Car body shops provide a wide variety of services to vehicle owners. This includes maintenance and repairs for accidental damage, installing and fitting modifications or even respraying the entire vehicle to a different colour. Like any new business, it can be a big challenge when you’re just starting out. Although, if you’re passionate about cars, through perseverance and effort, you too can succeed in this industry.
Ensure your business is sufficiently insured
In this guide, we’ll go through the basics of what you need to know before starting your own car body shop business. The first thing to know is, if you’re handling a customer’s vehicle, you’ll need adequate motor trade insurance. You can easily find the right policy for your commercial needs at an online comparison site such as Utility Saving Expert. Simply enter a few details about the nature of your work and details about your business, and you’ll be presented with a list of quotes to choose from. These can be filtered by price and adjusted based on your specific needs. Let’s get back to maintaining those vehicles.
Before starting any new business, you need to ascertain if there is an actual demand for your proposed business. The car body and repair service sector is very competitive, and is available from the following sources:
- Independent businesses (including sole traders and large-scale industrial companies)
- Workshops owned by insurance companies
- Franchised motor dealers
- Mobile SMART repair (small to medium area repair techniques) businesses. This includes those that are part of a franchise network
- Car dealers that specifically target the used car market
- Other firms that provide panel and glass replacement services
Analyse your competition
Look at your competitors in your town/city to identify how many outlets are already available to customers. Check to see if the market is saturated or if there’s a potential business opportunity with an underserved customer base. You may find out that you’re only competing with a few of these types of businesses, or you’re offering a specialist service that is hard to find elsewhere. By looking at the range of services other businesses in your area already offer, you can get an insight into the following:
Do they offer a specialised service e.g. classic car restoration work?
Do they offer spray paint services?
Do any existing companies replace bumpers, glass or lights etc.
Are existing firms part of a quality standards scheme?
Do any companies offer other related services such as convertible roof replacement or upholstery repairs?
Does anyone provide a vehicle recovery service?
Are courtesy cars offered to customers?
What are the normal opening hours?
What prices are being charged for each individual service?
How knowledgeable are their employees? Are they qualified?
What sort of customers do they attract?
If there is a gap in the market, this is your chance to address this segment. Because competition is intense, it’s useful to find out what sort of services customers are actually interested in paying for. Rather than just asking individuals, you can also contact other local companies such as vehicle hire businesses, driving schools and taxi firms to see if you’re able to meet their specific needs.
Your car body shop business will need to convince potential customers on why they should choose you, instead of spending their money elsewhere. The majority of the jobs that you will undertake will be repairing accident-damaged vehicles. Typically, these repairs will be paid for by insurance providers. Although a number of motorists will opt to pay for minor repairs out of their own pocket rather than have their no-claims bonus affected. Some work will not even be accident-related. You may be repairing corroded panels for a vehicle that has failed its MOT test.
Classic restoration and spray painting are two other examples. Some car enthusiasts will look to alter the appearance of their vehicle. This can be done by completely replacing the body kit, adding a rear spoiler or even installing custom lights. Car modifications are popular and a lot of drivers are happy to spend big money on this hobby.
Know your ideal customer
Your customer profile will be the main source of your income. It may be worth pursuing an insurance company’s approved repairer scheme. This will provide continuous income if you’re able to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Aside from targeting private motorists, working with other local businesses such as driving schools, motor traders and vehicle hire businesses will also provide further room for growth. Many larger firms will have a fleet of vehicles, so striking up contracts with these companies could really improve your finances and the amount of work you have. You may even decide to offer an extensive range of additional services. Before expanding into these areas, focus on your core offering before you’re ready to take on this extra work.
Here’s a list of services you may offer later down the road:
- Car valeting
- Interior trim repairs
- Providing an accident recovery service
- Providing a courtesy car
If you’re ready to make the leap, there are a number of business plan templates available online to help you plan your new car body shop business. To succeed, you’ll have to work hard and make effective use of digital and traditional marketing to attract customers. Ultimately, excellent customer service and a high standard of repair work will keep you in business for years to come.