Regardless of the state of the economy, auto accidents always occur on a regular basis and people will always be in need of auto body work. Because of this, opening a auto body shop could be a potentially lucrative career opportunity. While operating an auto body shop can be hard work, it can also be very rewarding as you get to work with new people everyday and help them solve a legitimate problem. Before getting involved in this industry, you will have to complete a few important steps along the way.
Learn everything you can about auto body work and painting cars. Those who can fix damage to a vehicle are valuable and this skill is sometimes difficult to learn. You will most likely need to attend a vocational or technical auto repair program. You may also want to work in another auto body shop for a certain amount of time so that you can learn the basics.
Create a business plan for your auto body shop. This should include information about what services you offer and your ultimate business purpose. You should also include financial projections such as your revenue and expected expenses. It should also include a detailed analysis of your competition in the area.
Secure funding for your auto body shop. You could try to pursue funding from investors or you could seek out a loan from a commercial lender. You will need to use the business plan to help your investors or lenders see your business vision.
Find a location for your auto body shop. The location will need a garage with several bays and it will also need some office space attached. This may require you to buy or build a shop or you could lease one that is available. Try to find a shop in a highly visible area as convenience will be important for your customers.
Set up the legal aspects of your business. This will include setting up a limited liability company or a corporation so that you can limit your personal liability. You will also need to purchase a business license from your city and register your business name with the county clerk.
Purchase an insurance policy for your auto body shop. This should include general liability protection as well as property coverage. You will also need workers’ compensation insurance for your employees.
Hire mechanics for your business. In most cases, you will need to hire mechanics that have been certified and have been through a training program.
Develop a relationship with a parts supplier. Part of your competitive advantage will revolve around how affordable your services are and getting a good deal on parts can help.
Buy the equipment that you will need for your shop. This will include lifts, tools and the initial parts inventory.
Advertise your auto body business. With these businesses, you can mass market through the radio and on television, as well as in print. You may even want to offer discounts and coupons to new customers.