How to Start a Mobile Mechanic Business in 5 Steps

How to start a mobile mechanic business

There are multiple paths you can choose when entering the auto repair industry. You could start an independent repair shop, work at a dealership, or become part of a national repair franchise, to name a few.

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However, setting up isn’t always easy given the time and money it takes. If you’re passionate about servicing cars but don’t want to break the bank with startup costs, you may want to consider starting a mobile mechanic service.

Before learning how to start a mobile mechanic business, let’s define what a mobile mechanic even is.

What is a mobile mechanic?

As the name suggests, a mobile mechanic provides vehicle maintenance and car repair services at any location. These professionals travel to their customers unlike conventional workshops, where car owners bring their vehicles to the mechanic. Many may consider being a mobile mechanic restrictive. And while you can’t lug around a lift and a hoist, there are still plenty of profitable repair services you can offer:

  • Brake service: Brakes are one of the most important vehicle components, and they wear out fast. Additionally, they’re relatively simple for a mobile mechanic to fix.

  • Battery replacements: Car batteries in internal combustion engines (ICE) need to be replaced every 4 to 5 years. There’s always that one person who challenges the manufacturer’s recommended replacement schedule and pushes the battery until the very end. These people are likely to find themselves stranded, waiting for a mobile mechanic to help them out.

  • Air filters: Busy people might not want to drop their cars off at a workshop for something like an annual air filter replacement. They’d prefer having a mobile mechanic replace the filter while they’re at work or relaxing at home.

  • Engine oil changes: Until the time comes that everyone is driving electric vehicles (EV), engine oil changes will remain important. A mobile mechanic can reach the customer’s location and conduct oil changes on the spot. However, it’s important to prepare your shop for electrification so that you can stay in the repair business when EVs eventually dominate the roads.

  • Moving parts under the hood: Mobile mechanics can replace spark plugs, alternators, timing belts, water pumps, and conduct vehicle diagnostics. This makes mobile mechanics ideal for people who want quick maintenance checks.

  • Tire rotation and replacement: Driving on worn-out tires can be hazardous. Many people would prefer the convenience and lower cost of a mobile mechanic over getting their vehicles towed to a workshop if they have damaged tires.
How to start a mobile mechanic business

The perks of becoming a professional mobile mechanic

Now that you know what a mobile mechanic is, let’s go over some of the benefits of becoming one.

  • Convenience: In your own traditional repair shop, you might sit around waiting for customers. However, as a mobile mechanic, you can choose to go home and relax on slower days. You can set your own working hours and continue to fix cars afterward to earn an extra buck too!
  • Lower cost structure: As a mobile mechanic, you just need to worry about the variable cost of fuel and overheads incurred for basic maintenance. Other startup costs that traditional shops take on won’t apply. Since these are typically lower than utilities and rent that you’d otherwise pay for a shop, your repair business suffers less during the auto repair slow season. Here’s a breakdown of the average cost to set up a mobile mechanic business:
How to start a mobile mechanic business
  • Modern business appeal: Regardless of the product or service, today’s customers value convenience. If you can eliminate steps for them along the way, that’s great! Customers will place a premium on how you make their life easier. With this type of mobile model, you can bring your business directly to them. And with the right marketing approach, which we discuss later, you have a great chance of creating a highly profitable business!
 Want to learn how to become a mechanic? Read our blog post here.

Things to consider before setting up a mobile mechanic business

If you’re starting a mobile mechanic business, here are some things you need to consider:

1. Acquire the necessary licenses and register your business

After creating an auto repair business plan, you might need a license before you can begin operating as a mobile mechanic depending on your location. If you operate in Florida, you won’t need a business license. On the other hand, mobile mechanics in California need to obtain a repair business license from the Bureau of Automotive Repair (B.A.R.) to operate. Your local small business office can provide guidance and help with paperwork for registering your mobile auto repair business.

Then, contact the IRS in the US or the CRA in Canada regarding a sales tax identification number. This helps when you’re filing tax returns on auto parts, which you need a reseller’s license to sell. It’s also important to decide the kind of legal entity you want your repair business to be, such as a partnership, sole proprietorship, corporation, or limited liability company.

2. Invest in the right auto repair equipment

While a mobile mechanic business does not require much initial capital, it does require some important pieces of auto repair equipment. Here are some tools that you should invest in:

  • OBD scanner: A quality scan tool might be expensive but it’s worth the investment. It allows you to accurately diagnose issues with a range of different vehicles. 

  • Heavy-duty jack: A high-quality jack that can withstand heavy usage will enable you to work under the car and conduct tire rotations and replacements. 

  • Brake-related equipment: As mentioned earlier in this article, a vehicle’s brakes are susceptible to wear, even with pristine driving habits. To service brakes, mobile mechanics should invest in a brake pedal depressor and a bleeding kit.

3. Sign up for liability insurance coverage

As a small business owner, you need to mitigate risks. In the rare case an issue occurs, proper coverage can make all the difference. That’s where liability insurance comes into play.

Liability insurance can protect your business from incurring expensive damage costs. Examples of coverage includes:

  • Damage to property: As someone who regularly works on auto repair services for customer vehicles, this is a main damage risk you need to protect yourself against. It’s better safe than sorry, and this type of insurance coverage will keep you protected from devastating liability costs.

  • Physical injuries: Unlikely given the nature of your business, but still important to note and protect against.

  • Defense expenses: Again, a very unlikely form of coverage you will require. But it’s smart to cover all bases and protect your business as best you can.

Options for liability insurance coverage will vary based on the specifics of your mobile auto repair business. To find the right fit, conduct your own research online. Talk with others you know who own small businesses and get their recommendations.

While it may feel unnecessary now, this investment will provide peace of mind as you work on mobile auto repair and grow your business over time.

4. Purchase the right vehicle

Running a mobile mechanic service means that you’ll need accessibility to the relevant equipment, accessories, and tools at all times. Here are some things to note before investing in a shiny new vehicle:

  • Fuel economy: You don’t want to invest in a gas guzzler that’ll burn through your profits. Choose a vehicle that gives you decent fuel economy in both cities and on highways since mobile mechanics spend a lot of time on the road.

  • Cargo space: The vehicle should have enough capacity to transport all the equipment and the parts you need. If you’re running a diagnostics service, you’ll need less room than a mobile tire business.

 

  • Configuration: Is the interior space of your vehicle adjustable? Do you have flexible enough options to adapt based on what the specific job requires? Assess the configuration and versatility of the business vehicle with careful consideration.

5. Learn how to deal with the weather

Mobile mechanics often have to work in unpleasant weather conditions. They’re catering to the customers’ vehicles without any shelter from the sun or stormy weather.

Some ways mobile mechanics protect themselves from harsh weather are:

  • Damage to property: As someone who regularly works on auto repair services for customer vehicles, this is a main damage risk you need to protect yourself against. It’s better safe than sorry, and this type of insurance coverage will keep you protected from devastating liability costs.

  • Use a make-shift shelter: Several mobile mechanics create a short-term shelter attached to their trucks or vans that they extend to cover a large area when needed. Others carry a gazebo that can be collapsed for portability at the expense of using space in their vehicle. This can be seen in the image below from Rough Luck Racing.

6. Market your business

Once everything else is in order, think about how you’ll market your mobile mechanic business. Many of the tips discussed here apply to developing a marketing strategy for any shop.

  • Conventional strategies: Sometimes old-school strategies are the most effective. Market your own business by dropping off flyers in high-traffic areas and incentivizing your existing customers to refer you to others.

  • Use social media: Social media marketing is a great way to establish your mobile mechanic service digitally. It’s all about showcasing customer testimonials and your specializations to a larger audience.

  • Website: There’s no substitute for a website to showcase your skills and positive customer reviews. Make sure that you have a contact page that lists all the ways your customers can reach out to you, considering mobile mechanics are often on the move.

  • Customer referrals: Referrals are a great way to generate new business for your shop. After all, your existing customers appreciate the quality service you provide! To ask for referrals, you will need to create an incentive program. Incentives can come in the form of accrued reward points or applied discounts on tire rotations, oil changes, basic repairs and other services. Promote this referral program across your marketing to existing customers and watch the new business roll in!

  • Email promotions: Your mobile repair business won’t gain any traction with generic messaging in email outreach. When it comes to email marketing, get creative! Use attention-grabbing subject lines. Offer compelling value to your customers. And have fun with the email copy itself. 

  • Word-of-mouth: Sounds old school, right? But you’d be surprised how effective word-of-mouth marketing can be! Tell all your friends, family and previous work colleagues about the business. Ask them to share within their networks. Attend auto repair conferences and bring business cards with you. Get active with this networking process, as it can pay real dividends.

You know how to start a mobile mechanic business with the strategies outlined above. But strategic marketing is the key to generating buzz and getting potential customers interested.

Closing thoughts

Becoming a mobile mechanic can be a rewarding and fulfilling career. Make sure you follow the tips above and you’ll be set on your way to building a promising mobile mechanic business! Once your shop is up and running, consider investing in auto repair shop software to increase your profitability, save time, and build customer trust.

Auto Repair Shop Management Software

AutoLeap is a powerful all-in-one auto repair shop software that helps to keep complete track of your business – from scheduling appointments to managing technicians and generating invoices.

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