You’ve been tinkering with cars since you were 14 years old. Your dad is an auto-mechanic, and you practically learned everything from him, but he prefers that you be something else. And so you went to college to pursue a degree in economics.
After two years, you decided that college life isn’t working for you. You came back to Salt Lake City, and you found your dad, though now retired, inside your garage doors still tinkering away with an old 1965 Ford F-Series pick-up truck he was restoring. You broke the news to him.
Your plan now, with your dad’s support, is to start an automotive repair shop. You know all the mechanic side of it. You learned something in college about business, but you still have questions about how to start and get things off the ground. Consider the following ideas:
Automotive Industry Economic Outlook
The industry is stable, with annual growth for the past five years at 1.4%. The market seems robust enough, with more than 271,000 businesses operating in the country, employing nearly 578,000 people.
The total estimated revenue as of February 2019 is $69 billion. The environment seems favorable enough to start a new business.
How to Start
There are probably a thousand items that you need to think about when starting an automotive business. Focusing on a few essential items will help you move forward with this business venture. Here are the main things that you should investigate.
- Review your decision. Think it through. Ask yourself again why you are doing it. To be your own boss? To gain more flexibility? True. You could be your own boss, but you will also have greater responsibilities. You need to answer to your employees, government regulators and most of all your customers. All these responsibilities require time, and if you’re anticipating more vacation time because you’re your boss, you would be mistaken. Reflect hard and determine why you would want to open this type of business.
- Study and get certifications. Customers would want to know that you and your team of mechanics are experts in what they are doing. Having an ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certifications on display in your office is a good branding strategy.
- Raise funds. You will require to purchase the necessary equipment like a diagnostic machine, rental fees, toolset, lift, and insurance. Your start-up cost could be anywhere from $35,000 to upwards of $45,000.
- Don’t do it alone. Consider partnering up with someone. If you want to continue holding the wrench with grease in your hands, you might need someone who would look at all the numbers, deal with the legalities and marketing your shop. Likewise, if you do not have enough capital, then you need help to start your operation.
- Find the best location. Consider a space where there’s a high volume of traffic. Your site will take care of your walk-ins or customers who ran into problems with their cars. Think about your customers as they wait while their vehicles are being serviced. Include in your shop design a waiting lounge. Provide free drinks like coffee to make your customers feel more comfortable. That lull time is your opportunity to communicate your company culture and your core ethos as a service provider.
- Spread the word. Pro-actively market your shop by using flyers, posters, or even advertising on local papers. At some point, you would need to consider the digital marketing of your business. Create a website where customers can make inquiries or book repair schedules.
As stated in the beginning, there are a thousand items. Your business plan should be sound and expound clearly on these items.