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Garden Tractors Discussion Forum

Re: Pay Wages For Small Engine Mechanics

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02-26-2013 08:27:59

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I was literally raised in my Dad's mower shop, and I worked there for 20+ years.

I have seen good mechanics that were terrible businessmen, only to have their business fail.

I have seen good businessmen that were terrible mechanics, only to have their business fail.

Fortunately, my Dad was blessed with both skills, and his business survived for 34 years before selling out.

Doing repairs as a sideline will earn you some spending money. ...Hopefully, your other job will provide the benefits, income, and health insurance which you will need.

There is a lot to be said for having your own business and being your own boss. ....However, while it is tempting to think that you won't have a boss to answer to, you will have MANY "bosses" : your customers!

Once you jump in to your own business, are you prepared and willing to spend the 10-12 hours (or more) per day to keep up with the repairs, chasing parts, answering phone calls, picking-up & delivering equipment, spending time with customers (which is not earning you money), and the endless paperwork invoved for accounting, tax payments, record keeping, billing customers, etc. ????? ....If you don't have enough business to pay all your expenses, how will you survive?

Don't forget that you'd better plan on buying liability insurance to cover any repairs that you perform!

Once your business gets big enough that you realize you can't keep up with everything by yourself, you will need to hire extra help. ....Now, a new set of problems arises. ....But you are the BOSS!

Don't worry if the competent employee that you hire doesn't show up reliably. ...You can easily hire someone who always shows up but doesn't know what he's doing. (sarcasm intended) ...When the employee asks/demands a raise, you can explain why he is not worth it, why you can not afford it, or why he is earning more than you are.

Do you plan on selling new equipment as well as do repairs? ....You now need more money to buy inventory. ....You will spend time trying to sell equipment, but you have to remember that not everyone you talk to will buy. ....You will not be paid for that time you spent with them. ...Who will be doing repairs while you are trying to sell?

Profits to dealers have been trimmed to a small percentage by the manufacturers and distributors. ...Things are not like they were years ago.

Will you have competition from other repair shops or equipment sellers? ....Will you have to compete for sales against Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowes?

My comments may sound very negative toward having your own business. ....There is a lot of self-satisfaction that comes from having your own business, but lots of income is not guaranteed!

My unsolicited advice to you is to choose one of two options:

(option A) Get a full-time job in a dealership that is already established for sales and repairs of equipment. ....Earn what you are worth while learning as much as you can about the workings of the business. ...You will gain a lot of experience and possibly attend factory-run training schools/seminars. ....While your interest may be working on older equipment, you will need to have the knowledge to work on new equipment.

It is OK to take on repair jobs on the side for extra income, as long as you are not competing with your employer !!!!!

(option B) Keep your full-time job where you already get paid and have benefits. ...Start your own repair business on the side. ...It will take a while to build a large enough cutomer base to support you full-time. ....Once you get to that point, you can decide which path to follow.

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El Toro

02-26-2013 17:17:15

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 Re: Pay Wages For Small Engine Mechanics in reply to cwtech, 02-26-2013 08:27:59  
I did what cwtech suggested I left the farm after graduating from high school and found a job with the US government. I still helped my dad with morning milking. This was doing the Korean war and we worked 7 days a week. We received 26 days vacation and 13 days sick leave. Was paid time & one half for over 8 hours. Was testing engines on stationary dynanmometers that were run 24 hours a day. We tore them down when new and measured every part and when they completed the endurance tests they were tore down again and measured for wear. Started as a Wage Grade 5 and in 6 months was promoted to WG 8. Then I was drafted into the
Army and served 2 years and 6 years in the reserves. When I was discharged I was rehired back in my old job as a returning vet.

Six months later I was promoted Wage Grade 12 and this was when they had 26 Wage Grades. About a year later I was promoted to Grade 16 and then to 18. When Jack Kennedy became president he wanted government workers to be paid what privave industry was paying help. So they went to only 12 grades in the wage grade system. Then I was Grade 12 and got a few cents more. About the same time government health insurance became available and I signed up for it in 1960. Ike and Nixon had started this when they were in office. When the 1970's rolled around they said our current job description was wrong and we were converted to General Schedule known as GS employees and I was a GS-11. Worked there 43 years counting my Army time. Had 3000 hours of sick leave and 90 days vacation. The man that replaced me is still working and has over 51 years of government service. They made that position a GS-12. Look up GS and Wage Grade schedules for the Philadelphia area for current rates. Not many jobs where you can work that long. I kept my health insurance when I retired and can change
to a different company during the month of November.

From the 1970's until the 1990's I bought tractors and Troy Bilt tillers that needed repaired. I had over 30 Troy Bilt tillers. Paid my house off in 10 years and sent our daughter to nursing school and she has an AA degree, BS, MS all in nursing, MPH in Public Health from Hopkins. Hal I had farm tractors and garden tractors

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Tom Arnold

02-26-2013 13:03:54

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 Re: Pay Wages For Small Engine Mechanics in reply to cwtech, 02-26-2013 08:27:59  
cwtech wrote: It is OK to take on repair jobs on the side for extra income, as long as you are not competing with your employer !!!!!"

If you are employed by a company that repairs small engines, then the minute you begin taking on that type of work in your spare time, YOU ARE competing against your employer. If he sends you to a Kohler school or Briggs & Stratton school etc, he is paying for your education. He does this because you are not educated and as such, you are less valuable to him because you cannot make certain repairs unless you have that knowledge. In addition, having that knowledge will increase your speed in making repairs which will allow you to make more repairs per day.

Your employer expects to get a decent return on that investment because while you are attending school, you are not in his shop making money for him. The training you are taking on is provided in the expectation of loyalty. Now if you have no intention of being loyal, then you should either go to those schools on your own dime or refund all the wages paid to you while attending school. It's a simple thing called integrity and it boils down to that old adage.... do unto others as you would others do unto you.

cwtech makes some highly valid points about the difference between self employment and working for others. Let me add to that. If all you intend to do is run a small shop working for yourself, then all you will ever make is a living wage. If you want to make an above average income, then you need to plan to open a shop and hire three or more full-time mechanics to do the work. Your job will be to RUN the business or it will run you.

It is up to you to monitor the quality of the repair work performed to make sure it is done 100 percent correctly and completely. It is up to you to order in the parts needed for each job, do all the invoicing and deal with the customers directly when they bring in the item and when they come to pick up the item. Your days of being a mechanic will be over with because you will not have the time to do it and still look after running the business and cleaning the toilet.

Expect to work at least 60 hours per week. You will need an accountant to prepare your year-end statements so you can file the income tax statement for the business. You will need a book keeper if you are not qualified to set up an accounting system and make all the entries for Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and Payroll.

You will also have to spend money for Yellow Page advertising so that customers know you even exist. You will either succeed or fail based upon several criteria. FIrst of all, the quality of your work, your honesty and integrity, your fair pricing standards, your personality when dealing with your customers and your staff and your ability to set up systems and procedures so you can keep your finger on the pulse of what is going on with your business .

It's one thing to be a good mechanic and something else again to be a top-notch business owner. Good luck either way.

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02-27-2013 06:51:56

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 Re: Pay Wages For Small Engine Mechanics in reply to Tom Arnold, 02-26-2013 13:03:54  
Tom, I agree with your statements!

To clarify the point about "not competing with your employer," one of our employees lived and did side jobs in an area where we did not draw any customers. ...His few side jobs were not taking any customers (or potential customers) from us.

Any experience or knowledge gained from his side jobs would increase his skills and make him a better employee for us.

We had no problem with that until we caught him STEALING parts from our inventory to do those repairs. ....Had he been honest with us, we would have SOLD those parts to him at a discount. ....Of course, we could not give him the 100% discount which he enjoyed before/until we caught him !!!!

We believed that the cost involved in sending an employee to a service school was an investment which we would benefit from in our shop.

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Tom Arnold

02-27-2013 09:40:20

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 Re: Pay Wages For Small Engine Mechanics in reply to cwtech, 02-27-2013 06:51:56  
No matter how it is done, employee training costs the employer money. It does not cost the employee money. in fact, once the training has taken place, the employer often increases the hourly rate of that employee.

Now... let's compare that situation to some other fields. If you want to be paid big bucks, you go to school and get an education that either your parents underwrite or you pay for via student loans that must be repaid. You don't get to wear an iron ring on your finger unless you go to school and become an engineer.

You don't get the title "Doctor" without attending medical school and then interning at some hospital working horrible hours for peanuts. So if you are an employer who funds the training of an employee, then you are entitled to have that employee show you some gratitude for what you have done for him/her. Anyone who quits their job a week after going through several schools at the expense of their employer, lacks character.

Employers don't spend time and money training employees so they can jump ship and go elsewhere.

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02-26-2013 09:36:43

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 Re: Pay Wages For Small Engine Mechanics in reply to cwtech, 02-26-2013 08:27:59  
cwtech, that is about the best advice I have ever heard! That's it in a nutshell, so to speak. I guess you could say that for 22 years I had the best of both worlds. I worked on small engines/lawn and garden equipment for Sears. We had a large shop at the local catalog distribution center. Seldom had to make an outside service call. Sears provided the tools and equipment. When they phased out the shop in 1987 I was making $13.25 an hour plus benefits. I took an early retirement offer in 1990. The problem was, NO small engine repair shop around here paid a decent wage. And many of them had, as you mentioned, those who didn't know or care what they were doing, but they worked cheap. I found work in other fields and spent several years behind the parts counter of an automobile dealership before I retired, but was never able to make more than 2/3 what I made at Sears.

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