For you, the feeling of working on a car is extremely satisfying, but it isn’t enough. You want more. Specifically, you want to open your own shop.
You’re not the only one.
For many people, their American Dream is to own a business and achieve personal wealth. As a mechanic, owning your own business means being able to set your own hours, specialize in unique vehicles and essentially control your career in the years ahead.
However, being a business owner is far from easy. From marketing to business planning, there’s a lot to consider when opening a mechanic shop. Here are seven essential tips for opening a mechanic shop.
Let’s get started!
1. Certification Can Help When You’re Opening a Mechanic Shop
This is one of the most important things you can do — aside from developing a written business plan — when it comes to opening a mechanic shop.
No, having Automotive Service Excellence certification is not necessary to repair cars. But without this certification, you may find it harder to secure financing as well as liability insurance for your venture.
On top of this, having this certification essentially tells possible customers that you’re an expert in your field. The more confident they are in you, the easier it will be for you to draw them in and promote yourself.
Note, though, that your educational and work experience combined must span at least two years.
A particularly great thing about ASE certification is that it is divided into 16 specialties in which you can become a Master Technician. Here are some of them:
- Truck Equipment
- Transit Bus
- School Bus
- Medium-weight or Heavy Truck
- Collision Repair
In addition, you may specialize in repair work for certain automobile manufacturers or even kinds of repair.
For instance, Revolution Automotive Services, Inc. focuses specifically on BMW auto repair as well as repair work for Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Mini cars.
Of course, if you choose to specialize in brakes, for example, you might lose out on plenty of other business. So, before you open your shop doors, research your market to ensure that plenty of demand exists to support your particular area of interest.
If not, becoming a generalist is likely in your best interest.
2. Location, Location, Location
This doesn’t just apply to prospective home buyers. It also applies to aspiring business owners like you who are on the prowl for your future business’s location.
One of the most critical things you could do while searching for the prime commercial real estate is to find a piece of property that’s not too far from your customers’ homes.
Also, choose a facility that is a little bigger than what you think you need. In this way, you can easily expand if needed.
Another smart move? Remain as close as possible to your town’s or city’s main roads.
Finally, select a building that has a lobby area in which clients can wait. The more convenience you offer your customers, the more convenient it’ll be for them to pay you.
3. Beginning Expenses
Before you embark on the road to entrepreneurship as a mechanic, it’s paramount that you know what your initial costs will be upfront.
It’s better to plan ahead than to experience sticker shock later. After all, do you really want to run out of capital before you even gain your first client?
Didn’t think so.
So, first, take time to price a diagnostic machine, which can easily cost you a few thousand dollars. And don’t forget to price a toolset that includes specialty tools as well.
You’ll also need to consider the cost of insurance for your business. And don’t forget to research the price of a quality lift for your shop, too.
In the end, you can expect your total cost to easily reach tens of thousands of dollars between rent, equipment, and insurance. However, if you plan to renovate a building to transform it into a shop — versus purchasing an existing shop — this will drive the cost even higher.
4. Get Permits
Once you have a business plan and adequate funding in place, you’re certified and you’ve purchased your building, it’s time to get the necessary permits to operate your business.
This might include securing a state tax ID number as well as a DBA. You can get in touch with your Small Business Administration local office to determine if getting a DBA is necessary, in your vicinity.
This is one of the most important parts of starting any business, including a mechanic shop. But it’s also the one thing that many entrepreneurs hate doing.
If you’re one of those who hates marketing, we understand. After all, your specialty area is car repair, not marketing.
However, if you don’t master marketing, you won’t be in business long.
For starters, hang up marketing fliers around the city, and offer competitive discounts on oil changes and common repairs for your opening day or first week in business.
Also, don’t forget to create a social media profile and promote your new business online. This is one of the best ways to draw new customers and maintain relationships with existing customers today.
It may also be a good idea to talk to previous customers or even employees for testimonials that you can promote on your website. This is particularly critical if you do not have industry certification.
6. Accounting Advice
Enlisting the help of an accountant is another smart move as you navigate the path to owning a mechanic shop.
The right lawyer can prevent you from making costly mistakes, such as those associated with tax reporting and payroll. How wisely you handle the tax side of your business will no doubt will have a major impact on your business’s bottom line from one year to the next.
7. Hold Interviews
You’ll probably need to hire a minimum of one worker to handle your customer service responsibilities and telephone calls. In addition, hiring a couple of mechanics may be wise if you have two lifts and wish to maximize the business’s capacity.
Be sure to start your hiring process a minimum of one month prior to opening your doors. You’ll need plenty of time to find and select top candidates, verify references and negotiate your prospective employees’ compensation packages.
How We Can Help
We offer a wide range of business information and tips related to areas such as finance, sales, insurance and legal matters for those interested in opening a mechanic shop.
Contact us to find out more about how we can help you to start a successful business and keep your bottom line strong long term.
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