How to Start a Small Engine Repair Business

If you are researching this subject, you probably already repair your own small engines, such as lawnmowers and yard equipment. You may even do it as a hobby for friends and relatives. Why not capitalize on your knowledge and turn it into a small business? With a little planning, you can start out small and expand as you go.

Know the area where you are planning to start a small-engine repair business. Look around and see how much competition you will have. If you have a small building at home, you may be planning to start your business there. Make sure none of your neighbors are already doing this. You should be in an area that is easily accessible and easily found. Nobody enjoys driving way out in the country and getting lost.

Check with your county clerk's office to find out the laws on small businesses in your area. Some small communities do not require any special zoning at all, while larger cities may require a lot of paperwork. Make sure your chosen area will allow a small-engine repair shop before you invest a lot of time and money in it.

Decide what prices you will charge. Check other businesses out to see what their prices are. Check out the price of small-engine parts and decide what markup you will need. Decide if you will charge just for labor, plus the cost of parts. List all feasible repair jobs you might encounter in a notebook and put your charges next to them. Be consistent with your charges. Customer A will be upset if Customer B gets a cheaper repair job than she did and may not come back.

Ask family and friends to help you advertise. Start out by making flyers and business cards on your computer to save on costs. Carry the flyers and cards everywhere you go. Post the flyers in grocery stores, gas stations and retail stores. Always ask before you hang the flyer, as some businesses either don't allow it or want to see what you are posting. Post an ad in the local paper. Many areas have monthly shoppers' publications that offer free ad services.

Start small at first. Don't take on more repairs than you can handle just to get customers. Build your business by buying lawn mowers, trimmers and other small-engine equipment at yard sales and auctions. Even if they don't run or are in bad shape, they will be a source of parts for you to rebuild other small engines. Fix several up and offer them for a very reasonable price. People love bargains, and they'll know who to come to in the event that they need to buy a cheap lawnmower in a hurry. You might want to consider having a few lawnmowers or trimmers to loan out while your customers' lawn equipment is being repaired.

Do the work in a timely fashion. Give your customers a time frame and stick to it. People need their lawn equipment back in a hurry, and if they know they can depend on you, they will be repeat customers, and they will refer their friends. Be the best that you can be by being fair and honest with your customers. Treat them as you want to be treated, and your business will soon be booming.


  • People put a lot of equipment out for trash pickup that is easily repairable. Stop and ask to take it off their hands. This is a great source of parts and or fixer-uppers.


  • Be sure you have a safe place to store the combustible gas and oil you will need to have at your small-engine repair shop.


About the Author

Donna Thacker has been a writer/photographer for over 15 years. She held the position of associate editor/writer/photographer at Biker Ally Magazine. She currently is a photojournalist for The Biking Life, and has been featured on the front page of The Greenville Advocate, The Hillsboro Journal and The Sorento News. Thacker also designed and published several booklets of historical interest for local organizations.