How to start a mobile repair business

Read this simple guide on how to start a mobile repair business for auto repair and mobile mechanics.


Since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, customer expectations have changed. Many customers prefer quick and efficient services they can book from their smartphones and complete from the comfort of their own homes. At the same time, they also don’t want to be left waiting on hold to book a service or ask a simple question. 

The bottom line is customers today are demanding. This means that it's more challenging than ever to start a mobile repair business and compete with the bigger guys in your area. From balancing appointment requests, communicating with customers, taking payments, and even organizing your calendar, it’s frustrating to do it all. 

That’s why we’ve put together this simple guide on how to start a successful mobile repair business, the right way. When you invest in the right tools and processes, you’ll have more time to spend doing the things you love, while growing your business at the same time. 

Mobile auto repair requires the right documentation

Every city is different, but in most places, you'll need to get a business license and possibly, other occupational licenses as well. Your local government offices can help guide you through the permits you may need to start your mobile repair business. Here are a few licenses/certifications you might need::

  • A business license from your local county clerk's office
  • An Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service. EIN is a requirement for filing your taxes.. 
  • Reseller's permit from your state. You will need this to buy and sell car parts to your clients. 
  • A sales tax identification number
  • Mechanic licenses are required for your type of business. The standard licenses include:

Obtain Insurance

Mobile vehicle repair comes with its share of liability issues, just like any other industry. In many cases, it's your own insurance policy that can help prevent such problems. 

To protect yourself against lawsuits and unnecessary costs, it's important to get enough insurance coverage for each job you do, especially if your business will operate with more than one employee. So, you'll likely need both physical damage and liability coverage.

Prioritize where you provide service

For your mobile repair business to succeed, you’ll want to tap into the areas that are the easiest for you to get to and have the most demand for what you offer.

To narrow in on the areas you want to provide your services, you’ll need to do some research. This might involve taking a look at local competitors. What services do they offer? What areas do they focus on and can you offer more than they do? How can you provide the most convenient and seamless experience for your prospects? With the right mobile repair scheduling software, you can choose the area you want to serve on a daily basis. That’s because the right scheduler should let you organize each appointment by location, so you can reduce drive times and service more customers in a day. 

Another critical factor that many mobile mechanics ignore is the climate. You want an area with favorable weather to help you to reach your clients with fewer struggles. Climate is fundamental in enabling you to decide the type of spare parts to stock. For example, if you operate in hot areas, you may benefit from selling coolants and hoses.  

Get the right tools and equipment 

While you can probably make do with just about any set of tools in a pinch, having professional-grade equipment for your repair business can make your job easier and actually help you retain more customers in the long run. 

Keep in mind that different vehicles might require different tools or knowledge to get the job done. The areas you choose to specialize in will also indicate the type of equipment you’ll need to invest in. Regardless, here’s a list of 5 different pieces of equipment we think you might need when first starting out:

An advanced scan tool

Buying a high-quality scan tool might be a hefty cost upfront, but the investment will pay for itself over time. Overall, it will help speed up the car diagnostic process by gathering data from various sensors.

It can help you identify manufacturer-specific trouble codes so you can quickly identify a problem and identify areas of the car that might need repair. 

Jack and jack stands

Floor jacks and jack stands are essential for changing tires and giving you the space you need to effectively perform a repair. While it might seem like a simple piece of equipment, using them will make sure you can perform each service safely. Here’s a list of jacks you can keep in mind:

  • Floor jack: The most common type of jack that consists of four wheels and a handle you use to pump the hydraulic lift  
  • Scissor jack: Uses a screw system to create the lift. This type of jack is small and portable
  • Hydraulic bottle jack: This jack is the best for lifting heavy vehicles and equipment and is not as portable as a floor jack

Portable air compressor

With the right portable air compressor, you can help you customers get out of sticky situations and fast. Not only can they help you repair a tire, but they can also power air tools required to complete a service. 

For a list of portable air compressors of different sizes and price points, we recommend giving this article a read. 

Oil drain and oil caddy

If you plan on changing oil or transmission fluid, you’ll need an oil drain or oil caddy to help you get the job done easier and faster. Draining oil can get messy and fast. Without the right equipment, you might find yourself stuck with a big oil spill and an unhappy customer.

For a list of oil drains and caddies, take a look at this article. 

Hand tools

You’ll need different hand tools to complete almost any job you come by. Here are a few basics we recommend:

  • Breaker bar
  • Pliers
  • Hammers (traditional and dead-blow)
  • Cordless impact wrench
  • Pick set
  • Pry bar
  • Ratchet and socket set 
  • Screwdriver set 
  • Tire pressure gauge 
  • Wrench set

Use the right mobile repair software 

Finally, you’ll need the right mobile repair software that lets you run your entire business from your pocket. Not every software is created equal, so you’ll want to find one that lets you simplify your work as you connect with your customers. Here are a few features you’ll want to keep in mind: 

Self-scheduling 

Mobile repair software should allow your customers to schedule their own appointments and select their own services, on their own time. 

Giving the customers all of the services you offer upfront means they can select exactly what they need for their vehicle make and model. They can also get transparent pricing and add-on service information upfront in a stress-free environment, so they can choose what works best for them. 

Giving your customers this convenience will allow you to retain a loyal customer base and give them the opportunity to spread the word about your services with 5-star reviews. 

Geographically optimized appointments 

It can get time-consuming to manually schedule appointments near each other and make sure you have enough time to drive between them. To avoid the headache, your software should only show available times based on location. 

This means that as your customers book online, the scheduler should only show them times that are close to your other appointments. With a schedule organized by location, you’ll never have to drive longer than you need to between appointments, while you book more services and increase your daily revenue. 

Collect payment information upfront

Your mobile repair software should also let you collect payment information from each customer as they book a service. Collecting payment information upfront means you and your team won’t have to chase customers down after each appointment. And you won’t be stuck having awkward conversations with customers about getting paid. 

With this feature, your customers can approve additional work from their smartphone and you get notified of approvals instantly. The service is then added on automatically because you’ll already have their card on file and you can move on to your next appointment. This helps you drive more same-day revenue and arrive at each appointment on time. 

Market your mobile auto repair services

Once you've launched your mobile vehicle repair business, you should make sure your customers can find you. This means you’ll want to have both an online and offline marketing strategy. Some tips to help you get the word out include:

  • Printing up some fliers and hanging them where car owners spend most of their time.
  • Establishing an online presence by creating a website 
  • Investing in digital marketing such as social media, email marketing, or sending text and multimedia messages
  • Getting listed in trusted vehicle repair directories
  • Establish a library of positive online reviews on sites like Google Business and Yelp

Build your dream onsite repair business - your way

At the end of the day, your customers will expect you to provide fast, convenient, and reliable services. You’ll also have to learn how to juggle competing with big, professional businesses in your area.

You’ll not only want to be prepared with all of the right tools and documents, but you’ll also need to engage customers at every step of their journey with your business. With Zippity, you can empower yourself and your technicians to organize your schedule, service more customers, get back control of your business and simplify your operations with one solution. Increase revenue, retain more customers, and generate great reviews while saving a ton of time.

Watch a free demo to learn more. 

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