If you’re a big fan of cars and mechanics and you’re looking to be your own boss and have your own business, then starting up a car repair shop could be just right for you. However, be aware that it’s a lot more than just having fun fixing cars. Here are several things to consider before starting.
Starting up any business always entails a lot of initial costs. You’ll need funds to cover the rent (or mortgage if you decide to purchase the place), business rates, licences and insurance for the premises, all vehicles and public liability, utility bills, refuse disposal and special waste carrier licence to dispose of materials such as used oil, tires and batteries. It’s clear that you will most certainly need a bank loan, and for that, you must first have a well-devised business plan. This document sets the basis of your business as it outlines its goals, startup costs, equipment, development strategies and advertising costs.
Choosing the right place
One of the key aspects of a good garage business is its location and the choice of premises. For starters, you want your garage in a good location with high traffic such as near busy highways or the city center.
The space itself needs to be a suitable workspace with enough room for all the tools, diagnostics equipment and ramps. You also need to secure a parking space for customers, a reception and payment area, a waiting room area, back office, toilet and a small kitchen. You might also be in a position to take over a previously owned garage business so you will inherit most of the equipment in the package as well as contacts with suppliers and customers and a certain traffic, but to keep it going, you’ll need to establish your own credentials and reputation.
Can you handle it?
This is a legitimate question to ask. An average day at the repair shop can be quite hectic, especially if you’re the owner. It usually starts around 8am and goes well after closing time. There is always unfinished work to do after closing the gates, such as dealing with parts delivery, paperwork, stocks, technician’s schedules and possible daily problems. A garage is a business with heavy traffic so floor damage is a frequent issue due to oil spillage or cracks, so you’ll be best advised to find one of those premium concrete floor sealers so that the work can continue running smoothly.
Another daily chore for a garage owner is taking care of the accounting. You need to be on top of your paperwork, update your accounting software and preferably have one that is cloud-based, and file papers and documents at least weekly. Keeping track of suppliers and account customers, how much you owe and how much is owed to you is essential to secure cash flow. If you’re not sure you can do it on your own, hire professional accountants to give you direction and advice, help with final accounts and VAT returns.
Offering good quality service is your best recommendation. Make sure that you deliver in time and that you offer feedback to customers on what was done – they are very appreciative of personal approach and kind words.
Good service is already half of your marketing strategy. Satisfied customers will tell their friends about your quality work and word-of-mouth is still a very effective way of advertising. In addition to this, put up a clear signage and get your business listed in every directory, advertise on social media and ask your friends to like and share your posts. Create your website and offer good deals and guarantees – this builds trust and helps retain customers.
Owning a car repair business might be your way of making dreams come true, but be prepared to work hard, invest a lot of your time and effort and develop your skills and knowledge as you work.