Mobile auto businesses growing in popularity
Mobile businesses - whether it be pet grooming, a notary service or a locksmith - continue to grow in popularity, based on Angie’s List reports and according to several highly rated service providers.
People looking for an extra layer of convenience are the most likely to hire a mobile company to perform work. Those needing auto service are no different. Whether it's choosing a mobile company for auto detailing, oil changes or preventative or emergency maintenance service, there are hundreds to choose from, according to a search of Angie’s List.
Mobile offers convenience
“The number-one reason people choose mobile businesses is because of the convenience,” says John Cannon, owner of highly rated My Car Doc, The Mobile Mechanic, in McCordsville, Ind. “People don't order pizzas because they're the cheapest or best food. They buy them because they’re the most convenient.”
Instead of taking your car to a shop for a detail or oil change, mobile businesses come to your home or workplace. .
Some mobile businesses are flexible enough to come out in as little as 24 hours after scheduling the appointment, while others may not be able to come out for a week or more.
Sylvester Chisom, owner of highly rated Showroom Shine Express Detailing in St. Louis, started with a mobile business in 1999 and has since added a storefront location because of the high demand for his detailing services. He says he has seen the mobile business grow significantly in recent years and champions its value as a personalized service.
“If you bring your car into the shop, there may be five cars there waiting to be detailed,” Chisom says. “If it’s a mobile call, then you’re the only one we’re working on.”
Mobile automotive service providers typically charge similar prices to what is offered at a shop, they say. Some companies charge a convenience fee, while others say they charge less because they don’t have the operating expenses that come with having a storefront location; their vehicle serves as both.
Most mobile detailing businesses offer the same services and use the same equipment that a shop would. Most reputable mobile detailing companies, for example, are fully equipped with cleaners, vacuums, water and electricity to detail the inside and outside of your car.
Some companies offer detailing, but will also do auto body repair and battery and headlight replacement as well.
In many cases, mobile businesses have just one employee, who is also the company’s owner.
“You always get better service from the owner,” says Clint Allerton, owner of highly rated Auto Detail Doctor: Mobile Auto Detailing, in Westerville, Ohio.
Finding a reputable company
Cannon says it's important to find a reputable mobile auto service company, adding there are many startups that are not a registered business through their respective states.
“They put tools in the back of the truck; they're kind of working under the radar,” Cannon says. “The mechanics may not have formal training.”
Aside from finding a company that is registered, experts say to check with your local licensing authority to ensure the company meets appropriate local regulations, and to ask for referrals. A company that has a website and its logo on its employee uniforms or trucks often is more reputable that one that doesn't, Allerton says.
“Every spring we start to see guys pop up with a van,” Chisom adds. “They try to get their feet wet and have trouble keeping it going.”
For mobile auto services, Chisom said it’s important to ask questions. For detailing, for example, ask what the detail includes, both on the inside and outside of the vehicle, and how much it costs.
“That way there’s some clarity and you know what you’re getting and what to expect,” Chisom says.
Research of pricing on Angie’s List found that a mobile auto detailing can be as low as $50 and go up to $200 or more, depending on the size of the car; while the price to have a mobile mechanic come out can vary greatly, depending on the services performed.