When starting any business there is so much to do and so much to consider. Starting an auto repair shop is no different; you have to be the technician, the plumber, reception, the manager, sales, and the owner.... phew I think I need a drink.
If or when you consider opening your own auto shop you may want to consider some of the seven items below:
Training and knowing how to work on cars is important. Also Important is being able to show case your skills so customers trust you. This is where certifications come in. GM, Chrysler, ASE certifications, and more all help. Each one of these will help new customers trust you, especially if they have never done business with you in the past! Just remember that each of these certification have different requirements. Some will have you go to their specialized training others require you work a minimum of two years with education; so plan ahead.
With the amount of money it costs to get all of the equipment you are going to need, you might want to invest a little bit of time into planning it out. Remember you can buy, or lease equipment and other things you may need, there is more than one way to get the stuff you are going to need.
Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
Yes the 6 Ps… Create a Business Plan! Yes a Business plan. It does not have to be something that is long and complex. I even have a Business Plan Template. Create a plan on what you want to accomplish and how you want to accomplish it. Plan your systems, your staffing, your schedule, and even your marketing. This plan will help you know the startup costs for opening your auto repair shop, or any business for that matter.
Whom are you trying to service
Part of the planning but somewhat separate, who are your customers? Are you going to service any and every car and issue that come in your door or are you planning to specialize in something? You can specialize as far down as you want, you can only repair electrical systems on British made cars, or you can do general repair on all domestic cars. This is where you need to know what you want to do, and who your customers
I wouldn’t want to specialize in British cars if no one in your area has any. Know your target market, the better you know this, the better your service and messaging can be tailored to suit your customer’s needs.
Legal and Financial Advice
There is a lot that goes into opening any business. An auto repair shop is no different regardless of your specialty. Getting legal advice before opening can save you worlds of problems ranging from licensing and regulations to insurance and staffing. Good legal advice might seem expansive on the front end but overall can save thousands. Accounting and financial advice can also be huge. Payroll, taxes, and expense tracking are all on going tasks that you will have to accomplish. Unless you have skills in bookkeeping, accounting, tax law, and payroll you may want to look at procuring an accounting & book keeping service. This way you can focus on growing your business and turning those wrenches, not determining if you can write of a wrench as a business expense.
Without staff you have built a job, not a business.
Unless you are going to be a one person show you will have to staff up your shop. Right now, as of October 2021, staffing is difficult for auto repair shops. Finding good technicians is nearly impossible. You might be tempted to higher just anyone that has a heartbeat and can lift 5 pounds, but you should be a little more discerning even in these difficult times. Interview potential staff and ensure they are a good fit. If you can offer some benefits on top of a fair compensation package you will get far better candidates. Remember you are building a business. Without staff you have built yourself a job as it can’t run without you.
Getting the word out and making sure people know your new business is operational is huge. This is a big part of opening a new business and can be done many ways. Much of this will be dependent upon where you are, what you want, and who your customers are. If you are in an area that has little to know internet search ads are probably not the best fit.
Also if you are in a large urban area radio ads may not be a good fit, however this is a case by case thing, they could be great. Again this depends upon you, and your customers. But you might be broadcasting that radio ad to people over an hour away with 30 shops between you and them.
I personally really like search ads as they are being served to someone that is actively looking for that service. This reduces a lot of the friction between customer and purchasing. Again like getting help with legal and accounting, help with advertising, no matter its form, can be a massive help. If you are skilled with writing ads, then go for it. Otherwise you may want to look for a digital marketing agency.
Get out there and Do it
Last thing is, do it. Most things that are worth doing are not easy. Opening a business is not easy and an auto repair shop is no different, however if you plan it out and push through the issues, you can achieve success.