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 start-up costs, you may want to consider starting a mobile mechanic service.
What is a mobile mechanic?
As the name suggests, a mobile mechanic provides vehicle maintenance and repair services at any location. These professionals travel to their customers unlike conventional workshops, where customers 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 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 auto repair shop for electrification so that you can stay in 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.
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 a traditional shop you might be sitting 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 vehicle maintenance. Since these are typically lower than utilities and rent that you’d otherwise pay for a shop, your business suffers lesser during the auto repair slow season. Here’s a breakdown of the average cost to set up a mobile mechanic business:
Things to consider before setting up a mobile mechanic business
If you’re ready to set up 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 license. On the other hand, mobile mechanics in California need to obtain a 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 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 business to be, such as a partnership, sole proprietorship, corporation, or limited liability company.
2. Invest in the right equipment
While a mobile mechanic business does not require much initial capital, it does require some important pieces of 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. 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 lesser room than a mobile tire business.
4. 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:
- Reschedule jobs: Mobile mechanics need to stay on top of weather updates. If conditions are too extreme, it makes sense to reschedule appointments. During heatwaves, storms, and natural disasters, it might not make sense to commute and then work on a car in the open.
- 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.
5. 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 auto repair shop.
- Conventional strategies: Sometimes old-school strategies are the most effective. Market your 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.
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 software to increase your profitability, save time, and build customer trust.