Starting an Automotive Franchise

If you have a genuine passion for working with cars, you can turn your hobby into a career by opening an automotive franchise. Starting your own automotive business can be costly and confusing, but franchising allows you to receive assistance for starting and running your business. A well-known franchise with a strong brand name can also help you land customers from the get-go!

Here are some steps you will need to take in order to get your automotive franchise off the ground:

First, decide what type of automotive franchise you want. There are a wide variety of automotive businesses out there, delivering different services that customers need or want for their vehicles. You need to choose the one that best fits your prior experience or, if you don’t have any prior experience with cars, the one that you’re most interested in. As a franchisee, you’ll receive comprehensive training from the franchisor before you launch your franchise, so you don’t have to be an expert in the field before you start the franchise. There are many options, including:

Once you pick the type of automotive franchise you want to invest in, narrow it down to several choices. You will need to contact these franchises to get more information about the opportunities they can offer. The franchisor will usually send you a franchise prospectus, which explains the franchise opportunity in detail.

Once you have reviewed this information, set up an appointment to meet the franchisor at the franchise headquarters. This meeting is crucial since you will get exposure to the people who will provide you with ongoing support for your franchise, and can gauge the professionalism of the franchise. If your visit is successful, obtain contact information for current franchisees to ask important questions about what kind of training and support they really get, what the cost really was for investing in the franchise and if they are actually turning a profit. If the current franchisees provide a positive outlook, then review the Franchise Agreement with a trusted advisor, including financial and legal counsel.

After deciding on a franchise, this is an outline of your next steps:

Prepare a business plan. Your business plan should include important details, including an overview of the automotive industry, a description of your business, finances, marketing, and staffing. Although there are bound to be surprises, this will serve as a guide for your new business, and will be necessary to obtaining financing. Check out this guide to writing a business plan at the Small Business Association (SBA) website.

Obtain funding. To get your business started, you will need to get funding. If you have deep pockets you could invest yourself, though most will have to find alternative sources. If you decide to obtain a loan, this can be done among friends and family or through a commercial bank. You will find some details on how to finance a small business start-up at the SBA website. You can also visit your local SBA for advice on ways to get funding, including obtaining loans from SBA lenders or getting SBA-guaranteed loans

Scout a location. Find out about zoning laws on where you can and cannot open up an automotive business in your area. The type of automotive franchise you chose will dictate whether you need to obtain a commercial location to perform your automotive services or simply obtain a vehicle for a van-based operation. As a franchisee, you will get assistance in sourcing a location for your new auto business, and franchisors sometimes help negotiating a leasing agreement.

Make sure you have all necessary licenses and permits. Find out about any important licenses you need in your state. Your local state motor vehicle department should be able to tell you what licenses you will need to operate an auto-related business. The SBA also has helpful information on licensing and permitting for new businesses. Keep in mind there will be Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for your new business, especially if you are repairing cars.

Get insurance. When you are opening an automotive franchise business it is important to obtain insurance, especially if are opening a car repair shop where worker liability is a big issue.

Purchase necessary equipment. With an automotive business, capital expenditures may be quite high. As a franchisee, the automotive franchisor should be able to help you purchase any necessary equipment, including giving you bulk buying power. This buying power should get you competitive prices on your equipment.

Hire qualified people. Depending on the size and scope of your business, the number of employees you need to hire will differ. Hiring and managing the right employees will play a big part in growing your new business.

Engage in marketing and advertising campaigns. Investing in an automotive franchise will pay off in these final steps of setting up your new automotive business, especially if the franchise already has an established brand name. Franchisors will usually provide the marketing material you need for your new business, in addition to their nationwide or regional marketing campaigns already likely in place. Franchisors are also full of a wealth of knowledge about marketing plans, so make sure you capitalize on their expertise.

Open your new automotive franchise! If you have followed these basic steps, you should be ready to open your new automotive franchise business. Get ready to work hard and reap the rewards!