How to start a car repair franchise
Whether you're a mechanic or just after a good business, this could be for you.
Car repair is essential to the 27 million motorists currently in the UK, so if you want to take on a franchise in high demand, this could be the one for you.
Car repair may be a popular industry but it is also a transient one. These types of franchises make a big splash at franchise shows, attracting people with promises of big money. But you need to guard against changes in the contract – such as what happens if they are taken over.
However, with the right franchise, a lot of hard work and long hours, though, there is no reason why the returns shouldn’t be substantial.
What is it?
Car repair franchises fall broadly into two categories. Firstly there is mobile repair work, fixing either mechanical problems or more superficial damage. People love their cars and they want them to look nice. ChipsAway specialise in repair to paintwork, plastic bumpers, windscreens, alloy wheels and interiors. Established in America in 1987, ChipsAway has been in the UK since 1995 and uses a paint repair process which is done on the spot. There are also mobile repair and assessment services. The main bulk of the work is on site engine tuning, servicing and general repairs.
Both ChipsAway and other mobile repair services are operated by mobile mechanics in vans who are based at home.
The second franchise is the more traditional workshop based kind. Mr Clutch is a much longer established franchise that started up in 1978. It specialises in clutch repair but has branched out to cover brakes, gear and other skilled tasks to broaden market appeal.
How does it work?
Building up a customer base and keeping it happy is key in the car repair business. Being part of a franchise with a big name can be your best advert and the franchisor will help in various ways to make you known.
Mr Clutch relies on its strong brand image and provides yellow pages listings as part of the marketing package. Though one franchisee commented that customers generally used this to find their local centre because they have heard the name.
American company ChipsAway is less well known to the general public. Method of making your franchise known to them vary according to the type of franchise package you purchase. Trade franchisees will do a leaflet drop and then go and do free demos to dealers. This is a very important way of getting a lot of business at once. These franchisees can make a living working for four or five dealerships.
Retail franchisees again give free demos perhaps in supermarket car parks and advertise during the early part of the franchise.
Franchisee Simon Benyohai has a package with all three: “When I first started I did a leaflet drop in my area. Soon I had to stop marketing in this way because I couldn’t keep up with demand.”
For all three after the initial period when establishing yourself, much if not all of your work will come through referrals. Word of mouth of a good job done is still the best means of promotion.