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MattGM

Hi all, forum newbie

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Hi all, just wanted to introduce myself.

My name's Matt (obviously), I'm 30 years old, and I've worked as a mechanic/MOT tester for around 10 years for an independent garage.

For the past 3/4 years I've been also trading cars as a money maker on the side, I appreciate and respect this is often frowned upon, I can only say we all have to start somewhere, and as far as roadside dealers go, I've been a reputable and decent seller, never had any complaints from any buyers, and on the few occasions I've had comebacks, the issues have been dealt with and I've always said if an issue arose and a buyer wanted their money back within a reasonable time frame I'd do so, but that's never hapened. I'm also fully insured with trade insurance with demonstration and public liability too. My stock profile has generally been cars between £2k - £5k, family hatches etc, although I've had some relative success and decent margins on Land Rover Discovery 2s and Defenders lately too. I source most of my vehicles either locally from classified adverts from gumtree/ebay etc, usually needing work, or often from customers in the garage I work knowing I trade the odd car. I average about 3/4 a month, and have been more than happy with that since starting out.

I've recently come into some money through an unfortunate means (inheritance), some of which I've used to buy a house for myself and my partner, and some I'm looking to invest into a business venture for a future. I've really enjoyed the last few years dealing cars, and I'm looking at viable opportunities to scale it up, and go 'legit' with it.

I have around £50k capital to invest, out of which I'm considering a couple of local modest sized units (around 8 - 10k per annum), combined with a small amount of parking space at the back of my house that can be used if space runs tight. Being from a mechanical background I obviously intend to do repairs as much as possible 'in house', and as I'm a time served mechanic I can take on various mechanical repairs and servicing to both improve margin, but also maybe give a little edge on the stock I could take on that may put other traders off.

It's very early days for me in this expanded venture yet, and I'm a very cautious and methodical type, so I won't jump into anything without feeling confident and assured I'm doing as much as can be forseen the right thing, but I want to get my head around everything neccessary to go completely legit, I have a relatively good understanding already of the VAT margin scheme, and I'm fortunate enough to know a very competent accountant to point me in the financial right direction as neccessary too.

I'm not going to ask too many questions from the off, as I can see there's a wealth of information on the many questions I have already here on these message boards for me to read through, particularly in respect to buying stock, which I feel is probably the area I'm currently least comfortable with at present.

All I want to say is hi, and that the motor trade has been my life for a little over a decade now, and for better or worse I love it, and I always have. I really can't see myself doing anything massively different, I believe this industry is in your blood once you're in, and I'm driven to make a real success of this future venture.

Thanks for reading my introduction, and if anyone has any pointers or tips, good criticism or bad, I'm always extremely grateful of the guidance.

Matt.

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Hi Matt,

Welcome and good luck with the venture! They're a really good bunch on here, very helpful.

cheers

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Hello and welcome and I wish you the best of luck with your venture.

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On 18/03/2017 at 8:57 PM, MattGM said:

Hi all, just wanted to introduce myself.

My name's Matt (obviously), I'm 30 years old, and I've worked as a mechanic/MOT tester for around 10 years for an independent garage.

For the past 3/4 years I've been also trading cars as a money maker on the side, I appreciate and respect this is often frowned upon, I can only say we all have to start somewhere, and as far as roadside dealers go, I've been a reputable and decent seller, never had any complaints from any buyers, and on the few occasions I've had comebacks, the issues have been dealt with and I've always said if an issue arose and a buyer wanted their money back within a reasonable time frame I'd do so, but that's never hapened. I'm also fully insured with trade insurance with demonstration and public liability too. My stock profile has generally been cars between £2k - £5k, family hatches etc, although I've had some relative success and decent margins on Land Rover Discovery 2s and Defenders lately too. I source most of my vehicles either locally from classified adverts from gumtree/ebay etc, usually needing work, or often from customers in the garage I work knowing I trade the odd car. I average about 3/4 a month, and have been more than happy with that since starting out.

I've recently come into some money through an unfortunate means (inheritance), some of which I've used to buy a house for myself and my partner, and some I'm looking to invest into a business venture for a future. I've really enjoyed the last few years dealing cars, and I'm looking at viable opportunities to scale it up, and go 'legit' with it.

I have around £50k capital to invest, out of which I'm considering a couple of local modest sized units (around 8 - 10k per annum), combined with a small amount of parking space at the back of my house that can be used if space runs tight. Being from a mechanical background I obviously intend to do repairs as much as possible 'in house', and as I'm a time served mechanic I can take on various mechanical repairs and servicing to both improve margin, but also maybe give a little edge on the stock I could take on that may put other traders off.

It's very early days for me in this expanded venture yet, and I'm a very cautious and methodical type, so I won't jump into anything without feeling confident and assured I'm doing as much as can be forseen the right thing, but I want to get my head around everything neccessary to go completely legit, I have a relatively good understanding already of the VAT margin scheme, and I'm fortunate enough to know a very competent accountant to point me in the financial right direction as neccessary too.

I'm not going to ask too many questions from the off, as I can see there's a wealth of information on the many questions I have already here on these message boards for me to read through, particularly in respect to buying stock, which I feel is probably the area I'm currently least comfortable with at present.

All I want to say is hi, and that the motor trade has been my life for a little over a decade now, and for better or worse I love it, and I always have. I really can't see myself doing anything massively different, I believe this industry is in your blood once you're in, and I'm driven to make a real success of this future venture.

Thanks for reading my introduction, and if anyone has any pointers or tips, good criticism or bad, I'm always extremely grateful of the guidance.

Matt.

Good luck and what a well written piece . I'm in a similar position without the money lol but that I am a time served tech as well but making extra money on the side and now looking to get on with my venture too. 

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Good luck,

We started out the same 18 mths ago. Trading from home, now have a unit 15/16 cars and selling on average 13 a month. 125 cars sold in my first year and turned a double figure profit after costs. Mrs quit her job and now work together, forecasting to sell an additional 50, but now with finance and a few extras, profits ( should ) double. Its a great laugh, long hours, but the flexibility this gives me and having 2 young kids that id never have time to be with before, this was the best decision I ever made ( had forced upon me! ) 

This forum has helped me no end, everyone seems friendly and approachable and also theres some great advice on here. Also when you haven't sold anything for a week you can sit crying at everyone else pulling up trees! 

Patience and gradual growth is my advice, we now have 2 stocking partners, 3 finance brokers and a host of subcontractors that make our cogs turn smoothly. 

Our next venture is to move units and have somewhere with a ramp and that we can prep ourselves, as I wince at the amount I pay out to my local garage, who incidently are a local chain, owned by a family who smoke around in Lambo's, Bentleys and RRover Sports..... there's a reason why...

Having a main dealer background all my life, i've been PLC'd to death and bring a lot of what I was taught into my own business. I just don't have to deal with d1ckhead franchise directors and manufacturer suits anymore :)

If you need any help with anything, give me a shout. And best of luck :D

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Thanks for the kind replies guys. Already digested a lot of really useful information from previous posts over the forum, a lot of which hadn't crossed my mind before.

I've shifted two more cars off my admittedly small stock book since posting so having a good month so far, and still just keeping things ticking over part time whilst I put things in place for the future.

P.S - I hear heroine has the strongest margin of class A substances these days, and its popularity has soared again follwing the release of the second Trainspotting film!

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Treat people fairly, do things right even when it feels like everything is going against you and you will reap the rewards.

Play the long game. It is not about today, now and next week. Visualise 2/3/4 years down the line and stick to it.

Best of luck.

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35 minutes ago, Rory RSC said:

Treat people fairly, do things right even when it feels like everything is going against you and you will reap the rewards.

Play the long game. It is not about today, now and next week. Visualise 2/3/4 years down the line and stick to it.

Best of luck.

Great advice!!

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14 hours ago, Rory RSC said:

Treat people fairly, do things right even when it feels like everything is going against you and you will reap the rewards.

Play the long game. It is not about today, now and next week. Visualise 2/3/4 years down the line and stick to it.

Best of luck.

Agree, Unless the Customer is called Frank,

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Hi guys, thought I'd update this as I have a quiet moment (slow week)

Since posting this roughly 3 months ago alot has happened. I've taken the plunge and gone 'full time' now. I've rented a unit, moved in, and currently holding 9 cars in stock. It took some balls giving up the regular wage I have to say, and in the first few weeks of splashing out thousands of pounds from savings I questioned MANY times if I was doing the right thing or throwing my money down the shitter, I'm still yet to find out!

I guess I'm doing things a little differently to most of you guys, as I'm specialising in what I know (Land Rovers, mostly Defenders as I've worked on them for years), and my modest unit is largely a garage rather than an indoor forecourt, with my stock parked outside, or at home, or in the garden! :lol:

I generally buy stock privately via ebay and gumtree, collect myself, fix myself, basically do everything myself which trims the overheads, but I run around like a blue arsed fly. I'm VAT registered, as my turnover would sooner or later make it neccessary anyway, and I'm making roughly £400 - £500 per sale after repairs, advertising, and margin VAT deductions, I could probably get that margin up in time, but newcomer nerves has me advertising lower than I'd probably like to, and I end up shaving more off after being chipped at by the punters to get the early sales in the book, but hey it's all new at this scale so far.

I've been fortunate, I started with 80k in the bank to invest. After spending 16k on moving into my unit (which I'm 3 months into a 6 month rent free period) and fitting it out, buying a trailer and a tow vehicle etc, I've invested ~40k in stock, and left around 20k in the bank to pay myself a basic wage with so to not bleed the business in early days, and have a buffer to pay rent with if sales go dry.

I've sold it to myself under the knowledge that I have a 2 year breakaway in my lease for this place, so if after 2 years the numbers aint working, I'll jack it in, but I hope it does, early signs are promising, I just need to grow a pair and get the margins up, right now I get nervous at the negotioations, almost desperate for sales to get cars through the doors, but that really needn't be the case, I'll get there I'm sure.

Been lurking on the forums for the past few months silently, and learnt an awful lot, so I'll take this chance to thank the regulars, and update the opening post!

Edited by MattGM

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Good luck with it...you seem to have the right attitude.

One thing though if you are an experienced mechanic and specialize in Landrovers would it not make sense to offer a repair service as well as the car sales?

I sometimes look at my local garage who are flat out with repairs and think it must be nice to have a constant flow of work and money, rather than the famine or feast nature of sales.

 

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Hi Matt,...Land Rovers etc,sounds promising to me.There is a guy near us just does Range Rover boxes and employs several people.Have you checked out the MOD agents who flog off Land Rovers and unused parts for them.I see you have a lease, you need to check out commercial property regs with regard to 'delapidations in leases' and what could happen when you decide to leave.We were hit with a mega bill just for moving on after our landlords,the local council had outsourced management of our premises to a professional commercial landlord......Good Luck!

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Welcome Matt. I guess the only thing I have to add is on the negotiation/sales front. Sometimes there are customers who just want a little bit off (just because they're blokes and they want to feel like they've chipped you) - usually £50 suffices. Typically this type of punter will massively low-ball you first. I just smile, make little laugh noise and shake my head.

Never ask them to make an offer, they then have your permission to low-ball you and it's much harder to come back up. Always state your position first if the question of "what will you take" comes up. Remember the things they've pointed out which they like "oh, it's in good condition, hmm look at the service history" and remind them again of those things later on (people forget they've said it and it reminds them how good the car is).

Don't say "so what can I do to make you buy it". It makes people feel uncomfortable. Often you need to go at their pace. There are people out there who need edging along (really anxious, plodding types) simply asking, if you think they're serious and after they've had long enough to wander around and ask questions, "do you fancy a little drive" takes the formality off of a scary "TEST DRIVE". 

Never get insulted by low-ball offers in person - it means they want to buy it but they're just a bit of a character! 

Ultimately I think alot of it comes down to trust and if you're a specialist in one particular make of car and you're a nice bloke that will come over as you chat to LR nuts about their passion!

Hope it helps & good luck!

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to the people who feel the need to make offers

my price is in the window

im willing to go up

so what were YOU thinking?

this way its a quick way to see if they are serious rather than idiots

and no offences offended

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2 hours ago, Max Branning said:

Good luck with it...you seem to have the right attitude.

One thing though if you are an experienced mechanic and specialize in Landrovers would it not make sense to offer a repair service as well as the car sales?

I sometimes look at my local garage who are flat out with repairs and think it must be nice to have a constant flow of work and money, rather than the famine or feast nature of sales.

 

Yes, that is indeed a possibility in time. For the moment atleast I'm just finding my feet at this larger scale, and I'm learning a lot as I go, but it is an option. I'd need to figure out how I intigrate it with my current business though in the sense of VAT, or run it seperately, but I'd speak to my accountant over that.

2 hours ago, trade vet said:

Hi Matt,...Land Rovers etc,sounds promising to me.There is a guy near us just does Range Rover boxes and employs several people.Have you checked out the MOD agents who flog off Land Rovers and unused parts for them.I see you have a lease, you need to check out commercial property regs with regard to 'delapidations in leases' and what could happen when you decide to leave.We were hit with a mega bill just for moving on after our landlords,the local council had outsourced management of our premises to a professional commercial landlord......Good Luck!

Re the MOD agents, yes I've looked at it. They're not exactly cheap though from what I've seen. The ex 'squaddie' Land Rovers coming onto the market are also a little spartan, even by Defender standards, where as I find the good sellers are the county station wagons, or as the customers put it 'the ones with windows'.with such plush extras as cloth seats, leaking sunroofs and radio casettes! Ofcourse, there's always the young lads wanting the van side 90 to go sink it into the dirtiest mud hole they can find on an illegal greenlane somewhere, but from my experience (so far atleast) it's the countys that sell, and sell well.

Fortunately, I have it written into my internal/external contract of maintenance that the premesis shall be kept in accordance of the condition of which I found it, and a full survey report and plenty of pictures were taken from the ground/ladders/and even a drone before the lease was signed. I paid a LOT of wedge to a very good lawyer to argue the terms, but f*** me this guy was very, very good.

1 hour ago, tradex said:

good luck with the venture Matt, you seem to have it sorted and know the pitfalls etc.

LR repair shops around here are always busy.....I think LR build them that way as a cash generator for local business's;).

I used to sell lots of LR's, always good news but the comebacks were scary, that was in P38/TDi300/TD5 days and now I haven't the balls to deal in any LR anymore. Jeeps are a walk in the park in comparrison for me:).

Ahhh you see I'm totally the opposite, I wouldn't touch a Jeep with a ten foot steralised barge pole. And that's no brand snobbery, just lack of knowledge on them by comparison. TDi and TD5 engines are all good for me, I can see one of either laid out in pieces on the floor and tell you how it all goes back together, and by and large I think they're both sound designs, although nobody really wants a clattery old 300 in Discos anymore.

P38s, well I'm yet to be involved in selling any of them, and if I have it my way, that's just the way it'll stay. Good motors in their day, but horrible, horrible electrical gremlins, and V8 engines that like slipping liners. The BMW 6 cylinder diesel is strong and robust, but slower than walking.

1 hour ago, Mojo121 said:

Welcome Matt. I guess the only thing I have to add is on the negotiation/sales front. Sometimes there are customers who just want a little bit off (just because they're blokes and they want to feel like they've chipped you) - usually £50 suffices. Typically this type of punter will massively low-ball you first. I just smile, make little laugh noise and shake my head.

Never ask them to make an offer, they then have your permission to low-ball you and it's much harder to come back up. Always state your position first if the question of "what will you take" comes up. Remember the things they've pointed out which they like "oh, it's in good condition, hmm look at the service history" and remind them again of those things later on (people forget they've said it and it reminds them how good the car is).

Don't say "so what can I do to make you buy it". It makes people feel uncomfortable. Often you need to go at their pace. There are people out there who need edging along (really anxious, plodding types) simply asking, if you think they're serious and after they've had long enough to wander around and ask questions, "do you fancy a little drive" takes the formality off of a scary "TEST DRIVE". 

Never get insulted by low-ball offers in person - it means they want to buy it but they're just a bit of a character! 

Ultimately I think alot of it comes down to trust and if you're a specialist in one particular make of car and you're a nice bloke that will come over as you chat to LR nuts about their passion!

Hope it helps & good luck!

 

41 minutes ago, s and b said:

to the people who feel the need to make offers

my price is in the window

im willing to go up

so what were YOU thinking?

this way its a quick way to see if they are serious rather than idiots

and no offences offended

Cheers for that gents, I'll try and keep all points in mind in future :)

 

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I would probably look to invest a little bit in developing your sales skills. Some great books and online advice. Invest in yourself.

You don't come from a sales background or have much sales experience from reading and thats what will really help. For what its worth a softly softly sales approach from a chap who knows these cars better than the punters, and the type that buy your stock a lot of them know what they are buying, will go a very long way.

 

Keep up your good work and hope things continue.

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1 hour ago, Rory RSC said:

I would probably look to invest a little bit in developing your sales skills. Some great books and online advice. Invest in yourself.

You don't come from a sales background or have much sales experience from reading and thats what will really help. For what its worth a softly softly sales approach from a chap who knows these cars better than the punters, and the type that buy your stock a lot of them know what they are buying, will go a very long way.

 

Keep up your good work and hope things continue.

Cheers for the advice Rory.

I have actually worked in sales before, just not car sales (although I've a few years xp 'trading' from home), I worked as a sales rep for a well known autoparts supplier. I'm generally a very confident person, I consider myself knowledgeable on the product I'm selling, and I'm pretty good at building rapport with people. I think my problem is I'm too eager in the early stages to get the sale at any cost. Once the punter arrives to see a motor, I want them either leaving in it, or having plonked a wedge down (don't we all right.....) and I think that's probably what shows, I must be too transparent, I just need to have faith in my stock and hold out a little more on margins.

Appreciate the advice buddy, going to have a gander at some reading material.

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i wish you luck matey, i cant really fault you, and will always offer my tuppence worth if i can.

sales, dont be too eager, ask the customer questions, these questions then can be used as a sales aid ,

eg " whats your occupation ?

" customer= "nurse"

you = " oh thats why you've come to look at the nissan then, you want reliability ? "

customer "yes"

thats a very basic idea 

do not rabbit on, listen to the customer, listening sells more cars than talking bull, sometimes you have to ask questions to bull it up a bit, but make those questions relevant to the sale.

your knowledgeable in your product, so let this come out too. 

 

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Disco 3s are very good news Margin wise,  and vastly better cars than earlier models. They sell really quickly as well.

Try buying a few to make a bigger margin £1500, join BCA and Manheim. I buy from Maheim, at noon and 4pm they upload new stock, I search at these times for BIN cars Silver Check (read the appraisal report) and take a punt. 

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Great post OP, and all the best in your endeavours. We're here to help, and it seems like you're going the right way about it. You'll come out the other side, and yes you will have some battle scars but that'll be the best dealer school you'll ever go to. 

If possible, try and keep this thread alive or start up a blog. I wish I'd have done that as a sort of diary when I was starting up, i reckon it would make fascinating reading. 

All the best. Rish

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Again, thanks for all the kind words and advice from all,it's all taken onboard, and I'm aware I'll have my setbacks but hopefully learn from them.

I have to say, above all it's just great to be working for myself. There seems to be a bit of doom and gloom about the trade and it's lifestyle, and whilst I accept that some long hours, and an element of never letting the job go exists, there's also the other side which grants me flexibility in my working day that any previous regular employment just doesn't give. Hey, maybe it's too early days and I'll come back in a year or two, and be as seemingly miserable as some on here can be about the trade, but we'll see :lol:

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