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thinking about going to boces for small engine


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#1 ad356 OFFLINE  

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Posted June 15, 2011 - 10:38 PM

well i have been working on my own small engines since i was old enough to turn a wrench. recently i have been doing more work for other people. i work down the street on stuff on a regular basis and i'm constantly learning more, although its mostly about the older stuff. im giving serous thought of going to school for small engines. its a 3 month program offered once a week at boces. i was wondering if being small engine mechanic is still a marketable skill. seems like these days everyone buys disposable lawn tractors instead of heavy, long lasting garden tractors. the thing is right now im working in a factory and getting very tired of it. i was thinking about eventually opening my own business or at least working for someone that is already established. can i make more than the 14 bucks per hour that i make right now? the classes are fairly cheap at 300 bucks for the program and my boss said he would work with my schedule so i could go if thats what i want.

so, is being a professional small engine mechanic still a marketable skill or is it a waste of time?

you guys work on this stuff all of the time, like myself so i value your opinions.

#2 mikebramel OFFLINE  

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Posted June 15, 2011 - 10:42 PM

On site repair is in big demand

#3 ad356 OFFLINE  

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Posted June 15, 2011 - 10:45 PM

on site meaning going to someone home and repairing like im doing with the wheelhorse?
ok
what about small engine work in general? what kind of wages can you expect? is going to boces enough education to get hired at the typical shop?

#4 NUTNDUN OFFLINE  

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Posted June 16, 2011 - 05:29 AM

I think small engine work is still a big demand, probably more now then ever with the economy being the way it is people are holding on to their used stuff rather then going out and replacing it with something new every couple years. Offering on site service like Mike mentioned at a customers location would be a great service to offer, not everyone has a way to haul their garden tractors or lawn tractors to a shop. You could also offer pickup and deliver for a small fee if you only want to do the work at your place.

Wages would depend on the area. Are you looking to get hired at a shop or starting your own shop?

#5 KIRO-1 OFFLINE  

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Posted June 16, 2011 - 06:19 AM

There's a small shop on my delivery route that just works on used equip. small engines and GT's. He charges $40.00 per hour and is burried in work. There are at least 50 GT's in his yard at all times in the summer along with countless pushmowers, tillers and snowblowers. Alot of it depends on how many other repair shops are in your area.

#6 MH81 ONLINE  

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Posted June 16, 2011 - 06:39 AM

You might also want to talk with your local parts source. They can give you a feel on how many people are asking them "Who works on these". You will also want to talk with them about business accounts and pricing. Even the best trained mechanic with unlimited skills needs parts.

While I do work for someone else, I have a pretty good one on one with most of my customers. Watch the "favor" and " on account " problems. While they do give you a warm fuzzy, that doesn't pay bills. Fix your rates and stick to them. After you are in it for a while, you can do a favor or two for the good customers or the octogenarian down the road. There are 2 discounts you will want to figure in when figuring your labor rates. Many, many retired people expect a Senior Citizens discount. I have people driving caddies that ask for this. Servicemen & women almost never ask for one, but if you find out they are, it's nice to offer. If you bump up your labor $5 per hour for everyone else, you can afford to cut a break here and there.

Sorry, long winded... Just my 4 cents.
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#7 KennyP ONLINE  

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Posted June 16, 2011 - 06:49 AM

Some very good info you posted there. I agree on all points. I try to help the neighbors as much as I can, just charge enough labor to buy a few cold ones for my efforts. They don't have a lot of extra cash laying around.

#8 middleageddeere OFFLINE  

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Posted June 16, 2011 - 09:04 AM

The reason the shops are swamped with work is because they are established. Can you have a successful small engine repair shop? Without question, but you have to get a customer base and get them to recommend you to every person within a 50 mile radius. I don't know where you live or how many shops there are already are but like MH81 said, you need to do research first.

#9 1978murray OFFLINE  

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Posted June 16, 2011 - 09:54 AM

yea, the way people are runing there mowers with little or no oil and bending crankshafts. there in big demand. I work up at arlington mower repair and we have 2 mechanics there and we are still 4 weeks behind. we bring in about 5 mowers each day.

#10 ad356 OFFLINE  

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Posted June 16, 2011 - 10:59 AM

what do your mechanics make? i was wondering what it pays to work for someone else? i make 14 bucks an hour now, how difficult is it to beat that doing small engine work?

#11 1978murray OFFLINE  

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Posted June 17, 2011 - 09:07 AM

they make about that, it all depends on ur level of expertice, how big the opperation is and how much do they want a good mechanic. Also if u run ur own, on site mechanic, u will make a lot more

#12 coldone OFFLINE  

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Posted June 17, 2011 - 09:54 AM

I have been in the repair business for 20 years, not small engines but some things cross over. I personally like working for someone else at this point in my life. I put 40 hours in and go home. I do side work occasionally but its on my terms, its if I want extra money and if I chose to use my time that way. I like the security of knowing I have a paycheck and time off if needed.

As for the repair business itself, if you tell someone you are going to do something then do it or give them a call and reschedule. You need to be able to repair most anything in your field. Job prices always need to be figured with refrence to replacment cost, a customer is not going to spend $500 on a machine that can be repalced with $700. Have parts in stock, be it used or new have them there or offer to overnight them. Know your customers, you will have regulars and get to know them, their kids, their wives, thier pets. Dont hesitate to offer rushed service for extra money. Do GREAT work and be HONEST with all of your customers. I offer "levels" of repair to fit budgets, you want a one year warranty the you pay a premium price and get a premium repair with premium parts, customer cant afford that then we drop down to the next level until they can be happy. If you offer a 30 day warranty dont tell the customer he cant be covered because its day 31. Only warranty the work YOU DO, if you do just a valve job dont cover the charging system. Be clear with your words to your customers. Dont undervalue yourself, dont cut your prices or time to "be competitive" set your price to reflect your job. Premium prices get premuim service. Dont hesitate to fire a bad customer, in all likelyhood they have pissed off everyone else too.

The most important thing is to treat your customers like you would want to be treated. Always take a minute to put yourself in their shoes when dealing with them. Do you want to be treated like an idoit because you filled up the gas tank with oil or do you want to know your not the only one that has done it?

ETA: Just thought of a niche market if your area has the base, On site service catering to single moms. Women tend to hesitate on anything mechanical because they dont want to be treated like an idiot. Advertise and show up looking professinal and clean, say yes mam/no mam and treat them like you want someone to treat your mother. They talk (what woman doesnt) and they will talk about you to each other.

Edited by coldone, June 17, 2011 - 10:00 AM.





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