ALL ABOUT THE MOBILE MECHANIC

 

 

The Mobile Mechanic is known by several names. The one used the most is Mobile Mechanic. Other variations include Mobile Auto Technician, On-Site Auto Repair, Roadside Auto Repair, Housecall Auto Mechanic, Mobile Auto Repair Shop etc. First thoughts for me to ramble about are to tell you that in my opinion which of course taps my own experience in the auto repair industry for the last 30+ years and of course still operating a Mobile Auto Repair Shop, that being a mobile repair business does not in any way affect the quality outcome of any particular repair in a negative manner, I mean certainly not due to the fact that the repair was not done on a lift inside an enclosed building. You could still get a bad mobile mechanic but it will not be as a result of performing MOBILE repairs rather than the indoor comfort of lifts and controlled temperatures. Matter of fact, I would say that the quality of the finished job (certainly my own) is far better than the majority of the same services being rendered at a conventional shop and the reason I say this is because I have experienced it both ways. Mobile wins out every time because of the fact that when you are on a job in the mobile mechanic business, you are one on one with just one vehicle at a time. There is nobody pushing you to finish the job and get it out of the bay so that another car can come in. When I worked for someone in a shop many years ago before I got into business for myself, if I were doing “unnecessary” things that took up added time like cleaning a valve cover until I could see the original paint color and put it back on the engine looking brandy new, if they saw that I got told don't waste time with that nonsense we are busy and need the bay. That is the culture in many (not all) repair shops. I on the other hand loved taking pride in what my finished product looked like, aside from making sure that the client's problem was fully solved.  I like it when a client opens the hood and can read the decals and see a shine on painted engine component surfaces that had been obscured for eons by grease and muck. I like it when every single plastic clip that had to be removed and than put back by me did not shatter and become unuseable because I took the extra time to release these little plastic buggers carefully and in such way that I could reuse them. I like everything to look like it was never worked on. When I was an employee, I could not do that without being abused for it. It starts with small things like plastic clips that holds wires in place. Mechanics break them (often it cannot be avoided) but they rarely ever get replacement clips and either leave the ignition wires or wiring the clips retained to dangle or rest against something hot thereby shortening it's life and of course it looks ratty when you open the hood. Then it can become leaving bolts out that are really difficult to get to. Another aspect of a professional mobile mechanic for the client to understand (and of course appreciate) is that he works alone typically. I work alone. There is nobody else to ask for advice when he is on a diagnostic job and it is a difficult diagnosis. This is not a bad thing. That mobile mechanic gets used to that (I did) and he ramps up his resources so that he can come up with the right diagnosis. Because if he doesn't have an arsenal of reliable information sources to assist him at any moment he will soon get a bad name and become talked about negatively. The result of years going by of working and making decisions alone and remaining dedicated to finding out the real cause of a car's driveability issues brings about a very intuitive and fantastic mechanic. One or two bad mechanics in a conventional shop that has 6 other good mechanics probably can continue to make a mess of many vehicles that the shop was paid to correct, and the shop does damage control on an as-needed basis. The mobile mechanic working alone absolutely cannot take that chance and it is mandatory that the job come out right, even when it comes at a cost of him giving many uncompensated hours on any particular client's vehicle. He must use his time at the client's vehicle in the most efficient ways possible. If he doesn't diagnose the problem quickly and correctly his business simply will not prosper and will not get the word of mouth recommendations that are so needed in this business. There is powerful motivation with a mobile mechanic to see that the client's vehicle is delivered being fixed properly the first time with no leftover issues that need to be explained away, unless of course the client was informed ahead of time about these potential issues and the client declined to spend the money to address them.

 

The mobile mechanic has flexibilities that the conventional shop does not have. The biggest one I think is being able to go look at a client's vehicle, make a diagnosis and determine if the car can safely still be driven by the client. When you bring your vehicle to a conventional shop for a warning light being illuminated on the dash and you drop off the vehicle, sometimes they don't even bring it in a busy shop for a day or two or more to even evaluate whether this is a serious issue, and during those days you don't have your car. The mobile mechanic on the other hand can show up and will see your warning light the same day, and can give you some comfort with a quick diagnosis. Maybe the warning light was on because of a bad sensor and it takes a day to get the sensor. The bad sensor will have no ill effects on the vehicle with the client still using it while waiting for the mobile mechanic to return to make the fix. The mobile mechanic can  (I do anyway) tell his client that he will be back on such and such a date and in the mean time you still have your car to use with piece of mind. This would rarely ever happen at the conventional shop. You drop your vehicle off and they have it almost as long as they want it.

 

The mobile mechanic provides you with a unique personalized service at your home or your job and the convenience of this concept is simply the Holy Grail of Auto Repair service. This allows you the client to continue to do whatever it is you were doing almost uninterrupted with no concern for speaking with a repair shop over the phone while they tell you what has to be done and you simply have to believe them because you won't get to see what they do. That's because you're home without your car. The mobile mechanic is transparent. You can even watch him replace parts and know how hard or long he worked because you're in the house and can come and check on your car's progress as often as you like. 

 

The mobile mechanic has low overhead when compared to the conventional shop so he doesn't need to try to up-sell you a bunch of unnecessary trumped up services (I don't). At the same time,  I would like to ramble some about costs to you. Most people that are looking for a new mechanic (by the way, why are you looking for a new mechanic anyway – what happened with the last one?) as I said, many people looking for a new mechanic make their decision based based solely upon an hourly rate that the shop charges for repair work. Or maybe,  some decide by a friend recommendation. One shop may charge $85/hr while another charges $75 or $95 an hour. I cannot stress this enough....this hourly rate should not be the deciding bell. The difference in hourly shop rates do not change the bill radically on a job of a few hours but what you need to be careful about is their up-sell of other items that usually are add-on parts and labor that you don't need. Typical example of this would be a brake job. You bring the car in to check the brakes because you heard noises and they call you and tell you that you need front and rear brakes, front and rear rotors, new front and rear calipers and hydraulic hoses and a brake fluid flush. This should be a major red flag, not that it is impossible but it's not common that it needs everything.  In reality you probably just needed new brake pads (maybe just front rotors too) and the other $900 of unnecessary calipers and hoses and rear rotors and added labor for such was added pork. Some clients draw simply wrong conclusions when it comes to what a mobile mechanic charges for labor. Some think that because the mechanic has low overhead and that they are mobile,  that they are not entitled to charge a similar rate that a conventional shop charges which is so wrong of a conclusion. The mobile mechanic might only do one or two jobs in a day. The conventional shop can derive profit from 25 cars in the same day. The mobile mechanic who is doing his job as a full time gig to derive an income from still needs to come home with a reasonable salary. Many have been in the auto repair business for their entire adult life. He has liability insurance (I do) and gasoline from driving around and upkeep and health insurance that he has to pay for himself and maybe a mortgage to pay for. He has probably spent $50,000.00 or more on tools and always has to update software ($800/yr) and replace lost or broken tools.  For some mobile mechanics, it is just a hobby for extra income in addition to their full time job, those are the mechanics who lack many skills that affect the outcome of a particular job. For others like myself, it is the only thing I do. Again, it should not be the hourly rate that is the deciding factor, it should be how many services and parts he tells you need to be done. ©

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