• April 27, 2015 at 3:08 pm #64603
    Aaron Schreur

    What can you average in actual billable hours on any given day. I have found that in a 10 hour day if I average 5-6 hours thats about all I can do some days are worse and some better. When your dealing with customers, parts, bookkeeping and whatever else comes up its hard to turn hours.

    I’m just curious what other people are turning and maybe suggestions short of hiring help could be out there. I am limited on space so I think any hired help would be standing around a lot waiting on parts.

    Someday I’ll make the move to a bigger shop better area but I’m turning a profit now building a nice customer list and saving for that day. I want to do it slowly without a ton of debt and this is working but theirs always room for improvement.

    April 28, 2015 at 9:40 am #74007
    Tom Ham

    Here’s a few ideas…

    Make the shop so organized that you can find anything blindfolded.

    Review where everything is in the shop – tools, equipment, parts, computers, and so on. Rearrange their locations so you take as few steps as possible.

    Do not use the phone for parts look up or info or ordering unless there is absolutely no alternative. Even most dealer/OE parts can be looked up and ordered on line now.

    Schedule drop off and pick up times as specifically as you can so you can plan accordingly.

    Upgrade all of your computers so they are blazing fast.

    Tom - Shop Owner since 1978

    May 4, 2015 at 9:13 pm #74011

    I am a 1 man shop for the most part. I have to say one of my best tools is a blue tooth ear piece to go with my smart phone. Answering and talking on phone while still being able to turn a wrench. I did find a guy that I can trust do good work and pay under the table. We had an understanding that I would keep him informed ahead of time when I need him.

    May 4, 2015 at 10:13 pm #74012
    Joseph Van syoc

    Id say if you are getting that many, you are doing good. Keep the expenses LOW. My shop is in a polebarn at the house (no rent) and fixed expenses are kept to under $700 mo.  Having low expenses makes a huge difference in how many hours you need to turn.  One thing I did was to get Real Time Labor Guide, and because of the one man band thing, which often includes fetching parts, I tend to use the high times.  Take a hard look at your parts margins. Parts sales to me at least, represents the best means of boosting profits. Billable hours are nice, but if I can sell and install three parts on a job where I used to only sell two, its money in the bank. (LOTS of legitmate sales get overlooked because we tend to worry about price resistance, which is often only in our own minds) There is some stuff (like Dorman) that I source from Amazon Prime because it lets me make a better margin while still staying competitive. If you can plan ahead and have the time to do so, this is a great option. Some debt is inevitable but keep it LOW, make sure you can meet the payments even in a bad month, and accelerate them whenever you can. Everyone hates debt, but after a scant 5 years in business most of mine will be retired this year.

    May 5, 2015 at 6:37 am #74013
    Aaron Schreur

    Agree with the Bluetooth I got a few of them and finally settled on the kind that go around the neck with the ear buds every other one I tried whoever I talked to complained they couldn’t hear me.  Phones have a way of sucking time out of your day.

    I just signed up for real-time the other day seems like a pretty good judge of how long it takes to do jobs so far.

    Ive been full time for 5 years and when I first started I was always worried about the price resistance and like you say it is in our own heads, most people just want there car fixed and wont question my price(except the car dealers).  I just had to get it through my head that if the customers don’t pay me to do it, they’ll pay the next guy. 

    May 5, 2015 at 8:18 am #74014

    I have been operating as one man since 2007.Great to see all the others still able to operate as one man.If you bill a steady 5 hours a day you are doing well.I like the idea of bluetooth but I think its to distracting while I have my hands in someones car.As a one man show what upsets me is I pay the same monthly fee for Alldata as the 3 bay shop down the road and I pay more for parts because of a lower volume, So everything is stacked against us. With that in mind I agree with keeping costs down but its a fine line. Sometimes cutting costs ends up costing more time than its worth.Be sure to invest in a good information packet.I use Alldata. I recommend online ordering and if you buy online from someone other than a local parts house be very careful use a reputable reseller. Counterfeit parts are all over the web. Do it right the first time, Comebacks are a money and time killer. IATN is a must, Working by ourselves we sometimes need someone to bounce things off, get our heads going back in the right direction. I agree with Jimbo about pricing, Do the job right the first time and price is not the deciding factor. I have 3 large corporate tire shops by me, at first I was afraid they would cut into my business with cheap tires and drive in PA inspections. I need to schedule my work sometimes up to 2 weeks ahead and you know how people HATE to wait, But I find people appreciate honesty, explanation of whats going on, quality repairs (parts) and a fair price. After 8 years I still fumble with scheduling, but try to finish all work scheduled for the day. Customers like to be a priority. I order parts ahead of time so they are at the shop before the car, not always possible I know.  If you have a good parts supplier they don’t mind returns and the time saved waiting for parts is greatly reduced, I only have one bay so having a car sit on the lift waiting for parts is a bummer.

    May 12, 2015 at 9:01 am #74023

    I know you do not want a helper but when I started out as a one man shop I quickly realized that a helper cost only about one flat rate hour per day but will help you yield more that triple that, even if all he does is run parts, clean the shop and hand you tools. Plus you always need someone to help lift, hold, watch, turn or do something that requires two people. Last, IdentiFix now has repair info, labor times and best of all the answer to a lot of common problems you may never fix without it.

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