Not every car mechanic wants to work for someone else their whole life. They want their own shop, where they can do things their way. If you’re reading this article, you’re in that situation.
However, there are almost 100,000 auto body shops in the United States. You’ll have your work cut out for you if you want to put a dent in the market.
That’s why there are some crucial steps you need to take before you start your auto body shop. Read the short guide below to learn how to start an auto body shop correctly.
Create a Business Plan
One of the most important parts of starting any business is to have a plan for how you’ll do things. You can’t just have a general direction and wing it as you go. If you don’t have any direction, it’s hard to know what decisions to make.
Your business plan will act as a guide for your company. It will tell you what markets to consider, how much money you can spend, the customers you’ll target, and everything else about your new auto repair shop.
Try to detail as much of your business as you can before starting any other part of the process. The more you can lay out initially, the better prepared you’ll be to make decisions in the future.
Of course, you don’t want to leave zero room to adapt to changes in the future. Your business plan is your general guide, not a strict roadmap you need to follow at all costs.
Determine Your Location
Location plays a significant factor in the success of a body shop. You don’t want a place that’s out of the way of your target customers and is challenging to get to. You want to be central to your customers and easy to access.
Reference your business plan to figure out who will likely buy your services. Once you have this information, find a central location to those people.
Keep in mind, though, that you don’t need the best location available and spend a ton of money for the site. Try to find a balance between proximity to your customers and the price you’ll pay to set up shop in an area.
Plan Your Startup Budget
Once you have your business plan and your starting location, you can figure out how much money it will cost to start your auto body shop. To do this, you’ll need to figure out what equipment you need to start and if you’ll need to pay upfront for any other business products.
After you come up with your startup costs, you’ll need to develop a monthly budget. Think about recurring expenses like rent, payroll, software fees, utilities, and everything else required to operate your shop.
Once you have your budget, you can figure out how to finance your operation. Ideally, you can start your business yourself and not take out debt. However, you’ll need to get financing from a bank or private investors if you can’t afford to start things on your own.
Invest in Technology
Even though your primary focus will be on repairing cars, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of technology in your business. You’ll still need to handle business tasks like accounting, marketing, human resources, and customer support. You make all those things easier by investing in business software.
Think about the business tasks you commonly do and see if you can use software to make things easier. The more time you save not working on those tasks, the more you can invest in more meaningful work.
There is also auto repair management software designed specifically for auto shops. Look into your options to see if there is anything useful for your operation.
Register Your Business and Get Licenses
Once you complete the steps above, you’re ready to register your company. Look into the requirements of your local government to start a business. You’ll likely have to fill out some paperwork and file it to get started.
Depending on how complex your legal structure is, having a lawyer draw up the paperwork may make more sense. Doing this means you won’t make any mistakes and start your company incorrectly.
You’ll also need to get licensed if you own an auto body shop. For instance, if you want to handle collision repairs, you’ll need a license specific to that task. There may be other licenses for other jobs, so figure out which licenses you need to get to operate your shop legally.
Learn How to Market Your Company
Consumers have many options when it comes to auto body shops. With so many companies offering these services, it’s harder for new companies to stand out in the market.
That’s where marketing comes into play. You’ll need to find a low-cost way to find customers. Luckily, you have many options online that can give you an edge.
Look into creating a website and social media sites. Your goal is to acquire followers at low costs and use your following to generate buzz about your services.
Another option is to work with referral marketing. If you know anyone that can vouch for your skills, ask them to promote your shop when they know someone that needs help. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get loyal customers for your business.
Start Your New Auto Body Shop Today
Running an auto body shop near me isn’t as simple as working as a mechanic. You’ll need to learn how to navigate the business world and what it takes to get a business started on your own. Now that you’ve read the guide above, you’re ready to start an auto body shop of your own.
Do you want to learn more business tips to help you take your company to success? Read the latest blog posts to see more great business advice.