Setting up your very own auto repair business is certainly not an easy task. Even if you are a skilled mechanic and a savvy businessman or woman, it’s a task that requires a precise combination of the two practices that few have the innate skills to master. However, as long as you take it step-by-step, you should be able to open a shop that stands apart from the competition and turns a nice profit.
The first (and arguably most trying) step is to actually raise the funds for your venture. Startup costs can vary depending on location and how ambitious you’re being with your plans, but around £50,000 would be a good place to start. As well as renting a space, you’ll also require diagnostic tools, a lift, decent equipment and insurance. All of which will add up! For equipment, SGS Engineering is an excellent and affordable online resource to consider. Or, if you’re strapped for capital, you might want to contact local garages and ask about second-hand gear.
The space you decide on will obviously depend on how much capital you can raise. Ideally, you’ll want a space on a busy road that’s reasonably close to residential areas (as many customers will need to have their cars towed to your shop). You’ll also need room for an office and a waiting room as well as the obvious garage space for your mechanics.
The Business Plan
Make a clear and considered business plan that takes into account what kind of shop you intend to open, the kind of customers you are aiming to attract and more. If you’re planning to open a speciality shop, make sure your plan is centred around your speciality, but all car repair businesses should focus on the following main points:-
- Set sales and customer goals and a sensible hiring schedule and priorities when it comes to customer service and general work.
- Make a note of your expenses, assets and investments so you can budget sensibly for the future.
- Analyse the market (consumer patterns and industry trends) and make a note of the competition.
- Settle on the services your repair shop will offer now and the services it will offer in the future.
- Focus on a realistic marketing strategy that includes local outreach and social media.
- Sort your finances – projecting profit, loss, pricing strategies and sales forecasts and make a note of your break-even target.
A business is nothing without a strong staff and as an auto repair shop is (by its nature) a customer-customer-focused business, you’ll need staff that are not only skilled but friendly and personable. Make a list of the employees you need and the qualities required in those employees and make sure you stick to it. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes to the atmosphere of a shop when the right people are in place.