Starting carrier as a self-employed car mechanic: advice from experienced masters
It is frequent with cars: because of a minor failure, you have to call a tow truck, spend on the repair shop services, and wait for diagnostics. Even though the failure is minor, and if a driver had necessary tools, spares and respective skills, he would be able to quickly fix it on his own, and then continue his trip. However, it is impossible to anticipate everything. Hence, the services of car mechanic on call have become quite popular recently. If you made up your mind to try this career, read the advice of experienced professionals registered on getservice.es and successfully implementing there this kind of freelancing activities.
How to start working as a car mechanic on call
The main is availability of practical experience. Then, the question, where to work, never arises. Specialized education will be to the benefit, but it isn’t an obligatory condition. If you know the car arrangement, and you are enthusiastic, then in some time you’ll become a real professional.
Rodrigo, 27 years: “In most cases, in specialized educational institutions the students study on outdated models. The principles of the new designs operation they have to investigate on their own. Main parts are almost unchanged with years, but electronic systems are continuously upgraded. Therefore, to be aware of all the latest innovations, it is enough to watch specific videos on video hosting and take free training courses. And, of course you should combine it with daily practice.”
Paulo, 26 years: “I’ve been working with cars for 13 years already. I have two specialized educations. Some years ago, I was an apprentice mechanic, but now I have become a car electrician-diagnostician. At first, my tasks were limited to implementation of the simplest errands like “Come here, stand there, fetch this.” But then I was entrusted with more complex works. An untrained person cannot start using T-belts and repair the engine at once. Everything comes with experience, even if you’ve studied some years to become a car mechanic.”
Miguel, 27 years: “Education can help, if you are specialized in a few particular car makes. Once I worked with an official dealer, so I studied at the GM Academy. And now I have a certificate, thanks to which I can easily get a job in the representation of General Motors in absolutely any country.”
So, the easiest start is to get a job (may be unofficial) as an apprentice mechanic, in parallel to pass training in the relevant specialized institution, and then retrain with the dealer having the initial knowledge in the field of car repair. It is not necessary, but still potential customers are very fond of “covers”. They want to see certificates, diplomas and records of achievement, even if they do not understand anything in it. Psychology works so that the “piece of paper” disposes to conclusion of the deal, automatically carries credibility.
What types of works can be conducted on-site
Of course, not all problems can be solved on the highway. Each make and model of the car requires its special tool: diagnostic equipment, wrenches, remover tools. If you decided to carry the equipment for all cases at once, you would need to use a separate truck. But directly on-site, you can easily start the battery, install new filters, lamps, spark plugs, fix the door lock. However, you can replace the T-belt only in the conditions of the automobile repair shop.
Below there are the quotes of getservice.es users on the subject.
Nuno, 41 years: “Once I face such task: the customer had problems with Kia Sportage, and she named a completely different model by mistake. As a result I had to return for the required tool, and the customer declared that I misunderstood her, and flatly refused even to pay the petrol I had spent for spare kilometers.”
Ricardo, 27 years: “Usually clients calling a repairman say that the fault is insignificant, and to fix it is just a matter of minutes. But on-site it appears that it is almost half a car to fix. To perform such serious works, you need to use such number of tools that simply cannot be placed in the luggage boot.”
The repairman who hasn’t his own equipped room for complex repairs must choose a specific narrow specialization. At first, you can limit the range of offered services to surface diagnostics and battery charging. The user of the service will immediately see what problems can be addressed to you, and will not make a call if he/she needs something else. It will greatly simplify work of a freelance mechanic, because in this way he needs to carry a limited set of tools, and there is no need to get ready for any surprises.
Pedro, 33 years: “I diagnose used cars. Arriving to the client who wants to buy a used car, I study the error codes, inspect the body, conduct a comprehensive expert inspection and decide whether it is worth buying. The customer decides whether he/she will listen to my opinion, but pays for the consultation in any case.”
How to open an automobile repair shop or a garage
With time, the specialist understands that it’s time to grow, and he can open his own service. A well-equipped room will enable to serve a greater variety of makes and models of cars, perform a wide range of orders and start developing your own network. How to open the garage from the ground, what to begin with? It cannot be done without investments, because you have to spend not only on renting a suitable building, but also on the purchasing of tools, advertising.
Alejandro, 30 years: “If you want to develop in this area, you should have a strong desire to achieve success. It is not enough just to be a good car mechanic or car locksmith, to know the metalwork. You should continuously grasp the subtleties of the arrangement of different car types without stopping on the obtained results, accumulate experience. At first, you may open a small garage. In a year, you should rent a larger room. Working hard you will soon be able to increase the volume of orders, which will enable you to rent a large area suitable for the arrangement of a full-scale automobile service shop.
Jose, 28 years: “I work as a car locksmith. The main part of the expenses for the workshop depends on how expensive the rent will be, and what kind of tools you need. For each car brand you need to buy authentic special tools, which cost a lot. Therefore, you should immediately decide what makes you’re planning to serve at first. As a start-up capital you need to have about 7,000 euros, and the maintenance of a small automobile service shop will cost you, at least, 1,000 euros per month.”
The problems you’ll face
Experienced specialists recommend to always take into account the seasonal factor. You should be ready to the fact that the repair will be carried out in cold winter weather or in the mud. With regard to more specific recommendations, they are as follows:
- The problem is almost always more complex than it seems to the client. It is impossible to make the diagnostics over the phone, you need to go on-site. Very seldom, there are customers who can clearly explain what exactly happened. Usually they describe the fault in some words: “Something has broken, the car’s stopped, and I can’t start it.” Listing the possible causes of the problem, the customer usually assumes that nothing serious has happened. But during the diagnostic activities, the hidden faults that cannot be eliminated “in the field” are revealed.
- You should always take into account the current season. The amount of work often depends on the season that is at the moment. Besides, the repair is likely to take a lot of time, so you’d better not dress too light in cool weather.
- Additional works. Often one fault reveals others. For example, if the car is very old or it is out of order as a result of an impact, the diagnosis will almost certainly reveal that a more complex repair is needed, which is more expensive than has been originally supposed.
- Do not take up someone’s orders. This means that it is not reasonable to take up the work another specialist is trying to reassign to you. You shouldn’t agree to finish the repair after someone, even if a highly skilled expert was dealing with the problem. After all, in the end, it will be you who’ll bear the responsibility, and during his actions, the previous specialist could make critical errors that greatly complicated your task.
Afonso, 30 years: “Never rule out a possibility that there may be hidden damage. Then the repair may become more expensive. And the customer may decide that you are trying to cheat him/her. In fact, if you suddenly find out that the car, for example, has the defective body geometry, the real price of damage removal will increase, at least, twice.”
How to start earning more using your skills
Auto repairman should develop a winning tactic of communication with customers, come up with his own tricks and bonuses, develop a clear set of rules. It may be anything: free consultations, discount on diagnostics, payment-on-delivery (i.e. only if the failure is removed). It is preferred to open the automobile repair shop on your own area. Everything depends on your fantasy. A freelancer should always be partly a marketer, no matter what services he/she offers. In this case, the success is guaranteed. And to easily find customers without spending money on advertising and promotion of your own website, you can connect to a convenient specific service, for example, sign up for getservice.es, where your customers will find you.