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Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (MMI) graduate Elliott Deane brings the “factory way” of repairing motorcycles, ATVs and side-by-sides directly to customers with his Wide Open Mobile Tech business. Based in St. Augustine, Florida, he and his team of three full-time and two part-time technicians go directly to customers, fixing up vehicles and alleviating the need for his clients to bring them into a shop. His business is convenient and professional, helping dozens of machines a week get back on the road, including those with the sheriff's office.
Elliott always knew he wanted to work with motorcycles. Ever since he was a kid and got his first dirt bike, he knew his calling. He enrolled in MMI early on while he was in high school, and worked at a power sports dealer before he graduated high school. After graduating MMI Orlando in 2007, he moved to North Carolina and worked for power sports dealerships for several years. At his first job, a Ducati master technician took him under his wing, and Elliott went on to get trained in suspension for race teams and race himself.
The dealership he was at was busy during summers but not as much in winters, so having notched a position as a lead technician at such a young age, Elliott applied for a service dealership back in Florida. He was there for a couple of years before he saw a need for the kind of business he eventually started.
“My dad always said, 'Successful businesses start when there's a need,” says Elliott, who is 30 years old. “There's no rigged work. We do it right. In four years, we've had maybe two comebacks where we had to fix something.”
After four years of being in business, Wide Open Mobile Tech now services clients from Orlando to Georgia. His company also works at the Hog Waller Mud Bog every other weekend, fixing up to 15 machines in a day. Elliott has MMI students intern at the events in addition to bringing several technicians from his business.
About 70 percent of Wide Open Mobile Tech's work overall is with ATVs and side-by-sides, and the remaining is with motorcycles. As owner-operator of Wide Open Mobile Tech, Elliott still completes plenty of work himself in addition to managing his team.
Elliott says word of mouth has been instrumental in growing his business. Because the Wide Open Mobile Tech team is always trying to educate clients about their machines, customers are impressed by the meticulousness and professionalism of the work, he says.
“Word of mouth has been unreal for our style of what we've come up with,” Elliott says. “We show up in factory apparel attire to wherever that machine is at. I had so many marketing companies and website companies hitting me up, but why pay that when we're spreading through word of mouth?”
Elliott says one of the reasons he has been successful in business is because he has two business coaches who helped inspire him early on, one he met through church and another who was a customer he did side work for. He wrote down his business vision on a piece of paper and credits networking with helping him maintain momentum and growth. Elliott says he is friends with several dealership owners in the north Florida area, and through his relationships, he sends them sales jobs and they sometimes refer people to his business.
Elliott is part of a Business Networking International group, which is a group of business owners from all sorts of industries who regularly meet. He calls the group members “leaders and readers” who are eager to share business knowledge with each other.
One business book Elliott recommends is Emotional Intelligence 2.0, a guide on how to develop emotional intelligence skills like self-management and social awareness.
“The business world nowadays is not about IQ,” Elliott says. “It's about emotional intelligence, where it's knowing where you're at, knowing how to read people, knowing how to read yourself. It's knowing when to do things, when not to do things. That's what sets the pace.”
To foster his EQ, Elliott seeks out ways to find peace, whether it's walking around the mall or people-watching at a restaurant. Taking time to slow down amid his busy business schedule helps him maintain the work-life balance he values.
“I always told myself, don't build a business at the expense of friends or family,” Elliott says. “Balance is the key to life.”
Elliott instructs at MMI once a month and tells students that a key reason why he has been successful as a business owner is because he has experienced the best of the best in the industry, and he has experienced the worst. When asked if you should work at an established dealership or repair shop before starting your own business, Elliott responds with an enthusiastic, “Heck, yeah!”
“There isn't a single question,” Elliott says. “I wouldn't imagine coming out of school and having to learn the industry first and also learn government stuff, taxes, profit and loss, business – that's a recipe to tank it. There wouldn't be a way you wouldn't overload yourself. Having been in the industry first, I knew what need had to be met, what is professional, what to do, what not to do.”
For those who are ready to make the leap to business owner, Elliott cautions to watch out for debt accumulation, since many businesses typically require spending money to make money, at least in the beginning. He also warns to research your business idea thoroughly to confirm there's a need. As you experience success, be wary of people who may want to take advantage.
Like anything you pursue in life, if you have passion for what you're doing, that can help increase your chance of success as a business owner, Elliott says.
“Being a business owner is very rewarding,” Elliott says. “I like to dominate with anything I do, and I'm confident in everything we do. It's rewarding to go a machine that doesn't run, and it runs perfectly when I leave.”
Elliott says he's considering franchising in places that lack a service department, and says his business is nowhere near where he knows it can be. Whatever Elliott and Wide Open Mobile Tech do in the future, it will always be driven by his team's core values, which is to always do things the factory way.
“For business, the reputation is rewarding, just hearing, 'Jo Schmo said this about you guys,'” Elliott says. “It's like, dang, this is unreal. I haven't heard one negative thing.”
Lance Smeal is a graduate of the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute. He's also an entrepreneur and the owner of L-N-C Cycle Repair in Cottonwood, Arizona. This is his story.
Elliott Deane is a dynamic leader, an entrepreneur, and a Motorcycle Mechanics Institute graduate. This is his advice for aspiring business owners.
Keino Sasaki owns Keino Cycles custom motorcycles in New York. He's also a graduate of Motorcycle Mechanics Institute. Read about his journey.
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12) Based on data compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections (2016-2026), www.bls.gov, viewed October 24, 2017. The projected number of annual job openings, by job classification is: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, 75,900; Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists, 28,300; Automotive Body and Related Repairers, 17,200. Job openings include openings due to growth and net replacements.
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