if I run six hours eight hours a day I’m happy you know I would need to do double that at the dealer otherwise I’m sweating or I got you know it’s our users telling me now more or less Bob Fosse’s so I think the thing is now you can decide or you can let your business dictate where where you fill in if your Tech’s out sick you jump in and be attacking your advisors out you jump in to be an adviser and you have to be able to do all those roles right otherwise you can’t make you know this is not like doing sign right when you do side work you get the car you bring it to your house you got your tools you fix it you get the keys back in that’s it you don’t have to worry about all this other stuff this is a business this is a professional establishment yeah you can’t just dive into it without some experience in doing things like this yes and but really at the end of the day it’s that flexibility deciding you know what should I do for my business what is my value in any given position you know and if you look across the board and and it’s nice to give you know one of my Texas Saturday off and I can fill in for him as a tech and then I can give my advisor a day off in fill in as an advisor but it’s also the flexibility of being able to solve the problems that come across your table in the way that you want to solve them not just because this is how we’ve always done or the manual or employee handbook whatever says you can’t do it this way you can be creative and dynamic yeah make decisions like that you don’t have to run it up the ladder and then wait a week to get it run back absolutely you know if an issue occurs and we see you know what happened once or twice you know I sit down with my guys like hey how how do we solve this problem how do we want to fix this how do we want to make sure that this doesn’t happen again and that flexibility and being able to be creative because we were all there shop meeting okay well here’s this new pay plan or here’s this new policy and everyone working there could just see it like a like a mechanism going through the shop how it’s gonna work and you already knew how that was gonna work out before it even happened there just no one asked her even if everybody gave it their all and was committed you could say well this isn’t going to work because of these now you know you can make that decision yourself and then there there will be times where you make the wrong decision trans you know you’re like oh that was expensive to get out again yeah well it’s just like diagnosing a car to you it takes time for you to build your diagnostic process the first time you run into a problem you’re gonna run most likely way more tests than you need to the next time you see that problem you go okay ignore ignore ignore all these things I can jump right to this one because this makes more sense than doing all this other stuff and and that’s it’s that same mindset I think that can really lead to having a successful business whether it’s your shop or whatever whatever you have side that you want to do absolutely so the big question though isn’t worth it I mean that’s what we all want to know right that’s what I want to know if if if I’ve put my heart and soul into this and I’ve got the chops and I can manage all those difficulties that you’ve been able to manage is it worth it yeah and I definitely think that it’s worth it it for me I’m I’m spending a week at SEMA right now your boss gave you the week off so that’s pretty cool I’ve got my shop running full speed you know I’ve got an r8 supercharger build I’ve got you know a full j-jim s4 you know clutch chain rebuild going on and its operating completely without me right now now last year when I was at SEMA I was waking up at 6:00 a.m. fielding phone calls ordering parts getting the Aros ready running the whole shop for himout I remember talking to him about that coming to the show and then just wanting to pass out and then my wife wants to go party he’s a lot more relaxed than he was last year with when I first met him so and that’s important this guy’s this doesn’t happen overnight yeah it doesn’t happen in six hours a day for a year it happens eighteen hours a day seven days a week for a long time even if you’re good even if you’re you know a champion level technician or a great technician and that’s important patience is important but I think you really nailed it when you said that mindset is where it’s all at because you can hire someone to do your accounting to do your advising to fix the cars but if your mindset your spirit of your business is wrong and flawed it’s only a matter of time before you sink yeah absolutely you know and at the end of the day I get to go to work with all the buddies that I worked with at the dealership I’m able to hire them on and so you know that you’re working with you know quality guys that’ll do the job ride and you don’t have to worry about those types of things and it’s at the end of the day the flexibility being able to decide for yourself you know you may be at the point where I was in my career like man I just I just can’t keep wrenching you know you don’t you lose the love yes and when I was at the dealer I mean I totally lost you know that enthusiasts mindset you know I would say you know enthusiasts before I became the mechanic and now that I’m at my independent I may get to do cool stuff you know I got to put a a PR sage Street Bus kid on my 105 now the exclusive Viper Green St who would have thought that I my job is to wake up and talk to people about putting cool stuff on their cars and being able to put cool stuff on their cars and and having the flexibility to decide you know what next year I’m gonna hire myself out of wrenching and I want to promote full-time and I want to you know and there’s all sorts of different avenues that you can go down we’re getting really heavy into we became the new Texas and southern region distributor for awwe tuning and so that’s a whole other business Avenue that we get to go down and so there’s always things that can present itself it’s you know it’s never repetitive there’s always new things to do new challenges and I think if you’re you know if you can get through the hard times it’s definitely worth it that’s awesome and that that is that is the story that I think so much of us as technicians or whatever you know whatever you want to do that’s that’s what we need to hear because it is hard no one will say it’s easy but it’s actually pretty simple if you put the work in if you if you got the chops to begin with because let’s face it not everybody’s got the challenge yeah I mean we’ve all been there we’ve seen the new guy in the shop we’re like it’s just not gonna make it you know it’s not for everybody just like being a you know a solid dealer Tech is not for everybody you know so all right plug your business where yeah all right yeah so we’re Blair Automotive we’re in Frisco Texas and we’re out in Volkswagen you know maintenance service and also performance we’re a PR dealer awwe deal Yuriko tuning and the list goes list goes on and you got something else you want I’m sure if yeah if they’re called epics I paid for an Audi or Volkswagen we’re a dealer for them yeah I I really got to tell you I’m so proud of the work you put in and it makes me feel really good that you’ve been able to do what you wanted to do and get where you want to get in a relatively short period of time I think and more importantly for this moment thank you for taking the time to share that with everybody else because I think absolutely there’s a lot of people that are really gonna benefit from that and it’s it’s the insight that business books don’t give you or bitter old technicians don’t give you or you know the dealership says you’re never going to be able to make it he did it so a lot of times whenever I do something I feel like if I can do it anybody can do it you just got to work it absolutely right man thank you so much all right guys we’re gonna wrap it up there if you have any questions or comments the comments section below questions for Ryan shooting down there – I’ll make sure he sees them if you like this video throw it a thumbs up on YouTube I always appreciate that you can also subscribe on youtube or on the blog at homo mechanic come follow me on Facebook Twitter Instagram and of course snapchat I’m gonna link up all your stuff in the description so if you’re in Frisco check them out if you want some go fast parts or DFG service whatever dsg services are always great work so let’s spin it that way alright guys hey thanks for watching and we’ll see you next time


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