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W211 AMG Discuss the W211 AMG's such as the E55 and the E63

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Old 05-11-2010, 01:09 PM   #1
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Would you rent a bay?

I asked this question as a feeler a few years back but am now serious. Lets say an established (15 years) Automotive Shop (Body, Mechanical, Tires, Alignement, etc.) with 7 bays wanted to take the shop to the next level.

So, why would anyone in SD care?
A large emphasis on the growth of the company will be geared towards a grass roots campaign by establishing that shop where you simply drop by to see what is going on.

We are very open to ideas and requests to what people would like to have access to and what ball park pricing you think is fair. We will obviously have your weekend BBQs and raffles, etc. but the final intent is not to have a place for an elite few to hang out. It is intended to fascilitate the local enthusiast community.

One concept we are exploring is renting out the stalls, tools, etc. (as needed) to clients that simply want access to a lifts, tools, paint, balancer, alignment rack, oil recycle place, etc. We envision the client bringing their own tech or having us provide one. The same would go for tools, etc. The main concern here is liability and this will be a program that we can expand as we go. As it stands, the Shop is fully certified with an ASE certified mechanic on staff (full time). We also have a number of OEM related technicians and paint staff on contract.

Last thing, the shop also has a dealer liscense (sp?). The initial purpose was to offer rentals and such to our clients but we are now considering alternative ways of exploiting that as well.
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Old 05-11-2010, 01:28 PM   #2
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I have always thought this would work Jangy, I can't tell you how many times I needed a lift, and had to pay some (bozo) tech to lift my car (in the wrong spots). That is why I hate dealers too. If I can't do my own work, I want to stand over and right next to who ever is working on my car.

The big thing is the liability, if you find an insurance company to cover a DIY shop PM me the info.
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Old 05-11-2010, 01:44 PM   #3
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I would absolutely LOVE this is if were available in my area. It does two things:

1. The obvious - Give you a lift and access to tools that you may not own.

2. The not-so-obvious - For those of us that actually have 4 seasons, we can get the hell in out of the cold do work on our cars. I can't tell you how bad it is to swap a set of headers on a W211, bent over the fender, and it's 34* and windy outside. Miserable.


And if you had a SDS machine laying around.....oh boy!
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Old 05-11-2010, 01:51 PM   #4
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this is a great idea, had a buddy looking to do this in columbus ohio but it never took off as the insurance was too high to cover all the liablity, plus all of the overhead cost associated with a normal garage. hope things work out.
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Old 05-11-2010, 02:46 PM   #5
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When I lived at Clark Air Base in the Philippines they had an arrangement like that for the guys stationed there. It was a decent sized building with about eight bays with an office and tool rental in the middle. Some of the guys in charge were mechanics and they were always around to offer advice or a hand. A few of the bays had lifts.

It was a VERY popular and well used facility for the repair of autos, motorcycles and other mechanical equipment. I spent a lot of time there working on my bikes.

I have often wondered why something like this isn't available in every town in the country. I suspect our lawyer population has something to do with it.
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Old 05-11-2010, 03:10 PM   #6
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I would be all about this. I grew up in my father's machine shop and if my father did not have the tool I needed one his customers or friends had something I could use. This is one of the reasons I miss Tulsa and hate Houston sometimes. I miss being able to flip directional tires to rotate them at will and I dearly miss having access to a lift. I also miss knowing everyone in the industry and something like this would be a great place for people of similar interest to meet each other and share experience/knowledge.

Here are some thoughts to expand your ultimate enthusiast shop idea. Build a shop like this at a place like Barber Motorsports Park (Birmingham, AL), MotorsportRanch (Fort Worth, TX), or MSR Houston. Basically build a motorsports country club where members can also rent a bay and tools to work on their cars. The liability concerns could be taken care of if the users of the shop were members of the facility.
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Old 05-11-2010, 03:34 PM   #7
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I also think this is a wonderful idea - one of my friends has a lift in his garage and everytime I see it I want to buy a new house just so I can have one installed (imagine if that was an option offered by home builders); besides the obvious insurance implications (which I think an in-depth waiver could help with) I think pricing and scheduling may be your biggest obstacle. I know most of the jobs I DIY end up taking twice as long as I originally planned. I think most would have a tendency to go over their allotted time and the resulting backup could become a logistical nightmare (especially when the lift is being used to take something apart and put back together again). I wish you the best of luck and I really hope you get this to fruition as it is something that is sorely lacking in the community.
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Old 05-12-2010, 12:48 AM   #8
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Well, it has been an intriguing day and it looks like we wil be minimally exploring this possibility.

Here are a few key points. We would have a liability release procedure which will include a basic training and safety protocol. There will be certain tasks that MUST be performed by an employee until the client has a documented training record to indicate his competence. Long run, we would like our fully capable clients to come on in and wrench while our more novice clients can learn and enjoy their projects more by being at least a little bit more involved.

We will have a safety scout available at all times when a lift is in use. In short, we are willing to take any and all measures needed to ensure safety EVEN if it means not making money on that aspect of the business for the start.

We will not be pushing parts as much as we will be building / restoring parts. The brands that go on the car will be the preference of the client and we will only be the carriers of exclusive brands only. For example, someone wants rotors, I call EVO. If a client wants an ELN, I call ACG. Moving forward, we will solidify synergystic relationship and go with those.

The Current Name of the Business is Convoy Auto Body. It is actually a full car care specialty shop, including repair, mechanical (4 lifts, hunter alignment, wheel balancer, air compressor, etc.) I will be spending more and more time there as we transition into the new deal and will of course hook all mbworlders up. The shop slows about 4 and is open on weekends. If there are enough San Diego people interested, we would love to host a BBQ and open house.
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Old 05-12-2010, 01:42 AM   #9
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Good Luck Bro!

I hope it works out!
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Old 05-12-2010, 04:07 AM   #10
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What part of that has the most liability? I don't understand where it comes in...

They have do-it-yourself shops in the UK where you rent a lift, tools, and then go and work on your car on your own.

If there is a risk some place in that, just have an airtight liability waiver signed which makes the customer acknowledge that if he damages his vehicle, voids his warranty or damages your equipment they are responsible. Your shop is simply a facilitator of rental equipment and location rental.
What they then do with the leased equipment and leased work space is their responsibility.

If you end up providing people to help or supervise, then you are accepting liability almost automatically. You dont want to get involved at all is my opinion.

You can sell parts, etc. but do not get involved in the labor part of things unless they hire you to exclusively work on a specific task (and they are not allowed to help or be under the lift) and its only for specific tasks like "install brake pads". Then thats all you are liable for.
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Old 05-12-2010, 09:23 AM   #11
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The liability just needs to be spelled out properly and cover all angles. We could have anything from mis-use of equipment to putting your hands where they shouldn't go to legit issues like rack safety, etc.

It can and has been done. The question is how much of the shop can I open up in that way and how much needs to maintain the current structure.

To anyone in SD, come on by and ask for me. Convoy Auto Body is the name, but that is because the previous management wanted to showcase the state of the art paint booth. We will be changing the name to cover all aspects of car care and our corporate image in the near future.
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Old 05-12-2010, 12:23 PM   #12
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There is a company here in the UK that hires out its dedicated car lifts and tools by the hour ... I wish I knew about it before I did my diff re/re!

Thats all they do ...

Cant see why this would not work in the US?

Cannot find the link but will post when I find it...

edit : here we go http://www.pitstartgarage.com/

Seemed to be a very orgnised setup.
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Old 05-12-2010, 12:28 PM   #13
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We even have an outdoor lift with air outlet ........
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Old 05-12-2010, 01:41 PM   #14
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That is the greatest idea ever. I love to wrench on my car but some task require more than I have and this would be a great solution. I should explore this in KC.
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Old 05-12-2010, 01:51 PM   #15
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OK, we are ready to go for evenings and weekends. I was searching around for some Cadillac parts today and found a few local junkyards with AMGs.......
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Old 05-12-2010, 02:14 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by jangy View Post
Well, it has been an intriguing day and it looks like we wil be minimally exploring this possibility.

Here are a few key points. We would have a liability release procedure which will include a basic training and safety protocol. There will be certain tasks that MUST be performed by an employee until the client has a documented training record to indicate his competence. Long run, we would like our fully capable clients to come on in and wrench while our more novice clients can learn and enjoy their projects more by being at least a little bit more involved.

We will have a safety scout available at all times when a lift is in use. In short, we are willing to take any and all measures needed to ensure safety EVEN if it means not making money on that aspect of the business for the start.

We will not be pushing parts as much as we will be building / restoring parts. The brands that go on the car will be the preference of the client and we will only be the carriers of exclusive brands only. For example, someone wants rotors, I call EVO. If a client wants an ELN, I call ACG. Moving forward, we will solidify synergystic relationship and go with those.

The Current Name of the Business is Convoy Auto Body. It is actually a full car care specialty shop, including repair, mechanical (4 lifts, hunter alignment, wheel balancer, air compressor, etc.) I will be spending more and more time there as we transition into the new deal and will of course hook all mbworlders up. The shop slows about 4 and is open on weekends. If there are enough San Diego people interested, we would love to host a BBQ and open house.
I think it's a great idea Jangy, especially because it would provide a great atmosphere for many enthusiasts to come and learn something new and share their passion for cars. I understand your concern regarding liability, and I do think it will have to be setup very carefully or things could go wrong very quickly.
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Old 05-12-2010, 02:29 PM   #17
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Quote:
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I think it's a great idea Jangy, especially because it would provide a great atmosphere for many enthusiasts to come and learn something new and share their passion for cars. I understand your concern regarding liability, and I do think it will have to be setup very carefully or things could go wrong very quickly.
To be on the safe side, we will be providing "supervision" in the form of our staff early on. It will mean taking a loss on that aspect of the business for a bit but I think that will be just fine. The more we have looked, the less of an issue it is AS LONG AS you run a tight ship anyways (which we do).

Right now, we only want to do it in the evenings and weekends to not mess with current business. I can take a loss on new stuff, but the paycheck has to continue....
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Old 05-12-2010, 06:44 PM   #18
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This is a very cool idea!

I see no reason for you to accept taking a lose on this idea in the beginning. People know that it costs a fortune to purchase and operate shop equipment and should not expect for you to give them your shop time and tools at a lose. You are providing a way for customers to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars in labor when compared to taking it to a shop to work on it for them. Once everything is up and running correctly everyone will come out winning, the customer will be saving money while you make some and get a good rep for providing such a great service.

As far as liability goes, you pretty much have all the ideas covered with the release of liability form etc... I would have my own employees run the lift and only allow the customers to approach their vehicle once it is in a secured position to work on it etc etc....

I hope all your ideas for the shop work out for you. I am looking forward to heading taking the drive to SoCal to check it out.
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Old 05-12-2010, 06:55 PM   #19
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Absolutely awesome idea! I've been thinking of doing something like this, but the liability thing has really scared me. I'm interested to see how these goes for you and your company and what, if any, are the obstacles you will encounter.

Good Luck!
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Old 05-12-2010, 08:24 PM   #20
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great idea... i've considered renting mine out before in the past

not to hijack, but how much would you guys be willing to dish out to rent a lift? would you rather pay by the hour, or some sort of flat rate for the day?
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Old 05-12-2010, 08:49 PM   #21
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Geat Idea ...keep us posted on your progress
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Old 05-12-2010, 10:17 PM   #22
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There is a company here in the UK that hires out its dedicated car lifts and tools by the hour ... I wish I knew about it before I did my diff re/re!

Thats all they do ...

Cant see why this would not work in the US?

Cannot find the link but will post when I find it...

edit : here we go http://www.pitstartgarage.com/

Seemed to be a very orgnised setup.
I actually have a friend in the UK who has used this place and I've wondered why it dosn't exist here...Great idea...Cap ex is on equipment and building initially and then you just have to execute the business model correctly. I don't see why it couldn't make some good money.
Interesting pit start stays open 24hrs a day.
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Old 05-12-2010, 11:25 PM   #23
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Thanks for all of the replys and well wishes. The intent of this shop has always been fostered by the passion that we share as enthusiasts and the depth of technical and life issues that I have learned on this very board.

The key here is that the shop already sustains its overhead. Our plan is to solidify and separate that portion of the business from the "fun" side. The bread and butter portion needs some management and resources in getting it to be consistent vs seasonal, but the needs are minimal.

Just to be clear, I can not offer the rental of all shop tools and resources. Most of the Body Shop stuff is pretty intricate and needs special cleaning, etc. We mix our own paint and maintain a modular clean room for painting and drying that I want to be CRYSTAL clean on all of my inspections. For now, I will be able to get all of our board members a solid discount and VIP service on anything Auto Body but can't rent it out.

We do have a number of lift equipped and empty bays that are currently not being used. We are coming up with some type of plan to provide free loaner cars for our clients, which will likely be housed in that area but we have not mad any moves as of yet so the space is open for use.

As far as pricing, like I had mentioned, we will take a big hit simply because we will likely have more resources on the rental than what the client is wanting to pay for. Aside from overseeing the lift operation, we will likely have at least one employee who has been trained with every client at a time. To answer hourly vs daily, the INTRODUCTORY pricing for a lift and access to air is $150 per working day (7 - 7). Anything less and we will charge $20 per half hour. We also have bays (enclosed and clean) for prep work, etc. that would be cheaper for those that will only need a lift for part of their needs.
I will work with members here on pricing, especially on things that do not cost us on the bottom line. If I have overhead covered and a free stall, I wouldn't mind having a group of members come by and use it all day for free. That will often be on weekends and evenings (after 4), when my day crew is done with their work. I can stay and lockup
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Old 05-13-2010, 12:53 AM   #24
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Sorry, no straight answer to your initial query.

IIRC your brother is a practicing attorney, so there’s no sense rehashing the considerable legal exposure from having non-employees in your facility. CYA twice and again.

A friend recently expanded his local tire and general service facility from five bays to ten. Owing to their customer service savvy and the excellent reputation they’ve earned in our community, they’re beyond capacity virtually 60 hours every week – with customers’ cars on the lot regularly queued up two deep behind those. If Convoy Auto Body isn’t already making money hand over fist, respectfully suggest you solve that riddle posthaste. Build on its core strengths first.

Have previously been employed in various capacities at dealerships and independent repair facilities, so I’ll chime in with some constructive feedback - not criticism - to make of what you will during your contemplated transition. All due respect, the “introductory” $12.50 an hour lift rate from open to close would barely cover a competent babysitter or a neighbor’s kid doing yard work. Understand loss leaders, but it’ll behoove you to be realistic with your time and its value. Likewise, don’t discount the very real opportunity costs involved with your proposed venture.

You’re already aware almost every shop tacks on generous part, consumable, and labor markups in order to help defray their overhead and remain profitable. Eliminating two of those three could possibly negatively affect the bottom line. What becomes of the half-done, revenue-generating vehicle currently occupying its lift when an after hours customer comes in? I’ve thousands of dollars invested in my tools and shop equipment. Friends are always welcome to borrow them. Understandably feel quite differently about entrusting - or even permitting access near same - to any walk-in customer off the street.

Trust you intend to properly remunerate the supervisorial and “safety scout” staff when they’re scheduled or otherwise required to do so – in addition to their customary duties. Have those (possibly overtime) trusted managerial employees been selected and trained for the additional responsibility? A bay rental and (limited) tool access program could likely require in excess of $80 per hour to pencil out and realistically create an incremental revenue stream for your concern.

In addition, note that although there are several dedicated DIY types here, I’d venture a guess that the vast majority of well-heeled MB pilots rightly choose to remain in the DIFM category. No slight, merely a well-intentioned perspective after having enjoyed the business and hobby from both sides.

Best wishes with it, jangy.
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Old 05-13-2010, 01:11 AM   #25
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Very interesting idea!

I'm just going to throw this out there....and don't ask me how I know (==cough===) ex girlfriend)

Many hair salons lease out their chairs to legitimate hair stylist. In essence the customer is paying for the seat time (your lift) and then the hair stylist to cut the hair (car mechanic / technician)

Now, you are leasing out just the lift which may come w/ some extra perks right? Have you thought about bringing in Certified Technicians for certain car groups or manufactures? There has got to be plenty of techs out there looking for extra hours and also to network with car enthusiast. That would be awesome. I know I have a pesky front seal leak and would love to be a part of the repair and learn how to tinker w/ things. I don't have a lift or a technician to help me You can also source parts as well. You maybe get them at cost, go on to charge me a slight premium etc. I can go on and on. sorry if any of my thoughts have been discussed

Just thinking out loud and trying to give back to a giving member!!!!!

Best of luck to you Jangy.
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Old 05-13-2010, 01:11 AM
 
 
 
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