The Business of Wrenching on Cars

Tonight I spent time working with a friend on installing an aftermarket headlight harness on his car so he could upgrade to high intensity discharge (HID) headlights. This was fun.

In a former life, I was well renown in the Mitsubishi Eclipse community. I ran an online shop selling aftermarket car parts targeted directly to Eclipse owners. I quickly learned that as much as I enjoyed doing this there were some pitfalls.

My first pitfall was drop shipping car parts from wholesalers. In the event the part was not available, we had to wait until the ordered it in. This delayed orders and eventually customers would cancel with me and go somewhere else. If there were any errors, I would need to eat the cost to make it right on razor thin margins, made it tough to do business.

I made a mistake of paying the suppliers of custom parts builds before they produced any product. I continued to keep doing this until I was nearly 25K in the hole. This was a hard lesson learned about involving emotion into business decisions. I so wanted to make this work that it eventually was the main reason that lead to the demise of selling car parts.

Beyond that, what did survive out of this era was selling custom made decals through my website. This is something that both my wife enjoy doing but it is not something that has taken off. It may not have taken off due to the amount of attention it requires to push information out about the products we sell. I realized recently that Instagram was a marvelous avenue to visually spread the word about what we do. It has increased sales, but still not enough to independently live on.

To circle back to why I started writing this, I love working on cars. Working on cars comes more naturally to me than working with technology. Too bad it doesn’t pay as well to be a mechanic. I really should have opened up on my own shop when I wanted to back when selling car parts instead of working on people’s cars out of my garage.

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