Opening a car garage: the 4 key steps to a successful business start-up

Opening a car garage: the 4 key steps to a successful business start-up

Who has never wanted to open a car garage ? Becoming your own boss, embarking on a professional retraining... So many attractive, stimulating, but also incredibly stressful prospects ! There is nothing worse than being alone with your problem and your questions. The automotive repair industry is extremely competitive, needless to say, no one is waiting for you. However, there are some great opportunities. The car is a French passion that comes in both old models and the latest sedans or SUV. But before you put your hands in a bonnet, you need to do some thinking and meet a number of legal requirements. Between the market study, the business plan or the choice of premises, here are the key steps to opening your car garage successfully.

This article is guaranteed to be headache-free after reading it !

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Getting started, with or without a degree

The question does not arise if you belong to this industry. Perhaps you are already a mechanic or workshop manager in a garage, so you have the technical skills in the field.

The precision is important in the context of a reconversion. If you are in this case, your change of life will inevitably involve a diploma or professional training. The profession of car repair mechanic (MRA) or bodybuilder is a regulated profession as specified by the law n° 96-603 of 5th July 1996 (modified by the decree of 4th May 2017).

A professional mechanic has an obligation of result. He must repair the vehicle entrusted to him and return it to its owner without any defect compromising safety. This is why we advise you to have a diploma, such as CAP, BEP or bac pro, or training is essential. Otherwise, you must be able to prove that you have practised this activity professionally for 3 years.

Bear in mind that a car repair specialist must have a fairly high level of knowledge of electricity, electronics and hydraulics, in addition to mechanical skills.


Conducting a market research

Carrying out a market study is an essential prerequisite, and without this reflection the banks will not grant you the slightest appointment.

Doing this type of document may seem tedious, but it will force you to analyse your future business sector in detail. The market study should allow you to clarify a number of points.

Point n° 1: the future customers.

If you are targeting a specific clientele, you need to know them inside out: demographics, socio-professional category and type of vehicles owned, how they maintain their vehicles, their expectations, etc. There is no need to embark on an in-depth sociological study; the chambers of trade have study documents that they can make available to you.

Point 2: the dynamism of a geographical area

The area in which you are located determines the type of clientele and the commercial offer. If your garage's services are standard, there is a good chance that your catchment area will be within a few kilometres of your garage. The typical profile of your core target will inevitably affect your pricing. 

The dynamism of a sector can also be assessed in relation to the other shops and brands present. Their financial health is an excellent indicator. You can easily find all this information on the internet.

Point n° 3: the reality of competition

Analysis of the competition is fundamental and allows you to adjust your offer. Rather than positioning yourself in a highly competitive segment, why not diversify your services or offer different ones ?

Well-conducted market research is a great decision aid. It can take several months and will require frequent field trips, as your evidence must be as concrete as possible.


A concrete business plan to open a car garage with peace of mind

The business plan requires you to go into more detail. It will probably make you feel uncomfortable, which is normal and good. Why all the cruelty ? But it's for your own good ! « What is well conceived is clearly stated and the words to say it come easily ». If you are unable to present your activity in detail and from all angles, it is most likely that not everything is clear in your mind.

Writing the business plan is a test: you must detail your activity, put a figure on it, forecast costs, define your break-even point and anticipate your future expenses. As a future entrepreneur, you must also establish your company's commercial and communication strategy.

At the end of the process, you will know whether your project is realistic and feasible. This document gives you credibility with potential financial partners.

Do you feel alone and helpless when it comes to drawing up your business plan ? This document, which will accompany you throughout the creation of your garage, must contain the following elements :

  • the most complete market study possible, according to your geographical area ;
  • details of your commercial offer: repair workshop, breakdown service, bodywork-painting, workshop for classic cars or Youngtimers ;
  • your rates  ;
  • the status and the type of structure chosen to practice your profession ;
  • the financial aspects with your contribution, the charges and fixed costs, the break-even point, the initial investments (tools, machines, equipment, but also possible works) as well as those in the short and medium term and the costs incurred by the maintenance or renewal of your equipment and installations ;
  • the commercial strategy ;
  • the communication plan.


Finding a good location

The choice of a location to practice the profession of mechanic is not an easy step ! The location of your future workshop must of course be adapted to your activity, to your financial means at the time, while taking into account a potential extension of your business. You should consider whether the building you choose requires any work and whether it meets the standards required for a car repair business.

For this type of work, it is best to call on qualified professionals. Either you contact real estate agencies specialising in the rental or sale of commercial premises, or you go in search of the rare pearl yourself. Once again, the internet is full of good ideas, with websites specialising in this type of transaction.

The size of your premises (more than 2 000 m²), like your activity, requires you to comply with the regulatory obligations of Installations Classified for Environmental Protection (ICPE). Depending on the surface area of your workshop, the products used and stored and the specificities of your activity, you are subject to an authorisation or a declaration. The chambers of trade and crafts regularly assist entrepreneurs with their procedures, so don't be afraid to ask them.


The initial promise of this article was to save you a headache, we also hope it has answered as many questions as possible ! Please feel free to share your experiences with us and check out the other articles on the blog.

Posted on 03/25/2021 by PRO 0 820

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