If you are considering opening an auto repair business, you are on the cusp of taking a very wise step. The auto repair game is completely recession proof. People always drive, and the cars they drive will always need servicing and will always break down, regardless of who the president is or how well the stock market is performing. All it takes is a savvy business mind, respecting and valuing the customer and a passion for automobiles. Put it all together and you’ll find your auto repair business a lucrative joy. But as with many endeavors it is not for everyone. Take a look at these five things you should consider before starting your auto repair business.
First of all, what is the identity of your shop? Not all auto repair businesses are the same. Some people focus solely on domestic cars, while others will only touch foreign vehicles. Some shop owners will work on any element of the vehicle, others specialize in brakes, tires, oil changes or engine repair. Any of these directions can work, but make sure you choose one. Your shop cannot be all things to all people, and if you don’t have an identity that is visible and obvious you might get lost.
Next, is there any additional knowledge you require in order to be successful? If you’ve been working as a mechanic for the last fifteen years, know cars inside and out and also know what works and doesn’t work on the business end you are probably good to go. But if you only understand the mechanical and don’t have any entrepreneurial experience you could face stiff growing pains. Or if you know how to run a small business but couldn’t name three parts under the hood, an auto repair shop is probably not for you. You can educate yourself and fill in the gaps, so make sure you tackle that before opening your doors.
Do you have a solid location in mind? Where your auto repair shop sits is incredibly important. Mechanics get a lot of their business through word of mouth, but the remainder comes from people passing by. You must be located in an area with a decent amount of foot traffic, preferably by a highway as well. And make sure you aren’t setting up shop in an area with several respected garages. If that region already has their go-to guys you could find yourself in trouble fast.
Is there anything else that can separate you from the competition? In any business it pays to have a hook, and auto repair is no different. You should think about what could distinguish you from your competition, and get the word out. You want to be known for a particular skill, and you also want to have some sort of branding. You could make do without it, but if you have any big dreams for future expansion you should understand your hook.
Finally, do you have the financial ability and patience to get through the startup days? You might see a trickle of business in the first weeks after you open your doors, but unless you are bringing a bunch of clients with you from another garage it could be lean for a while. Make sure you start the business conservatively, and don’t waste money on too much stock or getting all of your employees a certificate IV in training and assessment. Make sure you have liquid capital on hand to float you through the lean times, and that you are willing to let the business take the time it needs to grow. Otherwise, you might be better off remaining an employee.