How to Start an Auto Repair Shop – Resources Included

June 30, 2018 1772 views

Auto Repair Business Overview

Running an automotive repair business involves repairing and maintaining a variety of vehicles.

To be successful in this type of business, you have to have good problem-solving skills. You must have knowledge of various vehicles, as well as excellent mechanical repair skills.

As a garage owner, you have to keep in mind most of your customers will come in when they have a problem, and a lot of times they can’t afford to pay for the repairs.

They usually use their credit cards and they can easily become stressed out about the repair.

Knowing this, it’s your job to get the repair completed as cheaply as possible for your customer without compromising the quality of the repair. You can’t just guess at the problem and keep putting on new parts.

Skill Set

  • Problem-solving skills.
  • Troubleshooting skills.
  • Dealing with frustrated people.
  • Scheduling skills.
  • Keeping strict deadlines.
  • Dealing with the unseen (This is common on a lot of repairs.)
  • Giving accurate estimates.
  • Common business skills.

Employee Consideration

Hours of Operation

Regular business hours are required for this type of business. However, you can open a half-hour early and or close a half-hour later to accommodate pickups and drop-offs for people who work 9 to 5.

Equipment and Supplies

  • Vehicle Hoists.
  • Engine Hoist.
  • Air compressor with sufficient storage and enough power to keep up with your needs.
  • Air tools — air ratchet, air chisel, impact wrench, assorted air tools.
  • Transmission jack, jack stands, floor jacks.
  • Tire changers — tire and rim balancers.
  • Diagnostic scanners.
  • Fender covers.
  • Air conditioning tools.
  • Gas torch – MIG or TIG welders.
  • Battery chargers/jump starters.
  • Brake Lathes.
  • Car dollies.
  • Creepers.
  • Assorted brake tools — suspension tools, exhaust repair tools.
  • Headlight aimers.
  • Gear pullers.
  • Oil change and lube equipment.
  • Parts washers, pressure washers, parts handlers/stands, vacuums, floor fan.
  • Sandblaster.
  • Shop Press.
  • Bench grinders, work tables, and 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.

Monthly Expenses and Operating Costs To Consider:

In addition to our list of common business expenses, your shop will require a budget for the ongoing cost of supplies, like, screws, nuts bolts, assorted fastening supplies, oxygen, acetylene, drill bits, wire wheels, grinding discs, environmental disposal fees, etc.


Marketing Ideas:

  • You could offer huge discounts on oil changes. For example, just cover the cost of the product and don’t make any money on the oil change. Now, with the discounted oil change, offer a free 10-point inspection. During this inspection, you’re going to find a lot of cars will soon need brakes, tires, exhaust systems, etc. Here’s where you can gain a lot of business. You can address the problem before it gets too bad, saving the customer money and making the repair sooner for you. This is just an idea — you can tweak it and make it your own.
  • Create a maintenance record for your customer’s vehicle, so you and your customer can keep track of all the repairs and maintenance. This makes you the person in charge of the vehicle’s health, and the customer can have peace of mind when it comes to repairs and maintenance. It also makes the customer think twice before going to another garage for repair.
  • Offer extended guarantees for your work. Be sure you have clear warranties that are specific to the repair.
  • Make deals with local body shops to repair the issues that are beyond their scope of work. Offer them a percentage of each repair cost or a referral fee.
  • Create an advertorial in your local newspaper, giving tips to people and offering a coupon.
  • Get some local radio time. For example, if a huge storm is coming, you could contact your local radio station to offer safe driving tips during the storm and how important it is to have your brakes and tires in good condition while driving through these stormy conditions. You could offer listeners a free inspection when they drop by your garage.
  • Create a comfortable waiting area for your customers. Create some videos about some of the most important issues to keep your vehicle safe and maintained and play that on a TV in the waiting area. With each of the maintenance tips, you could offer a service package and have the customer ask you about it.
  • Have Wi-Fi, free coffee, and free soft drinks. You want to make your customer feel comfortable when they come to your shop for repairs.
  • Create offers. For example, offer a 10% discount on labor for every 10 visits or for every $1,000 a customer spends on repairs during the year.
  • You need to make a deal or get an account with a parts supplier. Sometimes, you make more money on the parts than you do on the actual repair. This is a good source of income for your business.

One last tip, you could also create maintenance packages and offer discounted rates to keep existing customers returning and bring in new customers.

Maintenance Packages Could Include:

    • Oil change
    • Tire rotation.
    • Brake check.
    • Front-end check.
    • Transmission fluid check.
    • Computer scan.
    • Electrical check.

During these checks, issues may show up that will need attention now or in the near future.

Pros and Cons:

The Pros:

  • Can be very profitable.
  • With good marketing, you could have a busy garage.
  • You become a problem-solver with all your thinking processes.

The Cons:

  • Some problems are difficult to diagnose, especially if they are not occurring constantly.
  • In some cases, special tools are needed that aren’t used very much, and these can be expensive.
  • You’re always dealing with people’s problems.
  • People who need your services are usually paying for something they don’t want to pay for.
  • Trends are changing to electric cars.
  • A lot of repairs need to go through a dealer.
  • If you hire mechanics and they are on the clock, you must have enough business to keep them busy or you will lose a lot of money.
  • When you charge customers for repairs, you must have licensed auto mechanics working on the vehicles.

Profitability and Revenue Considerations:

  • Auto repair is a profitable business model. One of the issues that your profit depends on is if you’re doing the work yourself or you’re hiring mechanics. When you hire mechanics, you need to make sure you have enough business to keep them going, especially if you’re paying by the hour.
  • Paying mechanics by the book means the mechanic is getting a flat book rate, which is less profit for the shop, but it’s safer if you don’t have a busy shop.
  • A profit boost is when you charge by the book, and you are able to do the work in less time. You still charge the book rate, which gives you an extra profit boost.

Start-up Cost Considerations:

Your start-up costs depend on how you’re starting your business. For example, if you’re buying a garage with eight bays and buying top-of-the-line equipment, then your start-up costs will be great compared to starting your business from your home garage and building a customer base. So, how big you plan to start will reflect what kind of start-up costs you need.

Full-Time or Part-Time Business:

An automotive repair business can be part-time or full-time.

Home-Based Business:

An automotive business can be run from your home depending on zoning restrictions.


Business Plans For An Auto Repair Shop:

Free Automotive Repair Shop Business Plan | TheFinanceResource.com

Automotive Repair Service Business Plan | Reference for business.com

Mechanic Auto Repair Sample Business Plan | Scribd.com

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life of An Automotive Technician | Just Rolled Into The Shop


Hybrid Specialist and Owner of Luscious Garage | Repairpal-Shops.com

An Interview with Auto Technician, Alan Kirkes | Automotive Schools.com

The Impossibly Profitable Shop, Kurt Krans | Ratchet+Wrench

Market Research

Auto Mechanics in the US Market Research | IBISWorld

Auto Repair Business 2012 | Sbdcnet.org

Auto Repair Services Industry Data, Trends, and Analysis | Valuation Resources.com

Auto Repair Shops’ Growth Stalls | Forbes.com

29 Auto Repair Industry Statistics and Trends | Brandon Gaille.com

How Big Is the Auto Repair Industry? | AAMCO

Automotive Repair & Maintenance Services Industry |First Research


Challenges & Trends in the Future of the Automotive Aftermarket | Openbay.com

The Future of Your Auto Repair Shop | Eliteworldwide.com

Future Trends in Auto Repair | Automotive Management network.com

Startup Tips:

Auto Repair Shop Projected Financials for First 3 Years – ProjectionHub

How to Start an Auto Repair Shop | Work It daily.com

How to Start My Own Auto Mechanic Shop | Our Everyday Life

What You Need to Start Your Own Auto Repair Garage | Auto Training Centre.com

Buy an Auto Shop for Sale vs Open a New Auto Repair Shop | Gensteel.com

Article Mix:

The 5 Most Common Hiring Mistakes That Auto Repair Shop Owners Make | Eliteworldwide.com

Useful Tips on How to Effectively Run an Auto Repair Shop |

Opening an Auto Repair Shop: 6 Things You Should Know | Advanced Technology Institute

Shop Stays in Business by Educating Employees | Potomaclocal.com

We bought an automobile repair shop – This Happened to Me | Medium

Marketing Tips:

Automotive Internet Marketing Services | Bill Enross

How an Auto Repair Shop is Winning Female Customers With Social Media | Social Media Examiner

5 Marketing Ideas for Auto Repair Shops to Increase Word of Mouth | Outboundengine.com

Auto Repair Marketing Articles | Elite Worldwide

OPINION: My 7 best auto repair shop marketing rules | The Tire Dealer’s No. 1 News Source

11 Genius Automotive Repair Direct Mail Postcard Examples | Postcardmania.com

Auto Repair Marketing & Advertising Solutions | Ringringmarketing.com

Training Tips:

Online Automotive Technician Program | Penn Foster Career School

Universal Technical Institute (UTI) | Technical Education Trade School

Automotive Mechanic Schools | Auto Technician Training Programs

Increase Automotive Repair Shop Profits | Automotive Training Institute (ATI)

Auto Mechanic Schools | Automotive Training | Lincoln Tech

Automotive Technician Repair Programs | Wyotech.edu

Repair Shop Mastery 1 Day Worshop | Auto Training.net

Auto Repair Shop Management Training and Consulting | Elite Worldwide

Seminar: Financial Management for the Auto Repair Business | Search Autoparts

Guerrilla Shop Management – RLO Training

Auto Profit Masters | Solutions for Auto Repair Shops

Automotive Management Institute | AMI online.org


Snap-on | Snapon.com

Best Buy Auto Equipment | Best Buy Auto Equipment.com

Eagle Equipment | Eagleequip.com

Automotive Repair Tools | Matco Tools

Garage Equipment Supply | Gesusa.com

Automotive Tools and Motorcycle Tools | Harbor Freight

Shop Supplies:

Auto Repair Shop Supplies | Gabpauto.com

Wholesale Auto Supply Company | Wascoonline.com

Automotive Shop Supplies | Eastwood

Advance Auto Parts | Advance Auto Parts.com


Vin Waterhouse Auto Shop Financial Training | Vin WaterHouse.com

Best Auto Repair Software | 2016 Reviews of the Most Popular Systems

14 Best Auto Repair Software | Top Best Alternatives

Auto Repair Shop Management | Winworks.com

Easy Use Auto Repair Shop Software | Auto Repair Software

Leading Auto Shop Software For The Auto Repair Owner | Shop Boss

Auto Shop Management Software From R.O. Writer | Rowriter.com

Auto Repair Shop Software | CRM & Invoice System

Auto Shop Management Software | NAPA TRACS


What kind of insurance coverage does an auto repair shop need | Bozzuto Insurance.com

Auto Repair Shop Insurance: Coverage & Quotes | Farmers

Automotive Services and Repair Insurance | Nationwide Insurance

Garage Insurance | Progressive Commercial

Business Insurance for Auto Repair Shops | Netquote.com

Established Auto Repair Shops:

Milstead Automotive

Precision Auto Repair

DeKalb Auto Repair

Auto Repair Shop Glendale AZ

Naperville Auto Repair

Highland Park Auto Repair

Auto Repair Phoenix



Shop Owner

Underhood Service

Automotive Service Professional


Ratchet And Wrench

Auto Inc

Top 10 National Automotive Magazines


Slingshot: The Fast Track to Financial Freedom in Auto Repair eBook: David Dickson

How to Start and Manage a Successful Auto Repair Business

What is wrong with your auto mechanic: An insiders view of the auto repair business

How Anyone Can Start and Manage a Successful Auto Repair Business


AAA Auto Repair Glossary PDF | AAA Exchange

Auto Zone Glossary | AutoZone.com

Glossary of Common Auto Repair Terms | AutoMD


Automotive Repair Industry Associations


Auto Care Association

The Repair Association

AASP National

Franchise Opportunities:

Automotive Franchises | Entrepreneur

Automotive Repair Franchise Business | FranchiseDirect.com

Oil Change Franchise | Precision Tune Auto Care

Automotive Repair Franchises for Sale | BizBuySell.com

Auto-Lab | Autolabusa.com

The Best Automotive Franchise Opportunities in the USA | Franchisehelp.com

Businesses For Sale:

Auto Repair Businesses For Sale in US | BusinessesForSale.com

Auto and Automotive Businesses for Sale | BizQuest

Auto Repair Businesses For Sale | MergerNetwork.com

Automotive Businesses for Sale | BusinessMart.com

The Latest Auto Repair Shop Related Videos:

Auto Repair Shop Tips Videos

Auto Repair Shop Business Tip Videos

Auto Repair Shop Layout Videos

Auto Repair Shop Marketing Videos

Auto Repair Shop Management Videos

Auto Repair Shop Software Vidoes


Automotive Management Network | Auto Shop Management

Automotive Shop Management Network Forum | AutoShopOwner

Automotive Repair Shop Management Forum | iATN

Automotive Repair Questions Answered by Mechanics | Carjunky

Any auto repair shop owners here? | The Garage Journal Board

Auto Repair Shop on Social Media:



Auto Repair Posts


Auto Repair Shop Groups


Auto Repair Shop Facebook Pages


Auto Repair Shop Facebook Videos


Auto Repair Shop Tweets


Auto Repair Shop Linkedin Groups


Auto Repair Shop

Auto Repair

Auto Repair Business