Many people dream of owning their own business and being their own boss. They get sick of answering to someone else and would much rather set their own hours and build their own business the way they want. By choosing to open your own car repair shop, you can set the prices, choose your clients and have more control.
When you’re working for someone else, no matter how much you earn for the business, you’ll only receive your set hourly wage. This can be disempowering and frustrating for many people. If that includes you, opening a mechanic shop could be a perfect opportunity for you. Before you buy a spot to open your garage, you must first plan.
You first will need to learn how to start a mechanic shop. Mechanics are currently earning a lot of profit from vehicle repair, so now is a great time to start. Many drivers own cars 10 years old or more. This requires many more repairs from a mechanic than newer cars. By learning how to start a mechanic shop, you can be on your way to starting your own business and earning more.
Once your business is set up, you could hire mechanics who repair cars and provide maintenance services. This might be to either individual clients or businesses. Your mechanic garage could also provide installation of items such as radios and alarm systems. There are plenty of ways you can specialize and stand out from the crowd.
Read on to learn how you can start a mechanic shop in this article created by our team at Trafft,
How to Start a Mechanic Shop: A Quick Guide
Articulate the Scope of Your Business
The first thing you will need is a business plan. When you create this document, you need to seriously consider the scope of your new business. This should include how many customers you want and how much you want to serve them. What services will you provide and not provide? How many cars do you want to work on per day? How much staff will you need for this?
Do you plan to offer general services or run a more specialized business? This will have a big effect on which equipment you will need to purchase and how much of it. It will also dictate your location and the size of the garage.
Do you plan to take over a current mechanic garage or will you start your own? When considering this, keep in mind the large cost of fitting out a mechanic garage from scratch. There are pros and cons to each option.
Will you run your own independent company? Or will you become a franchisee of a larger brand such as Midas or Jiffy Lube? Joining a franchise generally costs somewhere between $40,000 – $200,000. The benefit of franchising is that the parent company usually does the marketing. You can also leverage off their well-known brand name and existing customers. If you don’t already have customers, being a franchisee could help you greatly.
Goal Setting and Planning
Goal setting is vital to planning your business. You need to narrow down what you want to achieve in order to start planning it. Your plan should include marketing, expenses, and start-up costs. Research how much the necessary equipment costs. Some will be extremely expensive, and you need to plan for it.
Figure out what your specialty is if you’re going to have one. You may focus on fixing certain brands of cars or only particular kinds of repairs. You need to decide this before buying equipment and marketing.
Without a clear plan, your mechanic garage business is much less likely to succeed. Sitting down and deciding on the details will give rise to other questions you may not have thought of.
There are of course regulations for car repair shops. This is to ensure the safety of cars after they are repaired in your shop.
You don’t actually need an ASE certification to fix cars. However, if you don’t have this certification, it can make insurance expensive or difficult to obtain. You may also struggle to raise finances for your automotive repair shop. The ASE certification proves that you know what you’re doing when you’re fixing cars. Clients will feel confident that you’re able to do what you claim to do. To get the certification, you need at least 2 years of education and work experience in total. At least one year you must have gained while working.
There are a number of eligibility requirements for this, which vary from state to state. These may include how old you are, your credit score and a police record.
Plus, you’ll need to prove anything you claim with the relevant documents. You may need to provide proof of zoning for your building and photos of the building.
You’ll also need to pay the application fees. These can be charged anywhere between $20 to $300 or more. It varies greatly across the country.
Create a Budget
Before you start living large and spending your money, you need to define your startup costs for your car workshop. Calculate how much you think you’re going to spend in total on starting up your business. If not, you may run out of money before you even get the necessary equipment or have your first client. Some costs are difficult to define beforehand, but common expenses can be predicted pretty easily.
- The license for your business could be $50 to $100.
- ASE certifications: one time $36 registration fee, and $39 per certification. L1, L2, and L3 certs are $78.
- Machine for diagnostics can range anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000.
- Your toolset could set you back around $15,000.
- You’ll need a lift which can cost about $3,700 including installation.
The rental expenses can easily be defined, as well as the cost of insurance or staff. On the other hand, you may own the building, but this cost is also easy to define.
The going rate for staff in a mechanic garage is between $25 and $100 per hour. You’ll decide how much to pay your staff based on experience and ability.
The insurance might set you back $4,000 a year.
The variable costs will include overhead and materials. These could be $10,000 to $20,000 each month. This depends on how many clients you have and how big your garage is.
If you buy an auto mechanic shop as is, this can also affect your costs.
Location, Location, Location!
Select a shop in a popular area. You want there to be a lot of traffic naturally going past your shop. This means that more customers can discover your shop by accident and decide to use your services. Make sure you select a space not far from residential areas. This means that those getting towed to a shop may select your business.
Once you’ve got your building, you’ll need to figure out how you’ll utilize the space. Set up the reception and waiting area. Make this comfortable for your customers to relax while they wait for their cars to be ready.
Choose a place that’s close to the main road. If it’s too isolated, customers are unlikely to come across you or be able to find you. Towers often charge by the mile, so you don’t want to be too remote.
You will need an office where all the administration and billing can be undertaken.
- Stay close to residential areas
- Pick a building that you may consider bigger than your needs
- Stay close to a city or town, near the main road
- Find a place that has a waiting room for clients to use
Oh, and very important. Make it easier for people to find your place. List your business on Google My Business, and also use a store locator plugin on your website for people to quickly see where they can find you.
Once you know what kind of mechanics you need on your team, and how many you need, you can start the interviewing process. Hire people you believe in who you think will produce high-quality outputs and who are trained. They should be friendly to customers and ready to help you achieve your goals for the business.
Start hiring at least a month before you start serving clients. You will likely need more time than you think to find suitable staff and interview them. Negotiating salary and checking references also takes time.
If your staff is certified, this will give more credibility to your business. Most car technicians get certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
You must have a 2-year degree and 1 year of experience to become a technician or automotive mechanic. It’s possible to gain certifications in a range of specializations. These can include collision repair, school bus repairs, and trucking equipment.
Promoting Your Auto Mechanic Shop
Your advertising plan should be detailed in the business plan for your shop. It’s one of the first things you do when looking at how to start a mechanics shop. Advertise your opening in local papers as well as any deals or promotions you’re going to offer.
Who Will Your Customers Be?
Your clientele will all have one important thing in common – a need for repairs on their vehicle. You’ll find that companies make great clients as they’ll have a fleet of vehicles requiring constant servicing or repairs.
These types of service contracts will ensure you have a regular flow of income into your business. This can help with your cash flow when you are first getting on your feet.
Your business plan should also clearly define your point of difference. What do you do that no one else in the area does? Why would clients come to you rather than your competitors? It could be a lower price point, wonderful customer service or the fastest repairs. Mechanic shops open on Sundays tend to draw people in as well.
Customers who are not as beneficial to you are the one-offs. These can be drawn in with discounts and may not return when you charge full prices. You might actually end up losing money on these customers.
Advertise & Promote Your Mechanic Garage
Finding new customers can be tricky in the beginning as word of mouth is a well-known advertising method in the repair industry. People want to know that others trust your business when considering which shop to choose from. You can also find other companies who may require your services. For example, contact your local taxi company to try to win the contract to do their repairs and servicing.
You could also try these tactics:
- Putting up advertising posters
- Advertise on the radio
- Create promotions on servicing
- Contact towing businesses or other companies you could partner with
You should also create a social media page for your company. You should write posts and pay for sponsored Facebook ads.
One last tip on how to start an automobile repair shop – start off simple. Offer the basic repairs and services to build up your customer base slowly. You want repeat customers who trust your services. You could consider offering the first oil change for free, for example. Do it efficiently and with excellent customer service. Then hopefully the word of mouth reviews will spread, and you’ll get repeat customers and gain new clients. Once you’ve done this, you’re sure to start getting more complicated requests and then you’ll be off and running.
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