How to Start an Auto Body Repair Shop

a sports car in the dark.

 

What to expect from this post. First, you’ll find the steps to start your auto body repair shop then we will go through a few key points for you to consider before you start. Finally, you’ll get to the resources section to help you improve your knowledge of the auto body repair industry.

Let’s start with the steps to consider.

Steps to Starting an Auto Body Shop

1. Decide If Running a Business is Right for You

The first step is to consider whether starting your own business is right for you and whether you have the required skills.

More information can be found in the following article.

2. Important Research

Business Research

A thorough understanding of an auto body shop will make you more successful. You’ll get insider information about an auto body shop from people in the industry from the link below.

See An Inside Look Into the Business You Want To Start for more.

Target Audience

Advertising successfully requires knowing who you are targeting. Your business will be easier to operate and set up if you know more about your target audience.

For more, see, How To Understand Your Target Market.

3. Setup Considerations

A clear vision of how you’ll operate your auto body shop can make the startup process easier. Of course, you may change your goal as you conduct your research, but for now, start with one goal.

To create a clear vision, you can answer questions similar to the following:

  • Are you planning a part-time or full-time operation?
  • Are you planning on working from home or in a commercial location?
  • Are you planning on one or multiple locations?
  • Will you focus on restoration or accident repair?
  • Will you be doing all the work yourself or hiring staff to help?

4. Choose The Location of Your Shop

It is important to choose the right location for success. A poor location will make things difficult, whereas having a good one will help you succeed. A market that isn’t saturated and where auto body repair is in demand is ideal.

For more, see Choosing The Best Location for Your Business.

5. Choose a Name for Your Shop

If you want to register a business name, make sure it is memorable, easy to pronounce, and catchy. The domain name for your website should also match.

Here are some links to learn more:

6. Registration of Your Business

Choosing the right business structure, obtaining the necessary permits, and registering your business are all important steps to operating your business legally. Your business structure may vary depending on your financial status and the size of your operation.

See, How to Register Your Business for all the details.

7. Corporate ID Considerations

A corporate ID consists of a few components like your logo, business cards, stationary, promotional items, brochures, etc.

You can start with a logo and business cards and add the necessary parts. However, you want to ensure you have a professional design to impact your customers positively.

See A Complete Introduction to Corporate Identity Packages for more.

8. Calculate Your Startup Cost

As soon as your business opens, you’ll need to determine how much money you’ll need to operate it. Research your costs and identify the items you’ll need. You may discover other issues as you go.

For more, see, Estimating Start-up Costs: Are you Missing Anything? Also, see, Business Expenses To Consider.

9. Writing Your Business Plan

A business plan will help you get a clear vision of your business, keep you on track, and help you get a loan or investors. Click on the link below to learn how to create one.

For details, see How to Write a Business Plan.

10. Banking Setup

You’ll have to keep your personal and business funds separate. Opening a separate checking account is the best way to do this. You should also consider getting a merchant account to accept credit and debit card payments.

See the following articles for more information about business banking.

11. Get a Startup Loan

There are a lot of obstacles to getting a startup loan since lenders consider new businesses high-risk rather than taking a risk on a startup.

It is possible to obtain a business loan with a professional business plan and collateral that make sense to the lender.

For ideas, see our article, Getting a Small Business Loan.

12. Software Setup

You may use software to manage your business, stay organized, and evaluate important data.

I advise you to research and look at reviews for the software packages you are considering to understand what others have experienced.

Visit the links below to learn more about the software that can help you run your business successfully.

13. Getting Your Shop Insured.

Your business must be insured before you open. Insurance brokers help you get the coverage you need for your customers, employees, and property. You may also want to consider professional liability insurance.

More information about business insurance can be found below:

14. Choosing a Supplier

It can be beneficial to streamline operations by choosing the right supplier while disrupting operations by selecting the wrong supplier. In addition, having a reliable supplier is crucial to building a long-term business relationship.

For all the details, see, How To Choose a Supplier for tips and insights.

15. Shop Setup.

You will need to focus on the layout of your operation for this step.

First, organize your shop so you know where to put things away and where to find them.

An attractive layout will leave a positive impression on customers. The same is true for your office, where you spend most of your time working.

The time has come to put up your business sign that indicates your operation is nearing the open-for-business date.

Here are some articles you might be interested in:

16. Website Setup

Your website is a tool for communicating with consumers and marketing your business.

To impress consumers, you must have a professional design, and your site must be snappy and mobile-friendly.

In addition, you need to acquire a domain name and sign up for a good hosting account to ensure complete control over your website.

For more, see our page on How to Build a Website for Your Business.

17. Support Team Considerations

External support teams consist of individuals you hire for their professional services or as consultants. No matter how long it takes to build your team, you don’t have to wait until it is complete before you start using them.

Take the time to list professionals you might need on your team. For example, your team may include a lawyer, financial advisor, accountant, banker, IT specialist, marketing expert, etc.

For more, see, Building a Team of Professional Advisors.

18. Hiring Considerations

When it comes time to hire people, don’t hire more than you need. If you have too many employees, your costs will go up, and your profits will go down. Instead, ensure that each person applying for a job is a good fit.

Hiring mistakes wastes time, money, and resources that could have been used towards productivity. In addition, if the person doesn’t work out, you have to start the hiring process all over again, which can be frustrating.

For more, see, How and When to Hire a New Employee. You may also be interested in Common Job Positions for a Business.

Considerations Before Opening Your Doors To The Public

Here are a few key points to consider when starting an auto body shop.

Business Owner Considerations

Owning a business isn’t for everyone. Most of the time, it requires time, effort, a lot of hard work, and a large investment. If you’re considering starting your own business, keep these factors in mind. Ensuring you’re on the right path includes getting into business for the right reasons, determining your skillset, and other considerations.

You can find all the details on our page about Business Start-up Considerations.

Body Shop Overview

This type of business consists of repairing cars that have been in a collision and vehicles that need repainting, are rusted or need a full restoration.

Most of the time, you’re dealing with people who have had an accident. People who have had an accident are usually upset or shaken up.

One of your skills as a business owner is to have the ability and the patience to listen to all the stories. Listening to the stories builds strong customer relationships, which is a good opportunity for you.

One thing you could keep in mind with this type of business is, that you must stay on schedule. If you promise you’ll have the vehicle finished in two weeks, then it’s important that you follow through on that promise, because people are depending on that vehicle.

Skill Set and Traits:

  • Attention to detail.
  • Giving accurate estimates.
  • Good measuring and part aligning skills.
  • Metal fabrication.
  • Metal straightening.
  • Tearing down areas for repair.
  • Installing new parts and aligning them.
  • Sanding and body repair.
  • Rust repair.
  • Body preparation.
  • Paint skills.
  • Frame straightening.
  • Reassembly skills
  • Common business skills

Employee Considerations:

Hours of Operation:

This is usually a nine-to-five business, although you’ll find yourself working overtime to get some jobs done on time when you are busy.

Equipment:

  • Air compressor with sufficient storage and enough power to keep you with your needs.
  • Air tools: air ratchet, air chisel, impact wrench, assorted air tools.
  • Frame and body straighteners.
  • Paint booth.
  • Spray guns and filters.
  • Dual-action sander.
  • Slide hammer.
  • Stud welder.
  • Dolly set.
  • A variety of clamps.
  • Specialty hammer set for auto body repair.
  • Suction cup dent pullers.
  • MIG or TIG welders.
  • Gas Torch.
  • Metal shaping tools.
  • Vehicle hoist.
  • Engine hoists.
  • Transmission jack, jack stands, floor jacks.
  • Diagnostic scanners.
  • Fender covers.
  • Air conditioning tools.
  • Battery chargers/jump starters.
  • Car dollies.
  • Creepers.
  • Headlight aimers.
  • Gear pullers.
  • Parts washers, pressure washers, parts handlers/stands, vacuums, floor fan.
  • Sandblasters.
  • Shop Presses.
  • Bench grinders, work tables, benches, storage shelving, and bins.
  • Feeler gauges, assorted calipers, micrometers.
  • Assorted wrenches.
  • Assorted sockets.
  • A complete set of regular tools e.g., hacksaw, hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, vise grips, Allen wrenches, chisels, measuring tapes, rulers, files, troubleshooting lights, extension cords, etc.
  • A wide variety of assorted specialty tools that you will purchase over time and as needed.

Expenses and Operating Costs:

  • In addition to our list of common business expenses, your Bodyshop will require a budget for the ongoing cost of acquiring supplies, like paint, body filler, oxygen, acetylene, sandpaper grinding discs, drill bits, rivets, etc.

Licenses:

Marketing Ideas:

Running a business requires marketing. Without customers, it doesn’t exist. It is difficult to attract customers without marketing. Marketing need not be complicated. Your products and services are simply brought to the public’s attention through marketing. You can market your business by putting up a sign outside; telling others about your business is marketing; handing out business cards is also marketing. As you can see from these examples, marketing can be simple.

  • Offer a loaner for your customers, whether you make a deal with the car rental or you invest in some low-cost vehicles.
  • Offer free towing for customers who get their cars serviced at your shop.
  • Make a deal with local businesses — give them fliers or business cards and offer them a percentage of the repair for each referral they sent to you. On the card, offer the customer a discount on services
  • Approach local tow truck business owners and offer them a percentage or a referral fee for every customer they bring you.
  • Make a brochure for vehicle maintenance such as auto detailing. These types of packages are good for keeping the car looking new and protecting it from rust. You can contact local businesses and work out a deal where they refer your services, and in return, you refer customers to them.

You can market your own business by trying one technique at a time, testing, and doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Have a Look at the Latest Articles for Marketing an Auto Body Shop.

Pros and Cons:

The Pros:

  • It can be a profitable business.
  • You can gain repeat customers by doing great work at a reasonable price.
  • It’s a stable business model.

The Cons:

  • Deadlines are hard to keep.
  • Working with a lot of problems.
  • Dirty work with a lot of dust, especially when sanding.
  • Painting gives off toxic fumes.
  • Most repairs are time-consuming.
  • Season affects business — For example, cold, snowy winter will result in more collisions, compared to summer, which will have fewer collisions due to weather.

Considerations:

  • Start-up costs — If you started off with buying a building, top-of-the-line equipment, and have a lot of employees then you will have high monthly loan payments and expenses, which will cut into your profits.
  • If you can’t give accurate estimates, you’ll lose money or lose customers.
  • You have to balance and make enough money to pay expenses and grow while giving your customers a good deal. You need to have a strong customer base in order to keep up with expenses and payments.
  • When times are slow, you need to work as if you are behind, because if you get bad weather conditions resulting in streams of collisions you will be overwhelmed with repairs and may have to turn business away.

Resources

Next, you will find a few resources to help you during the start-up phase and once your business has been established. Use these resources whenever you need them.

Auto Body Shops for Sale

Why don’t you consider buying an existing business before starting one from scratch? It has pros and cons.

These are some of the pros:

  • The start-up phase is bypassed.
  • The business’ success is already known.
  • You acquire existing customers when you purchase a business.
  • From the moment you take over the business, you earn revenue.
  • The reputation of the business becomes yours.

There are some cons to buying an established business, including:

  • Buying an established business is more expensive than starting one from scratch.
  • When you buy a business, you get the good along with the bad.
  • You’re better off starting from scratch if the business isn’t set up the way you want it if you’re making extensive changes.

Having said all that, it doesn’t hurt to look at listings. The worst that can happen is that you have gained a deeper understanding of what owning an auto body shop is like. See the latest Google search results for auto body shops for sale.

Publications

Keeping up with the latest tips, insights, trends, and information regarding your industry is imperative. However, finding all the information in one place can be challenging.

You’ll find a list of publications that can help you stay current with the industry in the link below. I made it easier to find the information; all you have to do is use it.

It is recommended that you visit the link below at least once a month to stay informed about your industry. Click here for the latest publications related to an auto body shop.

Industry Trends and Statistics

Analyzing industry trends and statistics may provide you with tips and insights you weren’t aware of. Trends and statistics can also help you figure out if the industry is improving, declining, or shifting.

Click Here for the Latest Google Search Results Related to Trends in the Auto Body Repair Industry.

Terminology

Knowing your industry is important for business owners. But, for now, you can wait to pick up the terms from experience, or you can look at glossaries to get started.

Search Results Related to Terminology in the Auto Body Repair Industry.

Supplies

Your choice of supplies will affect your success. Choosing poor supplies can hurt your business. Therefore, you should get the best prices for your supplies while maintaining value and quality.

See the Latest Google Search Results for Auto Body Shop Supplies.

Associations

Being a member of an association is beneficial. Many association publications provide useful information. These companies also host events that you can attend to network with other industry professionals.

Click Here To View Associations Related to the Auto Body Repair Industry. You may also want to check out our page for tips and insights about Joining a Trade Association.

Top Auto Body Shops

Understanding what the market has to offer and pricing and other ideas is easier when you study other businesses. You may develop a unique idea or discover something you’re missing in your business by doing so. My focus does not solely rest on the competition. Instead, I like to be aware of what the competition offers and focus on offering the best products and services I can provide.

Search Google for the Top Auto Body Shops in Your Area.

Auto Body Repair Tips

Checking out the latest automobile body repair tips doesn’t hurt whether you’re an experienced technician or not. However, a little time spent and a refresher can be the worst that can happen.

Look at the search results for tips related to auto body repairs.

Books

You can also use books to boost your knowledge of your industry. Non-fiction books are great because you don’t have to read them cover to cover; instead, you can use the table of contents or index to find the chapter you’re interested in.

View the Most Recent Google Search Results for Books related Auto Body Repair.

Training

Your chances of success increase as you become more skilled and knowledgeable about your business. You can take a few minutes to browse the latest auto body shop training publications.

It’s a good idea to keep an open mind regarding training, especially if you’re familiar with the topic. In this way, you can review what you already know and pick up tips and insights for issues you’re unfamiliar with.

Google’s Search Results Related to Auto Body Shop Training.

News

You can find stories related to auto body shops by using Google News.

You can also set up a Google alert to receive notifications whenever something new is posted about the auto body repair industry.

See Google’s News Search Results Related to the Auto Body Repair Industry.

Videos

Videos on YouTube contain tips and insights you can use to expand your industry knowledge if you’re a visual learner.

Whenever you watch a video on YouTube, the related topics are worth noting. As a result, I can easily access topics I hadn’t thought about. Therefore, be on the lookout for these topics.

See the Most Recent Videos Related to an Auto Body Shop.