Are you a gearhead? Here’s how to start your own auto business

If you’re a gearhead, then there is practically nothing more worthwhile that you can do with your life than dedicate it to starting your own automotive business. Once you get set up, you’re free to work on vehicles all day long, doing what you love most. 

There are so many benefits of starting an automotive business besides just the sheer joy of it. Owners tend to make good incomes and they can meet a critical need in the local community. They also get to experience what it’s like to run a business and escape the regular 9 to 5. 

In this post, we take a look at how to start your own automotive business. We explore the types of enterprises you could found, how to put together a business plan, and which locations you should consider. So, without further ado, let’s get into the meat of it. 

CONSIDER THE TYPE OF SHOP YOU WANT TO OWN

Before you spend any more or hire any staff, you’ll need to consider what type of automotive business you want to run. If you are a world-beating entrepreneur and have millions of dollars in startup capital, then setting up a new car brand is an option. However, if you’re just a regular person, then you’ll want to pick something on a smaller scale – at least to start.

Generally, you have three options: 

  • Body shops
  • Transmission shops
  • Tire servicing

You can market yourself as a full-blown auto repair shop. However, you’ll need considerable skills and experience to provide all of the services that customers expect. 

Body shops focus exclusively on the vehicle’s exterior. They primarily work on things like fixing dents, repairing scratches, and replacing panels damaged after a collision. Typically, they set up close to other auto businesses, making it easier for customers to get joint services. 

Transmission shops focus solely on a vehicle’s transmission, both manual and automatic. The work is challenging, but it also pays well. 

You might also consider tire servicing. This is one of the easiest businesses to set up. To service tires, you’ll need tools to ratchet cars off the floor, remove their wheels and pry the tire from the rim and fit a new one. You can also sell brand new tires to customers directly from an onsite shop. 

BUILD A BUSINESS PLAN

Once you’ve settled on the type of business you want to run, the next step is to construct your business plan. This sets out things like: 

  • Where your business will operate
  • Who you’ll be competing against
  • Who your target customers are likely to be
  • What specifically your business will do
  • How you will arrange your finances

Don’t take your business plan lightly. Instead, consider the nature of your business deeply and precisely what you will offer. Don’t make it too complicated. Simple is best. 

CHOOSE A LOCATION

Ideally, your business plan should specify a location. However, it is something that you’ll need to consider deeply if you want the enterprise to become a success long-term. 

Generally, you’ll want to choose a location with a sizable target market and relatively few competitors. If you have investors, telling them where you want to set up can often convince them to part with their cash. 

GET FINANCING

Technically, you can finance an automotive business yourself, but the costs are high. For this reason, most mechanics seek third party investors to provide capital. 

Having a business plan makes it considerably easier to get financing. If you can show investors what you have planned in detail – plus some figures for your expected turnover – they are much more likely to divert funds in your direction. 

You can also apply to banks and even the government for loans. Again, however, they will want to see evidence that you have the right strategy to get your automotive business off the ground. 

COLLEGE YOUR MATERIALS AND HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE

After you buy or rent a premises, you’ll need to collect the materials that you need and hire the right people. 

Start by researching the equipment that you require for your particular shop. Figure out precisely what you need at how much it is going to cost. 

Next, make sure that you have skilled mechanics and technicians who understand the trade. Find people with experience (unless you are willing to train them yourself). Also, choose employees who won’t cut corners. Look for people who are passionate about their work and will build trust with customers. 

If you plan on servicing vehicles, you’ll need to collect the relevant literature. For instance, if you plan on servicing Chevrolets, purchase Chevrolet factory shop manuals from a reputable dealer. Make sure that you have the original instructions for every vehicle likely to come to your shop. 

START MARKETING

The next step is to start marketing your automotive business. How you do this is very much a matter of personal choice and the types of services that your company offers. 

Body repair shops tend to find marketing easy. They simply post before and after shots of vehicles on social media, showing off their handiwork. Posting images of souped up or repaired supercars is a great way to attract new customers to your firm. 

You can also target SEO to increase your organic search traffic. For instance, if you run a body shop, you might target keywords users are liable to type in when looking for services like yours. Phrases like “body repair near me” and “dent repair in my area” are great examples of keywords you should be looking to include on your website. 

JOIN A FRANCHISE

You don’t necessarily have to do everything yourself. If you join a franchise, you can often get premises, marketing and processes done for you. The benefit is that you can set up more quickly, but the cost is that you’ll need to pay a fee to the franchisor every month. 

Ultimately, every automotive business depends on providing its customers with value. If you can do that, you will become profitable very rapidly indeed. 


Photo Credit: Newspress

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