Millions of people in the United States drive a car. Bloomberg says approximately 88 percent of Americans own cars. Cars, just like the other stuff in your home, need to undergo periodic maintenance and repair to work optimally. If you want to take advantage of the demand for auto maintenance and repair, launching a car service business may be a smart move.
Before you get your garage doors open for business, you need to do some planning. Doing the necessary preparations will allow you to stand out from the crowd and draw motorists to your auto repair shop.
Here are a few things you need to know when opening up an auto repair business:
Understand the Startup Costs
Before you spend a dime or take out a loan for your car service shop, find out the total projected cost of your business. If you don’t, you could run out of funds before you entertain your first customer. Another scenario is that you could end up spending or borrowing more than you should, translating to a waste of money.
When you’re working on projecting your startup costs, start to plan for future costs even before you open up your shop. Come up with solid projections for your service center’s annual costs. Make sure that you include the expenses for the two years in your startup’s capital budget.
Determine Your Scope of Operation
Ask yourself: what services do I plan to offer to drivers? You could either offer the basics, such as tire replacement and oil change, or comprehensive services, such as engine maintenance and car painting. Whatever you choose, make sure that you advertise your service offerings clearly to your customers.
Invest in the Best Auto Equipment
You need a wide range of equipment depending on the services you provide to motorists. If you’re providing car painting services, for instance, you’ll need a top-quality automotive spray booth in your garage. When you’re just planning to offer the basics at the start, make sure that you invest in the following equipment:
- Car Lifts – They raise the vehicle, so your mechanics can work on the cars more easily.
- Mechanic’s Tools – this set should include a range of assorted nuts and bolts, hex keys, ratchets and wrenches.
- Auto Diagnostic Machine – This piece of equipment displays live sensor data from the engine and reads engine fault codes.
Although obtaining an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification isn’t a requirement when working on cars, you may find it substantially more costly or difficult to get liability insurance and obtain financing for your new auto repair shop. So, set the goal of getting ASE certified.
An ASE certification tells prospective customers that you know your stuff. This piece of paper gives auto owners confidence and peace of mind knowing that an expert is taking good care of their vehicle.
If you’re going to get certified, make sure you meet the requirements. You’ll need a minimum of two years of combined educational and work experience, with at least 12 months obtained on the job.
Consider Becoming an Auto Repair Specialist
ASE Certification consists of 16 different specialties. You could specialize in the following:
- Medium and Heavy Trucks
- School and Transit Buses
- Truck Equipment
- Collision Repair
If you are planning to pursue a specialization, do some serious market research first. You’ll want to make sure that there’s enough demand to support your new repair shop.
Promote Your Business to Dealerships
One of the most effective ways to market your car service shop is through establishing relationships with auto dealerships. Many of these dealerships don’t have mechanic shops of their own and refer customers to local vehicle service centers.
A great way to obtain work from these dealers is to bring on board mechanics who carry certifications to work on specific brands of cars. A dealer may be more likely to refer clients to your business if you specialize in servicing its brand of car.
Next, you want to start thinking about how marketing for auto repair shops works. There are many ways to make people aware of your auto shop including postcard direct mail marketing, social media marketing through Facebook, Instagram, and others. You will need to understand how to build a public face website to put your business on the local map. In today’s world, these are all quantifiable for budgeting. Figure out how much it will all cost, what you need to do and know, and don’t forget to include this in your marketing budget.
Learn How to Work Smarter
Working hard isn’t enough. You have to work smart, as well. Come up with ways to deliver stellar auto service and reward customers for their patronage with rewards and incentives.
Make sure that you do everything you can to gain the loyalty of your customers. When you have pleased customers, they are likely to return to your car repair shop if they ever encounter any issues with their vehicle. This repeat business will bring in the money you need to survive and thrive.
Establishing an auto service business won’t be a walk in the park. It takes patience, commitment and an excellent game plan. Take note of these seven tips to propel your new business to success.