Starting a Car Customization Business: Things to Consider

Car owners and especially car enthusiasts are ready to pay good money for custom work done on their autos. Luckily for those who consider opening such a business, car dealerships generally leave such work unattended – about 65 percent of them don’t even mention accessories or custom work when making a sale, which means that buyers often get a basic variant and turn elsewhere for any future customizations. But what should one know and consider when starting out in this industry? Let’s find out.

1. Prepare a business plan

Starting a car customization business is a serious venture that requires considerable upfront investment. Just the bare minimum of equipment necessary to do the work in question will cost no less than $100,000, and this figure is likely to grow if you want to add anything else. This means that your own financing will probably be not enough, and you will need to prove to financiers that your future enterprise is viable.

2. Obtain the necessary knowledge

Although if you are really passionate, you can do without the experience and just hire the right talent, usually it is a bad idea. To really be able to run such a business you have to possess in-depth knowledge and understanding of cars, which can only be obtained through first-hand training and experience working in this business. You can obtain sufficient experience through apprenticeship by working in someone else’s car shop. You should learn to do everything – from replacing a Ford remote battery to engine repairs. Getting an Automotive Service Excellence certification can also be of considerable help.

3. Form a legal entity

Before you start anything else, you should create a legal business entity and register for taxes. The former guarantees that you personally won’t be liable in case your newly founded business issued for this or that reason, and without the latter, you won’t be able to proceed further with your enterprise. It is likely that you are going to need some legal help, so make sure you have the necessary finances to carry it out.

4. Open a business bank account

Having a dedicated bank account of your business has a number of benefits. Firstly, it helps you keep your finances properly organized. Secondly, it gives you additional discipline so that you don’t pour your personal money into the business once it’s been founded. Thirdly, it is seen as more professional and severe by the customers.

5. Find a proper place

Finding a place suitable for your car shop may be one of the bigger problems you are going to face. The property in question should be sufficiently spacious to hold the necessary number of work bays as well as a spray paint booth, which already limits your choices. What’s worse is that it should comply to innumerable regulations due to air pollution controls and zoning laws – don’t forget to check if you are allowed to set up shop at a chosen location before committing to anything. All in all, it is easier to move into an old shop, but it is not always possible.

6. Advertise

Once you are done with the preliminaries, make sure it is known that you are open for business. Publish ads in local car magazines, attend car shows and hand out your flyers, make sure your name appears in thematic social media communities. If you are going to concentrate on customization services and aren’t going to engage in repairs, get in touch with local repair businesses and ask them to refer their customers to you in exchange for the same favor. Make sure to offer high-quality service and additional benefits to your customers – car customization shops live and die by word of mouth, and you should do everything in your power to make it positive.

7. Keep abreast of the latest trends

Fashions in car customization change about as fast as they change in clothes – what is in today, can be obsolete tomorrow. This means that any entrepreneur willing to succeed in this kind of business should be aware of what happens in the industry and always try to keep experimenting. Remember – doing car modifications by definition means going off the beaten track, and in this kind of work creativity and experimentation are your bread and butter. However, it is important to maintain a healthy balance between hearing what your client wants and drowning him in your creative ideas of how you can implement his vision and do more besides.

8. Use affordable B2B platforms

Alibaba and similar platforms are an excellent source of affordable supplies that will help you stay in the black without losing touch with latest industry standards. Using them will save you money without negatively affecting the quality of results.

9. Make sure you follow regulations

No matter how wonderful an idea about car customization you or your customer may have, everything you do should strictly follow regulations. With the numerous differences between local, state and federal laws concerning the allowed customizations, this may be a much more difficult task than it seems at a glance. In other words, you should make sure you carefully study all the applicable laws concerning your job and even get help from a specialized lawyer if necessary. The most obvious example is window tint – some variations of it are restricted or illegal depending on where you operate, and exhaust pipes have to comply with EPA regulations. If you don’t want your customer to get mad at your refusal to do something, always keep these regulations at hand to provide reasons why you don’t want to perform certain customizations.

All in all, starting a car modification shop is a very serious step that shouldn’t be approached lightly. At least a few years of experience working in the industry is recommended to get the feel of it and learn the ropes – however, if you follow these tips and always look for ways to improve, you are going to be alright.

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