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Workshop Location choices

Discussion in 'Motoring Related Discussion' started by alexanderfoti, Sep 5, 2018.

  1. alexanderfoti

    alexanderfoti MBO Forum Supporter Authorised Forum Supporter

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    Hi all

    I am thinking of opening up a Mercedes Specialist garage, as that is where my passion is. My other businesses are now self sufficient and I am at a stage where its viable for me.

    I have Mercedes DSB access and Webparts membership with the local dealer and most of the kit I need.

    However, workshop unit availability is slim to non. I live around the Bromley area, and am trying to figure out where would be best. Was looking around the Dartford area, towards west kingsdown if possible.

    Some people have shown me units in Maidstone, and a bit closer in Tonbridge and Gravesend, but I feel like these are a bit far out to target the London crowd.

    My wife disagrees with me and thinks that I should go a bit further out to get a better workshop (there is certainly more choice).

    What are the thoughts of the MB gang?
     
    om613 likes this.
  2. V6Matty

    V6Matty Senior Member

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    I'd say if you do go further out Alex then you need to ensure that the links are good or there are amenities around so clients are left in the middle of nowhere. I guess it also depends if your looking to just have a place with enough work to keep you ticking over or if your wanting to grow it into another business
     
  3. Frontstep

    Frontstep Senior Member

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    People will travel for good service and nothing is more frustrating than continually shuffling cars around because of space restrictions.
    But If your going to specifically target the better off Londoners then dig deep and pay the price but you will have to chase it every week.
    I have let many garages and workshops, the constant factor in there success was offering true value which doesn't mean cheap.
    Finding space in a good part of London will be dear but a night shift might make a big difference staffing it will as always be difficult.
    The other point often missed is just because someone lives in an expensive house and drives an expensive car means they will want to pay any more and often in my experience its less or not at all.
    I have just been to a multi-million pound house with two new very up market cars on the drive and the owner or should I say debtor is skint.
    Don't take on an expensive workshop as a one man band its very stressful especially if you get ill.
     
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  4. OP
    alexanderfoti

    alexanderfoti MBO Forum Supporter Authorised Forum Supporter

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    I have thought about that, Overground links are a must, within a mile I would have thought. Underground would be better, but I don't want to spend hours commuting a day. I would be offering a courtesy vehicle to customers which should also make it a bit better.

    I worked at WG-MB for a while and the constant car shuffling was a major PIA, especially when next door used to keep blocking our entrance.

    I fully agree wrt to offering true value. I do not intend to go after the uber cheap crowd, the idea would be to bring value to the MB crowd that appreciate a place that does everything as MB says, using the correct tools etc.

    I know all about keeping up appearances. Im not sure I want to target the "London" crowd but do appreciate there is a small gap around this area, the further out I go the less this applies though.

    I would be using the unit as an office for day to day business as well as for the garage, the idea being having a few people working for me at the same time. I will be aggressively driving business either way. I wont be twiddling my thumbs.

    I have a budget for what I want and I can get it around all these areas but need to figure out where is best.
     
  5. V6Matty

    V6Matty Senior Member

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    Sounds like you have thought this through Alex and looking at your MSP company I know you wouldn't go half way house at it. if you can find the right space at the right price and can get a good pair of mechanics working with you as you say the little extra distance shouldn't put people off.
     
  6. OP
    alexanderfoti

    alexanderfoti MBO Forum Supporter Authorised Forum Supporter

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    That's my thoughts too. Its much harder to find space than I thought!

    I was thinking of the following starred areas:

    upload_2018-9-5_20-28-45.png

    Need to do some more research, but it seems like a much more viable position. West Kingsdown was pretty good but its slim pickings!
     
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  7. V6Matty

    V6Matty Senior Member

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    If it was me, I'd be looking at kings hill but it might be a bit of a commute. That should get just enough of good work coming from Tonbridge, RTW, Maidstone and Severn oaks.
     
  8. Cole@MBS

    Cole@MBS Forum Supporter Authorised Forum Supporter

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    Before you look into premises, have you weighed up all the costs involved In running a specialist
    Garage, not trying to put a downer on your dreams but having been there I can tell you it’s a real eye opener!!! Just off the top of my head your gonna need £100000 for tooling, star machine, ramps, insurances, rates etc etc etc, it’s a endless pit of money before you even earn your first £100!! Saying that, I will help you if I can, just hope you realise what it’s gonna cost ya!!!
     
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  9. OP
    alexanderfoti

    alexanderfoti MBO Forum Supporter Authorised Forum Supporter

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    Absolutely. I have enough tools to start something now. I have been doing it from my. House for a while now actually. Have a few star machines with a couple of muxs.

    Rates don't look too bad at the moment with the relief underneath £10,500 taxable amount and a friend works in insurance to cover me for motor industry and public liability, which may actually end up cheaper than my personal aviva policy which is 3k+ pa.

    I don't/won't take it lightly though and I do appreciate that you aren't trying to put a downer on it and making sure I'm going into it with my eyes open!

    The only thing is a ramp, which I have secured for £2k installed and warranted for 5 years.

    Website/internet/telephony/online booking etc I can all be done at cost by my other business so it saves me some there.

    One thing I haven't figured out is waste oil collection, but I may look at safetykleen for that as well as a parts cleaner.
     
  10. bembo449

    bembo449 Senior Member

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    my father offered to set me up with my own place years ago , I turned it down and im so glad I did , a good number of my friends are in the trade , all are stressed , going grey and pretty unhappy , at least I still enjoy fixing cars , think I would lose that if I was fulltime
     
  11. Chrishazle

    Chrishazle Senior Member

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    You should also investigate what's already available! In West Kingsdown, for example, there's an existing MB specialist on the A20 as you approach West Kingsdown from the south. Maidstone way is Steve Garlik. There's another just off the A20 Sidcup bypass, Mastertech on Ellingham Industrial estate on the south side of Ashford, I'm sure I've seen something about one just north of Tonbridge as well as one on the south side of Maidstone.

    Whatever you decide, I wish you luck, just wish you were a Porsche (especially early FE) specialist as I only know of 3 in Kent, one I will never use again (who is also the closest to me unfortunately) and 2 others that are a hike away!
     
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  12. OP
    alexanderfoti

    alexanderfoti MBO Forum Supporter Authorised Forum Supporter

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    Its funny, I have been told the same by people in IT, property and other trades. All told me that the stressful part was gone when they started doing cars...
     
  13. OP
    alexanderfoti

    alexanderfoti MBO Forum Supporter Authorised Forum Supporter

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  14. bembo449

    bembo449 Senior Member

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    maybe it suits them as a change of career Alex ?
     
  15. OP
    alexanderfoti

    alexanderfoti MBO Forum Supporter Authorised Forum Supporter

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    Can only but try. Doing IT as a job did take some of the fun out of it. Can't see that happening with cars though...
     
  16. bembo449

    bembo449 Senior Member

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    I do run a business on the side Alex , it works great as I don't rely on the money but im very careful about what jobs I take on though
     
  17. thebiglad

    thebiglad Senior Member

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    Hi Alex have you done any potential client profiling yet ? For example : what age group, what car group, what car age group, what business group, what industrial group? Define these groups (and add more of course) then create methods to identify work and home locations.

    Are you considering offering a collection service ? If you do your location is less critical.
     
  18. Uncle Benz

    Uncle Benz Senior Member

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    I've run my own place for twenty years. I think my advice would be try to build it up slowly. I know you may have a dream garage image in your head, but all that stuff needs paying for. If you can start small, and pick and choose your work a little bit you will earn and grow. Going big from the start means you will likely be taking on all and everything that comes your way, and some of those jobs can become big headaches really quickly.
    Mercedes main dealers will become your best asset - they produce so many unhappy customers you can easily provide a service that will impress and delight anyone brave enough to seek an alternative.
    Keep a tight rein on customers paying you, particularly motor traders. One months credit can quickly become two or three, and that can very easily break you if they go bust.
    Staff too can be a headache. Big headache. Huge. I work on my own now, although many will tell you that no one wants to work with this grumpy old bastard.....
    In conclusion, very good luck with it! It's really good fun, and I could never go back to working for anyone else.
    If you need any advice, large or small, I'm happy to help you if I can.
     
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  19. OP
    alexanderfoti

    alexanderfoti MBO Forum Supporter Authorised Forum Supporter

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    Not yet. I think it's important to identity a potential client base and volume but we won't be picky. If it has an MB star, then we will do it.

    I also want to have a performance and tuning section of the business as I have a fair but of experience with that and feel like it's a growing market.
     
  20. OP
    alexanderfoti

    alexanderfoti MBO Forum Supporter Authorised Forum Supporter

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    Many thanks! Absolutely, that is good advice. I have aspirations but small from the start, lots of sundry jobs etc, things I have done before etc.

    I have enough tools to do things like main servicing, brakes, suspension, vac/boost testing, AC regassing./servicing, clutches etc.

    Major engine work will probably have to wait or be referred somewhere else.

    I want to have minimal outlay to start, so premises and a ramp will be all I need. I can actually get by without a ramp for a while but it will be a pain.

    I know what you mean about main dealers. I deal with them every now and then, and often for parts, and even with a trade membership they are rubbish.

    I do need to figure out what the best pricing structure is and servicing pricing is difficult to grasp with so much optional items to price up.

    I feel like I should be aiming for 50% of main dealer pricing but need to call around.
     

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