For someone wanting to open an auto body shop of their own, it goes without saying that you will need fixed operations or auto mechanic training and have received a certificate from an auto mechanic school. From then on, the best way to know how to open an auto body shop is to first work in one. Say you’re ready to make the leap from being an employee in a shop to being your own boss. There are several considerations and plans you must make.
Get your Qualifications and Licenses
Firstly you must receive your Certificate of Qualification from the Canadian government. The exact process to certification varies by province but training from an accredited institute is always necessary to prove your competency and knowledge of automotive repair and safety. After this, you will need to receive a business licence. If you are starting with little cash you will likely need to get a bank loan, which you can apply for at your local bank.
What Type of Shop Is It?
Depending on how big or small your business is, you must decide what services your auto body shop will offer. Will you have such services as detailing and restoring in order to revamp older vehicles? If this is the case, you will likely need to hire employees who have trained in automotive detailing and painting. Will your shop specialize in certain vehicles, or will your employees have the qualifications to service both trucks and cars?
Location is Key
You will find many auto shops just off the highways going into cities, and in less traffic-dense areas of town where there is space to set up a lot for damaged cars that come in. You will need to establish your garage in an area with sufficient parking and make sure the garage you choose to buy has all the necessary space to perform the services you wish to provide. It is also helpful to know your competition. Are you against other small auto shops, or are you competing against major companies such as Midas? Knowing this will also help you determine your prices and what services you will offer.
Establish a Relationship with Suppliers
Establish a trustworthy relationship and business deal with a parts and tools supplier, who you can reply on to order parts from. The more convenient and speedy your shop is for your clients, the more likely you will get business. Make sure you have access to all the parts and tools necessary to perform the services you offer.
You will need to advertise your auto body shop. The classic method is to use newspaper classifieds, however a more practical and cost-efficient way is to advertise your auto shop online. Online advertising has the potential to broadcast your business to a wider range of customers. You can hire a graphic designer to design a website for your auto body shop, or even just create a Facebook page—which is free.
A good way to establish a solid customer base is by setting up loyalty offers such as providing a free diagnostic, a 5th oil change free or 10% off for a referral. Another way to garner business is setting up a deal with an insurance representative to have your business included on their list of repair shops.
Establishing your own business is not easy, and the first years will surely bring a heavy workload with plenty of mistakes to learn from. However, owning a business comes with the reward of being your own boss and seeing the fruits of your labour, while doing what you love and eventually benefiting from quite a nice retirement fund.