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Starting a Auto Repair Shop
I'm starting an Auto Repair Shop and Looking for Advice from all of You.
DON'T. Kidding. You need to look at all aspects of the business. How many employees, cost of insurance, workman's comp, taxes, rent utilities, tools, location, type of work you will be doing. Are you going to specialize or do general repairs and maintenance? You really need ashop software to help with invoicing and record keeping. You also will at least need enough money to live on for about a year. These are just for starters. You will notice other things you need daily.
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WOW!!!!!!!I thought you guys flew the coop.....but I havent been to active either...trying to start my own shop....long hours and lots of problems but it is worth it if you love to wrench.....I"ll be keeping some eyes out for you ...and the post
The first question in order to give you some advice is:
Are you looking to operate the business out of your home, or are you looking to take over an existing shop with a lift, waiting room, and all the other stuff that goes into having what most people consider a shop?

The second question would be whether or not you plan to have any other mechanics, or you intend to be a one-man show?

One of the best ways to get into the business is to buy out an existing shop owner who wants to retire. Financing is somewhat difficult to find - banks are just incredibly tight these days, but if the shop you're looking to buy can prove positive cash flow, you might want to look into Savings and Loans and some of the other non-traditional lending sources - start with the Small Business Association.
Tom C

Administrator: Auto Shop Forum
Thanks Guys for All of Your Knowledge to My Question.

My Step Father and I have been Wrenching together as a Hobby for the Past 10 Years and are always asked Why We Don't Start Our Own Auto Repair Shop.

So we are thinking about opening a a Small Shop Out of My Oversize Home Garage located within a Small Suburb with only One Other General Auto Repair Shop.

Any Lessons Learned Opening a Home Based Auto Repair Shop ???

Also I have Several Questions on Equipment.

What's the Best Auto Diagnostic Equipment/Scanner Should I Purchase for a General Auto Repair Shop ???

What's the Pros and Cons on Auto Lifts, Two Posts versus Four Posts ??

I appreciate everyones opinion.

OTC makes good scan tools that are easy to navigate and has lots of diagnostic capabilities. The model depends on how much you want to spend. There are a lot of laptop based diagnostics programs that are good also. A 4 post lift is more stable for larger vehicles, but a 2 post can have a lifting capacity of 12,000 pounds. Again, it depends on what you are wanting to do. I would contact an attorney to see what the legalities are going to be concerning local ordinances. There is a lot of research to be done to start up a place out of your house.
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The first thing to check out is the zoning in your area. It's usually controlled at the lowest local level - your village, town, township, etc. The typical zoning categories are Residential, Commercial, and Industrial. These may be broken into sub-categories like R-1, R-2, R-4, C-Retail, I-Light, I-Heavy, etc. The zoning controls how land can be used.

In most cases, you can build a house (single family residence) in any zone, although some places do not allow residential building in the Industrially zoned districts. So it is not uncommon to see commercial and retail mixed together in places where the underlying zonign is commercial. Also, existing uses may be grandfathered in, so that if there was a candy store operated out of an old farmhouse before the the area was re-zoned residential, it could continue operating as a candy store - but could not be converted to a convenience store or other non-residential use.

Typically, you cannot have any kind of commercial enterprise on a property zoned in a Residential area. This is designed to protect the home values of the people living nearby.

Commercial and / or Retail are the ideal zoning for an auto shop. Some areas may have special restrictions on auto shops though, because of the volatile chemicals and oils used in auto repair. You may also be able to set up an auto shop in an industrially zoned area - although traffic is usually much lower there, so from a customer standpoint it is not as good.

All of this can sometimes be over-ruled by petitioning your local zoning appeals board. They meet monthly or sometimes twice per month in every town. There is a process for the whole thing, and there is a cost for it. Some towns have officials who can give you great guidance on how to structure your business so it does not run afoul of the zoning rules, and how good a chance you will have at getting an appeal approved even before you ask to be on their agenda.

This is one that you really can't skip by on - you might get lucky and ride under the radar for a few months or even a year, but once you really have any kind of clientele you will get found out and fined.
Tom C

Administrator: Auto Shop Forum
Type of lift? It depends on the type of work you think you will be doing most.

If you will be doing a lot of brake jobs and work that requires tire removal, a 2-post lift is obviously the best. Not only are you able to quickly get the car up in the air and remove the wheels for whatever type of work you will be doing, but you also don't have the ramps in the way while you are working. I can't tell you how many times I've been ticked at myself for having to try to reach at something in a weird way or had a hard time getting a breaker bar in place because the ramps are in the way.

There are a couple kinds of 2-post lifts - Symmetric and Asymmetric. They both work about the same, but the symetric is designed to lift the car with the lift columns near the center of the car, while an asymmetric is designed to put the columns near the front door hing, even though the car will then have more weight hanging off the back. Asymmetric styles are build differently so they can handle the added stress, and are therefore more expensive.

For all lifts, but especially for 2-post lifts, you must have at least a 4" thick concrete floor of 3000PSI concrete. 2-post lifts must be bolted to the floor. Some 2-post lifts have the cross-post hydraulics in a pipe across the bottom between the posts, while others have it across the top. Either works fine, although if you have a 14' ceiling and you have a 12' top-bar 2-post system, you will be limited to lifting to only 12 feet regardless of inside ceiling height.

4 Posts are much easier to install and manage - technically you really don't even need to bolt them to the floor (although they are more stable if you do). For oil changes and work through the center of the car (transmission work, etc) they are great. Most also come with a "jack tray" which is a specially reinforced recessed tray between the ramps, strong enough to put on one or two bottle jacks. YOu can use these to lift the car off the ramps to do tire changes, etc - but it takes time. More importantly, because the jack tray is through the middle, it may be hard to find a safe jacking point - most cars have their jack mount points along the outer rails, but the 4-posts' ramps will be in the way of using these.

You can get something called a "Bridge Jack" the fits in the jack tray and has extendable arms so it can place contact points under the correct lift points. These are usually pretty expensive though, but you can get most of the same functionality as a 2-post lift with a pair of bridge jacks added to your 4-post lift.

4-post lifts are also nice because they are ideal for car storage. With a set of drip trays underneath, you can stack 2 cars easily, whether for the night so you can keep customers' cars inside, or for longer term storage of a special project car.

The biggest brand is probably Rotary - I'd say 80% of commercial shops have a Rotary lift of some sort. Here in the Northeast, Mohawks are common as well.

For my own home use, I have a 4-post that I bought from American Automotive - http://www.americanautomotiveequipment.c...000xlt.htm It's a cheap Chinese Steel unit, like the majority of the low cost lifts out there - but it was well made and the hydraulics and pulley system are well designed.

In all cases, look to get the 220/240 volt version of whatever you buy. Make sure you get a Single Phase motor, not a 3-phase motor. 3 phase power requires a special connection and service from the power company and if you don't have it already, you don't want to pay to have it put in.

Tom C

Administrator: Auto Shop Forum
I thought you guys flew the coop.....
I purchased this software called ClientTickler to manage my customers. I also bought Quickbooks to go with it. I ended up with most the features that other auto shop softwares give you for much less! $150 for clienttickler and around $300 for quickbooks. The autoshop softwares tart around $1600 and they have monthly fees. Both clienttickler and quickbooks are 1 time fees. It will help you down the road!
I have been looking for cheap places of auto repair companies for my small home job like wind shielding and window glass fixing. What do you think should I hire one for fixed price or on hourly rate.

(11-14-2011, 08:55 PM)Blake Wrote: I purchased this software called ClientTickler to manage my customers. I also bought Quickbooks to go with it. I ended up with most the features that other auto shop softwares give you for much less! $150 for clienttickler and around $300 for quickbooks. The autoshop softwares tart around $1600 and they have monthly fees. Both clienttickler and quickbooks are 1 time fees. It will help you down the road!
Idea Great advice!!! Idea
Tom C

Administrator: Auto Shop Forum

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