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How many automotive shop owners get to actually work with their employees and be hands on with the cars and trucks and not just working on office work, financials, stock and inventory, and anything else required for owning a business?

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Sandra’s Answer

I think this depends on you and how you want to run your business. The man who I use to work on my vehicles owns his own small shop in our small town. He has 1-2 other men who work with him, but they only have 2 car bays and a small office space to work with. He enjoys getting dirty and working on the cars with his men. Therefore, he has shorter "open" hours where you can come in with your car and he almost never allows for walk ins because of the time needed to work on the cars.

With that being said, on some of the smaller cases (an oil change, or other simple repair) he allows his workers to complete those so he can have some "office" time. He can then work on the harder cases with his men or by himself. One of his men is also his son, as he clearly has indicated he is not a computer guy but knows that he needs one to run his business these days, so his son helps him more on that end of the business.

Now, with the non-"Open" hours, he spends some time at the beginning and end of the day to be able to complete business tasks and get them out of the way so that he can have that time with his customers and the vehicles.

On the other hand, I have a friend who also owns his own mechanic shop, and even though he has great experience and can work on the cars when needed, he likes being in the office and doing his tasks. Therefore, he has set up his shop so that he has plenty of staff to assist with the physical labor so that he can be in the office doing the other tasks required to run the business. but he can jump in and help out when needed, etc.

So, you have to decide what is important to you and it might take some time to get there, you may have to spend more time in the office to make things run properly until you get your business off the ground and running smoothly, and you might not be able to hire all of the staff needed to make sure that if you want to be working on the vehicles that you have someone who can be office staff, etc.

I hope this helps lead you to further discussions and thought.

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Abbey’s Answer

I think this depends on how big the shop is. My husband is a shop manager for a school bus company. He has 12 years of experience working on diesel engines. So, he has some junior mechanics that do things like oil changes & headlights, preventative maintenance--to free up his time to do some of the office things like managing inventory & scheduling safety inspections. He still works on the buses, but specifically on the less-routine requests. (Not sure why the engine is making this noise. Not sure why we replaced the brakes and they're still not working. ) So he gets to do both!

If this is your eventual goal (owning your own shop), you should consider what are some initial steps you can take to get yourself ready? Some examples, do you already have some experience? Could you expand your experience to make yourself a more valuable, senior mechanic, to prepare you for the more difficult problems people will bring you as a shop owner. Auto technology is evolving. Are there ways you could get experience with electric or hybrid vehicles?

There's some "necessary evils" in any job--we can't all do our favorite tasks all day every day. I got a lot of advice along the lines of "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." That's not true. Even if you love it, there are days or specific tasks where you just don't want to do it. And that's OK. What's important is that those feelings are the exception not the rule. If they're nonexistent, then you might not be challenging yourself. (That might seem like a great deal now, but as you continue to work for the next few decades, it can get very disheartening to not have goals and challenges.)