Opinions on business venture

I am looking for an opinion on a business venture, I was a Ford tech for many years and have about 25 years total as an automotive tech. I always liked doing electrical and AC work. About 5years ago I
retrained in IT. In 2003 I was laid off from my IT job and am as yet unemployed. I have filled the gaps by doing electrical and AC work on collector cars, including complete rewires and some custom work on streetrods, along with Vintage Air installations. I guess what I'm asking is, Is there a market for electrical and A\C work on classic\collector cars. I know there is always someone in this area that wants work done, but they want it for $20 per job. When I quote $25/HR they tend to choke. A few of the "money men" in this area will go for it. I rehabbed a complete AC system in a 69 Coronet RT for $500 and parts ($365 customer supplied). The guy felt he was ripped off because all I had to do was replace some parts and charge the system. I have found that electrical work is better, but I can only squeeze out about $18\hr for uncobbling a harness on "Say" a 71 Roadrunner". I know the average car owner cant' do this work, and I don't want to rape him. Any Ideas?         Tom Adkins (Automotive Specialty Systems)              South Amherst, Ohio 44001
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Tom,
If you are realistic in your hourly rate, don't worry about what all the people who want it for free have to say about it. That is how much your time costs. You determine what your time is worth and that is what you charge, hopefully the market will bare it. You could always ask the people who balk if that is the response they would give an attorney when he quotes $175 per hour for his time. I bet they just pay the price at the gas pump, without trying to barter about that price... Good Luck
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You have to charge what your worth or you'll be giving your time away. Self employment is great, and sucks at the same time. Dealing with the public can be very nerve wracking. Proceed with caution.
GOD BLESS THE USA Member of IPCO- International Pest Control Operators Public message board- http://www.ipconetwork.org/fmb/cboard.mv
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Bob wrote:

half-days. Any 12 hours per day I want to".         Tom
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If you are competent, yes. If you're a Hack, no.
The electrical system in todays cars are much more sophisticated than in years past. So, make sure you have allthe training and tech info at hand.
There is plenty of business doing custom electrical work. For example: ALL police/fire need custom installations and repair/maintenance. Check with you local police/fire depts. Usually the bigger cities have their own mechanic, but the small ones have to farm it out.
My local police hired me to install lights, radio, and etc. on their new cars. I did this for a while and was very busy. As the community grew, so did the work. I am retired and didn't want to work 8 hours every day, so I told them to find someone else.
So, don't limit yourself to just classic cars. Limit yourself to "Custom Electrical Installation and Repair. Hank
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Good advice and do it for around $45, not $25, WBMA
mike hunt
Ninebal310 wrote:

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Try to set up your business in an ongoing auto repair shop, it's more professional that way. Work out the details with the owner. Put up signs and prices for the service you offer.
Spend a little money advertising in the right places. Invest in yourself and you'll do well.
Eric
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Eric Toline opined in

And as ninebal suggests, find a "core customer" that wont occupy ALL your time but allow the variety of jobs that we renaisance type geezers need.
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snipped-for-privacy@mailcity.con wrote:

I usually charge $45\hr. The point is that I've had quite a few potential customers choke at even $25\hr. I don't figure $45 it too high for quality work backed by 25 years of experience. I just need to find the customers who are willing to pay. I've gotten some good input from you folks.             Tom
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I was only charging $25 and hour about 6 years ago working out of my garage. So, $45 seems about right if you don't have much over head. If you get your own shop, take it to $65. Hell, lawyers charge $220+ an hour, tell me that isn't a rip off. Hank
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Re: Opinions on business venture Group: alt.autos.ford Date: Thu, Nov 25, 2004, 2:00pm (EST+5) From: snipped-for-privacy@aol.committed (Ninebal310) From: Tom Adkins Hi Mike, I usually charge $45\hr. The point is that I've had quite a few potential customers choke at even $25\hr. I don't figure $45 it too high for quality work backed by 25 years of experience. I just need to find the customers who are willing to pay. I've gotten some good input from you folks. Tom I was only charging $25 and hour about 6 years ago working out of my garage. So, $45 seems about right if you don't have much over head. If you get your own shop, take it to $65.
Hell, lawyers charge $220+ an hour, tell me that isn't a rip off.<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
When he's gonna save your ass it's cheap at twice the price.
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With the F**ked-up legal system we have today, you're probably right. Hank
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On 11/25/04 3:50 PM, in article snipped-for-privacy@storefull-3255.bay.webtv.net, "Eric Toline"

answering the phone and going for a _iss that is just too much! Lawyers charge for everything....everything! Hell, I do stuff for free all the time...I like to help out-Damn, I wish I were a lawyer maybe then I wouldn't be broke! Bill
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Re: Opinions on business venture Group: alt.autos.ford Date: Mon, Nov 29, 2004, 9:35am (EST+5) From: snipped-for-privacy@hokeypokey.com (Bill) On 11/25/04 3:50 PM, in article snipped-for-privacy@storefull-3255.bay.webtv.net, "Eric Toline"
Group: alt.autos.ford Date: Thu, Nov 25, 2004, 2:00pm (EST+5) From: snipped-for-privacy@aol.committed (Ninebal310) From: Tom Adkins Hi Mike, I usually charge $45\hr. The point is that I've had quite a few potential customers choke at even $25\hr. I don't figure $45 it too high for quality work backed by 25 years of experience. I just need to find the customers who are willing to pay. I've gotten some good input from you folks. Tom I was only charging $25 and hour about 6 years ago working out of my garage. So, $45 seems about right if you don't have much over head. If you get your own shop, take it to $65. Hell, lawyers charge $220+ an hour, tell me that isn't a rip off.<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< When he's gonna save your ass it's cheap at twice the price.
Save my ass...that is good! But when he charges for sending me a fax, answering the phone and going for a _iss that is just too much! Lawyers charge for everything....everything!
Hell, I do stuff for free all the time...I like to help out-Damn, I wish I were a lawyer maybe then I wouldn't be broke! Bill<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
Then you shouldn't do things for free.
Eric
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wrote:

Forget the cheapskates, no matter how good you are or how good a deal you give them they won't be happy. Charge a fair price and do good work and things will work out for you. Don't forget that you also need to pay taxes and buy liability insurance among many other expenses which means that you really CAN'T work for $25/hr and still feed your family. Bob
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Ninebal310 wrote:

Thanks Hank, and all who replied. I am quite familiar with the complexity of modern vehicle systems,I am by no means a hack. I take pride in the fact that I do quality work both mechanically and visually. I never thought about Municipal vehicles, thanks. I tend to do collector vehicles because , well those are the jobs I run across through word of mouth and those folks appreciate good work. I work with a couple of body shops that do restorations and do well but I may only see 1 resto per month. I've also hooked up with a motorcycle shop uncobbling add on accessory wiring and such. I love it when people use Scotch Locks and crimp connectors to wire their add on lights with speaker wire. So, I guess it's time to fish or cut bait. I need to settle on a labor rate and look for different areas to mine for work (Muny vehicles, Limos, RVs possibly). Thanks for all of the input, it gave my brain the jump start that it needed. Tom
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On Wed, 24 Nov 2004 22:25:17 GMT, Tom Adkins

jobs from the very beginning - and conversion companies and their suppliers go broke will allarming regularity - making it difficult to get replacement parts - particularly electricals. In many cases they are not engineered in the first place - they are thrown together with whatever the company can get cheap that does the job long enough to get off warranty.
Electro-luminescent panels are being used for "opera lights" as well as interior panel lights, with inverters less than half the capacity they should have. Then when they go bad you have to source a replacement - and the company that made the limo is out of business - and the company that made the parts was out of buisiness when the (surplus) parts were purchaced in bulk 3 years before the conversion was done. Then the only available replacement (that IS the right capacity)is physically too large to fit in the spot the dead one came out of.
Just one example.
Or custom switch panels, using switches that may have been readily available in HongKong 2 years before the conversion was done, but were never imported or distributed in North America. The switches are soldered to a poor quality printed circuit panel, that when the conversion company was still in business cost something like $500. Now that they are gone, you are stuck sourcing a replacement switch, repairing the undersized traces on the circuit board, then sourcing replacement bulbs for the illumination system - which again are non-standard and the last north american distributor/manufacturer/supplier has not had them in stock for 5 years (the limo is 3 or 4 years old) Nothing currently available fits so you have to modify the acrylic panel to provide clearance for the slightly larger bulbs available - and replace them ALL because the new ones are brighter or dimmer than the originals.
Who pays your time tracking down and sourcing the parts? And doing the finicky replacement? And you are going to go through that for $18 per hour??? And even at that rate the cheap beggar that owns the limo is going to complain because of the number of hours required "to change a lousy light bulb"
I've done the board repairs and sourced the parts for a repair shop that services a fair sized limo fleet - and believe me, it's no fun.
I charge $50 per hour for the repair work I do, and the shop charges a minimum of $65 getting the parts out and putting them back in. The limo owner has finally resolved himself to the fact that if he's going to make money running his limos, someone has to make money keeping them in shape.
"Get a brush cut before you start on the job or you'll be bald (or patchy) before it's over."
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snipped-for-privacy@sny.der.on.ca wrote:

Yep, Been there and done that, no fun. I've worked on many upfit vehicles from campers and conversion vans, to limos and shuttle buses. When I was with Hertz, we got a fleet of 8 ~18 passenger shuttle buses to replace our aging fleet of E-350 based people movers. They were gorgeous and drove great. They were sold by Stewart and Stevenson under the name Marcopolo. They were built on an Oshkosh (by way of John Deere) chassis.The chassis' had been stored for 4 years after JD bought out that division of Oshkosh. They were fitted with a Cummins diesel, Allison Trans and Dana 70 axle. The body and Hendrickson Air Ride were installed in Texas by S and S. They were then shipped to Brazil for electrical, AC, and interior upfit. Hertz bought about 40 total of these _astard vehicles. In our 8, 3 arrived with all of the instrument panel gauges, etc. dead. They were basically wired backward. No two of them were wired the same.The rear backup cameras failed within 6 months and replacements were unavailable. The cheap ballasts in the fluorescent lights would last about 9 months (unavailable) and the replacements had to be remotely mounted. Oh, the bulbs were also proprietary. Yhe wiring to the body lightng was routed through ungrommeted steel or aluminum panels and was a constant source of shorts. The external lamps housings were unobtainium after 2 years and replacement bulbs had to be ordered from Phillips in England. The DANA 70 rears failed within 6 months of each other and were replaced with DANA 80 axles. The rear AC evaporators were mounted to the ceiling with weak aluminum brackets screwed into the fiberglass. They would fall unexpectedly. The worst was the large H shaped rear suspension swing arm. Imagine 1 end of the "H" attached to the frame on pivots. with air springs between the rear legs of the "H" and the frame. The axle housings were welded across the "H". They would break on one foreward leg and the axle would twist breaking the other leg. All 8 were replaced twice, lasting about 2 years. When replacements became unavailable we had to have them fabricated locally at a cost of about $6K each. I won't go on about the Isringhausen air seats, oddball AC lines, exploding air compressors, rotted custom fuel tanks,etc. You get the idea. The rear tail light housings were easy to get though, they were 1985 Ford Mustang units swapped left to right (upside down). There may some well built upfit vehicles out there but I've never seen one.

I'm already bald, see above.             Tom
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I wish you all the luck in the world.
GOD BLESS THE USA Member of IPCO- International Pest Control Operators Public message board- http://www.ipconetwork.org/fmb/cboard.mv
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Tom Adkins wrote:

customers who can afford to pay for the service)... you cant make any money with a limited supply of customers who cant or wont pay for the service.....
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