Starting an auto shop for imports can be a lucrative business, considering the demand in the market for imported automobiles. Having an import-auto shop allows you to cater to high-end luxury cars such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus. You can also offer high-performance import sports cars, like those from Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini, or focus on the bigger market that comes with brands like Toyota, Nissan and Honda.
Determine the niche you want for your auto shop. Depending on your expertise and the demand in your area, you can do several things. You can start an auto-tuning shop, which modifies import cars for increased performance. You can start a body shop, which will repair dents, scratches and other body work. You can also start an auto-parts shop, which specializes in spare parts and aftermarket accessories. Any of these types of auto shops can service a niche market with imported automobile owners.
Acquire your physical location for your import-auto shop. Try to get a good location, accessible to many potential clients. The best places to set up shop will be near major thoroughfares, or in areas that have a high concentration of auto-related businesses.
Acquire the tools you will need for your auto shop, such as hydraulic lifts, tire changers, tire balancers, and other equipment needed to manipulate a vehicle’s chassis and engine. You will also require diagnostic equipment, such as an onboard diagnostic scanner that can get readings from import cars.
Invest in hiring qualified staff. Look for technicians and mechanics with experience in foreign auto brands. Look for experience in repairing, tuning and maintaining import cars. Though most states don’t require licensing for auto mechanics, you can look for certifications, such as an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification.
Form supply agreements with vendors for different kinds of accessories and parts. These will supply you with the needed spare parts and aftermarket accessories. Parts suppliers will typically vend parts and accessories to you at wholesale prices.
Market your auto shop. One good way to get the word around is by joining car clubs. Join clubs that specialize in the kind of cars that your auto shop caters to. Most states have their own enthusiast clubs that cater to the more popular foreign brands, like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Ferrari, for instance. Another means of marketing your auto shop is by sponsoring car shows or joining as a participant.
Make sure you get a business permit, which should include your trade name. You will also need business insurance, to cover for any possible loss or damage in the course of running your auto shop.
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