Owning your own automotive business is a rewarding experience with plenty of options available to what your auto business will focus on. You might start up an auto parts store, a repair service, or a “quick oil change” business. No matter what business model you choose to follow, there will be some challenges that must be overcome along the way in order to operate a successful, profitable, and sustainable business.
1) Auto Parts Concerns
The choice to open your own auto parts store can be quite rewarding. You’ll provide area customers with the tools and parts they need to maintain their cars with, keep said vehicles in good condition and make necessary repairs. You may also work with local area repair shops to help supply their needs.
One challenge will be offering quality parts and supplies at an affordable price. The best rule of thumb here is to tailor your offerings to the clientele in your area. For instance, if you’re operating in an upscale area with lots of restoration jobs and high-end cars, you’ll need to make sure that you stock higher end products and components. If your clientele consists of working class families, you’ll want products and parts that offer a lower price point but plenty of great quality.
Pay extra attention to performance parts – this is particularly true if you deal with a lot of “tuners” and hot rod enthusiasts on a regular basis. With performance parts, the best option is to keep a small number of extra parts in store, but offer customers the ability to order whatever they need from recognized brands. Generic parts can be appealing, but never underestimate the power of a brand name.
2) Repair Centers
One of the most important considerations when owning a mechanics shop is to ensure that any mechanics or technicians who work as your employees are ASE certified. Certification proves that they have the training and education necessary to do their job properly and provide serious peace of mind for your customers.
You should also take the time to form partnerships with other automotive businesses in the area. For instance, if you offer mechanical repairs for vehicles, take the time to partner with a quality body shop in the area. This way, you can offer your customers a wider range of services and expect referrals from your partners.
3) Oil and Lube Centers
One of the most profitable options for those interested in entering the automotive industry is to open a “quick lube” center. These options offer customers easy access to necessary maintenance services. However, you’ll need to make sure you’re satisfying your customers needs such as offering a range of oil types and brands. You will need to have conventional oil, synthetic blends and full synthetic types to cover your bases. You’ll also want “bargain” brand oil, as well as a range of well-known brands (Castrol, Havoline, MOBIL, etc.) and will need a wide range of oil weights too – today’s cars can require anything from 0W20 to 15W40 (diesel oils).
Finally, make sure that you stock the right oil filters to fit the widest range of domestic vehicles and imports, and that your technicians are capable of conducting full inspections to alert customers to potential maintenance requirements.
Operating your own automotive business can be rewarding, profitable and enjoyable so long as you are prepared to meet the unique challenges found within the industry today.
Don Elfrink is the owner and operator of AutoMatStore, an auto flooring company based out Columbia, Missouri. Before AutoMatStore, Elfrink was the operator of an automotive production site. AutoMatStore focuses on all-weather, logo, carpeted and molded car mats.