Have an idea, Need your input.

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Is there a significant enough need for a service like this?

Yes
20
77%
No
2
8%
Other (explain below)
4
15%
 
Total votes : 26

Have an idea, Need your input.

Postby Wimperdink » Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:21 am

I, like everyone else, have been hunting for my million. I've been thinking about a business that would fly in this economy and get me away from working for the man again.

The Idea:
To open a DIY Workshop that is basically a fully tooled shop that would allow you to come and work on your project without having to purchase a full bank of tools.

The given:
There would of course be waivers to sign stating, if you hurt yourself on the equipment, its your responsibility etc etc Lost or stolen tools and equipment will be your responsiblitity etc

The Shop:
Would include an extensive collection of tools that can be signed out for use on your project. Tool tags would account for tools checked out and of course agreements would be in place that lost tools and lost tags of course cost money. The tools would include a wide range of professional equipment. I would like 3 sides to this DIY shop.

1. Wood working would have routers, planers, pro tablesaw, pro bandsaw, and a wide range of hand & power tools, clamps etc. enough that would make the average cabinet maker drool.
2. Auto side, would include all the wrenches, pliers, jack stands, jacks, air tools, engine hoists, etc etc... pretty much anything you would need to take a car apart and put it back together. Professional series tools of course. A number of sets of everything would be required for a multi bay shop. A small library of Haynes or chiltons manuals. A car or project left in the shop for multiple nights would also have to pay a nightly storage fee etc etc Maybe later on a paint booth could be in the works.
3. Metal working side would include chop saws, welders, clamps, helmets, grinders, air tools, nibblers, torches, etc. The average teardrop builder should be able to completely drive out with their home made fully welded trailer frame.


The Clientele:
Anybody that lives in a multi dwelling unit that has no place to work on their cars / projects. IE Apartments, Rentals, Places with Home owners associations etc
Anybody that has the ability to change an engine, but does not want to buy an engine hoist or other specialty tools to use for one time use.
Anybody that would like to try their hand at building projects but don't want to buy a bank of tools before they learn that this, is, or is not their cup of tea. IE those who would like to teach themselves how to weld.

Additional thoughts:
I could occasionally hold workshops to show people how to change brakes on a car, or building a baby cradle, or welding a teardrop trailer. Anything of interest that there would be a professional in the area willing to come in and hold a 2 or 4 hour workshop for a healthy one time paycheck. There could be monthly memberships, or one time use fee's.


Anyway, I know there are a few entrepreneurs in this group and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this as a business idea. I'd also love to hear from those of you that don't have garages, or live in apartments etc to get your feedback as to whether or not you could use a service like this.
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Postby cuyeda » Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:00 am

Just an added thought. If the location was large enough, you could have individual garage stalls. Similar to public storage yards. Clients that have ongoing projects, could rent storage. Any personal materials/projects could be secured, and protected from weather until further activitiy. Tools continue to be checked in/out for rental. Storage fees for daily, weekly, monthly continue to be a source of income.

Why didn't I think of that. Together we just did! Between my brothers, father, and I there are enough tools to start three small mechanics, and auto body repair shop. We have enough basic metal fabrication, and basic woodworking tools to be expanded if the business were to open.

Independent skilled trade workers could network if available for hire to do things that are out of the comfort zone. Or, someone unwilling to take the time to learn, or wants something done right, quicker. As long as the work was done on your premise, and to do that a stall would have to be available for rent. Otherwise, the skilled moonlighters, would take advantage with direct contact, and there would be no need to rent anything from your business. There would have to be a give and take with regards to how you network moonlighters.
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Postby Steve_Cox » Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:29 am

I see you have a no vote with no comment..... I voted yes

I remember a place like that when I was a teenager back in the 60's. It was for automotive work, place was always busy, and it was fun going over to help friends pull motors etc. The place was owned by a couple of local high school shop teachers.

We have lots of do-it-yourself boatyards in my area, you provide your own tools, they sell some supplies. A lot of them have turned into storage and not much repair going on places. People paying the monthly fee to have a space in the work yard but run out of energy or money for boat restoration. Of course there are always the quick in and out get-r-done types too. Best to keep the stall or space rent increasing as time goes by to keep things moving.

In today's economy more people would be inclined to do their own work if there was a little mentorship and tools provided, this sounds like a winner, especially where rents are reasonable. Break-in probability would be high, so you would have to have excellent security.

I just replace the ball joints on my Ranger pick-up the other day. Bought the ball joint press and adapter set at Harbor Freight, the parts on-line, and it cost 1/3rd what the dealership wanted for the job. The first side took half a day while I taught myself how to do it, the second side took an hour. If I had a place to go like you are talking about, I would have gone there and saved the price of the tools.
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Postby toypusher » Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:47 am

OK, just some advise here since my wife is an insurance agent.

1. Insure that you check all legal aspects of this to avoid being sued if someone gets hurt, I know you said about having them sign waivers, but that may not be enough. You may have to hold safety certification classes before letting someone use your facility/tools, etc.

2. Mostly same as above only on the insurance side of things. You would be suprised at how easy it is to sue someone else because of your own stupidity or carelessness.

JUST REMEMBER TO MAKE IT AS AIR TIGHT AS YOU CAN!!

The above is just my personal opinion and advise!
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Postby Bristol Delica » Mon Apr 06, 2009 7:19 am

Damn you sir!!!!

Have you been reading my mind!!!

The very same idea occured to me, at laest we will be too far apart to be competition for eachother :lol: :lol:

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Postby Gary and Cheri » Mon Apr 06, 2009 8:04 am

Up here, in Milwaukee, we have exactly what you are talking about except it is in club form. They have a large building that is owned 2/3s by the auto club and 1/3 by the woodworking club. Tools are club owned. Membership is limited and usually filled up with a wait for new members to get in. Don't know how a privately owned version would do, but the club version seems to be thriving.

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Postby Wimperdink » Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:13 pm

Good ideas. Reading all this indicates, that it might also be a good idea to build a mini storage right next door for people to put their wood working projects in during their off time so they aren't having to haul everything home and its not messing up the shop daily. Maybe discounted storage for those who have monthly or yearly memberships. Full price for the one time users.

cuyeda:

You've got the right idea. This would not be a tool rental place. The tools cost nothing to rent. Its the time and space that costs... The tools are there to entice people to rent the space. There would indeed be stalls. I envision a large fenced property with lean-to or carwash style stalls with cement floors and a work bench in each one. Out front would have a community parts washer. Each stall would be outfitted with compressed air outlets that come from a central compresser. There might even be one of the stalls that has a pit. I figure with enough land I would start with 5 or 6 stalls for the auto side. The wood working side would be a decent sized warehouse with room to build if need be.

Steve_cox:
The idea isn't an original one. When I was in the Navy, the MWR folks had a facility like this on base. People that lived in the barracks or in base housing could take their vehicles there to work on them. They also had a woodshop side. I too used to enjoy hanging out there helping friends work on their vehicles.

Toypusher:
Your absolutely right. I wouldn't even begin to try to create my own documents. I would definitely need a lawyer thats well versed in insurance lawsuits to create the documents for me.

Bristol Delica:
I believe you were part of another post here regarding a Garage that reminded me of the facility on the Navy Base I lived at. :)

Gary J:
How does the club version work? Is it individuals donating tools so that as a group they collectively have all the tools they need?

More thougts:
I don't change my own oil anymore because crawling under a car sucks and disposing of used oil is getting more difficult. 1 bay with a pit and all the appropriate tools and a cheap enough fee might encourage people like me to use the facility to do their own oil changes again. The used oil collected could heat the auto bay's and the shop in the winter. The auto bays might be better off like a carwash with doors on both ends. Can open both doors and pressure wash them out periodically.

If the turn out was good from the start, I could afford some fancier tools like a C&C machine for cutting out parts. Someone trying to create their own inventions could use the facilities to get themselves started. Or people could download a teardrop profile with the codes included, (purchased from possibly T&TTT?) bring those codes and wood in and cut their profiles out in minutes.

For those wanting to weld a trailer frame together but don't want to buy a welder for that one project can come and cut their parts out and build their trailer on site.
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Postby caseydog » Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:19 pm

toypusher wrote:OK, just some advise here since my wife is an insurance agent.

1. Insure that you check all legal aspects of this to avoid being sued if someone gets hurt, I know you said about having them sign waivers, but that may not be enough. You may have to hold safety certification classes before letting someone use your facility/tools, etc.

2. Mostly same as above only on the insurance side of things. You would be suprised at how easy it is to sue someone else because of your own stupidity or carelessness.

JUST REMEMBER TO MAKE IT AS AIR TIGHT AS YOU CAN!!

The above is just my personal opinion and advise!


No matter what you make people sign, you better have business insurance. Just because someone signs a waiver, that doesn't mean they can't sue you. They may lose, but it costs money too fight a lawsuit. And, if the an injury or death turns out to be because you didn't do absolutely perfect set-up or maintenance, you could even lose.

I have business insurance with a couple million in liability coverage for my business, and I'm an art director/photographer.

With power tools involved, you better get some good insurance.



As for whether this would be a good business, I'd suggest taking a community college course on devising a business plan. If it is a good course, it will be full of "I never thought of that" moments.

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Postby caseydog » Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:36 pm

BTW, I voted "other" because I like the idea, but I'm not sure about having all those different shop areas -- at least not at first. I would try one of those, probably the workshop for small projects to start with.

Also, I could not see that kind of thing working here where I live in the suburbs, because even apartment dwellers can find a friend with a garage and tools, if they need to. But, in an urban setting, with mostly high-density housing, it could be a lot more appealing.

If you already have a good workshop, you might want to test the waters by running a craigslist ad for people to rent time in the shop you have. Or, maybe set up some Saturday classes where people pay to come and learn about tools and build a birdhouse, or some other simple project.

As for "hunting for your million," I don't think you will find it here. You could possibly make a nice income off of it, but not seven figures. Most "self-made" millionaires have a lot of employees doing the hard work of making those millions. ;)
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Postby Dewi » Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:57 pm

Its a brilliant idea, an idea of giving people opportunity and help that they wouldn't get elsewhere, and I voted YES, but will it make a profit?

The thing is you're putting your time, your space and your tools up for grabs in a place that you believe you have control over, but unless you have no need for sleep and little need for free time, it's going to drain on a lot of things in your life.

Scenario... someone breaks the air compressor but fails to tell you... what do you do? Accuse the person who's done it? How do you know he did it? Where you there when he broke it? So then you have one broken air compressor, but no proof to who has done it... result, you're off to buy a new tool because the guy in bay 3 really needs to use the air compressor and he's paid! Why should he wait?

Like I say, its an idealistic idea and a good one, but its from times when people were honest... when the people who would use your workshop were all honest about what they'd been up to. 99% of people may be honest, don't get me wrong, but that one numpty who decides he won't admit to breaking the compressor has cost you money.

Not sure what the answer to that is, but there will be one... wish there was somewhere round here with those facilities anyway.

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Postby asianflava » Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:46 pm

Sounds like the "Hobby Shop" they have on base. I wasn't in the military but I went there with a buddy to help him (more like help me) install new speakers and CD player in his car. We didn't need tools (I brought my own) we just needed a place to do it.
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Postby Wimperdink » Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:40 pm

Dewi:
I think the air compressor is an easy one.... The air compressor itself is of commercial shop quality, and all maintenance is done by myself. Its locked into its own room where noone sees or touches it and instead air lines are just plumbed into the individual bay's. The other commercial big dollar tools like table saws etc would be mounted to the floor. The smaller tools are checked out with tool tags and returned to get the tool tags back. Lost or stolen tool tags are your responsibility and costly. A lost tool tag could be worth more or less than the tool your broke and didn't want to return or admit to breaking. so if it doesn't show back up to the tool room.... your tag doesnt come back to you... and your project doesn't leave the premises until the tag is paid for, or returned. A credit card number would be required with ID and a signed agreement. An insurance plan could be purchased to protect you against lost and missing tools etc. Like uhaul or whatever

Asian Flava:
Your absolutly right. It was the Hobby Shop on base. I helped people work on their cars there a bit. None of us had tools though.

Caseydog:
I was being a lil fecicious with the million dollar thing. A net income of what my wife and I net now would suffice. Its not a lot, but we get by just fine. Also, on the insurance thing, I know it would be a huge risk and of course the business would need to be inc. to protect all home assets. A business class would be a great idea though just to help in developing a business plan and for all the what if's. There are a lot of business's out there that include people working with things that could be considered dangerous. That part will take a lil common sense and to eliminate those problems would mean black listing people caught doing dangerous things on purpose. The senseless can learn. The idiots would be removed without refund. The problem with starting small is I'm currently working out of a one car garage that won't even fit 1 car now. I was a mechanic before and have a healthy set of tools for that. I have decent but basic set of wood working tools. I'd want to retool everything commercial grade though so that things would last longer. A full business plan with loans to start would be neccesary. I'm just trying to get a feel for if there's a big enough niche for it to prosper.
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Postby Wimperdink » Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:45 pm

Hey folks. I really appreciate the well thought out comments and answers here. Your giving me a lot to think about.

Keep them coming.
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Postby Alan Wood » Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:53 am

While there is the need the current legal environment will probably make this unfeasable. If you do this make sure you get good buisiness insurance that covers this.
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Postby caseydog » Tue Apr 07, 2009 10:39 am

Wimperdink wrote:Caseydog:
I was being a lil fecicious with the million dollar thing. A net income of what my wife and I net now would suffice. Its not a lot, but we get by just fine.


The best advice I have ever heard, and having started a business that failed back in the mid 1980's, I can personally endorse this advice...

Do not expect your business to support you for at least a year, and probably more like two years.

Most franchise companies require you to have substantial personal assets to qualify to become a franchisee. Those companies know that it will take time for the franchise to become profitable, and if you can't survive without a regular paycheck from the franchise until it becomes profitable, you are destined for heartbreak. The same applies to a business started from scratch -- even more so, since a franchise business has a tried and tested plan to work from, while a scratch business does not.

I am self-employed now, but I started my current business "on the side" while collecting a salary from a day job. Not to mention, my current business is operated from my home, and has very low overhead.

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