Are you planning to set up or take over a car garage? Dare to pursue your ambitions, the automotive sector is changing rapidly but the market is still just as buoyant!
In a profitable market, you will find increased competition. We do not claim to teach you your trade as a mechanic or workshop manager, on the other hand, we have been supporting automotive professionals in the management of their business for more than 10 years. Find all our tips to ensure your success.
How to create your car garage
Start with market research
Market research is a marketing term that may strike you as abstract and beyond your competence. However, this study is crucial: it is the first essential step in the creation or takeover of your car garage.
It is the market study that will allow you to have a first vision of the viability of your project. To complete it successfully, you can start by asking yourself some very simple questions:
- Who are the other auto repairers or dealers in your area?
- What are their specialties?
- How do they communicate?
And other questions which can be more complex: What are the legal constraints imposed on mechanics? Etc.
The idea is to get a global view of the market you want to integrate, as well as the different opportunities available to you, the advantages and on the contrary the weaknesses that you may have compared to the competition.
It is also at this moment that you can determine your axes of differentiation, your positioning. A segment of demand that no one is responding to for the moment, a specialty that you have (bodywork, electronics, high-end vehicles …)
Don’t neglect the business plan
The next step is the business plan, you will definitely need financing to start your business, a well-constructed business plan is what will convince investors to trust you.
To carry out a business plan, you have to foresee the income that can be generated by your garage, and put them against the investments necessary for the creation of your business:
Rental or purchase of premises
- The land and the construction
- The cost of the garage equipment
- Operating expenses
- Any salaries to be paid
Manufacturer networks, auto centers or specialized brands?
There is no general answer to this question, everything can depend on the opportunities presented to you when you launch your project. However, each option has advantages and disadvantages.
Manufacturer (concession or agency): You benefit from the notoriety of a brand and have the exclusivity on the sale of this brand in your sector. On the other hand, you will have to fulfill certain quotas and will have at least one imposed supplier. In addition, to open a dealership you have to gain the trust of a brand.
Auto center (quick repair): Like the dealership, the auto center assures you of the notoriety of an established brand and the commercial support, logistics or even in training of the franchisor. On the other hand, you will have to give up part of your profit and especially the freedom to manage your garage.
Independent (with or without a sign): This word is quite explicit, you start without the support of a group, which can be scary but can also be profitable in the medium term! You then have to choose your legal structure.
Self-entrepreneurship provides you with an advantageous tax regime and simplifies administrative procedures. On the other hand, you will have to stay below 176,000 € of turnover per year. The creation of a company (SAS, SARL …) allows you to develop the activity without limit and protects your personal assets. This will then require you to keep real accounts and impose higher tax and social charges.
Do not hesitate to be accompanied
All these legal and administrative aspects can be scary … Do not let them hamper your entrepreneurial project!
Do not hesitate to ask for advice: the chambers of trades and crafts or trade and industry can shed light on certain points.
For more personalized support and long-term follow-up, call on GEST’EUROPE! We have enabled many entrepreneurs to create their garage in just 3 months
How to develop the turnover of the garage
Generate new customers
Many new mechanics think they will rely on their contacts and word of mouth to generate their customers. We believe this is a mistake, this approach works to some extent but you may end up with slack periods that will strain your cash flow.
You have expertise and you know it, but that doesn’t mean your target is aware that you exist. To publicize your offer there are no secrets: it goes through communication.
Our advice: start by claiming ownership of your Google My Business listing, this is the insert that appears on Google Maps. If you don’t know how, we can help you.
Then, whether you opt for display, the web, social networks or traditional media, the important thing is to plan your various campaigns and highlights in a marketing calendar.
When are you going to promote such and such a service, what advantages to offer to new customers … These are all questions you will need to answer in order to develop an effective acquisition strategy.
Know your customers better
To gain efficiency, we recommend that you fill in your customer database to better use it. In terms of the information collected, we obviously think of the customer’s name, the address, the means of contact, but also their various vehicles and the repairs you have carried out on them.
To facilitate this retention of information, you can use CRM software (Customer Relationship Management, or Gestion de la Relation Client in French). With this tool, you can then make important business decisions: when to follow up with certain customers, what to offer at what time, etc.
Make life easier for your customers
In all sectors of activity, the most successful professionals are those who manage to bring the most added value to their clients. We have no doubt that you do your job as a mechanic, bodybuilder or automotive salesperson very well. To go even further, provide a level of service beyond your business.
Customer service goes through loan vehicles, for example. But you can also allow your customers to save time when making appointments, paying, and delivering. If you have a website, give your customers the opportunity to make an appointment online or get a quote online …
Reward your most loyal customers
It is often said that retaining a customer costs less than getting a new one, and this is true in the automotive industry as well. From a purely financial point of view, therefore, it pays to reward repeat customers.
The small discounts and other perks you can give your customers aren’t losses or giveaways, but investments – use them wisely.
Manage your image
When you create your garage, you are building a real business, a brand that will have meaning in people’s lives. It is the management of your company’s image that will ensure its financial security in the long term.
To have a good image, it is ultimately only a matter of common sense: the watchwords will be “Welcome, listening, proximity, advice”. When you are customers yourself, you appreciate that the professional takes the time to welcome you, to understand your problem, to offer you a coffee while you wait … It’s the same in your garage!
To manage and disseminate your good image: create a link with your customers, do not hesitate for example to respond to the opinions (positive as negative) that you will have on social networks or on Google.
Contact and benefit from Heinen Contracting expertise on all your marketing and commercial questions. The management support of your garage is self-financing thanks to the savings made and the increase in your margins!