Life As A Mobile Mechanic Means Having All-Round Expertise, But Also Being An Excellent People Person.
Life as a mobile mechanic means having all-round expertise, but also being an excellent people person.
His mobile mechanic business is based near noosa on the sunshine coast, so his work environment is near perfect; he’s his own boss, has a long list of regular clients, flexible working hours and genuinely loves his job.
Little wonder there’s a real “grass is greener” lure to leaving behind a large workshop and breaking out as an independent mobile mechanic. Tim’s made it work, but he’s done the hard yards to make it successful, accepts the few negatives of his trade and insists one of the key elements is being good with people.
“You have to enjoy people to be a mobile mechanic,” the 41-year-old said. “some people can be frustrating and drag you down, plus you have to give them bad news sometimes. You have to be able to deal with all sorts of people. I don’t have any workmates, but working in a reasonably small place you get to know your customers, so i regularly have a beer with them at the end of the day and chat about things other than cars. It’s reasonably social in that respect.”
Starting life in melbourne, tim began an apprenticeship with a nissan dealer, which soon took on a jeep and chrysler franchise. “some older nissan mechanics didn’t want to work on jeeps because they didn’t like them and there were new things to learn,” tim said. “as an apprentice this was fine for me. I had the opportunity to do more senior roles as nobody else wanted to, so i learnt a huge amount.”
Tim has the desire to always increase his knowledge and experience, and is someone who relishes challenges and problem solving no matter how taxing it seems. Once his apprenticeship finished he set his sights on european cars, initially starting at a vw/audi workshop before a job offer from the prestigious porsche centre melbourne landed.
“It was a very civilised atmosphere at porsche,” tim remembered. “very professional, neat and tidy and there were no louts, nobody swearing, radio turned down and no nude girls on the walls. They teach you their ways to a very high standard, and that’s the only way. The cars fascinated me, anything from old 356s right up to modern porsches. As my knowledge increased i did more diagnosis, and jumped in when others were getting stuck. I enjoyed that challenge.”
After nine years with porsche, tim decided he wanted to do something completely different. He took a job in mining, working as a mechanic – or fitter – on cranes, trucks, buses, 4x4s and small engines. “it was a huge learning curve once again,” he said.
He was flying in for a week on from his perth base, and when the sheen wore off he relocated to port headland on wa’s north west. “i decided to work for myself, so became the only mobile mechanic in town,” he said. “i borrowed my wife’s subaru outback, bought a trailer, filled it up with gear and got on my way. I learnt very quickly what i did and didn’t need.”
on my way. I learnt very quickly what i did and didn’t need.”
It was a bold move. “i was starting from scratch and with no work colleagues to bounce things off or talk to,” tim said. “i was also now fixing the general stream of cars, whereas before i only had set brands. I had to diagnose problems on all these different cars and build up knowledge quickly.”
Port headland had its charms, and tim said he didn’t mind the heat too much, but with the luxury of being able to choose exactly where he wanted to live, he settled on the sunshine coast, and re-established his under the sun mobile mechanic business there four years ago.
“I don’t start my first job until 9 o’clock, which sounds slack but i find everybody’s busy first thing. Once school drop-offs have happened i can rock up at somebody’s house and work uninterrupted. My typical day is two services – one in the morning and one in the afternoon – and in between bits like doing a starter motor, a diagnosis, or air conditioning.”
Tim has a good workflow where he orders parts needed for upcoming jobs through bursons’ or repco’s systems, or imparts for european bits. He has a laptop, printer and eftpos machine set up in his van – a mercedes vito – and offloads
His paperwork to a bookkeeper and accountant. “i always try to make payments happen straight away,” he said. “chasing money is no fun.”
Other negatives are the occasional long days to finish a job, weekend work or being caught out in the weather with no shelter. “sometimes though i get to go out for lunch, or even down to the beach for a quick swim if time allows,” tim said. “i take holidays too, always trying to find places with no mobile reception!”
Tim’s job looks an enviable one, and he’s an advocate for those considering life as a mobile mechanic. “my advice would be make sure you’re good with people, look after regular clients, avoid working in hilly regions with steep driveways and get a van with sliding doors both sides. It makes access so much easier.”
If tim’s near-permanent smile is anything to go by, he’s a man worth listening to for a happy work/life balance.