Transport is part of our daily lives. We drive to work, take the kids to school, or take a road trip when we go on holiday. The British public is prepared to part with £21 billion a year to keep their vehicles running to perfection. And there are currently around 45,800 businesses collectively employing over 212,580 people, helping make sure our vehicles stay in tip-top shape. If you want to be part of the car repair evolution, you must continue reading to find out how to open a car repair garage in the UK!
1. Determine the type of car repair garage
Define the specific niche or specialisation you want for your car repair garage. These include general repairs, specialised services, or focusing on specific vehicle brands. It will help you differentiate your business market.
Your specialisations, as well as how many customers you plan on serving in a day, the scale of your garage, how many staff members you'll take on, whether you'll take the franchise route, and your financial projections, will need to be part of your business plan.
2. Select an ideal location
Conduct thorough market research to identify high-demand areas with limited competition. Look for a location with good accessibility, visibility, and proximity to potential customers.
Consider factors like customer demographics, traffic patterns, and nearby businesses. These considerations can complement your services.
3. Invest in the necessary equipment
Invest in high-quality tools, machinery, and diagnostic equipment. These should align with your chosen car repair services. Research reputable suppliers and compare prices to ensure you get the best value for your investment.
Purchasing equipment is your most significant expense after securing a location. Renting equipment is one option you could explore.
4. Secure relevant qualifications (if desired)
Get relevant certifications or car business qualifications to enhance your credibility and expertise. It demonstrates your commitment to quality and can attract customers seeking skilled professionals. It could include obtaining certificates or attending specialised training programs.
It would help if you had the know-how to offer vehicle repair services. It includes managing finances, launching marketing campaigns, and retaining loyal customers. Instead, you'll also have experience working in a garage or the automotive sector.
- The best way to kick off a career in vehicle repair is by doing a relevant apprenticeship. Consider the BTEC National Certificate and Diploma in Vehicle Technology. There is a range of different courses that would provide you with the skills you need.
- Or, you could study the BTEC National Certificate and Diploma in Engineering (Automotive) or the IMI Awards Certificate in Vehicle Maintenance and Repair. It would be best if you had good GCSEs in Maths, English, and Science to qualify for these.
- For this reason, consider supplementing your knowledge base with more training courses. You could take an Auto.
- Motive NVQ (Level 1, 2, or 3) in Vehicle Fitting Operations (tyres and general fitting) or Vehicle Body and Paint Operations (body repair and refinishing).
- Other options include Roadside Assistance and Recovery and Vehicle Maintenance and Repair (for light or heavy vehicles, lift trucks, motorcycles, auto electrics, motorsport or electronics, and security). Once completed, you could continue with advanced study to further your knowledge. Try the City & Guilds Certificate in Advanced Automotive Diagnostic Techniques (Level 4) or the IMI Award Level 4 Diploma for Automotive Master Technicians.
5. Secure the required licences and permits
Research and get the licences, permits, and certifications required to operate a car repair garage. These will vary depending on the type of car repair garage you launch and the services you intend to offer, but what follows is a quick rundown of some of the ones you may need.
- Motor Vehicle Repair Business Licence (MVRB)
- Trade licence plates cut the need to temporarily register and tax every vehicle under your roof.
- Motor salvage operators registration. These are vital if you want to reuse or sell old vehicle parts you repair, as it allows you to buy, sell, and transport scrap metal.
- MOT testing authorisation
- Permit to discharge trade effluent – you'll need this if your activities could contaminate freshwaters, estuaries, or coastal waters.
- Permits issued by your local authority
- Permits and exemptions issued by the Environment Agency
- A public space surveillance licence will enable you to install CCTV on your premises.
- A premises licence from your local council – particularly if you plan on selling alcohol or late-night food and drink or showing entertainment
- Licence to play background music
- A pavement or street display licence lets you put advertising signs outside your garage.
You may also need to:
- Register with the DVLA as a number plate supplier.
- Notify the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) if you plan on processing personal data.
- Report to the pollution inventory on your yearly emissions of harmful substances into the air, waters, and land as waste
- Get Employers' Liability insurance – in case any accidents happen.
- Get Motor Trade Insurance
6. Stay updated with technology
Stay abreast of the latest advancements in automotive technology, industry trends and garage franchise opportunities. Invest in software systems for inventory management and digital marketing. Explore opportunities for emerging technologies like electric vehicle (EV) servicing or diagnostic software. It will put you ahead of competitors that don't do the same.
7. Build a skilled team
Recruit talented technicians and mechanics with the required expertise and experience. Look for individuals who are passionate about the automotive industry and customer service. Conduct thorough interviews, check references, and offer competitive compensation to attract and keep top talent.
You can start looking at nearby colleges that offer mechanic courses for any fresh talent that's recently finished training. But you want to balance hiring recent grads and experienced mechanics, so your car garage has a mix of novices and experts.
8. Implement a robust marketing strategy
Develop a comprehensive marketing plan to raise awareness and attract customers. Utilise both traditional and digital marketing channels, such as:
- Creating a professional website,
- search engine optimisation (SEO),
- social media marketing,
- local advertising, and
- Partnerships with complementary businesses.
Leverage customer reviews and referrals to build trust and credibility. To keep your customers loyal to your business year after year, you must ensure you fulfil the promises made in your advertisements.
Start a car repair garage
Remember, while these steps on how to open a car repair franchise provide an optimised sequence, you may need to work on some tasks simultaneously. Adapt the measures based on specific circumstances and consult with professionals. These include the franchisor, legal advisors, and marketing experts to ensure compliance and success.
Consider starting a car repair garage franchise for a more straightforward, less risky route to business ownership. Being an established brand with an existing customer base and providing training every step of the way makes setting up a franchise much more manageable. We recommend reading about the five benefits of being an auto repair shop owner if you need more reassurance.
What are the benefits of opening a car repair garage franchise?
Opening a car repair franchise offers several benefits. These include brand recognition, established business systems, training, and support from the franchisor. You will have access to a proven business model and a potential customer base.
How much does opening a car repair garage franchise cost?
The cost of opening a car repair garage franchise varies depending on the franchisor. It will depend on location, facility size, equipment requirements, and initial franchise fees. Reviewing the franchisor's financial conditions and preparing a budget is essential.
What qualifications or experience do I need to open a car repair garage franchise?
While specific qualifications may vary, having experience or qualifications in the automotive industry can be beneficial. Yet, franchisors often provide comprehensive training programs. These help franchisees understand their business operations and standards.
Can I choose my location?
The ability to choose a location may depend on the franchisor's guidelines and available territories. But, franchisors usually provide support in evaluating potential sites. Some may have specific criteria to ensure the franchise's success.
Shaun M Jooste, Point Franchise ©