With so much change happening all around us, many are looking to do something for ourselves. If you have knowledge and experience of the motor repair business, setting up your own workshop or mobile business could be the break you need. But, before you begin, it’s essential to put the right steps in place – from business plans to motor trade insurance, we outline how you could get started on your new venture.
Setting up in the car repair business can be lucrative, especially if you get the location right. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT), British cars are among the best maintained in the world, with motorists spending a total of £21.1 billion a year on servicing and repair.
Here we take you through the first steps to your new business.
Before deciding on whether to specialise in one area or offer general services and repairs, it is best to ask around to find out what’s needed locally, especially if you are likely to face strong competition. If you have a lot of experience in a particular area and there is demand, it may be worthwhile specialising in that field, such as electric cars and vans or even classic cars.
Before you can head off to your bank for a loan, you will need to provide a business plan. Working out the total cost of getting up and running will help you to plan against any delays or unforeseen circumstances. Your biggest outlay is likely to be for equipment, rent, rates and insurance.
Once you have worked out the type of business you will offer and where your customers are likely to be, you can begin to focus the location, which may be rural or somewhere nearer to a town, motorway or main road. You may find it necessary to start from scratch with a property, buy a ready-made garage or rent a workshop that has been stripped down. Remember that you will need premises with motor trade planning permission and to register with your local council. Also, when choosing the right property, think about the future and if you’re likely to expand or have additional employees.
Alongside rent, this is likely to be one of your biggest cost outlays. Before rushing into buying new equipment, look around on auction sites for people selling off second-hand equipment, or investigate hiring larger plant machinery.
Whilst you may employ people to do the bulk of the repair work, it’s essential that you also have knowledge and experience of working in the industry and all areas of the business that you are hoping to run. As well as adding credibility to your business, this will help when seeking out new employees. As the owner, you will also be responsible for how the business operates so some skills in business management will help your company run more smoothly.
No licence is needed to sell repair services to the public, whether it’s a petrol, diesel, electric or hybrid vehicles. But there are a range of permits and registrations that are needed to comply with the DVLA and the Environmental Agency. This includes registering with the DVLA as a number plate supplier or to register for trade licence plates, as well as getting authorisation for MOT testing (which is strictly regulated). Get in touch with the Environmental Agency for waste carrier registration or hazardous waste disposal.
Contact a specialist motor trade brokers to find out exactly what you will need by law and what other optional areas you should also consider. You’ll need a motor trade insurance policy when you’re driving a customer’s vehicle on the road as well as cover for your own vehicles and possible courtesy cars. The following should also be considered:
Getting fully covered will help to protect your business, particularly as you grow and have a greater number of employees.
You will not get any customers if people haven’t heard of you. Make sure to use external signs for passing trade, advertise in local magazines and newspapers, launch a website, which is particularly important if you are specialising in a particular area, and keep in touch with local businesses such as car fleet owners, taxi firms and driving schools.
You may only be driving a customer’s vehicle for a short length of time but there is always the potential for accidents, even with the most careful of drivers. Long stay parker insurance allows you and your employees to move customer vehicles that have been left under your control.
If you run either a full-time vehicle assessor company from a business premises or a part-time motor engineer business from home, you will need a flexible motor trade insurance policy that can be tailored to suit your needs.