Mobile Diagnostic guys

John from Morgantown Technician Posted   Latest  
Question
Industry

Several questions,

How did you come into doing mobile diagnostic work?

What are some steps you took before, or did you just jump right in? 

What advice would you offer someone who is considering Going in that direction?

How do you handle misdiagnosis on your part? 

How did you build your customer base?

How did you get started in vehicle programming if you offer the service?

+2

Eric from Peoria

 

Mobile Technician
 

How did you come into doing mobile diagnostic work?-  Been doing it for 13 years- specialized in Diag before

What are some steps you took before, or did you just jump right in?- Started nights and weekends morphed into a fulltime gig

What advice would you offer someone who is considering Going in that direction? Couple of favorite quotes "programming is easy until it isn't " Bob Heipp. "you don't know what you don't know until you go mobile" John Rogers IIRC

How do you handle misdiagnosis on your part? Try real hard not to misdiagnose stuff- but it happens for time to time

How did you build your customer base? Word of mouth, cold calling- usually set once you get your foot in the door if you can deliver finished product

How did you get started in vehicle programming if you offer the service? Bought the tools and subs :-)

+7

Rusty from Oakham

 

Owner/Technician
 

I was composing a reply to the OP and musta pushed a bad key cause it went blue and vanished. Thank God Ziggy typed something similar to what is composed.

Most of my diag calls are fairly easy fixes. It's actually caused me to develop a poor view of the average shop in our industry.

3/4 of my work s GM programming NS (lately) 1/2 of that is FPCM flashing 😜

Advice: Start out doing it P/T with short term scripts to get a feel for it. I'd be hard pressed to make a living income doing it it my area.

+3

Geoff from Lahaina

 

Diagnostician
 

yes, Rusty, "It's actually caused me to develop a poor view of the average shop in our industry. " I follow some guys on YouTube that routinely fix what other shops can't, and it is usually something pretty straightforward, if you can read a diagram and use the component/connector/splice etc. locator. I pretty much watch to gain M/M/Y experience, it's usually something I haven't specifically seen myself.

+2

Adrean from Bakersfield

 

Diagnostician
 

Yup some are easy. You tend to think how these guys survive . Easy ones all day and u can easily make 1k ..

0

Adrean from Bakersfield

 

Diagnostician
 

Great response . its the experience of yours that hit this repsonce in the head 13 years . I only been at this a year . But yup everything Eric said . ’misdiagnosis happens from time to time . But I cover it fully out of my pocket , you tend not to misdiagnos when your money is on the line . it Starts after hours and weekends and turns into a full time .A lot of hustle , late lunches , and yes u might think u know it all but once u go mobile , you realize you don’t . Also just word of mouth or knocking on doors and proving yourself 

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John from Medford

 

Owner
 

Where do I start? Hmmmm.

Over the years forty or so guys have reached out to me on going Mobile. Out of those forty. Three, at last count are still Mobile Diagnostic/Programming guys after talking to me. I do not sugar coat it.

Attributes of a successful Mobile guy are as follows. Exceptional time management skills. Relief pitcher mentality-you will get your ass handed to you everyday. You have to come back for more. I believe there is an OCD trait that is common among us mobile guys. Knowledge of tooling and procedures is a must. Critical thinking skills is paramount. You will be working on brand new vehicles and will need to think on your feet quickly. Ability to digest technical material. Excellent people skills. A circle of friends/peers that can help you out. Mobile guys are a clicky bunch and we take care of each other for the most part. And finally an understanding spouse.

Now to answer your questions; 

How did you come into doing mobile diagnostic work?

I grew up in the business. Ran the family shop. Worked on a diagnostic hotline for 11 years. Then started doing mobile part time then full time. I only service registered repair shops, transmission shops, and body shops.

What are some steps you took before, or did you just jump right in?

Lots of research. Then you just have to take the plunge.

What advice would you offer someone who is considering Going in that direction?

Run....... Seriously call me with any questions. But, also network with other mobile guys. There are some great minds in the mobile world and the industry. Surround yourself with them. One of them already commented. EZ is a great guy. Try to catch one of his classes.

How do you handle misdiagnosis on your part? 

I try to keep it to a minimum. It happens suck it up. Keep the customer happy and be professional always. 

How did you build your customer base?

Ground up. Started with 6 shops and cold calling. Once you prove yourself word of mouth will take over and then you created a monster.

How did you get started in vehicle programming if you offer the service?

Again research. But, the only way you learn is to do. Hit the button. 

+10

John from Morgantown

 

Technician
 

I appreciate your input. I’ve been thinking about taking a couple jobs here and there to get a feel for it. I’ve only been in the field for two and a half years, but I have my L1 Certification, A1 - A9 ASE certifications and am just a couple classes away from Nissan Master. I’ve spent just about all of my free time researching, practicing test methods on good vehicles, then simulating faults and seeing how the readings change. Reading every bit of training material I can get my hands on. I honestly don't think I’ve ever worked so hard at something ever in my life. I try to get every diag ticket that rolls through my shop. I fix most of them on the first try, but I still get my ass handed to me every now and then. The hard lessons are the ones I won’t forget. 

+1

John from Medford

 

Owner
 

You have the right attitude!

+2

Glen from Arthur

 

Owner/Technician
 

Channel that energy & get used to working hard/learning always/constant discipline

+1

Chris from Commack

 

Diagnostician
 

Hey John!! 

Great points. It takes brains and the willingness to get kicked in the teeth on the daily. Sounds like fun. That being said, maybe start on nights and weekends to see if the life is for you. Also, don't be afraid to let them know that you don't have the answer YET. You don't have to be Super Man, maybe Aqua Man.

+2

Adrean from Bakersfield

 

Diagnostician
 

Exactly . Communicate , let them know u are gather info etc to come to a accurate diagnosis 

0

Adrean from Bakersfield

 

Diagnostician
 

I like these responses a lot . I also only service shops . U will soon very soon get tired of going to a residential call. Especially in rough parts of town with your pricey equipment . u will have a lot of equipment in your truck Not worth being stolen . Also some calls to unprofessionals are either easy , yeah I like those or just a waste of your valueable time . Oh yeah make sure the wife is on board . Quick thinking while u are at the job, some days u come back again an again. Some days u make 0 dollars dealing with hard problems some days you make a killing . Thanks to this network I’m sure we will be glad to help . We all need the help reason why I’m here 

0

Michael from Clinton

 

Mobile Technician
 

How did you come into doing mobile diagnostic work?

Got sick of paying for the Man's Boat, ATVs, Snowmobiles and New Trucks. Did not like bowing down to the dealerships who were at the time doing 99% of the programming. I did not want to pay for brick and mortar so my vehicle became my office.

What are some steps you took before, or did you just jump right in? 

Got to know scan tools, labscope and programming while working at a shop. Took electrical classes from NAPA and ATG. Became a tool dealer to get experience working in front of customers. Used profits from my tool sales to invest in more tools. Took flyers to shops in a 20 mile radius.

What advice would you offer someone who is considering Going in that direction?

I would look at the market you live in, see how many mobile diagnostics techs are working in the area. Go part time at first with an Autel, Drewtech and a scope. Once paid for buy an IDS, then WiTech. Other tools as you can afford them. Stay out of debt as much as possible. The dollars may seem big but you will experience a ton of non-billable time. (Like Traffic Jams, Waiting on Customers, Missed Appointments) I pay myself about 35% of the fee and the rest goes to overhead like tool purchases and subscriptions. For example if I charge $110 for a job, I pay myself $40 of the $110.

How do you handle misdiagnosis on your part? 

If you are going in as the expert, charge straight time and make sure of your diagnosis. Everyone makes mistakes. In most cases, I don't charge of give the customer's money back when I screw up. I then do my best to help the customer figure out the problem.

How did you build your customer base?

Lots of flyers. If you can land some of the popular shops in the area, they will talk to other shops that they know. When I go to a new shop to do mobile work, I hand out business cards to all the shops in the same area.

How did you get started in vehicle programming if you offer the service?

After getting sick of taking programming jobs to the dealer, I bought a J-Box and started learning how to program. This was back in 2000. I would not start a mobile diagnostic business without programming. They complement each other so well.

+2

John from Morgantown

   

Technician
   

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting into the Mobile Diagnostic game for a few months. I agree the programming complimenting It. When a module fails it’s nice to be able to program after replacement and be able to verify that everything is working as it should.

Do you happens to know of any sites with info pertaining to programming? I read a Facebook post a couple weeks ago about a Mobile tech going out to program a Ford, I think it was. But they had a dead TPMS sensor and the TPMS system must be working in order to perform the programming?

0

Bob from East Longmeadow

 

Diagnostician
 

Hi John,

The guy was probably programing a Smart junction box. To get one programed and setup there are several steps that need to be done including a TPMS relearn. If you can't complete all the steps, the interior lights in the vehicle will flash all the time indicating the process is not complete.

0

Jaime from Ocala

 

Diagnostician
 

Hi Bob,

Your statement emphasizes another factor about Mobile Diagnostics... Being able to program a module and NOT being able to finish the job (with the module set-up afterwards) is similar to showering with your socks on. It's just not a job done to completion.

If the tech doesn't have the scanner to perform the function, should the module require post-programming configuration, J-2534 leaves the tech in a lurch.

+2

Adrean from Bakersfield

 

Diagnostician
 

Exactly Proagmming and diagnosis . And keys too idk but they go Hand and hand . I don’t do keys yet but thinking of Starting to invest in a good cutter and keys to stock 

0

Jaime from Ocala

 

Diagnostician
 

John said a lot of what I was going to so I've got it easier now ;-) ... One important part - an understanding life partner - there's NO under-estimating the importance of this! It's not in a 9 to 5 job (and often I see 16 hour days). It is what it is.

Like others, I had relationships established prior to becoming a mobile tech. I was a factory rep for Vetronix and wasn't going to just throw away all the relationships I'd established when Bosch decided to eliminate my position the day before Thanksgiving in 2007. I knew what the shop owners were faced with - buy "a buncha expensive tools", keep them up-to-date, know which Java was used on each, which ones conflicted with others, etc., and knew I already had the expertise required. I saw the need, and offered the solutions... Why make all of them reinvent the wheel? They could do what they were best at (mechanical repairs), while I could do what I am best at (diagnostics), and everyone came out a winner (including the vehicle owner). No dealership visits, the cars were fixed properly and efficiently, the shops were profitable and so was I.

I consider myself their "last resort" in a way because most of my customers have already exhausted their capabilities or have wasted enough time (and money) in their attempts to resolve the customer's complaints before they call me. I bill accordingly. I'm not cheap but I guaranty results, and rarely disappoint. My "bulldog" mentality - bite and don't let go - tenacity, I think it's called, is what makes my customers loyal. There are a bunch of folks doing mobile repairs in Central Florida but I know of NONE who will stick with a tough job until it's done, even if it isn't profitable. Shop owners appreciate that. Thankfully, it's rare when that happens (or I'd be broke).

I bought O.E. tools and subs one at a time, reinvesting a percentage of profit as I went. Now, answers to your questions:

How did you come into doing mobile diagnostic work? By default (see above). I also became incapable of wrenching, which motivated me to use my education instead of my body.

What are some steps you took before, or did you just jump right in? Carefully considered what it would take to re-open a shop (had one for 10 years) and calculated the benefits of going mobile vs a store-front location.

What advice would you offer someone who is considering Going in that direction? Carefully pick and choose who you will service and what jobs you want to do, keeping in mind the money's in doing what no one else is able to do.

How do you handle misdiagnosis on your part? It's rare thankfully. I use the three-test rule for diagnosing, otherwise it's called guessing... I verify the conclusion I came to. I repeat the finding using a different method. I then do it once more (to confirm the finding). If the problem's not fixed afterwards - I work for free (for my education, really).

More often, I see a multi-problem vehicle where more than one thing must be done, so that's not really a mis-diag (and I charge for the additional time).

How did you build your customer base? I reduced mine from what it was when I was a factory rep. I actually eliminated some of the shops in my territory that didn't take responsibility for their own education, or who notoriously ripped folks off, and those who disrespected a good tech. I build my customer base through word-of-mouth now, with my excellent customer base referring their (typically also excellent) friends to me. I refuse working for car owners (except when referred by a shop).

How did you get started in vehicle programming if you offer the service? The same way I got started in diagnostics. That's just something that is needed. What good is it to know what's wrong if you can't finish the job? When my diag confirms a faulty module (or, as was the case last week, an update was required to fix a problem), It add a few bucks to the ticket (while satisfying the customer complaint).

I hope the answers everyone provided help you decide your future.

+4

Adrean from Bakersfield

 

Diagnostician
 

alot of vehicles with multiple problems . Once the trust with the Shop is build all this will become easier as to explaining what needs replacing 

0

Eric from Peoria

 

Mobile Technician
 

My previous response as done driving so here's hopefully a more detailed post....

I agree with everyone else's advice so far. However, the $$ required to be a full functioning mobile tech is insane for the startup business. Many have started out like I did- part time. However, it is hard to find regular clientele that will accommodate your hours. I often refer to this as "playing mobile" and have many friends that try to do this. Moreover it's scary and tough to cut the cut of your fulltime job and take the training wheels off.

One alternative to that would be to go to work for an an already established mobile service provider. If you are younger, truly have the diagnostic skills and aren't afraid to relocate there are topshelf several mobile services providers such as Mobile Auto Solutions (MAS) masllc​.​net in the Chicago, Milwaukee, SW Michigan markets that are growing at an alarming rate and are ALWAYS looking for top talent. I would reach out to Bob Heipp here if you are interested. They are an amazing company with EXTREMELY talented techs. They provide, as my company and others as well, all the tools needed to do your job.

As to the programming part of your question, I would strongly encourage that it be an integral part of your business model. I might also suggest specializing in servicing the collision industry- that's where the the money is at IMHO.

My company (myself and 1 other extremely talented tech) having being looking to add a tech for about a year now. I know several others in different parts of the country that are as well.

As Jamie, John and others have stated it takes steely nerve, a tenacity and a baseball closer's mentality to do this job. No sugarcoating it. It ain't for everyone indeed. But if you possess the skills and desire to be the best tech you can be, there is no better job in the automotive industry IMHO. If you are truly cut from this cloth , you will NEVER be challenged enough at the dealer or independent automotive repair level.

+4

Adrean from Bakersfield

 

Diagnostician
 

Exactly . It’s challenging day in and out .. but that’s what diagnosticians like that’s what made us who we are , and from what u said in a earlier comment John . That’s what you like . Whatever u put ur mind to hush hustle and you will achieve it 

0