How to launch a successful garage business

14th February 2021
Lanna Deamer

Whether you've been in the automotive industry for years and you want to start your own business, or you have a passion for cars and have an entrepreneurial streak there are certain things you should consider before launching your garage business.

Decide what type of garage business you'll open

Take the time to think about the type of garage you want to open. It could be your expertise lies in standard auto repairs and you'll offer general repairs and servicing, including MOT certification. Or perhaps you have a passion for restoring classic cars and you want to become an expert in that field.

It could be that you future-proof your garage business and instead look to specialise in hybrid and electric cars. From 2030 there's set to be a ban on new petrol and diesel cars in the UK, so creating a name for yourself as a 'green garage' could ensure your long-term success. 

Find a location for your business

Once you've decided on the types of services you want to offer you can find the right location. Town and city centres, industrial estates, and close to motorways are popular options - although there's often a lot of competition, which will need to be considered.

However, if you choose a more isolated location your clients may not be willing to travel – especially if they need to find alternative arrangements for getting home once they've left their car at your garage.

Buy the right equipment

Purchasing equipment will probably be the most substantial cost you'll incur after securing your premises. Before you rush out and buy everything, sit down and think about the services you'll offer and work out what tools are absolutely necessary for the job. Tools such as socket sets, pliers, and wrenches should be bought, but for larger machines you might want to initially rent them - especially if initial cashflow is short.

It's important to set a budget for your equipment and invest in the best quality your budget allows and when your business is more established, and you have a healthy profit you can start investing in more expensive equipment.

Choose your qualifications

While you don't need a qualification to be an automotive technician it will help encourage trust amongst your customers. Running a successful car garage isn't just about repairing cars, you'll need to manage the day-to-day operations including booking in customers, taking payment, and tracking orders. You'll also need to submit your taxes annually, so having at least a basic understanding of bookkeeping would be helpful.

Make it legal

There are a number of licences you will need to obtain before you set up your business, including a Motor Vehicle Repair Business Licence (MVRB), MOT testing authorisation, permits for the discharge of trade effluent, and if you're planning on playing music - even the radio, you'll need a music licence.

You should also register your company with Companies House if you're setting up a limited company, and if you're setting up as a sole trader you should let HMRC know. 

And don't forget insurance. As a bare minimum you'll need to be covered with Public Liability, and if you're looking at employing people, you'll need Employee Liability Insurance.

Keep up with technology

You only have to look at the onboard technology that new cars have compared with cars that are only a few years old to know how important it is to keep up to date with advancements in technology.

By keeping abreast of industry changes and adapting your working practices, you can ensure you always offer your customers the best possible service - helping to put you ahead of your competitors.  

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