If you’re an experienced auto mechanic and have a dream to run your own business, consider starting a mobile mechanic service to bring your automotive repair skills to customers at their home or workplace. Help your customers maintain their regular daily routines while you replace their car’s brakes, perform an oil change or provide other needed services. As a mobile mechanic, you can be available when and where it’s convenient for customers, including nights and weekends. Get started by conceptualizing your venture to address how you’ll attract clients, make a sustainable profit and run your company’s administrative side.
Start With the Necessary Licenses
Contact your local county clerk to get a business license. Also contact the Internal Revenue Service to apply for your Employer Identification Number (EIN). You’ll use the EIN when filing tax returns and other business documents. Now’s the time to define your company’s legal structure as well, whether a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company or corporation.
Apply for a state reseller's license to buy your parts at wholesale pricing, and receive your sales tax identification number from your state's department of revenue to use when filing a sales tax return for sales tax you collect from customers on auto parts.
Check with your state’s government office to verify the mechanic’s licenses you’ll need, which may depend upon the types of services you’ll offer. For example, California requires a license to provide automotive repair services, with additional licensing required to perform certain services such as smog checks and brake lamp adjustments.
Assess Equipment Needs
Starting a mobile mechanic business requires relatively low startup capital. You have the freedom to choose your areas of expertise and the types of services you want to offer within the confines of the mobile equipment you can afford to purchase or rent. Some jobs may require special tools. Initially, limit your services to diagnostics, smaller repairs and basic maintenance to allow you to keep startup costs low and expand services over time.
Purchase a set of quality mechanic’s hand tools; often-used diagnostic tools, such as a multimeter/voltmeter and On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) scanner unit; and a flat-rate manual and calculator to determine job charges. You’ll also need to rent or purchase a van or truck in which to store equipment and to get to your customer sites.
Advertise and Market Your Business
Let customers know you’re open for business by listing your venture in local business publications and directories. Create professional flyers, business cards and inexpensive promotional materials, such as refrigerator magnets or paper pads with your business name and contact details. Leave these items at local car washes and eateries to attract customers. Also leave business cards at campgrounds, RV Parks, motels and hotels, since out-of-town guests with car trouble won’t know of a local mechanic's shop.
Set Up Your Back Office
Locate a shop or storage unit large enough to store your auto repair equipment. Purchase software to perform bookkeeping and invoicing procedures, and to track customer billings and business profits. Hire or consult an accountant or bookkeeper to learn which expenses you can deduct for your business such as replacement tools, trade magazines, protective work clothing or excess parts purchased for customers. You’ll also need to purchase liability insurance to protect you and your business in the case of an accident, such as damage to a customer's vehicle or any issues stemming from an accidental faulty repair.
- Provide as many mechanic services as possible to attract a variety of customers.
- Do not take on jobs that require specialized parts or expertise you do not have as you could cause more damage to the vehicle.
Cynthia Gaffney has spent over 20 years in finance with experience in valuation, corporate financial planning, mergers & acquisitions consulting and small business ownership. She has worked as a financial writer and editor for several online finance and small business publications since 2011, including AZCentral.com's Small Business section, The Balance.com, Chron.com's Small Business section, and LegalBeagle.com. A Southern California native, Cynthia received her Bachelor of Science degree in finance and business economics from USC.