As with any kind of business, starting a body shop requires careful planning. Even the most experienced technicians in an advanced facility can’t succeed without the proper structure and execution.
Before opening a body shop, every owner needs to create a business plan that outlines every component of their operations, from strategy to staff and outreach initiatives. Most importantly, you’ll want to implement KPIs that allow you to monitor your success over time.
Here’s how to do it right.
Develop a Business Plan
The first step in starting an auto body shop is to develop a business plan. This should include your vision for the business, including how your business will be managed, which components make it special, and how it will reach customers.
To break it down, a body shop business strategy should include the following:
- Service standards: Service standards should outline what you provide to your clients and how your shop meets their needs. These standards will tie into your shop’s mission.
- Financials: In most cases, shop owners require a variety of funding sources, including investors, loans, and personal assets. While working on a budget, you’ll want to account for these as well as expected expenditures on staffing materials.
- Market research: Undoubtedly, your body shop will have local competitors. Analyze how they conduct business and create a plan that allows your business to carve its own niche or outperform competitors.
Get Set Up
Once you have your business plan in order, you need to get set up. This includes obtaining licenses and permits, choosing a location, and purchasing the proper equipment and tools.
As far as paperwork, you will need to obtain the necessary licenses and permits from the local government, as well as any other regulatory bodies. You should also consider getting liability insurance.
Next, you’ll want to consider your location. Will you be purchasing an existing shop or building a new one from scratch? Either way, you’ll need to purchase a variety of equipment and tools, including lifts, air compressors, welding tools, and painting supplies.
While accomplishing all of this work, it’s important to get help where you need it. Naturally, you’ll need to hire staff to work in your shop once it’s open, but you’ll also want to consider contractors who can help you get the shop up and running. In particular, accountants and marketing professionals can help you square away some of the facets of strategy that are less related to automotive repairs, allowing you to focus on what you do best.
In many cases, auto repair software can streamline some of these processes. BayIQ, for example, can help you implement customer loyalty programs, manage marketing efforts, and utilize online scheduling functionalities.
Launch Marketing Initiatives
Once you have your business up and running, you need to make sure customers know that you exist. You can do this through a variety of auto body shop marketing strategies, such as TV and radio ads. However, one of the most effective methods is to create an auto shop website.
A website serves as a digital storefront, allowing people to find your body shop online, learn about its services, and access contact information. Your website will also serve as a hub for email, text, and paid media campaigns.
For example, when emailing clients about an upcoming discount or promotion, you’ll need a place to take them from the email. In most cases, this will be a landing page on your website that has a clearly written call to action.
Monitor KPIs and Adjust as Needed
Once you have your business up and running and your marketing strategies in place, it’s important to create and monitor your key performance indicators (KPIs). While these will vary slightly by business, your body shop will most likely track the number of clients in a given month, online customer reviews, and revenue.
Regardless of which KPIs you choose to emphasize, you’ll want to constantly track them. This allows you to see how your different initiatives are performing over time and fine-tune them as needed.
Gear Up Your Marketing with BayIQ
When launching a body shop, owners have their hands full with staffing, facility, and financial concerns. In order to give the proper attention to each component of your business strategy, it’s often best to rely on software.
Made specifically for auto body shops, BayIQ is a software platform that helps shop owners manage all aspects of the client experience. Whether you’re looking to start an email marketing campaign, set up automated text reminders to clients, or implement a client loyalty program, BayIQ streamlines the process and automatically tracks the performance of these initiatives.
BayIQ can also give your shop website appointment booking features. By allowing clients to book services on their own, your team can focus their efforts on providing an exceptional experience within the shop. Request a demo to see for yourself!