Small Business Brief

Auto Dealership

The Complete Guide to Starting Your Own Custom Auto Shop

How would you like to have your own custom auto shop?

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. Most people dream about owning a business because they’re good at what they do. What they don’t realize is that owning a business means doing more things to manage the operations of the business while doing less of what they love.

That can lead to burnout and is one reason why businesses tend not to last more than five years. How can you build a business that lasts and continue to do the work that you love?

Read on to learn how you can start your own custom auto shop.

1. Define Your Market & Target Audience

What kind of work do you want to be known for? Custom auto shops can serve a wide range of markets. You can buy up older vehicles and completely customize them.

You could also specialize in custom building antique cars for customers. Another specialization is lifted trucks for sale.

Don’t try to target every custom auto job right out of the gate. You want to develop a great reputation for doing one thing and doing it better than anyone else.

Understand these car owners and what they’re looking for in a custom car. Do research to understand where they live, what kind of cars they want to have customized and their budget. After all, you want them to be able to afford your services.

2. Research the Competition

Your next step is to see what the competition is doing. There may be a market that no one is serving that can be very profitable.

See who the main players are, the type of work they do, and how they market themselves. Take a look at online reviews of these businesses, too. You’ll be able to see what each shop does well, and what they don’t do well.

For example, one shop may have a lot of reviews for good work, but horrible service. You can focus your business on great work and even better service.

3. Is Your Business Viable?

You have an idea, you know what the market needs are, and what the competition is doing. You still want to make sure that you can make money.

It’s hard to prove the viability of a business idea without opening your doors for business. You need to prove that people are willing to pay for your services. That can be done through surveys or by starting very small, like doing a few jobs out of your own garage.

4. Put the Plan on Paper

Your custom auto shop needs a roadmap. That comes in the form of your business plan. Your business plan contains a high-level strategy to start and grow your shop.

It also has the financial estimates for your business. Your startup expenses, monthly operating costs, profit and loss statements, and revenue plan are necessary parts of the plan.

5. Register the Business

Are you ready to make your business official? You have to register it with your secretary of state’s office. This is a pretty straightforward process. If you file as an LLC, you will need additional documentation for your business, such as an operating agreement and articles of incorporation.

You may have to register your business locally, so you should check with your municipality to see what the laws are around that. If you plan to have employees, get an employee identification number (EIN) from the IRS.

6. Find a Location

If people are going to come to you for custom auto work, you need to have a good location. You want something that’s easy to get to and has plenty of parking. You also want to make sure that the security is top-notch because you need to protect your customers’ cars and your equipment.

7. Buy Equipment and Hire Staff

You’ll need to purchase equipment and hire staff to help you work on cars. This will be the most expensive step in starting your custom auto shop, and you may need to seek financing.

When you hire employees, take your time to interview them and vet them. You want to make sure that they can do the work and fit with the culture that you want to create at your shop.

8. Get New Clients

Now that you have everything ready to go, it’s time to get clients in the door. There are so many ways to market your business, it can be overwhelming.

The good news is that you know your target market so well, you know exactly how to reach them. You can attend custom auto shows or have cars you worked on to compete in local car club competitions.

Don’t forget about digital marketing, too. A couple of ways to reach car enthusiasts is to show off your work to a wide audience. Instagram is one way to do that. Another way is to invest in search engine optimization and content marketing.

You don’t have to do a million things to market your auto shop. Pick 2-3 things where you know you can reach your target audience. Master those 2-3 things and do them consistently.

Be the Best Custom Auto Shop in Your Area

If you want to have the best custom auto shop in your area and do the work you love, you need to spend time validating your business idea.

This is the process that so many business owners ignore because they believe in their idea so much. You may have a brilliant idea in your heart, but you need data to prove it will work.

Take the time to do your research and discover a market that’s not being served by other custom auto shops. Once you do that and deliver amazing and beautiful cars, you will have a great reputation. That will turn into a thriving business that lasts for years.

Are you ready to learn marketing tips for your new venture? Take a look at this site often for more marketing and business articles.