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Old 07-15-2006, 09:56 PM   #1
Blue
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Default Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

Anyone ever thought of starting a civilian Auto Hobby Shop?

The only place Iíve ever seen Auto Hobby Shops are on military installations. Itís basically a well-equipped garage with several bays, lifts, basic tools, specialty tools, etc that you pay to use by the hour. You could also buy oil, filters, etc there.

Any one Iíve ever seen on a military base was always busy. Anyone know of any in the civilian world? Seems like it might be an interesting business to start up. Lots of folks out there are into cars, but not everyone has access to a nice set of tools, air compressor, lift, etc. Although I imagine paying for all the required liability insurance would be problematic.

Only place Iíve seen something similar in the civilian world was the garage in the Stephen King movie ďChristine.Ē
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Old 07-15-2006, 10:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I looked into this a while back with a friend who owned a shop and the liability wasn't worth it. The other thing that worried us was keeping track of tools.
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Old 07-15-2006, 11:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I remember that from "Christine" and thought that it was a good idea. There would to problems with insurance and keeping track of tools.
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Old 07-16-2006, 06:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

civilian = disrespectful.
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Old 07-16-2006, 08:42 AM   #5
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

we had one that was an old ammaco store, many lifts. It close because the people that would use it, had no money. lifts was $25 a hour. which was fine to swap a clutch, but can add up. lost a tool, you paid snap on retail. Then he would not let you use your tools. It was a good idea, just too big to make money, maybe a two lift building instead of 15. now the building is a church
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Old 07-16-2006, 09:21 AM   #6
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I suspect that in the military (never been, but lots of coworkers have and I've heard alot) that the comradship found in the service tend to make base auto hobby shops work. Probably one or two pretty good mechanics who like to just hang out and help the less skilled, and if you announce that you are going to do something at the hobby shop, someone else, with the necessary skills will tag along just to kill the time. I also suspect that there is much less abuse and damage and theft, you have the wrath of your CO and fellow servicemen to fear.

In the "real" world, most individuals (especially those who don't seem to have anything of their own) don't seem to fear anyone else or anything else, and think its Ok to abuse the property of others. Rules, what rules? You mean I can't leave that car on the lift for days on end while I'm out doing crack and trying to make enough money to buy the parts I need to finish the job???

Anyhow, you get the drift..... I don't see how it could work without a military mentality to "control" things.

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Old 07-16-2006, 11:54 AM   #7
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

Also, the military clubs generally work on a 'break even' budget, sometimes with subsidies from base clubs funds. A private sector setup would need to turn a profit...
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Old 07-16-2006, 02:18 PM   #8
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

like Charles said most people who would use something like that ussually have no responsability aspects, but in the military you are held accountable , and most guys who work on there own cars ussually have a buddy that they can count on for help or facilitys to do it at ( unless you are new to a community ) we have a guy who lives in a apartment (don't even think about changing a tire without getting fined type ) that comes over and helps us around the shop ( he actully was looking for someplace to have work done and wound up almost working for us ) and we let him use the facilities to work on his car he brings his own tools, parts and supplies and since he helps us we let him get the discount we get from our suppliers ( as long as he pays for it ) and he buys things we need for the shop at times ( brake clean , carbspray, lightbulbs , red rags ) . its funny as all the owners buddies have specailtys we need from time to time and wind up working at the shop . Now if my useless unresponsable neighbor ask to borrow tools . the answer is NO .
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Old 07-16-2006, 06:35 PM   #9
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I thought of it when I retired back in 04. Then doing research I found out about insurance would kill any profit.

Plus charging for tool rental (like auto zone and such) then keeping the rental fee for damaged tools.


I think it would work alot better in small towns. Not for anything larger then say 2 or 3000 people.
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Old 07-16-2006, 07:25 PM   #10
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

the closest thing that comes to mind is our car club.
we all have some tools, some guys more then others.
we share tools, time, talents and space its very cool to have your buddies out helping you get something done.

none of us have eveything, but many hands make light work.

your right about the respect thing, I could see tools that never come back and rental bills that don't get paid. its too bad, it could be something realy nice.

but a place we could go to to rent a car lift, frame table, spray both, ect would be grand.
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Old 07-17-2006, 12:32 AM   #11
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

Honda of canada mfg has a shop open to employs to work on there cars they have 4 lifts and 2 empty bays for cleaning/detailing ect ect they have all the tools there and you are required to sign them in and out. the best part is it is free you just need to sign out the time and a liability waiver. It works out really well and it is always booked solid.

I think it is a great idea you would need to have a lawyer rite up a contract excluding you from any and all liabilty as a result of incompetence or failure to follow safty rules also stating that you assume no ressponsibility for personal or property damage due to use of the facility's. your'e insurance may be affordable if you have all that coverd as you would only need to be coverd for mecanical failure's ex. you didnt service the hoist this month and it blows a hydrolic line and the safty fails to hold on one side resulting in a wrecked car and possible injurys

AS for the tool's have a video system covering the tool area so you can see who bring's what back and who doesnt. I would also need a copy of you're drivers license and a 100-150$ deposite on the tool's incase of breakage beyond normal wear and tear and for theft With the rite planning it could work out and you may be able to turn a profit after a few years running
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Old 07-17-2006, 04:15 AM   #12
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I've thought long and hard about this very subject

Killers:
Insurance
Shrinkage
Tool Control
Dealing with dead projects
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Old 07-17-2006, 06:47 AM   #13
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

This sounds a nightmare waiting to happen. Not everyone is as conscientious as we are about tools, safety, ethics, etc. All it takes is one person to have an accident and you'd be sunk....even if it was their fault, you'd be stuck in court.

That being said, I've seen another idea that caught my eye and that was "exotic" car storage. This could make money as long as you have the place built properly (fire safety) and offer a good deal of ammenities. Not working on your car there though.
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Old 07-17-2006, 06:58 AM   #14
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

There are a couple around here, They call 'em tech colleges.
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Old 07-17-2006, 09:26 AM   #15
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwpower
This sounds a nightmare waiting to happen. Not everyone is as conscientious as we are about tools, safety, ethics, etc. All it takes is one person to have an accident and you'd be sunk....even if it was their fault, you'd be stuck in court.

That being said, I've seen another idea that caught my eye and that was "exotic" car storage. This could make money as long as you have the place built properly (fire safety) and offer a good deal of ammenities. Not working on your car there though.
was thinking the same thing ......lol with the winters up here people are all ways looking for storage for the hotrods and colector cars.


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Old 07-17-2006, 09:58 AM   #16
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I always thought if you did this you wouldn't provide hand tools. Provide specialty tools for rental and provide the space, the lift and the air. But basic wrenches, ratchets, sockets, etc are the responsibility of the vehicle owner.
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Old 07-17-2006, 11:40 AM   #17
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I looked into this about 2 years ago. My plan was to rent or buy an old storage yard and rent out some units by the month and some by the day and have a tool rental that you signed in and out a tool that you didn't have.
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Old 07-17-2006, 06:47 PM   #18
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I have a full-fledged business plan for something very similar. The insurance COULD be the killer, but I may have figured out a way to sidestep the worst of it. The biggest problem after that is the cost. A shop that would be a draw for anything but the most basic work is expensive to put together, and not cheap to maintain. Since I had to let go of the idea (didn't have $100k or the proper access to it) I have seen a couple of business plans for things I would have thought far more far-fetched.

As for the original post, the shop isn't workable as a business open to the public, unless you are in an area that you know all of your customers. However, to make it worth doing, you need a larger population center.

Marketing is pretty easy, and there are some tie-ins that could be utilized to make the venture grow to the required size... it's just that initial investment.

How about a Country Club for cars. Instead of golf, tennis and pools, have muscle cars, exotics and luxury cars available for check-out to members. Different levels of membership cost would allwo different amounts of time with different cars. Insurance would be provided by the member for the vehicle checked out. These are already operating in LA, NY, Miami and a few cities overseas (started in London).

Another one that I've heard about down in FL is a "Luxury Garage Condo." The buyer buys a condo for storing their car(s). It is owned and has a monthly maintenance fee (just like a condo). Think of a super luxury storage unit. I don't know that it has been built yet, but I do believe they are pre-selling.
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Old 07-17-2006, 09:02 PM   #19
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

Up here they have a community centers that have done that with home repair tools (hey, if you can borrow a jack, jack stands, and some big tools many jobs are easy). You can rent for a very low fee big around the house tools (plumbing snakes, chain saws, etc.). The only thing close I have seen is some auto body shops will rent you time to paint your car in their booth. Outside of that, some idiot will probably see a jackpot at the end of the rainbow from a lawsuit.

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Old 07-26-2006, 12:26 PM   #20
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I am a member of such a shop.
I've rented there for @ 8 years, it's basically a slot in a warehouse style floor of a building, and you provide your own stuff. Keep all my tools locked up, and work on VW's, so nobody else cares about them anyway...it's been a lifesaver for me...I really want my own space, but the 10x18 garage at home is as much as the property can hold, so I'm here until I can afford to get a nicer house.
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Old 07-26-2006, 12:40 PM   #21
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I spent all my teen years at the auto shop on the base in Munich and did I miss it once I had to give up my ID card. My brother worked for a guy who was retired military that had shop for people to work on their cars. He only lasted about a year or so. This was in Leavenworth Ks so the town it nor the biggest and at the time the shop in Fort Leavenworth was free so with a great deal of the people being active duty or retired you where limited on renters.
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Old 07-26-2006, 12:41 PM   #22
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

Digging into my memory archives here, but when we were on Ft Jackson many years ago seeing a friend, we had car trouble. We went to the local shop like you said and used it. What I remember is for tools you had to leave you car keys, license or something to check it out of the tool crib. No collateral, no tools. Seemed to work just fine.
You'd have to have someone work the tool crib to be able to offer it publicly, but it should work. Maybe a chain or locked garage door across the back of they bay they're renting, no returned tool, no unlocked door.
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Old 07-31-2006, 11:50 PM   #23
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

Wow, I was just talking to a friend about this same deal the other day. There is just something about it that I think would really work!

1. waivers for injuries
2. contracts with local apt complexes to offer discounts to renters! (they get to offer a service to their renters and you know where they live!)
3. Each owner turns in keys for a tool clip (a loop that has 10 discs labeled for the bay... They turn in a disc for a tool, get the disc back when they return the tool... They get the keys back when they return a full clip, and they have cleaned up after themselves)
4. place should have hourly bays(some reserv only) and monthly bays (monthly bays are caged enclosures)
5. reservation system (secured with CC and small deposit) bay is released after 15 minute no-show and drive-ups are first come first served

I can dream can't I?
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Old 08-01-2006, 12:27 PM   #24
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I spent many a day at the Auto Hobby Shop at MCRD in San Diego. Probably one of the best perks for me personally when I was in the military. I could spend the whole day there and it only cost about $15.

Like previously mentioned though, the military guys are pretty well versed in mechanical things and not being dumbasses.

No way in hell would I open something like that up for the public. WAY too many stupid people and lawyers. A good lawyer can also get any signed waiver of liability thrown out in court.
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Old 08-01-2006, 04:37 PM   #25
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

It almost seems like it COULD be done, but someone would have to have some sort of motivation beyond just turning a profit. There are just too many easier ways to make money with a lot less liability.

Perhaps if someone ran a shop like that, but taught vo-tech classes at the same time, helping to educate underprivledged youth.
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Old 12-25-2006, 04:10 PM   #26
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

Here's one that exists out in California http://www.bayareamotorclub.com/aboutus.html

I read about it this morning at the VMF and just remembered this thread.
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Old 12-25-2006, 09:42 PM   #27
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

A *friend* once rented some space in my 1000sq ft garage to swap out the Chevy SB in a 260Z. He said "it would take about 3 days"...


What he neglected to mention was that the 3 days would be spread over a period of 4 months... He finally came & picked the car up when I told him I was going to tow it out into the desert & burn the damn thing to the rims...
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Old 12-25-2006, 09:46 PM   #28
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay H 237
Here's one that exists out in California http://www.bayareamotorclub.com/aboutus.html

I read about it this morning at the VMF and just remembered this thread.
It closed:
"PLEASE NOTE: BAMC closed on September 30th, 2006 and will remain closed while we look for a new facility. Please check back later for more news!"
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Old 12-26-2006, 05:33 PM   #29
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

When I lived in Greensboro NC, there was a huge aircraft hanger that was equiped with air, engine hoists and other big tools, for the local SCCA people. They parked their cars there and shared tools, ideas, and skills with each other. The whole compound was fenced off from the public, and was only known to the few in the automotive crowd. I believe there was probably a mthly fee but not sure of it. It had been there for a while, and probably still is there.
Again as mentioned before it worked out because there was trust, fellowmanship, and honor within all its users.
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Old 12-27-2006, 10:51 AM   #30
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I've lived most of my life near Ft. Bragg, NC and I think there is still a place like this on base. Being a federal facility, there is much greater control and accountability then a civilian operation would have. Also, it can be self insured where a private business could not be(unless the owner was brain dead). Unless a soldier goes awol, he can be found and forced to pay up.

Customers of my business sign waivers drawn by the US Gymnastics Federation(USGF), but that does not protect me from lawsuits. I may win the suit but I would still spend a fortune to defend myself possibly resulting in my being forced to close down.

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Old 02-22-2007, 09:44 PM   #31
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I go by this place on my way to and from work every day.
http://www.painterslane.com/
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Old 02-22-2007, 10:15 PM   #32
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

We had one at Montana State University when I went to college there in the early 80's. It operated just like has been described for the military installations. I think it worked for similiar reasons because you had to have a college ID to use the facility. If you didn't turn in tools etc. it was added to your tuition bill. No pay, no school, or diploma. Very well equipped, all Snap-on tools, and equipment including a lift. You could do anything you wanted to do as long as the veh. was in and out in a day. You could theoretically R and R an engine if you were quick, good and ready, or if you pulled it out and took it away at night. I think some guys did swap trannys and diffs. I don't know if it is still there.
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Old 04-06-2007, 10:11 PM   #33
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I gave that some consideration when I was unemployed a couple years ago. Even thought the relatively small town we lived in had a base with a good hobby shop, I though I could make it work. Basically I was looking into renting a 5 bay former Midas Muffler Shop, it still had 3 lifts at the time.

Three major issues crept up, and not initial financing. Liability insurance would have been nearly 3 times the rent I had discussed with the owner. The second was a simple matter of storage. There was limited storage in the shop, but there would have been absolutely no outdoor storage. The third, for me was the deal killer. California and all of its enviro rules would have been tough to comply with, period. I just couldn't afford for a client to have a hazmat moment that would have cost me 1000s or more.

SO when I found work, I still pursued the idea until enviro issues became the problem. The space is now a flooring and carpet store/warehouse...

And I retired from the Navy nearly 6 years ago. I've used auto hobby shops at nearly every installation I've been to. Now I live where the nearest base doesn't have a shop, and the two nearest shops are 45 and 65 miles away... Hence, I'm stocking my garage... Figures though. Now I don't have EASY acess to a shop, I'm getting more fabrication active!
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Old 07-22-2007, 06:17 PM   #34
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I think Tom and Ray, the Car Gurs on NPR, otherwise known as Click and Clack started out as hippy era people running one of these. A lot of the people just wanted them to not only rent the space but do the work as well.

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Old 07-22-2007, 07:59 PM   #35
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

http://www.u-wrench.ca/

I bet this is exactly what the original poster was looking for. The manager and part owner is a good friend of mine.
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Old 07-22-2007, 08:31 PM   #36
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I'm glad to see there are a few places like that around. Not everybody has the space or cash for a lift or paint booth.
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Old 10-24-2010, 12:40 AM   #37
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

We are going to be opening one soon here in Charlottesville, VA
Putting together the last of the operating capital. It will work with the correct plan and that is what we have been working on for longer than I care to admit.
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Old 10-24-2010, 07:31 AM   #38
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mercnry View Post
We are going to be opening one soon here in Charlottesville, VA
Putting together the last of the operating capital. It will work with the correct plan and that is what we have been working on for longer than I care to admit.

Details of how you are going to charge, what kind of price you will charge per hour. Kind of interested in hearing this. I think the liability insurance would be a killer.
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Old 10-24-2010, 07:48 AM   #39
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I've seen this place advertised in my area (Wash DC). No experience with them though.

http://www.ditymechanics.com/
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Old 10-24-2010, 09:47 AM   #40
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

The liability waiver might take care of the insurance premiums... might. Have to see, but if you place all responsibility on the customer, you might get away with just std business insurance.

Tool loss - easily rectified (assuming you rent out tools rather than requiring folks to bring their own) by taking a deposit (credit card) for the value (and to be fair, what you'd pay to replace it, not necessarily "retail" price) of the tool. If the tool comes back complete and undamaged, only the rental fee is charged. Damage and the odd breakage will occur but so what? Over time, rental fees will more than cover those costs (witness your typical tool rental facility - they're making money at it).

Lifts - I would think well known scissor lifts (Bendpack, etc) would be the best choice as they appear to be more idiot-proof, while offering most of the advantages of a two post (ie: you can still do brake/fuel line and exhaust work).

Deadbeats - unless prior arrangements with the facility operator are made, give 'em one night (or the weekend) on the lift (in case parts are on order), then out the door on a dolly (damages at the vehicle owner's expense). Vehicles left in the yard for more than a week will be confiscated and sold for scrap. Have that in a special disclaimer on the contract and have the customer acknowledge it by initialing it (like the LDW clause on a car rental).

Couple of things that noone's mentioned... what about parts disposal? Tires and other junk? Does the customer take that away or do you collect it and scrap it? Tires may be a PITA but the metal stuff could just be tossed in a bin and scrapped once a week or so. As well, cleanup - customers must ensure that all leaks are cleaned up, the benches are wiped down, tools are wiped down, the bay is swept, etc. Cleaning takes time, so if not done, add another hour to the bill.
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Old 10-24-2010, 09:52 AM   #41
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Mercnry,

if you can make it work, that would be fantastic. While this is an old thread, it is still very pertinent. When I was in the military, I did get to use the on base rental shops, but not all bases had them, they had one on Ft. Bragg, but didn't have one on Ft. Riley.

The lack of such an option made me put in my own lift, I can pay rental fees to myself or my wife.

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Old 10-24-2010, 11:13 AM   #42
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We are going to be opening one soon here in Charlottesville, VA
Putting together the last of the operating capital. It will work with the correct plan and that is what we have been working on for longer than I care to admit.

Best of luck to you.

That was my plans for the extra space in my dream shop. One of those, if I won the lotto and started my own company.

All/most of the concerns have already been voiced.

Liability - people are idiots and LOVE to sue. I would have to keep it limited to a few local clubs at first and hope for the best. Make sure you get a competent lawyer to help draw up the waivers.

Small, local clubs are all fine and good, but you need a bigger base to help pay for the consumables, recoup start-up costs, etc.

Start-up Tools/Theft/Loss/Breakage - If I won the lotto, it wouldn't be difficult to outfit 5-7 bays full of tools... WPAFB Hobby Shop shares a big tool chest between two bays and specialty/power tools are in a locked cage you have to sign for. IIRC, there were ~12 bays.

After hours security would be required around here. On base it is pretty easy.

Labor - with the above sign out plan, you will need someone there during working hours. It would help if he were a retired mechanic. Someone who couldn't crawl around under cars, but knew everything about them.



There was an old dealership in my hometown I always wanted to buy. The whole back end was five double drive through bays; two being big "semi sized" doors. It would have been cool, but I don't think there were enough kids modifying their cars in the area to sustain the building.

More reasonably, I almost pulled the trigger on an old two bay in the next town over. It was an oil change place, prior to that a gas station. EPA fees made it cost prohibitive to try to get a loan for the $45,000 building (10 years ago).

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Old 10-24-2010, 11:28 AM   #43
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4 friends and I did that a while back where we pooled our recources and tallents to make a nice shop for us.
it only lasted a while before 2 of them were out and then the remaining 3 of us got along well in that deal for several years.
learning point, even between friends there was some lack of respect and some things getting 'aquired' so between people that are not friends can you imagine what it will be

there is another model to this...its called adult education or evening classes at the local college or high school
a friend took a body and paint class in the evening and used it to do the work on his streetrod project

bob

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Old 10-24-2010, 11:35 AM   #44
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civilian = disrespectful.
total BS!

the hobby shops are known for missing tools. soldiers are no better.
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Old 10-24-2010, 02:05 PM   #45
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It is a tough business model.

The "Auto Barn" option with a few bays for contracted storage customers is more likely I would think.

I have used a lot of military auto hobby shops - they are mostly good, not always cheap, and tool control is rarely a problem.
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Old 10-24-2010, 02:47 PM   #46
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The problem no one addressed is this quickly becomes a full blown money making garage for some of its patrons.. So. You have the guy trying to build his hotrod or work on his daily driver and all the lifts are filled with some dude doing oil changes for $20.00 bucks a pop.
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Old 10-24-2010, 02:55 PM   #47
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The problem no one addressed is this quickly becomes a full blown money making garage for some of its patrons.. So. You have the guy trying to build his hotrod or work on his daily driver and all the lifts are filled with some dude doing oil changes for $20.00 bucks a pop.
This would be really hard to regulate. Very good point!
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Old 10-24-2010, 03:19 PM   #48
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Anyone ever thought of starting a civilian Auto Hobby Shop?
I think something similar would be an excellent church ministry - a shop owner donates the space, other church members do the work and the screening of the truly needy.
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Old 10-24-2010, 03:36 PM   #49
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The problem no one addressed is this quickly becomes a full blown money making garage for some of its patrons.. So. You have the guy trying to build his hotrod or work on his daily driver and all the lifts are filled with some dude doing oil changes for $20.00 bucks a pop.
Set a limit of one customer per bay. If buddy wants to rent the bay all day doing oil changes (though I can't imagine him making much if he's only charging $20 ea), then let him. You're still making your money.
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Old 10-24-2010, 06:02 PM   #50
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So many nay-sayers! There's a couple around here, one runs out of a body shop (nights & wknds) and does quite well. The other belongs to the main car-club here (Draggins) and anyone can rent it out.
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Old 10-24-2010, 06:21 PM   #51
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I have helped a couple people out at the Hobby Shop on the base here, there are 2 of them (Ft Rich one and Elmendorf). In the end I usually have them haul there stuff here since I would end up having to haul 1/2 my tools over there.
The Ft Rich one will give you a small tray of tools and anything else you need to do it 1 tool at a time. Need a hammer? Well better turn in that 9/16" socket.
An hr job ends up taking all day!

And then you get the "mechanics" hovering over you. Sorry dude but I don't care that you have 150k in Snap On tools and took a few classes... I just may have an idea what I'm doing... and I certainly didn't ask for your help!

The Elmendorf one got pissed when I went in one day and did an oil change and tire rotation in 25 mins. They charge by the .5/hr so it cost me like $3.
I guess most of the people that go there spend all day on it or something. I was in and out faster than the guy was able to put the stall ticket in their computer system.

One of the places wouldn't allow food either. Sorry but what fun is an engine or trans swap with a couple of your friends if you can't have at least soda and pizza?
Bring a beer in there and you may as well get caught clubbing baby seals instead!

And then depending on who is running the counter the cost of stuff and availability changes. The Ft Rich one has a parts washer (steam cleaning kind) and sometimes can't use it, or it's x amount per 5 min, or other times it's free for use.

All of that hassle made it make more sense to buy the tools and work in my own garage.

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Old 10-24-2010, 08:04 PM   #52
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Set a limit of one customer per bay. If buddy wants to rent the bay all day doing oil changes (though I can't imagine him making much if he's only charging $20 ea), then let him. You're still making your money.
It violates the principle of Hobby.

It then becomes an auto shop based on a Beauty Shop model of operation (where you rent a chair)

Which is fine, if that is what you want, but it ain't a hobby shop.
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Old 10-24-2010, 08:21 PM   #53
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Click and Clack, the car column guys, started out with one. It was a disaster.
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Old 10-24-2010, 08:54 PM   #54
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There's one in my area. They work on a coin system to rent tools, there's a parts guy, a few welders, oxy torches, 2 and 4 post lifts and midrise lifts, spring compressors and a paint booth. If you rent the paint booth at the end of the day you can leave your car to dry in there all night and pick it up the next morning.

It looks pretty clean in the pics and their hourly rates are good, 12$/hour for floor space and 17$/hour for a lift and 70$/4 hours for the paintbooth.

http://www.autonome3060.com/Item.aspx?type=Installation

http://www.autonome3060.com/Item.aspx?type=Outil
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Old 10-29-2010, 12:11 PM   #55
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It violates the principle of Hobby.

It then becomes an auto shop based on a Beauty Shop model of operation (where you rent a chair)

Which is fine, if that is what you want, but it ain't a hobby shop.
Well, if you don't want that going on (ie: if there are customers lined up to use the bays), it's easy enough to give buddy the boot. Like you said, depends on your goals and how you want to run your shop.
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Old 10-30-2010, 02:00 AM   #56
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I know there is one locally here in Colorado Springs, but I don't know anything about it. I heard about a guy who was going to start one a while back like one he used in germany somewhere but I lost touch with the guy and don't know if he ever got it off the gound or not. Seems like a good idea but with all businesses, there's potential for a lot of problems.

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Old 01-13-2012, 01:01 PM   #57
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

Have any of you guys done this without trying to turn a profit? A couple of my friends have been thinking of doing a community garage.

I bought my house thinking the guys in my club could come over and work on their cars and they have. Heck I started doing my work in friend's garages.

One of the stumbling blocks that we have is the owner of the garage needs to be home to open the garage. So sharing one has come to mind.

With smart phones with videocam apps.

User owned minor tools and shared large tools it seems it should work.

Any advice from working shared shops?
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Old 01-13-2012, 01:52 PM   #58
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Have any of you guys done this without trying to turn a profit? A couple of my friends have been thinking of doing a community garage.

I bought my house thinking the guys in my club could come over and work on their cars and they have. Heck I started doing my work in friend's garages.

One of the stumbling blocks that we have is the owner of the garage needs to be home to open the garage. So sharing one has come to mind.

With smart phones with videocam apps.

User owned minor tools and shared large tools it seems it should work.

Any advice from working shared shops?
If there is a lift(s) or paint booth work out how long they can be tied up. Immovable projects tying up a lift is a real problem.
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Old 01-13-2012, 04:02 PM   #59
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You would have to set it up as a fractional ownership where everyone that works there is an owner or guest of an owner. Buy-in required to become an owner which pays for machines and tools. Dues (bay rental) would cover the operating expenses. Might be good to be in the same building as a repair facility so you can share expenses.
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Old 01-13-2012, 04:08 PM   #60
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There was a shop like this in the San Fernando Valley in the late 80's - early 90's. I went by it often. The way it looked to me was that you could rent a space from them and tools. In order to rent tools you had to leave a deposit of some sort.

It lasted about 2 years I would guess.
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Old 01-13-2012, 05:15 PM   #61
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When I went to college at Montana State Univ. they had a shop for all the students. It was well used and if you didn't make an appointment to use it you couldn't get in especially during the winter. They charged you a $1/hour to cover the heating, but you just turned your student ID in when you came in the door and when you needed a tool or tool box full of tolls they just added that to the list and you had to check them back in when you left. It sure beat laying out in the cold working on a rig. Sad thing is I didn't discover it until the last year I was there.

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Old 01-14-2012, 04:56 PM   #62
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http://www.u-wrench.ca/

I bet this is exactly what the original poster was looking for. The manager and part owner is a good friend of mine.
Website says it's still in business. Excellent. I drove past it a few times when I still worked in Cowtown. After having done car repairs in rain in Van and in the cold there, I thought it was a helluvan idea.

If I knew it had still been open last spring, I might have taken my deck down to paint it last spring, instead of doing it in my driveway. At the very least, it might have cured better and lasted longer.
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Old 01-14-2012, 05:47 PM   #63
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This place is in the Minneapolis area, from what I understand they've been successful. I know a couple people who have used their garage and were happy with the experience. http://www.firstgeargarage.com/
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Old 01-14-2012, 06:26 PM   #64
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I don't see how the insurance wouldn't make it unprofitable. All it takes is one guy to sue you.
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Old 01-14-2012, 07:29 PM   #65
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I remember changing the rusted body of my 76 cj5 for a fiberglas body in shop on base when was stationed in texas,i had so many guys it was like a nascar pit crew.
Over in Dawsonvile Ga they are building a race track subdivison haven't heard much about it lately may have run out of money.
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Old 01-15-2012, 06:33 AM   #66
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I remember changing the rusted body of my 76 cj5 for a fiberglas body in shop on base when was stationed in texas,i had so many guys it was like a nascar pit crew.
Over in Dawsonvile Ga they are building a race track subdivison haven't heard much about it lately may have run out of money.
Atlanta Motorsports Park. Subdivision part is a long ways off. Supposed to be open for racing this fall. Memberships are still available for those with a high tolerance of risk and lots of disposable income. Houses bordering property are available cheap...
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Old 01-15-2012, 07:12 AM   #67
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Iíve seen Bay rentals before, and bay/ lift rentals. But for everything else you were on your own. I really do not remember the cost, and it was years ago.
And No overnight on the lift, but they had storage on site.

On Post Auto Craft shops are Paid for from at least two fundsÖ and in no way do I think a off post one could be run with the save level of service, equipment, attendants and such while turning a profit.

I spent hundreds of hours in the Auto Craft shops when stationed in Alaska, less so elsewhere as I had better facilities at home or my race partners shop.
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:12 AM   #68
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I used the one at Bragg when I was stationed there. Mainly because I was living in an apartment. It was great. But now I have a garage so I do all of my work there. I may have to use the one on Eglin when I put a new clutch in the Mustang.
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Old 01-15-2012, 12:05 PM   #69
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I used the one at Bragg when I was stationed there. Mainly because I was living in an apartment. It was great. But now I have a garage so I do all of my work there. I may have to use the one on Eglin when I put a new clutch in the Mustang.
I used auto hobby shops all over the world. They are a great deal especially since you can do nothing on a car in base housing. They are subsidized by NAF. Mostly profit from bx/px and commissary.
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Old 07-23-2013, 10:20 AM   #70
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We have opened one in Miami Tell me what you think!

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Old 07-23-2013, 12:02 PM   #71
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Look's like a very nice facility. IMHO, your biggest hurdle is going to be getting guys to spend the bucks to work there. I'm sure there are some who might utilize this concept, but the secret to success is having the volume to generate the revenue to cover the overhead. Good luck, I hope it works out for you. Bill
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Old 07-23-2013, 12:33 PM   #72
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That looks like a very nice, clean, facility. How long have you been open and how is traffic so far? You getting a lot of people coming in? I also am curious, is insurance high or not.... Seems like it would be.

Good luck with your business.. Looks like you did it right as far as I can see.
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Old 07-23-2013, 12:55 PM   #73
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This one's in KC, I'm friends with the owner and I did a weeks worth of work on a friend's car there....he's going strong and has expanded three times now, including opening a separate attached shop for body work.

http://diyautorepairkc.com/



He provides tools and equipment at no extra charge - doesn't have a dyno tho......I think his rates are pretty darn reasonable too.

He still has his full time job tho.
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Old 07-23-2013, 01:42 PM   #74
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They have one here -
http://www.pitstopdiygarage.com/

looks like members only - one thing - they also have a storage area - it was an old muffler shop and ther was some rented storage buildings behind it. Looks like a good place to store a vehicle after a quick purchase.

the auto craft center here on post is old and run down - the last time I went in there to help a friend rebuild a tranny we left because it was so dirty.

The rates to use the blast cabinet were than what I would have to pay someone to do it for me at a shop.
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Old 07-23-2013, 04:54 PM   #75
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I personally would not let amateurs anywhere near a tire machine. Instant maim or death awaits if not handled properly.

Daily rate not bad. +25 for air tools seems much. Dyno rate seems a mite high. 7/15 weekend we had a dyno at the drag strip - 3 pulls for $85.
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Old 07-23-2013, 05:16 PM   #76
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I haven't read all the posts so maybe what I am about to say ha been alredy. I thought this would work if it was a part of a parts store. AutoZone and Oreily's already rents out tools why not a bay with air, a lift, workbench etc.
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Old 07-23-2013, 05:45 PM   #77
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

the video story: http://vimeo.com/35403052

the shops website: http://motomethod.com/
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Old 07-23-2013, 07:50 PM   #78
milesvdustin
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I love the hobby shop on base. They have a few ase certified mechanics in there to ask questions and help with repairs. The rates are awesome, too. 5 an hour for a bay, 7 an hour for a lift. I think max for either is 25 or 30 for the day. Obviously cheaper because mccs subsidizes it.
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Old 07-23-2013, 07:52 PM   #79
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

Hi Guys I read quite a few posts before my eyes glazed over. But what I can tell you is that here in Montreal there are many. Actually there are 4 on 1 street alone (this is exceptional and not the rule). The way it works here is that you can rent the floor space or you can rent a lift, obviously not at the same rate. As for the tools you bring your own basic tools and rent out the ocassional tool which you do not have or you ask one of the regulars if they can lend or rent to you. There are almost always some unemployed mechanics hanging around willing to help for a fee or even a weekend mechanic, or mechanics which want to make extra money on the side. As for responsability, I cannot confirm the exact details and honestly don't remember if they make a client sign a waiver, although it would be logical.
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Old 07-24-2013, 12:29 PM   #80
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I really miss not being near a military base to use the AHS. I think on a civilian level, setting this up as a club garage is the only way this could work. I think insurance would be lower if its a club.

- Members buy into the club, essentially a share of sunk costs for building, lifts, common tools, could have a couple of levels of memberships with different levels of privelages. Family membership vs individual. Associate that can use a bay vs full that have access to paint booth.
- Members pay a daily rental fee for a bay/lift/ booth - This costs cover the management of the club essentially pays the salary for the manager and staff.
- Might be a good idea to charge monthly dues to pay for taxes/electric/gas/insurance etc, or this could be covered out of daily rentals.
- Bring your own tools, maybe have a tool cage/room so members can lock up thier boxes and leave them at the facility.
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Old 07-24-2013, 12:42 PM   #81
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I see guys laying under cars in the Autozone parking lot in 10 degree weather. It'd be nice to have a place to work on their cars so they can keep their cars in good running shape. It's hard to put more than a band-aid on a car when you don't have a shop, lift, air tools, etc..
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Old 07-24-2013, 12:48 PM   #82
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I remember the Car Talk guys talking about having been involved with one at one time. Their problem was that people would get stuck, ask them for help, and then they'd end up doing the project without getting paid for the work, which would have cost more than the rental price.

I too see tool shrinkage as being the biggest problem, provided you set up rules that say "staff isn't going to help you, don't ask." Might be more viable today, though - implant RFID tags in the tools that set off an alarm if someone tries to take them out of the building.
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Old 09-28-2013, 06:17 PM   #83
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eslader View Post
I remember the Car Talk guys talking about having been involved with one at one time. Their problem was that people would get stuck, ask them for help, and then they'd end up doing the project without getting paid for the work, which would have cost more than the rental price.

I too see tool shrinkage as being the biggest problem, provided you set up rules that say "staff isn't going to help you, don't ask." Might be more viable today, though - implant RFID tags in the tools that set off an alarm if someone tries to take them out of the building.
That would be the problem and cars tying up bays with no income.
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Old 09-28-2013, 09:49 PM   #84
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

I was searching the other day for Custom Garages before I found this website and found http://diytexas.com/ . The charge is up their but includes tools also, they teach classes as well. They post a lot on Facebook also.
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Old 09-28-2013, 10:25 PM   #85
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larey View Post
I was searching the other day for Custom Garages before I found this website and found http://diytexas.com/ . The charge is up their but includes tools also, they teach classes as well. They post a lot on Facebook also.
They painted the walls black???? I looked at the pics & it looks like they are working in a coal mine.
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Old 09-29-2013, 07:37 AM   #86
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I would only do this with close friends.
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Old 09-29-2013, 11:10 AM   #87
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Default Re: Civilian Auto Hobby Shop

People need to remember, a military auto hobby shop does not need to MAKE money to survive- ( government based business) it's a benefit for the members. If it makes money so be it. Last one I utilized was over an 1/8 mile long and @ 120 feet wide. It was a dream place could do everything from start to finish. A person would have to lock up most things- to many one day people can walk around and think those things belong to them.

The employees of auto hobby shops are paid thru recreation services( gsa jobs ).
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