Cars are a huge part of society. Your vehicle gets you where you need to go and can represent a great amount of freedom in your life. However, a car is ultimately a machine, and machines can break down. That is why mechanics and automotive shops are some of the most important, beneficial parts of society.
Perhaps you love working on cars. You fancy yourself an expert with engines, axles, and tire rotation. If you’re passionate about helping your community get back on the road and on the way to where they’re going, opening a mechanic shop may be a smart, exciting career path for you to follow. Automotive service excellence is something to strive for if you hope to rise to the top and make a name for yourself in the industry.
Opening a mechanic shop is a big undertaking. You need the expertise and skills to get the job done. You need to show your community that you are trustworthy while building a dedicated staff. And you need to promote your shop and take care of all the financial and legal requirements all new businesses run into. As you embark on this journey to owning your own shop, keep these steps in mind and follow our handy tips to becoming a great car handyman. Remember, it’s the little things that make a big difference while building a business and growing your clientele.
Find the right location.
Location is incredibly important for any business, but especially in the auto industry. You want to make visiting your shop easy and painless for your clients. Stay close to residential areas, so people can make it from their driveway to your door without too much trouble. It can also be beneficial to be close to a highway or busy roads, so you’ll be close by if a tow truck ever needs to bring a broken down vehicle your way. Whether your customers are bringing their car in for regular maintenance, to replace a dead car battery, or fix faulty brakes, you’ll want a recognizable shop with plenty of room to take care of any needs that might arise.
Sometimes, beyond fixing vehicles immediately, you or your clients may need places for car storage. Parking spaces may not be the best storage space if your clients have a classic car they want to preserve or a sports car that’s waiting on a repair part. If you can find cheap vehicle storage near you, this may be a perk to your location. This can be the best option for car storage rather than leaving vehicles on facility grounds or an unpaved lot for a long period of time. Just an added perk to consider as you explore locations for your repair shop.
Get certified as a professional technician.
Working on cars can be a hobby for a lot of people. But if you’re interested in being a professional mechanic, you’ll need a bit more authority than that. As you start the process and paperwork of opening your auto shop, you’ll want to pursue some certifications. The certification usually requires a course or Automotive and Diesel Technology program and at least two years of experience. An Automotive Service Excellence certification lets customers know you will provide great customer service because you know exactly what you are doing. They can have peace of mind that their car is in good hands at your shop. While this certification is not a requirement, it will help you to finance your shop and get liability insurance. Having your ASE is a great stepping stone on your legal journey to opening a successful shop.
Build your staff.
Even if you are a master diesel mechanic and technician, you still can’t run an auto shop all on your own, especially if you’re hoping to build and grow your company. You have to think about hiring some great staff. Hold interviews where you can find applicants who fit in with your great customer service attitude and will help give you a high yield for retaining and bringing in clients. Having a friendly staff is a game-changer and will help your shop advance to be one of the top places to go in your town.
Don’t forget about decor.
Auto mechanics may get the reputation of being “grease monkeys,” but that doesn’t mean your shop has to be greasy and disgusting. In fact, a pleasant atmosphere can help your auto shop stand out. Even medium-sized plant bundles on the front desk or complimentary coffee in the waiting room will make people feel welcomed and comfortable as they wait on their cars. You’d be amazed at how much a couple of plants can be a great help in creating that inviting ambiance.
Make your specialties clear to your customers.
With so many cars and vehicles in the world, mechanic shops may have trouble keeping up with the influx of information. Consider if you’d like to specialize in one area at your shop. Do you want to be responsible for general maintenance or collision repairs? Would you rather work with compact cars, sedans, and SUVs or trailers, trucks, and RVs? Do you have technical training in automotive technology, electronic systems, and diesel technology? Do you want to work with truck mechanics? These are the questions you have to ask when you decide the best fit for your shop in your community as a whole. Having a focus can help keep you interested and engaged for any length of time.
Promote your shop to new customers.
Opening your shop is step one, but how are you going to bring in the business? Marketing matters. You need to promote your establishment to have people bringing in everything from a regular car to an RV. Especially as a smaller shop, you need to let the community know you’re an option rather than the chains that litter the country. Engage with social media and try to develop a presence when people do a general Google search.
One of the best ways to promote yourself is through word of mouth. People are always looking for mechanics they can trust, which means they like to ask around or research computer reviews to find the best fit. This is why your customer service matters. Promote yourself by doing a great job and treating each customer like family when they walk through your doors.
Make a financial plan.
Starting a new business is never cheap, so before you start your auto shop, you need to crunch the numbers. Not only do you need a space, but you also need heavy-duty equipment and the best rate on liability insurance. Your garages need to fit the average size automobile and have extra outdoor storage and parking spaces. With enough space, you can work efficiently and effectively, but that space is going to cost you. Most auto shops require approximately $50,000 to get off the ground, so plan for that as you’re starting out.
Create a culture of trust and honesty.
Mechanics have a bad reputation for ripping people off. You need to fight against this stereotype and create a culture of caring for your customers. Whether they’re your neighbor or someone from out of town, treat everyone with honesty and integrity. Go above and beyond where you can. Help people get home if they need to leave their car with you and be detailed when you explain the fixes you are doing. If you establish yourself as a trustworthy technician and auto shop, you’ll have customers flocking to your store.