In the last article we discussed the reasons many PDR techs do not want to offer mobile service. Now we will talk about some of the many advantages of a mobile based PDR operation.
In my opinion the best reason to offer this service is a purely personal and selfish one …. FREEDOM! A mobile retail based business is far easier to structure in order to offer the owner a more fluid and less stressful business. The mobile owner has far fewer fixed expenses to pay every month than an FBO. Rents on business properties are usually high, often rising even in tough economies. Also, many landlords will sell a property during these times leaving you with another owner you may not like. Being at the mercy of the whims of any landlord can be a real nightmare as many FBOs can tell you. A building also requires you have others working for you to pay for all the extra expenses and this will always bring more stress and of course less freedom to enjoy life. An FBO owner must have at least one person at a store at all times to handle drive in customers and phones
It may sound cruel but just about any FBO will tell you that problems that come from employees are the most stressful part of operating an FBO. Making your PDR techs sub contractors instead of employees is fine. But a secretary, detailer, shop helper, or other full time employee is often essential. Even one employee brings a much more complicated government regulatory and tax environment. In addition, any one that has employed people knows first hand that simply offering someone a job is not enough any more. The hard work ethic so prevalent a generation ago is all but gone now. Also, these days, your employees personal problems will often end up becoming yours in some way.
Other often overlooked expenses are State, Fed and County regulatory fees. These same agencies are rapidly expanding the amount of laws that apply to businesses that the business owner, not the landlord is responsible for. The government and especially County government is looking much closer at businesses for hundreds of violations in employee, environmental, tax, and County laws, Most of these issues will not apply to the mobile tech.
Another example of this freedom is the relative ease of taking time off. A mobile retail operation can do this with little notice, more frequently, and can be gone for a longer time. When your on vacation, it’s a lot less stressful not having to worry about the problems that inevitably come when the boss leaves an FBO for more than a day. A mobile retail tech can leave on as little as a couple days notice, put a “gone fishin” message on his phone, and take a week off with no one to worry about and usually pick up the business with no issues except a back log of work. Retail customers generally have no problem with this and generally understand the need to get away. Especially when you go to them!
Having more control of the time you work each day is another little bonus. An FBO pretty much has to keep the store open 9:00 – 5:00. Being able to take off early when you have made enough, or just because you feel like it sometimes is usually much easier for a mobile tech especially on short scheduled day. Also going to events at your kids school or other special events is usually easier for mobile techs.
Many FBO owners do not think about all the little distractions that add up during the day that a mobile tech does not have to deal with. One example of many is that when a mobile tech decides its time to quit for the day, he just drives home and parks his business in the driveway. Try closing up a store that quickly. Most FBO owners will tell you it takes them at least an hour and usually more to close up and start the drive home. Now this may seem like a small thing, but when I made the transition from FBO to only mobile, one of the first things I noticed was all the extra family time I had. I started looking back and realized I spent between one or even two hours just closing after deciding to stop work for the day. There were so many last minute distractions that I no longer had to deal with it was amazing! I was now having dinner and relaxing at home when I would still be handling issues at the store.
Another very important plus for mobile operators is that In bad economic times, a mobile retail business can turn on a dime and revamp their business to suit the times. He can also offer more at a much lower price since his operating cost is so low. Let me give you an example from my own experience. In 2003 my area had a bad down turn when the State Government laid off thousands of people in my area. I almost could not give away a small dent repair. Had I been saddled with an FBO I would have been sweating big time. But being mobile, I simply restructured my website with some pics of large dents that could, and could not be done by PDR and changed my home page slogan to “ The fast affordable alternative to Body Shops.” Then I just staring doing more mobile large dent repairs. People don’t care about small dents in a bad economy, but they do look for more affordable alternatives to high cost body shops. When you combine the lower cost of a mobile business with the convenience of coming to them, you have a winner. We all know that this country is in bad shape financially and will probably get worse. Being stuck with a high overhead operation in such times will cause you stress that never ends!
As mentioned in the last article customer convenience is extremely important. In tough times things like the cost of fuel, time off from work, can make the difference between people live with their dents, or getting them fixed. This is especially true for office parks and other concentrated pools of higher income customers. Going to the customer not only builds a healthy business relationship, but builds a better personal relationship as well. Going to the customer offers a level of personal care that is hard to get any other way. People really do appreciate and remember how easy it was to do business with you and are more likely to refer you to others.
In the next article we will explore little known specialty markets for PDR.