How a Car Mechanic Became My Best Freelance Business Advisor

Photo by Fancycrave

I’m an ideal customer for any car mechanic.

Just imagine me. A freelance content writer with a law degree. Changing a flat tire is a whole day adventure for me.

Here comes a sheep. Oh boy, you’re going to rain me so much money. That’s how car mechanics see me. I don’t blame them. But, I’m so helplessly disinterested in learning even the basic car repairs.

So, I just give up completely when something goes wrong with my car. I imagine that I’m jumping off a cliff. I close my eyes and I expect a hefty repair bill when I open them again. This is how it works for me.

A Business Guru From My Local Car Repair Garage

Expecting of me to go into the technicalities would be unfair. My 12-year-old car betrayed me, plain and simple. Something that has to do with my car battery. That was my first door neighbor’s best guess.

So, here I was standing in front of a local car repair garage. I felt totally helpless. I didn’t even bother to do some math how much it would cost me, eventually. It had to be serious because my car behaved as if someone hacked it. There are no smart cars that old, but you get my point.

I was expecting to hear a never-ending story about my car’s problem or problems. You know, a car mechanic has to justify his astronomic costs.

It turned out that my car mechanic wasn’t much of a talker. He did some hocus pocus with my car. A few minutes later he just said, I’m done. You are good to go.

My wallet was already in my hands. No, no need. We’re cool. One small connector corroded. It’s replaced.

I was speechless. I was looking at a car mechanic who didn’t turn his work into rocket science. How much I owe you for your work?

Told you already. It’s nothing. It wouldn’t be fair to charge you for it.

But, you have to take something. A car mechanic just waved his hand and went into his garage.

I stood shocked for a moment and then I followed.

You could have said anything. You could have asked as much money as you wanted.

Yes, I could, but I want to see you again.

Life is obviously full of surprises. I got my car fixed and more importantly, I got an invaluable business lesson.

Time to Walk in My Car Mechanic’s Shoes

So, here comes a client. He wants a slogan for his business. He wants to get a quote. It’s his first time hiring a freelancer.

Here’s the thing about slogans. You hit the target with the first one. Or, you can end up writing hundreds of them with no happy end. It’s all in the eye of a beholder, your client.

Look, I’m going to write you five slogans. You like them, you pay. You don’t like them, you don’t pay. OK?

But, I have to give you something. I insist.

No, you don’t.

What happened?

My client came back to me and said, I don’t like what you wrote, but I’m going to pay you $50 and you will get additional $50 for five new slogans.

The second series of my slogans was a success.

The next thing I know, the same client hired me to rewrite his website’s content plus some new pages for $500. Then, he asked me if I could write Terms and Privacy Policy too.

Eventually, I was writing regular blog posts for this client.

Luckily for me, my curiosity didn’t kill the cat and our freelance business partnership. I just had to know what would have happened if I were to ask to be paid the first time.

I was ready to pay you as much as you wanted for the first series of slogans. But, I definitely didn’t plan to revamp my website content. I also didn’t want to have regular blog posts.

What made you change your mind?

You stroke me as a freelancer who wasn’t after my money, only. This is exactly the same approach I have with my own clients. I’m not interested in one-time rip-offs, but rather in long-term trustworthy business relationships.

What happened next? Some of my client’s clients hired me to do freelance work for them based on his flattering recommendation.

Freelance Blues Is All About Paying Your Dues

I’ve changed a few cars since then, but my car mechanic is still the same guy from the beginning of this story.

Now, you have to call and schedule a car inspection in advance. He’s always overbooked, but he still finds time for some additional business advice I can successfully apply.

The only difference is that these pieces of advice don’t come for free. He always likes to say, no beer for me — no advice for you. But hey, that’s the price I always gladly pay. And, my car runs smoothly.

And yes, his car repair shop has a new slogan:

“Our car repair story always has a happy end.”

That was on the house. My freelance house.

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Eight-Time "Noonies" Writing Award Winner

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