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Last man standing on the toilet.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 1959cac, Jan 23, 2009.

  1. 1959cac
    Joined: Nov 22, 2008
    Posts: 287

    1959cac
    Member

    Fellow Hambers I need all of your advice, good and bad. I'd like to hear what you want or need in an automotive repair shop. Please say whatever is on your mind. What you desire to be offered, what is too expensive, what is hard to find these day in a shop.
    I have owned and operated a shop since 1993. The only jobs I sub out are auto trans rebuilds and upholstery. Every other category can be handled in house, refinishing included.
    All the shops that offer my same service on older vehicles in my area have closed down lately, and I'm debating the same decision. I know most folks do a lot of their own work too, and with 6000 sq. ft., I can't compete with backyard garages.
    Please inform all of us shop owners on the Hamb what it's gonna take to survive this new year. Any advice welcome.
    Thanks, Jeff.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2009
  2. 1959cac
    Joined: Nov 22, 2008
    Posts: 287

    1959cac
    Member

    Hopefully, I'll have some input by Sunday, there's plenty of knowledge on this forum. Big decisions to make around here. Stay open and wait, or build and sell..... with a closed sign on my front door...working a day job.:confused:
     
  3. So you are a classic car garage/ resto shop?
    Or general repair?

    I worked for a guy that had both in one place. Half of us worked on late model daily stuff, and the other half worked in the resto shop, paint shop, etc.

    we did everything. Tires, engines, trannys, paint body, interior, oil changes..you name it.

    I have a few ideas to boost business but need to know what it is you are set up for.
     
  4. hotrod-Linkin
    Joined: Feb 7, 2007
    Posts: 3,382

    hotrod-Linkin
    Member

    went to town today to get some intake bolts at a local speed shop...sign on the wall says shop rate...90 per hour


    now i only can afford about a 6th of that....that's why i do my own

    funny thing is,there wasn't a car on the premises but mine.
    i know the cost of tools are high,rent is high,etc etc..but come on..i'd rather see a busy shop pulling in 50-60 bucks an hour as to a 90 dollar an hour shop doing zilch.

    then maybe i can utilize the shop owner instead of having to do it myself all the time.
     

  5. 1959cac
    Joined: Nov 22, 2008
    Posts: 287

    1959cac
    Member

    I've done it all. July of '07 GA passed a law that you need a GA drivers license to buy a car. That cut out the used car lots, most closed or only wholesale. I had 12 lots for years I did work for. I kept several restos in house for years, but lost patience with the younger muscle car guys, that think buffing and final assembly are included in a quote only to refinish a bare shell. Joe Public....I don't understand anymore..they assume everything is "included." My shop is full of vehicles from '31 to '71. No one is paying, or even checking on their vehicle since September. I'm runnin' out of bail money.
     
  6. 1959cac
    Joined: Nov 22, 2008
    Posts: 287

    1959cac
    Member

    I'm at $59 an hour. Went up last summer.
     
  7. 1959cac
    Joined: Nov 22, 2008
    Posts: 287

    1959cac
    Member

    I love how gas comes down in price, but a quart of oil is 3 bucks. I can't even do $19.95 oil changes now.:(
     
  8. It sounds like you need to do some shop leins on some cars. then finish them up enough so you can sell them.

    I'd seroiusly start thinking about changing the focus of your shop to daily driver type repairs.
    That might be hard to do if all your guys and equipment are set up for just old stuff.
    Evolution for survival, in a way. Those that can, will live, those who cannot or won't are left behind.

    Obviously your passion is older cars, as it is with most of us. You probably hate the general public like alot of us. But sometimes you have to put on a happy face...
     
  9. movingviolation
    Joined: Feb 19, 2005
    Posts: 1,177

    movingviolation
    Member

    My dime on the whole mess.........

    With the troubling economic times people have little if no money to spend on non essential things. So in order to get what money is out there i feel you have to figure that it is better to cling to existance and fade into the dust. So rates will have to lower to attract business, this doesnt sound promising butttttttt, it is better than having an empty shop. Everyone knows their cost and depreciation on their tools so that is where i feel the market will be. Profit will have to wait for better days....or so i think. But shops should beable to ride out the storm.

    The only ones who will get rich during these crappy times are the millionares who can buy up everything for pennies and sell for dollars when the economy swings around.

    I know when our industry crapped out 5 yrs ago, we ran cost depreciation for a full year.....we kept busy,,,,made no money,,,,but survived to profit when the industry improved.
     
  10. I SMELL SMOKE
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 1,527

    I SMELL SMOKE
    Member

    honesty is what i look for.good or bad just tell me the truth.
     
  11. chaddilac
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 13,878

    chaddilac
    Member

    I'm with smokey above!
     
  12. Pir8Darryl
    Joined: Jan 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,488

    Pir8Darryl
    Member

    How about some work on spec?

    Hit the local core supplier for some engines, trannies, rear-ends and such that go to popular cars... Rebop 'em on the cheap [using good materials and workmanship of course] and advertise 'em in your local dime rag at good prices with *instalation available*

    There's also ebay for such things... Maybe part some cars out on the evil site as well.

    I'm a little confused about this Georgia law to buy a car... :confused:
    Was there some sort of problem with people from out of state bringing cash into Georgia and taking all your fine automobiles away? Does it mean you cant sell cars without a license or what????? I'd think there's a very fine market for cheap dependable used cars now more than ever... There's no way you can tap into that market? Buy 'em cheap, fix 'em up, and flip 'em quick?

    Gone are the days of making a years worth of income off 2 or 3 jobs... It's gonna be a small profit market for the next couple years, and your gonna have to make the $$$ off of volume.

    I'm just thinking out loud... Hopefully some of that helps.
     
  13. hotrod40coupe
    Joined: Apr 8, 2007
    Posts: 2,562

    hotrod40coupe
    Member

    I'm with Pir8Darryl, why doesn't Georgia want any outside money? Seems like they are only contributing to the problem. As for what to do with the shop, I would try to drum up whatever business I could to keep the doors open.
     
  14. 1959cac
    Joined: Nov 22, 2008
    Posts: 287

    1959cac
    Member

    The law affected the La Migra, insurance, etc. If I don't keep an open title, I have to tag and insure every car I sell now. The Marshals made me tag and insure my projects....in the beginning of this law...or remove them in 10 days.
     
  15. phukinartie
    Joined: Oct 8, 2008
    Posts: 965

    phukinartie
    Member

    Be diverse and fix daily drivers and do hot rods. When you get busy again do what you like you but don't forget your bread and butter accounts you may need them again
     
  16. pasadenahotrod
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 11,776

    pasadenahotrod
    Member
    from Texas

    Shops may suffer during recessions but over the years I worked in the antique parts business our BEST sales years were during recessions. We theorized that more work got done at home by old car people because they couldn't afford to do movies, eat out, etc. Thaere weren't so many people in the restoration/hotrod/old car shop business back then, 1973-1994.
     
  17. brewsir
    Joined: Mar 4, 2001
    Posts: 3,278

    brewsir
    Member

    My neighbor at the industrial complex I rent at charges around $85 an hour...he is one of the best fabricators I have ever met. Builds great race cars,chassis,even a robotic welder....anyway...he rarely gets work in the last 6 months or so and is always amazed that I have different customers bringing me cars....but then I am closer to $25/hr but I'm picky about what I work on. Of course I am just a hobby shop and don't have the overhead most real shops have....but the point is...many people still have money but are a little more careful about where it gets spent.
    I also agree you need to clean house ....if it isn't a paying customers it can't be stored in your shop for free!
     
  18. I have several cars these days, one is a '60 Caddy. Here the problem is getting someone TO DO what they said they would. I might get told it will be ready in 2 months or less but instead it stays in the shop for over a damn year!

    Fuck that! Now, unless I can have your balls over a barrel if you don't get it done on time, I will either do it myself or wait.
     
  19. JustBryan
    Joined: Feb 22, 2008
    Posts: 172

    JustBryan
    Member
    from NE Ohio

    HONESTY and SERVICE. Find out where your customers are coming from and market the hell out of those areas. And raise your hourly rate...your to low. Don't believe me?
    see what your local new car dealers get! Your in a service industry, outserve your competitors. Was there 30 years. Worked for some of the highest per hour repair shops around, and some of the busiest. Also having the cleanest shop impress' people more then you'd believe.
     
  20. 1959cac
    Joined: Nov 22, 2008
    Posts: 287

    1959cac
    Member

    In a clean shop I pace the floor. When I can't squeeze one more car in, or walk, another always shows. Labor rate is catchy...drop it and work harder for less, or raise and wait on those who can afford it. I think I'm middle ground @ $59.hr. Everyone's budget is nuts right now, just listening to new ideas...so I can bail myself out.
     
  21. Mr Haney
    Joined: Jul 17, 2008
    Posts: 1,001

    Mr Haney
    Member

    my friend recently got into doing apprasal work for insurance companies. he travels around and writes up quotes on wrecked motorcycles. Your years and knowledge in buisness ......may help you get onboard. This has helped him during his slow down periods. just my 2 cents
     
  22. Shifty Shifterton
    Joined: Oct 1, 2006
    Posts: 4,964

    Shifty Shifterton
    Member

    Couple points to consider when pondering the predicament.

    A friend of mine works in a large bodyshop that's withering because their faceman for insurance companies is condescending & arrogant, so the companies aren't sending work there any more than they have to. If you do that type of work, how do you treat the insurance company people???

    You voluntarily exited a market when the pickings were good. Meanwhile all the young musclecar guys you've turned away are out there working as anti-commercials for your shop. Today's young guy is tomorrow's middle age prime earner/spender. You can't turn back the clock, but you can find a new approach to those customers that doesn't involve immediate bad vibes. Customers HATE being sterotyped as nitpicky idiots, even if that's how you feel, or how they actually are.

    You seem to be guessing at a shop rate and the primary measurement is customer response. That's part of it, but not all of it.

    How attached are you to automotive work??? Lots of what you do applies to other industries, repairing and making custom fixtures & modifying or refinishing existing stuff. If you can present yourself in a cooperative, non crusty manner, then canvas the local light industrial parks with flyers that tout your abilities outside of auto restoration. Then whoever calls, follow it thru even if you sub out the whole job and mark it up. Corporate purchasing is a different world that does not follow your logic. Regardless how inane, just do it. They'll remember that next time and seek you out for oddball stuff again and again. Your shop rate is much lower than most manufacturing facilities internal rates, and evening/weekend flexibility is a huge huge plus.

    good luck
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
  23. 1959cac
    Joined: Nov 22, 2008
    Posts: 287

    1959cac
    Member

    Hmmmm corporate fixtures? I'll see how that digests. I could go on and on about insurance work, rental companies, and WAITING on checks. In a 6 week month, I would be fine. These young cats with their T.V. and "magazine advice", that want to dictate my schedule with their Ipod hanging from one ear and a Blue tooth in the other.<p>Maybe I'm turning into one of those bitter old codgers that I used to wonder about 20 years ago. Hmmmm corporate America, and what they made Joe Public......hmmmm.<p>Maybe I need to hire a 22 year old tech graduate marketing strategist....like a franchise does. Then I can stay home and debate where to install my indoor pool, and which wheels look best on my "real housewife's" H3. <p>I'd rather be blue collar and struggle, than that option. I have friends, you all have a Jones friend, that detest that life. They laugh at me for years, now they want advice from me, on how to live broke, OUTSIDE corporate America and Credit. <p>Hmmmm
     
  24. That reminds me of a number of news reports here in chicago a few months back. Gasoline going up, parking meter cost going up (doubling) everything else going up, (City sticker, $75/$80's) A lot of city dwellers from the north side decided having a car wasn't necissary, and the change was noticed. Parking in neighborhoods that used to be congested has opened up as a lot of people in the city had decided that it was no longer worth owning a car, and just got rid of their rides.
     
  25. brg404
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
    Posts: 152

    brg404
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Another quick note: The low end (on rate) is always busy because folks know a bargain when they see one. Likewise, the upper crust always has money to spend. Its everything in-between that is subject to "negotiation", competition or just being "put off" till economics get better.

    The young muscle car guys probably have the $$ to pay for the work - if it was done to their expectations. Price doesnt seem to be an issue with this crowd...
     
  26. threepiston
    Joined: Jan 11, 2009
    Posts: 13

    threepiston
    Member
    from illinois

    Slightly off topic, but kind of relavent. The John Deere shop I work at gets $78 an hour labor rate (60 mile SW of Chicago). Everything gets more expensive, except pay.

    IMO, it's about time for pay to go up to match the increasing cost of living. That would wake the economy up more than anything. More money in, more money out.

    If my pay went up, maybe I'd be able to purchase an old Merc, like I've always wanted. Oops, I need to buy a house with a garage first, so I can build stuff in my own garage.
     
  27. Faded Love Garage
    Joined: Mar 30, 2003
    Posts: 958

    Faded Love Garage
    Member

    Confucious say, he who stand on toilet , high on pot.
     
  28. MrBigBlockDart
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 15

    MrBigBlockDart
    Member

    I sympathize with your situation. My day job is a sales, and it was once said, people buy from people they like. If you have trouble with the people that have money, but expect it all included, perhaps you should listen.

    If they want it included: include it, don't give it away, but include it. When it comes to my cars, I don't want anything for free, I want my guys to be paid, so they are there when i need them again. (how does that bargain from circuit city feel?) I have a shop that I would literally give thousands too, if he would get my work done... I have a car thats been in his shop for 9 months now, for what should have been 5 full days worth of work. But he's dragging his feet on installing seat belts... When thats done, I've got 3 more cars with details to finish....but my 7-8 days worth of work... (75/hr x 8 days _$4500+) wont be done for months... Why, I don't know. He's too busy not paying his rent, or his phone and singing the blues...

    Recently I heard this one... skin a sheep once...sheer it for a lifetime. Thats what you need, faithful, dependable customers that YOU can call for work. I've been on 2 waiting lists, and walked away... they've never called me to find out why.

    Even when it's slow, shit still breaks, and needs to be fixed. If you have customers who like you (see my sales line again) and you need work, they will help you. If you treat someone like they are the enemy, you get hung out.
     
  29. I am not saying you do this in your shop, but here is a scenario I've seen occur at a "specialty" shop. It was basically a restoration type shop like you describe yours to be.

    Lady came in with with a late 80's tbird that had grinding front brakes. She was afraid to drive it any further. After the shop manager made her wait outside for about 15 minutes, he went out and told her to leave, and they don't work on shit like that.

    Now this lady was put off a little, and did leave. I bet she told everyone she worked with, lived with, or ran into in her life not go go near that shop. And they didn't. Neither did the other similar people they sent up the road.

    They ended up getting slow and shutting down in a few months time. They tried to advertise brake specials and the like to the general daily driver crowd. They had no takers, as for years they sent people packing.

    That happens in all service types, just not auto repair. You can never feel you are too good or its too much of a pain to take a paying customer in.

    Their money spends the same.
     
  30. bluestang67
    Joined: Feb 7, 2007
    Posts: 589

    bluestang67
    Member

    I ran dealer body shops for 9 years . Did not matter the make we needed it in a stall to make money . When the shop does reputable work the name will carry on . Now out of the business for years i have a local shop who has did my mishaps and the work is outstanding . If i even hear about a fender bender i mention this shops name . What ever it takes walk outside the doors and take them off the streets .
     

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