Being your own boss can be a freeing experience, deciding your own hours and making the right decisions that can lead to success. If your expertise is suited to the automotive industry, there are a number of businesses you can run yourself if you’re looking for a new career.

Whether you plan on starting a local car detailing business in your garage or are considering running an independent car dealership, there are some crucial things you’ll need to get started. We’ve assembled a beginner’s guide to getting your car business off the ground and what you’ll need to take into consideration, especially if you plan to import cars.

Car business essentials

There are some things you can’t be without when starting your business. From a practicality standpoint, these are the crucial components to do with your business admin and operations.

Registration with the government

When getting started, you will need to register your new business with the government. By doing so, you’ll be enabled to complete the relevant tax documentation for your type of business.

You will need to be registered as a sole trader, limited company, or a partnership, based on how your car business will be operating. If you’re entering into the business with other people, you may need to appoint one person to be in charge of the financial side of things.

Valid business credentials

Depending on the type of car business you plan on operating, you’ll need to check whether you need a business license. For example, you will need the relevant qualifications if the idea is to offer MOTs in order for you to provide this service officially.

If you don’t have the relevant credentials to operate your desired business, you can consider going through a course in order to gain them or potentially employing someone who possesses the relevant skills and qualifications.

A location to serve as your workshop/premises

Although it might seem obvious, you’re going to need a place to do business. For car businesses, this typically requires more room than your average independent business as you need to accommodate a variety of vehicles, although temporary tent structures could be very useful here.

You may have the benefits of a home garage you can use to conduct your car detailing business or small repairs, but if you’d prefer to keep work and home separate then you’d need to find a suitable space elsewhere.

For businesses such as an independent car dealership, you’re going to need a lot more space in order to house all the vehicles you intend to sell. Finding larger spaces can take time, so ensure that you have one secured before arranging the purchase of multiple vehicles.

The tools of the trade

Whatever services you’re planning on offering to your customers, you need to have top quality equipment in order to perform those tasks. Make a list of everything you’ll need to carry out your key business operations and ensure you have things covered.

These could be practical tools, such as a hydraulic press for lifting vehicles to reach the underside, or software to manage vehicle inventory effectively. Whatever you deem necessary for your business to function, you should invest in upfront so that you can carry out tasks correctly.

Mistakes caused by missing the necessary tools could damage the reputation of your new business early on – and customer feedback is incredibly valuable. Equally, having official-looking workwear and health and safety is essential.

A marketing presence

Attracting potential customers is what is going to drive the performance of your new car business. Advertising your services within the local area in relevant places can help to get you noticed.

Using social media advertising can also give you effective marketing tools to show your business to the exact demographic you’re interested in. This can match your business with the customers you want to talk to and hopefully convert them into customers.

Word of mouth is equally important, so making sure you have somewhere online to gather customer feedback can reassure potential customers about the quality of your business.

Other than the finances to back your business operations when getting off the ground, these cover the essential bases for getting your car business going. Once you’ve made a start, you can invest into additional areas to cover extra customer needs with additional services.

Avoid overstretching your business early on and ensure all your documentation is compliant with tax and industry regulations – otherwise all your hard work could come to an unexpected halt.


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Holly MacDonald
Holly studied Digital Journalism at University of Strathclyde. A single mum, her young son Thomas battles for adulation with her love of wine and chocolate, and the very occasional guilt-driven Gym appearance. Other than writing, Holly has a love for making jewellery, thanks to her beloved grandmother.