View Poll Results: Good business idea or Retirement Dream?
Good Business Idea 5 45.45%
Retirement Dream 6 54.55%
Voters: 11. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-15-2019, 05:22 AM   #1
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2016 16' Sport
Powell , OH
Join Date: Jul 2019
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Retirement Workamping Feedback requested

All,

I am very handy and have extensive electrical experience as well as general handyman.

Considering retiring and becoming a roving airstream repair / upgrade / interior customization, Custom shelves, or cabinets, and mechanical for @ Airstreams only. Wife could make custom drapes, quilts (she has won numerous awards for quilting)

We would travel in our Airstream camp at or near Airstream that needs service, tools and carry common spare parts in TV.

Probably not do skin repair, but almost anything else.

Have CDL so can tow, or haul unit if needed. eg repairs that cannot be done on site.

Thoughts please. At this time it is an exploratory exercise and am not offering this as an offer of service.

However, If you would be interested please let me know type of general type of work: repair, custom interior, electrical, seasonal, winterize, dewinterize or preventative maintenance.

Note this is not Factory authorized, does not include warranty work.

Thanks for your feedback fellow Airforums!

I am sure my Retirement will include my Airstream, but will this idea allow me to retire early?
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Old 08-15-2019, 06:06 AM   #2
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I think, unless you want to get a heavy truck/van, that you would not be able to equip yourself for the myriad of repairs requested.

If you want to REALLY make it a business, I believe it would take a substantial investment.

Now, if your objective is solely to offset your travel expenses...and maybe a bit more, workcamping can accomplish that.

I am considering handyman/maintenance work at a friends northwoods resort in MN starting next summer. We haven't settled on an arrangement yet, but the most I am expecting is free campsite and a small(er) hourly wage to help offset the stick house lawn maintenance, etc.
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Old 08-15-2019, 06:48 AM   #3
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You could pull your airstream with a service truck that you could drive to work sites.
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:07 AM   #4
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High Springs , Florida
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Unless you were going to specialize in skin repair/rivets, limiting yourself to Airstreams seems to be shooting yourself in the foot. If I were going to try something similar I think I'd get an RV tech certificate and do general repairs. Most needed repairs are the same from rig to rig and even crossing into boats.
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:49 AM   #5
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Exactly, looking at Ford Transit Diesel. Perhaps XL. Already have propane generator for power tools! Hold scaffolding on roof rack, adjacent to Kayaks!

Family member works with Custom Cabinets...
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:50 AM   #6
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Interesting , any suggestion on RV Tech Certification would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:01 AM   #7
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2017 30' Classic
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Hi

I've run into people who tow their AS with a box truck. That gave them enough "space" in the TV to haul along quite a bit of stuff. The main gotcha was that it took more than a little effort to get the truck loaded and unloaded. They figured that anything less than about 4 days of "work" didn't really make sense.

The other issue we noticed was that when it was time to go into town, you are driving a great big truck. That sort of limits where you can go and what you can do.

====

Once you toss in gas and travel time, small repairs aren't going to make a lot of sense. You need large tasks that take many days. Solar install sounds like a good target market. Turning dinettes into office space / desks sounds like another good target market. Neither one seems to be addressed very well by the typical RV dealer.

========

Using those as a baseline, what would you need?

You either do or don't haul along solar panels and batteries. Let's say you don't. You still would need a bunch of wire / lugs / brackets / fittings / tape / glue .... You probably would inventory the charge controllers and charge monitors. Way to much downtime if one comes out of the box with an issue.

For the desk stuff, you probably need a table saw. You certainly need stuff like clamps and other cabinetry specific woodworking tools. Sourcing plywood locally sounds ok. What about laminates? You also get into a lot of fittings / screws and minor parts. They all take up space.

None of that is trying to be exact. It's only to point out that each "specialization" has it's own set of stuff you need to haul along. The more general you get, the more stuff you have along that does not get used on the job you happen to be working on.

======

Next up - can you do this legally?

I'm not a lawyer, and have never dug into this. I do notice that there seem to be rules about running a business. Also, the local / county / state / federal tax people seem to like to get their cut. Handling all that sounds like it could be a pain. It's at least worth talking to a lawyer about *before* you head down this road.

=====

Where do you do the work?

I'm sitting here in a campground. My guess is that if we started to disassemble the trailer, there would be a bit of controversy. Indeed I *have* been at campgrounds where tearing the trailer to bits was ok. How you work out which ones allow it and which ones don't ... no idea.

Working in somebodies driveway means having room for their trailer, your trailer, your truck and space to work (while keeping the driveway functional ... ). That's a pretty tall order. If somebody lives on a farm, maybe not an issue. If they live in a more urban setting, it's very likely to be an issue. I *have* been in the situation of "sure it will fit in the drive" and arrived to find that this just isn't true. Not a good thing if job money is involved ....

It is doubtful that tearing a trailer apart for a few days in the street or a Walmart parking lot is going to be an OK thing. I think you need something a bit less public as well. Otherwise you will spend a lot of time chatting with random people looking for this or that.

Next up - what if it's pouring down rain for five days straight? ... no fun with that solar install ....

Lots to think about ...

Bob
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Old 08-15-2019, 09:40 AM   #8
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1971 21' Globetrotter
Longview , Texas
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I think it is a wonderful idea to be a mobile RV repairman. The certification idea someone mention is great. I have a friend who is taking the online classes for RV Repair Cert and did her internship at a major RV place in Texas. She is always holding classes at our rallies on routine maintenance such as how to maintain our water heater and change out the node or what ever that thingy is called.

Plus, it is hard to find a mobile repairman in Texas. We need more of them! Good Idea! Maybe a park will offer you a free space, just to be there for their customer's needs.

Plus there is always Workampers - https://workamper.com/

I say GO FOR IT and be free.
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Old 08-15-2019, 11:36 AM   #9
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2017 23' Flying Cloud
Mesquite , Nevada
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I drove a Transit Diesel 3/4T daily for work pulling a light utility trailer, I know from that experience that it wouldn't pull my 23FB. I also owned an MB Diesel Sprinter 2500 for 10 years, much better vehicle than the Transit but it too was only rated to tow 5000lbs. with a hitch weight of 500.
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Old 08-15-2019, 03:37 PM   #10
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So, I have an RV shop I routinely use for "easy stuff" 25 miles away. I have an independent Airstream trained service tech 2 hours away, as well as an Airstream dealer. I have used mobile services when travelling at the recommendation of local parks. Most of what I may need is within reach, except interior customization, which I have considered. And for that, I can't imagine the hoops to jump through to coordinate with someone mobile to talk options, get and approve drawings, how new interior components may be manufactured and transported, where the work might be done (rented space or on my property) and on and on. Just top-of-head noodling...….
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Old 08-15-2019, 05:16 PM   #11
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Key West , Florida
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Great Idea

I think that running mobile RV service company would be a great way to make a living. Just a couple random ideas i have on "how to do it".

1. Focus on a handful of specific northerly and southern regions and work each region seasonally allowing you to run a year round operation. A mobile service range might cover an area as large as 100+ miles in any direction.
2. Incorporate the business as an LLC in a state that does not have an income tax. Work can be performed anywhere with a few exceptions..
3. Buy a $1 million general liability policy for the LLC and identify with the insurance company which states or countries you will be working in.
4. You will typically need permission from every campground and marina owner you perform work in, so have your proof of insurance ready before you ask.
5. For best results in the short term, setup in a location with no competitive RV repair company nearby. for success long term, be good at what you do..
6. don't stock any major components. make arrangements with a good RV parts supplier that does stock and willing to ship. That way you could support this without a big truck full of everything.
7. most of your work will be focused on refrigerator, heater, AC, charging systems, leaky pipes and leaky roofs, and blown fuse issues. Stay away from engine repair or other major projects that would require a facility outside the campground. Stay away from major wood working or other projects that require large tools that need to be hauled around.
8. You will not need an RV repair certificate, but having one will prove to the campground owner that you are legitimate. Some states and localities are worse than others on licensing, but everyone wants you to be insured.. In the event of equipment failure, the first thing a camper does is go ask the campground manager who does repairs in the area.
9. Get the word out and let everyone know where and when you will be in an area. Drop fliers off at every campground & marina in the area. Work online groups like this one for example. Pay for advertisement. Tell your friends. Handout business cards to everyone you meet. Maintain a neat and professional appearance. Do good work...
10. Secure a merchant account for the LLC through your bank so that you can process credit cards. Not many will pay in cash anymore.
11. Your wife can be busy replacing/replacing rv/boat seat cushions and providing outside inside cleaning services. custom quilts and bedding sounds like fun projects too. If you are successful, she will soon be running the Mobile RV business, processing orders, paying the bills, ordering parts, and setting up your work schedule.
12. I don't think I'm much different than most RVer's For example, a mobile RV service company in Virginia Beach recently replaced the toilet and one of the AC/Heat pump units. A mobile RV Service company in Florida performed warranty work on the fridge a few years ago. Both times this work was performed at a campground. My RV seat cushions currently need replaced and my truck and trailer both could use a good cleaning. My tank level indicators don't work and I need to replace some burned out bulbs with LED. The slides on 2 kitchen drawers also need to be replaced. The roof needs to be cleaned and resealed. I would gladly pay a mobile service to help me with these issues. On the other hand, I will not replace the cracked counter top or perform other major repair work while I'm in a camp ground.


These ideas are offered as my opinion only and your situation may differ. To be successful, focus on the "how to do it", not on "why it cant" .
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Old 08-15-2019, 05:42 PM   #12
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I think you should contact Lewster Lew Fabre on this forum. He is a professional on electrical and solar. He does installs in Oregon and Florida.


I am sure he could give you some good advise.


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Old 08-15-2019, 07:28 PM   #13
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Are you specifically looking for ways to make money? Is the money necessary or just "walking around money?" Or, are you looking for ways to occupy your time?

There are lots of good suggestions on this thread. If you take time to figure out the logistics of how you're going to promote yourself, how you and your wife are going to obtain supplies, etc. I think you could make this idea work. I suspect you'd need to be relatively stationary (at least seasonally) so people can make appointments to have work performed. Mobile RV repair is a desirable thing for many RVers but you can't be on the move constantly or you'll find yourself looking for work rather than work finding you. Perhaps going from big rally to big rally would work. Many Air Forums rallies, Tin Can Tourist rallies as well as WBCCI rallies have over 100 rigs in attendance - maybe that's a way to market yourself.

If you find yourself looking for more of volunteer experience to occupy your time please consider Habitat for Humanity RV Care-A-Vanners. Read more about it at the thread below:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f161...ers-85884.html
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:53 PM   #14
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I'm going to toss out a couple of other ideas, both of which we actually do.


1. Habitat For Humanity's RV Care-A-Vanner program. We learned about this on this forum and have been involved for the past several years. Basically, you go to the website and sign up for a build. Builds are posted up to a year in advance and sorted by dates, so it is pretty easy to find something where you want to be. You do NOT need to have your own tools, but obviously having some of your own things may be more comfortable for you. The affiliate has all of the "big" stuff so you won't need to bring that.


2. Most church bodies have some sort of volunteer building group. The names vary, but they function pretty much the same. Volunteers sign up for a project, similar to Habitat. Some groups pay, others don't. Each organization has their own requirements. If you are a member of a church body, it may pay you to check into what your church has. We're members of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod and our group is called Laborers For Christ. We help LCMS congregations and related entities with their building projects. Laborers are paid minimum wage - no matter what your experience or position. A campsite is provided.


Note that when we work with Laborers we get paid, while working with Habitat is volunteer. We generally try to do some of each each year, but that doesn't always happen.
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