Launch Your Car Repair Career: 5 Steps for Opening a Mechanic Shop
Mar 21, 2019 18:04
Are you ready to take your knowledge of car repair to the next level? Learn some important steps to take when opening a mechanic shop.
You've always dreamed of opening a mechanic shop.
You enjoy the puzzle of figuring out exactly what's going on with someone's vehicle, upgrading cars so the owner enjoys their driving experience even more, and saving long-loved cars from the junkyard.
Maybe you've worked for another mechanic in the past. But now, you're more than ready to strike out on your own.
You've come up with a rough business plan, but you're not exactly sure where you should go from here.
1. Develop Your Skill Set and Study Your Requirements
Even if you've spent years developing your skill set by learning under a professional mechanic, if you're going to open your own shop, you need a more official education than experience alone.
Look into local trade schools and get your Automotive Service Certification (ASE for short.)
In addition to getting your skills where they need to be to open a competitive automotive workshop, also take a look at the licensing requirements in your state.
Sometimes, applying for these licenses can be a somewhat complicated procedure that requires paperwork like tax forms, a sales permit, certain safety standards, a certificate of occupancy, and more.
You may also need to pass a specific examination in order to prove that you're fit to work as a mechanic. Again, this all depends on the laws of your state, so be certain you take the time to understand them. If you're confused, consider working with a business attorney.
We suggest that you start the process of securing your license several months before you plan on opening a mechanic shop. This will give you plenty of time to gather everything you need.
Now is also the time to consider the type of insurance you'll need for your business. You'll likely need many different kinds, including liability insurance, business auto insurance, property and equipment insurance, and even plans that protect your workers.
2. Get the Right Equipment
As you've likely already anticipated, you'll need lots of different equipment when you're ready to open up your repair shop for cars.
Look for where you can get an air compressor for sale. You'll also need jacks, (car lifts) jack stands, an engine hoise, and even a battery charger. You'll also need oil caddies and drains, along with a strut compressor and a brake lathe.
You'll also need an air conditioner for your space, storage bins, and a press that will let you work with bearings and metal with ease. Depending on the additional services you offer, you may also want to invest in car painting and detailing equipment.
You should also think about whether you want to buy your equipment outright, or if renting it is a better option for you. Depending on your budget, the size of your shop, and more, renting may be the wiser choice in your first few years of business.
In addition to buying the right equipment, you should also consider how your car mechanic shop will handle any potential repairs and inspection for that equipment.
Develop a routine maintenance schedule, and work only with suppliers you can trust. If you decide to buy your equipment, make sure you fully understand any warranties associated with the pieces.
3. Select a Prime Location
Another hugely important factor to consider when you're opening a mechanic shop is your location.
This requires that you stop to consider where your market is located, as well as where your competitors are. You should also take a look at other businesses in the area where you're thinking about opening up shop.
While you obviously don't want to open up your shop right next to another auto repair business, selecting a location near a gas station, a car detailing company, or even a car dealership isn't a bad idea.
This will allow you to easily form relationships with other local businesses -- which means you'll have a much simpler time getting referrals.
But your proximity to other companies isn't all that matters. You also need to think about accessibility.
How close are you to major highways and busy parts of town? Is your neighborhood considered safe? Are you close to public transportation options, so that people who drop their cars off for repair will have an easy time getting home?
What about how your customers can actually get in your business?
It might sound trivial, but acquiring a spot with a light to make turning into your shop easier can help you to get more customers. Also, make sure the space you're thinking of has plenty of parking options.
If you decide to expand your shop, does the lot have enough space to allow you to do so?
These are all things you need to think about when choosing your location.
4. Consider a Niche Market
When you're opening a mechanic shop for the first time, it can be incredibly easy to define your target market as "anyone who drives a car."
But, at least when you first start out, this really isn't the best way to go. Chances are you're not the only game in town. There are other auto repair shops in your area that already have an established customer base. Especially if they're a part of well-known chains, you may have a tougher time beating them.
So, what's the solution?
Narrow down your target market, and clearly define the kinds of customers and cars you'd like to work with.
For example, maybe you've always had an obsession with luxury vehicles. Your niche could be owners of luxury cars, who might feel nervous about letting a mechanic that doesn't have much experience with high-end vehicles work on theirs.
Perhaps you love restoring and repairing vintage cars. Maybe you have connections with vendors that are able to get older parts that most mechanics would have a tough time tracking down.
Finding your niche is all about playing to your strengths. Remember that you can always expand your target market as you grow your business. You just need to secure a roster of regular customers first.
5. Develop Your Advertising Strategy
Finally, you need to think about how you plan to advertise your mechanic shop.
First of all, understand that your local market means everything to you. This means that things like online business listings and directories, as well as third-party review sites, are especially important.
Claim your business listings as soon as you open up shop -- because if you don't, your competitors will. Fill them out completely, including your location, operating hours, pictures of your shop, and even your methods of accepted payments.
Encourage your customers to leave you reviews by offering them a discount on the next service they book with you. Always respond to new reviews, whether positive or negative.
You may also want to consider starting your own auto repair blog.
This is an awesome way for you to prove your knowledge to the people you want to work with. It's also an incredibly effective -- and affordable -- online marketing strategy.
Include links back to your service pages in your content. The same goes for location-based keywords to connect with searches in your service area. Remember to keep your content easy-to-read and straightforward.
Good topics include basic repairs that most car owners can do on their own. You can also write about some of the top signs that people should bring in their car to have it looked at by a professional. The same goes for new tech tools in the mechanic industry.
Yes, social media marketing is important even for auto repair shops. A few well-placed posts or even live videos a day will help to boost your business's transparency.
Opening a Mechanic Shop Doesn't Have to Remain a Dream
Opening a mechanic shop doesn't have to feel like an impossible dream.
Follow the tips on this list, and you'll have the booming business you've always wanted in no time.
Want to learn more about the importance of car maintenance, so that you know which services you should offer at your shop? Interested in studying up on the latest makes and models of the moment? Need to know effective marketing strategies for your business?
We've got you covered.
Keep checking back with us to make sure you don't miss out on the latest news in the auto world.
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