StylishOne

Guys, I'd like your ideas and feedback on opening a collector car facility

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Most people don't have time or funds to work on their cars at home, so how will this thing cover the cost of utilities? 

 

Bob 

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A difficulty with asking us here at the AACA forum is that any sort of business like this would have to be highly localized.  You'd presumably need to find a place with lots of car collectors already, where those car collectors have money to spend, and yet where there aren't similar services already.   Then you'd have to find out what *that* group wants, and design the business around them. 

 

With that said, I  would guess that the most useful kind of place in a boating area is probably a combined storage and repair shop.  Boat people often have extra income, and those who have boats and collector cars together probably need seasonal storage and someone to hire to work on their cars. The rest of the services, like hosting a cruise night or cars & coffee, can be used as ways of advertising.  But it's a tough business, as really you're running a classic car repair shop; a much-needed service, but not an easy business.

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3 hours ago, Ed Luddy said:

Does anyone know if there are any such places in Canada? Would likely be out of my price range, but I'd like to see one!

 

There are at least 2 country club style private tracks out here in B.C. Eye watering up front fee plus hefty yearly dues so you and your friends can drive fast on a track but not actually participate in organized racing. I guess it is a handy place to show your friends how fast your P car or Lambo goes. I just don't quite get spending way more money than what many forms of racing cost, especially the lower classes in Vintage or a class like Formula Ford and still just pretending to race. My Formula Ford car plus  at least a year of racing costs , entry fees etc. will cost quite a bit less than just the country club tracks up front fee. Plus I don't have to buy a supercar for lets see , a good chunk of the value of my house.

Greg in Canada

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You have asked about a potential business venture in a good place to ask car related questions, but not somewhere that I would go for business advice. The folks on this forum are from all over the US and the rest of the world. Over time I have learned that there are an amazing amount of regional differences in the places that we all come from. I live in a coastal city which is known for retirement, vacations, movie making, boating as well as other things. We have an active local antique car culture here. My area sounds like exactly the right place for what you seem to be thinking of, yet I think you would lose your investment if you attempted to start any such business here. There are too many places where car guys hang out here now and all of them are free. How do you think you are going to get car guys to come and pay for something that they can already do for free in a place that they are used to doing it for at for free? About the only business that I think you might be able to find car guys willing to pay for service would be either an auto detailing shop, car wash, or mechanic shop that you market as catering to old cars. If you were to do that in my town, you would be competing against multiple established businesses.

 

I run an engraving business. A portion of my businesss is name tags, plaques, and trophies for car clubs. My business does have that small tie in, but it is certainly not my main business. I run a business and I have a hobby. It is rare to be able to successfully combine a business and a hobby and be successful in the business.    

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1 hour ago, MCHinson said:

You have asked about a potential business venture in a good place to ask car related questions, but not somewhere that I would go for business advice.

 

I don't think he's asking business advice so much as doing market research.  This forum does represent a potential customer base for the business he's considering.  Polling the customers and understanding their needs and desires is a good way to figure out if his proposed business makes sense.

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My comment was misinterpreted, as is often the case when a person shares an idea with a "professional".

 

Personally, sort your plan out well, figure out how much cash you need, and be sure you have it without borrowing. If you don't have enough there will be problems. And don't let your accounts payable go out to 90 to 150 days like many so called smart businessmen. The Karma will get you.

 

If you go through life for over half a century you will probably find that any regrets you may have are for things you didn't do. If you didn't do them because someone told you not to.... its worse.

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On 1/7/2019 at 6:28 AM, tom_in_nh said:

Do not make it a clubhouse for the rich.

 

In the early 1930's my Grandfather was in a group with "cars" for the poor.

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You've got to be certain that the market is sustainable. Apart from the car owners renting space, where is the viewing public? They aren't going to drive out in the sticks on a muddy driveway but you still need a lot of outdoor space for parking. After one visit, will the general public be returning? And what new things will they see upon their return visit?  Car owners would love to have a dry storage space with electricity AND INSURANCE but it must be affordable.  The concept is nice but not sustainable. Scale WAY back on such a project before you burn through your retirement.

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A drive-in movie feature would neat. I could do that here with all the worthless juNk cars I have laying around by converting them into booths😖

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I was told they are building one in Omaha Ne.. I will keep you updated on it..

 

If it happens i have the smalls to sell them..

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Posted (edited)

I know of a guy in Missouri who bought a Safeway building to store his and a friends cars. Probably about 25% of the cost of building a clear-span building new. One thing led to another and it became a museum, still open, with 50 or 60 cars. The founders are long-gone. Finances are probably 10% from admission/sales, 90% from the cash flow of the family's 7-figure food products business. The good thing is they didn't say "I need to have a tourism site capable of bringing in $160/day in admissions and bring people off the interstate, so I'll have a 40,000 sq ft facility designed and built for x dollars, buy 50 cars for x dollars each and open her up."  What I'm saying is there are abandoned warehouses and factories and stores out there.

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)

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Okay, guys time to clarify the deal and the concept.

It's a small 32x100 building on the main Road in to a mostly boating area, yes seasonal, already made in 2 large interior spaces..outside there's a 7700 sq ft asphalt parking lot. Behind the building, there's open land about 80' deep to build more. 

There are area events all season and parades that go through the town. The current taxes are under $1000 per yr. 

My thought was storage ( yes I checked for myself and no car storage available within 20+ miles all used up for cars and boats about a $100 for container type) and cars on consignment, meeting place for car clubs , cruise nights, maybe picnics, sell coffee and bagels, cakes, Ice cream unavailable in town now. This is a sleepy boring town with little to do. So there you have most of it. Ask what you like. I heard the cautions but this is a small operation, yes I'd like to make some money too!

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I've heard some interesting ideas and several discussing the likely failure rates and cautions.

It's all appreciated..Didnt I read somewhere "Do what you love and the money will follow? It won't feel like work.

 

If we can keep the negative gloom and doom aside (fully understanding it's there ever lurking in the dark corners) and focus more..as some did, on more creative fun things to consider having (doing?) at such an establishment, I'd enjoy hearing those.

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Here is a place in Canton Michigan that opened a year ago and is full.  They do antique, classic, to exotic and I believe the building used to be a chemical warehouse.  They can store about 140 cars plus more motor cycles and have events all the time.  Weekly cruise nights, cars and coffee club during the winter and they have one of those large inflatable movie screens for outside movies during the summer.  Their Facebook page has lots of pictures, events, etc so you could check it out.  Here is their website.

 

http://cantoncarcave.com/index.html

 

This is very similar to the concept idea that you are thinking about and they made their pricing not too far above what a storage unit would cost.  

 

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Posted (edited)

Reality Check

 

If I want to store a modestly valuable car .....

 

i would NOT  ideally want:

 

Community Storage in a open floor space where other vehicles

would be in close proximity to mine - being moved ( possibly driven ).

 

I definitely would NOT want the Public At Large perusing my vehicle.

 

I don’t know how you would get renters or  liability insurance for rented space

for car storage  - let alone “ slip & fall “ insurance for people visiting.

 

Jim

Edited by Trulyvintage (see edit history)
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Failure due to under capitalization isn't negative thinking as in "doom and gloom". It's the cold, hard reality that has sent many a good man into bankruptcy court.

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Here's a joke told to me by an Amish man. "What would the Amish man do if he won a million dollars in the lottery?" Answer... "He would keep farming 'til that was gone".

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There is a facility just south of Fort Worth, Texas called the Motorsports Ranch. 

 

It seems to be nearly exactly the sort of thing you're talking about. They have a private road course (two actually), a skid pad, clubhouse, garages (13 buildings worth), and private on-site support businesses of different sorts. There are (apparently separate, third-party?) some stand-alone track side houses available there also. Their website has a lot of information on what they have to offer and what their fee structure is. They don't have a museum, but they seem to check just about every other box that you mentioned. 

 

It took A LOT of time and money to get this facility to where it is today. A LOT. It did not happen overnight, rather it took years to develop the facility. If you are serious about pursuing a similar concept, my suggestion is to go visit this facility and try to get them to answer as many questions as you can think of. I don't intend to discourage you but think part of your market research should be to see what your competition has to offer and how they run their operations. They seem to be more "track centric" and with more of a motor sports focus, so less about the garages themselves, but that might be an important take-away for you to consider.I am not a member there but have seen their facility. 

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Posted (edited)

The commercial facility where you can store and work on your own car has been tried and mostly failed for decades.  When I was in college in the 1970s, I once used such a facility run by Click and Clack in Cambridge, MA, since I had to help a friend change a starter in the middle of a Massachusetts winter. That shop didn't last long.  More recently, one here in Sterling, VA lasted about a year.  The fundamental problem here is the cost of liability insurance.  You have no idea of the skills that each potential user has, nor any idea of that person's safety ethic.  Suffice to say that anything from a scrape on up in severity will be the facility's fault, and subject to some sort of legal settlement.  Do the users bring their own tools? Are they using a facility lift? What about a torch or other fire starter?  The general public by and large are idiots and any stupid mistake that they make will have a trail of ambulance-chasing lawyers looking for the deep pockets. Release forms are worthless - they are too easy to get around.

Edited by joe_padavano (see edit history)
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Joe is right, maybe if there was a mechanic on call to do repairs the problem could be solved. I have thought a facility that could serve as collector car paid storage, and multi-club meeting room, with stored cars exhibited safely in a museum setting, might work. The club members could share the duties of docent and have limited public viewing hours to generate additional funds

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Here is a related question, if you have the funds to go out and buy a $250,000.00 + super car how come you need to store it in an upscale storage facility, and can't afford to have a 20x20 addition added to your current garage? Bob 

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23 minutes ago, 1937hd45 said:

Here is a related question, if you have the funds to go out and buy a $250,000.00 + super car how come you need to store it in an upscale storage facility, and can't afford to have a 20x20 addition added to your current garage? Bob 

 

Because what good is spending $250K if you can't show it off to brag about it?

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20 minutes ago, 1937hd45 said:

Here is a related question, if you have the funds to go out and buy a $250,000.00 + super car how come you need to store it in an upscale storage facility, and can't afford to have a 20x20 addition added to your current garage? Bob 

 

Ego, geography, impulse purchases, convenience of maintenance, all sorts of reasons

 

I hear you though.  Its the same thing I wonder when I see a person file an $1100 damage claim with a $1000 deducible on a $50,000 car.  So you mean you can afford (oh wait, they actually cant) a $50,000 car, but can only afford $1000, and not $1100, to repair it , knowing your rates will go up because you backed into your own mailbox twice this year?  And you have the wherewithal to drive a $50,000 car, but cant figure out that if you shop around, you can probably get it fixed for less than $1000 anyway.

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I think you need to decide what business you want to be in...

 

1. Real estate developer (which means building the facility then actually selling the garages/condos)

2. Landlord (you own it and collect rent for the spaces)

3. Shop owner (restoration, repair, car wash, whatever...)

4. Museum operator 

5. Race track operator

6. Restaurant operator

7. Events center operator

 

My opinion is that a lot of these concepts fail because there is no focus and the facility is trying to do all of those things at the same time with limited knowledge of most of the various lines of business. It can be done, but the phrase "Jack of all trades, master of none" comes to mind. 

 

Personally I see the model used at M1 Concourse to be the best approach - SELL the garage units to individuals thus transferring risk to them (insurance, liability, security, etc.) and then offer shared spaces like the track, skid pad, picnic area for RENT but with blackout periods for garage owner use exclusively. That seems like a much more manageable, and likely sustainable, approach to such a facility. 

 

 

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7 hours ago, StylishOne said:

 

If we can keep the negative gloom and doom aside (fully understanding it's there ever lurking in the dark corners) and focus more..as some did, on more creative fun things to consider having (doing?) at such an establishment, I'd enjoy hearing those.

Like someone else said, I think he’s looking for ideas and input about what you, the car people, like and are interested in. I didn’t see anywhere in the question about all the different ways a certain business venture can fail miserably. Anybody can come up with a never ending speil of all the possible downfalls. Heck it might even be welcomed as long as it were followed by some solid brainstorming of possible ideas. I know it’s hard for the older fellas but let’s try not to be so crotchety 😉😂

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