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Old 11-14-2017, 08:29 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Anyone own an alignment/chassis/suspension shop?

Looking at possibly opening a shop here in Houston. Primary business will be for trucks/SUV's and doing alignments, chassis, suspension and drivetrain work. Will also be a dealer for higher end suspension systems - Carli, Icon, etc. as well as do wheels and tires for people that want lifts installed.

Few questions:
Anyone do this?
If so would you do it again?
Where did you go for initial investment money to get started? I will need shop space (lease), alignment rack, 1-3 lifts, tire and wheel machines, etc. Looking at likely needing $100k or so to get a good start.

Wes
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Old 11-14-2017, 08:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You want to start a business but dont have the capital to fund it?
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Old 11-14-2017, 08:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You want to start a business but dont have the capital to fund it?
I like money.
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Old 11-14-2017, 09:11 AM   #4 (permalink)
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You want to start a business but dont have the capital to fund it?
I do have some capital, just wondering if there was other ways. Im making good money on my money right now, so if theres a better way where Im making more on my other than spending on interest, etc. Im open to it. Sorry I didnt clarify that before.

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Old 11-14-2017, 09:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Start one the real pirate way: Go forceably take an existing shop over, kill the owner in front of the employees to show them that you are now in charge, fly your flag over the shop, profit.
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Old 11-14-2017, 09:20 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Start one the real pirate way: Go forceably take an existing shop over, kill the owner in front of the employees to show them that you are now in charge, fly your flag over the shop, profit.
why the hell had I not thought of that already????
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Old 11-14-2017, 09:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Where did you go for initial investment money to get started? I will need shop space (lease), alignment rack, 1-3 lifts, tire and wheel machines, etc. Looking at likely needing $100k or so to get a good start.
A friend of mine opened a shop a few years ago, helped him get the shop setup, so here's what (little) I know.

He found a shop space with monthly rent, like a apartment, security deposit up front, ect, nothing exotic there.

He bought his only lift thru Sanel's, and made payments on it. ~$10k IIRC. I assume you could do the same with an alignment rack, just expect $$$, but make the monthly payment and it's yours.

Why do you need a rack and 3 lifts? You starting alone? Buy the bare minimum, work like a slave for a year, reinvest the money back to the business (don't blow it on cool trucks or up your nose, you won't last 6 months)

He bought his tire machine used, he doesn't use it a ton as he doesn't have a tire distributor or anything.

He does a little general car repair, more 1 ton/diesel trucks for the blue collar guys, and a ton of heavy truck repair. Cliental is all working class guys trying to make a living with their trucks. Treats them right and they come back anytime there's a problem.

He had some savings when he started, and he borrowed money from a friend. Around $15k to startup. But he already had $100k of tools in a Snap On box that he wasn't in debt on.
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Old 11-14-2017, 09:24 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The one guy with the BMW shop does some of that. Not sure if he only sticks to bimmers or does all of them.

In my mind why not be a whole mechanics shop specializing in something like that i would think would be hard in my mind. I want a full service shop not just a tire / alignment one.
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Old 11-14-2017, 09:48 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Will also be a dealer for higher end suspension systems - Carli, Icon, etc. as well as do wheels and tires for people that want lifts installed.
All kidding aside, in what way will the company/companies will offer to assist you ?

For example;
My father's shop back in day got 2 lifts for free from a oil distributor (don't recall name) if he used their brand(s) in clients cars/trucks..

Being a dealer plus repping the company is big business. Let them help you, nobody/nothing works for free-
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Old 11-14-2017, 11:16 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Got a friend who started an off road shop from scratch and another who runs a rather large tire, etc. shop.

From the off road shop: High end lifts are nice but the guys who keep blowing up 10 bolts in bro dozers is what will pay the bills. He started the business in his parents garage while he was still in school.

From the tire shop: Have a lot of money saved up to start. If you are dealing with businesses (which is where the lion's share of the money it) they are going to push long payment terms on you. He said some are net 120. So you won't get paid for work done for 4 months and then you have to hope they don't pull some oh that's the wrong PO# BS. Also, look at government contracts if possible (tires for school buses, etc.)
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Old 11-14-2017, 11:39 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I do have some capital, just wondering if there was other ways. Im making good money on my money right now, so if theres a better way where Im making more on my other than spending on interest, etc. Im open to it. Sorry I didnt clarify that before.

Wes
What is "some capital"?

Most businesses take about a year to be profitable. That means you need enough capital to sustain the business and yourself until a profit starts rolling.

When you start talking alignments, do you have experience in this area? What makes you better than joe schmoe at NTB on their equipment? I can operate an alignment machine, but I dont have the experience to know that an extra degree of caster on a certain vehicle might make the tires last an extra 5k miles, or than if I put 7 deg of camber into a car instead if 6, it will wear the tire out 4k miles faster.

Can you provide down to the cents a breakdown of your initial costs vs profit? Do you know what a daily expense report is? Can you show an investor that your daily expenses wont be more than your profits? There is so much more to "running a shop" than just doing the work. Its not always fun. If you need to go somewhere for a day, is the shop gonna be closed? If not, who will run it? What if you get hurt? Can the shop be open without you?

Those few things are about 1% of what you have to think about every day.
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Old 11-14-2017, 11:48 AM   #12 (permalink)
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In my mind why not be a whole mechanics shop specializing in something like that i would think would be hard in my mind. I want a full service shop not just a tire / alignment one.
I'm just the opposite.

I want my alignment guy to KNOW alignment. That is the only specialty shop I would consider. So many people fuck up alignment, I want a "specialist".

AS far as tire machine. I would like them to balance tires too, but I don't need them to sell tires.
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Old 11-14-2017, 12:07 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I'm just the opposite.

I want my alignment guy to KNOW alignment. That is the only specialty shop I would consider. So many people fuck up alignment, I want a "specialist".

AS far as tire machine. I would like them to balance tires too, but I don't need them to sell tires.
I'm with ya here.
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Old 11-14-2017, 02:06 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I'm just the opposite.

I want my alignment guy to KNOW alignment. That is the only specialty shop I would consider. So many people fuck up alignment, I want a "specialist".

AS far as tire machine. I would like them to balance tires too, but I don't need them to sell tires.
I get that part of it but in the same sense if my alignment guy says you need 2 new tires you need to go down the street and buy them get them put on then come back to me to align them. That just costs me a day and how much extra money?? You need to do both in my opinion.
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Old 11-14-2017, 02:18 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I get that part of it but in the same sense if my alignment guy says you need 2 new tires you need to go down the street and buy them get them put on then come back to me to align them. That just costs me a day and how much extra money?? You need to do both in my opinion.
The only alignment shop I'll use in San Antonio doesnt do tires. There's no real money in tires unless you're doing a huge volume, and then you need to keep a huge inventory, which means lots of storage space.

My biggest pet peeve with alignment is most places just do it "good enough" or "to factory specs". But thats not always the best. If Im spending $$$ on tires I want my alignment to be as close to perfect as possible.

You know manufacturers only allow like 10-15min on an assembly line for the alignment to be set on a new vehicle.

People with semi trucks have gotten their alignment done properly and have tracked fuel mileage and seen more than a tenth of a mpg improvement. Multiply that by thousands od miles a month, and thats a pretty decent amount.
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Old 11-14-2017, 04:29 PM   #16 (permalink)
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What is "some capital"?

Most businesses take about a year to be profitable. That means you need enough capital to sustain the business and yourself until a profit starts rolling.

When you start talking alignments, do you have experience in this area? What makes you better than joe schmoe at NTB on their equipment? I can operate an alignment machine, but I dont have the experience to know that an extra degree of caster on a certain vehicle might make the tires last an extra 5k miles, or than if I put 7 deg of camber into a car instead if 6, it will wear the tire out 4k miles faster.

Can you provide down to the cents a breakdown of your initial costs vs profit? Do you know what a daily expense report is? Can you show an investor that your daily expenses wont be more than your profits? There is so much more to "running a shop" than just doing the work. Its not always fun. If you need to go somewhere for a day, is the shop gonna be closed? If not, who will run it? What if you get hurt? Can the shop be open without you?

Those few things are about 1% of what you have to think about every day.
An auto repair shop shop can be profitable way faster than a year. It helps to start developing your clientele before you open.

Op:

brakes, suspension, fluid services and maintenance are the most profitable sectors of auto repair. A chassis shop is a good idea but not to the exclusion of other high profit services.
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Old 11-14-2017, 05:11 PM   #17 (permalink)
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An auto repair shop shop can be profitable way faster than a year. It helps to start developing your clientele before you open.

Op:

brakes, suspension, fluid services and maintenance are the most profitable sectors of auto repair. A chassis shop is a good idea but not to the exclusion of other high profit services.
I think it can too. But when someone posts "where do I get the capital to start?" It makes me question everything they have to say.

I just watched a friend if mine die of a heart attack because o the stress of his diesel repair shop. He was the best tech in this area and even with his reputation and customer base covering his monthly nut was hard.
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Old 11-14-2017, 05:57 PM   #18 (permalink)
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What are you going to offer that the other 15 speciality shops in Houston don't?
Going to get some of your off-road stuff from transamerica? Then you are competing with 3 4wheelparts in town. Only use that because you mentioned lifts.

Mall crawler jeep shops make good money as do the bro truck shops in town.
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Old 11-14-2017, 06:20 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I think it can too. But when someone posts "where do I get the capital to start?" It makes me question everything they have to say.

I just watched a friend if mine die of a heart attack because o the stress of his diesel repair shop. He was the best tech in this area and even with his reputation and customer base covering his monthly nut was hard.
One of the most important things you can do starting a shop, imho is to start it as a lean operation. If you are leasing a building you shouldn’t spend 100k.

I have kept my nut low and paid off all personal and business debt so now I can buy my own building.

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Old 11-14-2017, 06:30 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Op, can you align the ttb axle in my F250?
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Old 11-14-2017, 08:14 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Op, can you align the ttb axle in my F250?
Yes, myself plus a buddy of mine who is an extremely good alignment tech can do it.

I think someone above hit it on the head - shops that have areas they excel in are a necessity rather than a shop that can do a little of everything decently, I want a shop that can do certain things with excellence. I havent found an alignment shop worth a crap in Houston that takes the time and knows the trucks. For instance, my F250 is known to like a little more caster than what the Ford spec is, but yet alignment guys want to make it match Ford spec. I have to tell them exactly what I want and they typically still try to make it match the Ford spec. Just frustrating that they just want to follow a book and not what is known to be right despite what the book might say.

I think $100k is way over what I will spend. 2 lifts for working on trucks, one alignment lift/machine for alignments would perfectly suit myself and one other tech to start with, then as stated above, grow and put money back into the business to build my own building and get out of leasing a building which I would do to start off with for sure.

Wes
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Old 11-14-2017, 08:22 PM   #22 (permalink)
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It's easier to buy out an existing profitable company, than to start one from scratch. That's what I did.
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Old 11-14-2017, 08:24 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Yes, myself plus a buddy of mine who is an extremely good alignment tech can do it.

I think someone above hit it on the head - shops that have areas they excel in are a necessity rather than a shop that can do a little of everything decently, I want a shop that can do certain things with excellence. I havent found an alignment shop worth a crap in Houston that takes the time and knows the trucks. For instance, my F250 is known to like a little more caster than what the Ford spec is, but yet alignment guys want to make it match Ford spec. I have to tell them exactly what I want and they typically still try to make it match the Ford spec. Just frustrating that they just want to follow a book and not what is known to be right despite what the book might say.

I think $100k is way over what I will spend. 2 lifts for working on trucks, one alignment lift/machine for alignments would perfectly suit myself and one other tech to start with, then as stated above, grow and put money back into the business to build my own building and get out of leasing a building which I would do to start off with for sure.

Wes

Ttb has been gone for 20 years and there is no alignment on a modern vehicle that is similarly difficult to get right. Most cars now just get toe unless something is bent.
People are used to the to the $59.99-99.99 alignments. Throwing a lot of labor at an alignment to get it a tiny bit better isnít going to pay off for you.
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Old 11-14-2017, 08:34 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Ttb has been gone for 20 years and there is no alignment on a modern vehicle that is similarly difficult to get right. Most cars now just get toe unless something is bent.
People are used to the to the $59.99-99.99 alignments. Throwing a lot of labor at an alignment to get it a tiny bit better isnít going to pay off for you.
Depends on who you cater to.

Owner operators in trucking will drive hundreds and hundreds of miles to go MD Alignment in KC, Ks because they know how to properly align a semi truck and get the most of the tires.
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Old 11-14-2017, 08:51 PM   #25 (permalink)
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I think $100k is way over what I will spend. 2 lifts for working on trucks, one alignment lift/machine for alignments would perfectly suit myself and one other tech to start with, then as stated above, grow and put money back into the business to build my own building and get out of leasing a building which I would do to start off with for sure.

Wes
You buying used or cheap crap?

2 lifts for trucks, $10k min, $16k if you buy Mohawks like you should.
Alignment lift, $10k min, $30k max.
Alignment machine $10-$20k. Only buy a Hunter, you will cuss anything else.

There's 30-65k in just big equipment. You still need a bunch of other stuff. You mentioned tires, there's $15-30k depending on what you buy.
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