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Last Updated: 27 April 2017
Setting up a Garage Workshop
Setting up your own garage can be a daunting process we have prepared this page to provide our clients with some practical advice and guidance regarding becoming a self-employed garage owner.
Are you a qualified mechanic who is looking into setting up your own motor vehicle repair workshop/garage?
- Are you tired of putting in long hours for little reward as an employed mechanic?
- Are you good with customers and feel that you could provide a better service to your local area?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then becoming a self-employed garage owner could be the perfect choice for your future, why work for someone else when you could be earning a lot more working for yourself.
Finding the Right Premises for your Garage Workshop
If you are seriously considering entering the motor vehicle repair industry then choosing the right space in which to house your garage is of paramount importance, you should consider change of use legislation as this can add to the delays in getting your garage workshop up and running.
You will require business premises that tick certain boxes such as ample parking for your clients, a reception and seating area for waiting customers, office space, hygiene facilities such as toilets, washroom and food preparation area.
It may well be worth considering doing a search for garages for sale in your local area as they already have approval for use as a motor vehicle repair workshop and may even come with all of the required garage equipment included in the purchase price.
When setting up a garage you will require various types of insurance in order to comply with your duty of care such as;
- Public Liability Insurance.
- Employers Liability Insurance.
- Trade Plate Vehicle Insurance.
- Building Insurance.
Typical Garage Overheads
No matter what your niche market maybe all businesses have certain overheads attached to cover the general running costs such as;
- Business Rates.
- Employees’ Wages.
- Insurances Costs.
- The cost of Materials.
- Refuse Disposal.
And much more besides, it is essential to have a proper grip on your garages finances to be able to properly plan and meet with your businesses financial commitments.
Legislation and the Motor Vehicle Repair Industry
Prospective garage owners need to be aware of the government legislation that provides guidance for self-employed garage owners such as (PUWER) the provision and use of work equipment regulations and (LOLER) the lifting operations and lifting equipment regulations.
These helpful documents tell you all you need to know regarding your duty of care as a garage owner/employer you can view additional information on both PUWER & LOLER on our page.
Vehicle Parts Suppliers
Establishing a good network of parts and equipment suppliers is essential to any successful garage workshop, you will spend a lot of time dealing with your suppliers so having a great relationship with them will help to ease the stress considerably, most of the large towns and cities will typically have one of the major suppliers in them however in more rural areas some forward planning may be required in order to get the parts you need when you need them.
With the right suppliers and forward planning in place, there is no reason why you cannot have your suppliers deliver car parts direct to your garage as and when you require them.
Record Keeping & Garage Ownership
It is best practice to keep a firm grip on your garages bookkeeping, typically you will have a lot of single purchases and customers invoices to deal with in a single working week so allowing your bookkeeping to pile up will undoubtedly add to your stress levels.
Organise a structured approach to record keeping by keeping all purchase orders and customer invoices in monthly files and by entering all of these into your accounting software ideally daily, but no more than weekly as this will ease the stress that masses of paperwork includes and allow you to do your accounting in small easy to handle chunks.
Customer Service is King
The service levels you provide to your garages customers is of the utmost importance to any successful motor vehicle repair shop after all this is what separates you from your competitors and is usually the deciding factor as to whether or not your clients use your services again or indeed recommend your garage to their friends and family.
Always be fully transparent with your client’s by showing them the part that needs to be replaced and provide a Lehman’s explanation of its function and what has gone wrong clarifying exactly why it is in need of replacement as this will almost certainly leave a good impression of your garage and the services it provides.
Customers like to be kept in the loop even if they have a limited understanding of how their vehicles work they will appreciate that you have taken the time to explain their particular fault.
It is generally a good idea to have one or more vehicles available for use as courtesy cars as this will help your clients to go about their business whilst their vehicle is under repair having these facilities in place will set you apart from the rest, can’t get the part you need for a day or two no problem madam/sir you can use our courtesy car always sounds better to the customer than I am sorry looks like you will be off the road for a week.
Get a Good Accountant
There are many firms of accountants that will help you to pay the least amount of tax possible in any given year, but after all of the cost cutting advice and jargon, they get you to sign a document that clearly states that the companies’ accounts have been prepared using the information provided by YOU.
You want an accountant that will advise you clearly as to your businesses requirements under tax law including PAYE or VAT returns not one who simply tells you what you want to hear.
Garage Equipment Requirements
No matter how good a mechanic you maybe without all of the required garage equipment at your disposal, you will not be able to carry out the full range of repairs that will be requested by your customers.
Getting the right garage equipment for the particular tasks at hand is of paramount importance with the danger of serious injury ever present you need to be sure that the garage equipment selected by you is fit for the purpose for which it is intended.
Things to consider are safe working loads i.e. the maximum lifting capacity of vehicle servicing lifts and jacking equipment and efficiency of use i.e. have I purchased to equipment that is best suited to my needs.
Most of the major jobs in the motor vehicle repair industry will require the use of some form of car lift, whether it be a 2 post lift, a 4 post lift or a scissor lift you will find that all car repair garages typically feature one or all of these types of lift this is because they each have their set of pros and cons to consider additional information on the use and selection of car lifts in a garage workshop can be viewed here and you can view the full range of all of our lifts on the Lift Search Page.
Spanners Sockets & Impact Drivers
It will be necessary to acquire a good selection of hand tools as all vehicles are constructed using a wide and varied selection of nuts and bolts from star drives to flathead screwdrivers you will need them all, if the budget allows purchase the best as they feature a lifetime guarantee and are replaced with no questions asked.
OBDII Diagnostic Scanner
The must-have piece of equipment for any self-respecting garage in the modern era is the OBDII fault code reader, with cars becoming ever more dependent on the use of microchips and sensors it really is a no-brainer to have a good quality vehicle diagnostic scanner to efficiently and accurately diagnose faults.
Gone are the days of putting a screwdriver against the cylinder head to listen to the engine, now you simply plug in the scanner and the equipment conducts a full examination of all of the vehicles operating systems and provides you with an accurate diagnosis in a matter of minutes in the terms of a fault code which once checked against the vehicle manufacturer's code list will tell you exactly which component has failed.
OBDII scanners afford the user extremely efficient fault code diagnosis that saves both time and labour and allows you to get it right the first time every time.
You can view our range of diagnostic scanners from market leaders Autel on our Diagnostic Scanners page.
Tyre changers are not just for tyre repair shops, in fact, they are a great source of bread and butter income for most garage workshops, tackling the larger jobs such as gearbox & engine replacement may provide more of a challenge and a larger invoice but being able to provide basic tyre repairs to your customers can help to keep your business afloat our tyre changing machines are available in semi-automatic and fully-automatic models.
For those difficult to change tyres such as low profiles and run flats, you will require a tyre changer that features an assist arm to aid in the removal and replacement of these types of tyres.
Due to the large volume of tyres, your business will change we recommend that you choose the fully automatic tyre changer with assist arm for high output garages as they make the job of changing a car tyre much simpler and less labour intensive, we also have a dedicated motorcycle tyre changer available for bike workshops. See our Tyre Machines page for more information.
A must have accessory in any garage is a good quality air compressor you need one of these machines to power your air operated handtools, lift locking mechanisms and to inflate tyres GEO stock a wide range of garage workshop air compressors from entry level models to high powered machines for high output garages. Click for our full range of 100 - 270 Litre Air Compressors.
A wheel balancing machine is the perfect accessory to a tyre changing machine as one complements the other, after fitting a new tyre it will require balancing to provide a smooth and balanced rotation and ensure that the maximum lifespan of the tyre is achieved.
Our range of wheel balancers are available in an entry-level hand spin model, Semi-Automatic wheel balancer or Fully-Automatic wheel balancer depending on the output of your garage you should choose your wheel balancer accordingly. See our Wheel Balancing Machines page for more information.
Tool Storage Box
So you have made the financial investment in all of the required garage equipment, you need to look after your tools for them to take care of you, true workshop efficiency comes from having a place for everything and everything in its place.
Having your garage workshop tools scattered throughout the premises makes them difficult to locate creates trip hazards and leaves a negative impression of your business to your customers, if you have ever asked to borrow tools from a mechanic then you have most likely been told no this is because the tools are the livelihood and lifeblood of any good mechanic and they like nothing better than to have a perfectly arranged tool box usually in ascending sizes to make selection and use as simple as possible, invest in a good tool box and keep your garage equipment stored in a safe and easily accessible place at all times.
Providing MoT testing services is a great source of income for garage workshops Garage Equipment Online supply deliver and install a wide range of class 1 class 4 and Class 7 MoT Bays for you to choose from, in order to be able to provide MoT testing you will require various permissions from the DVSA and your local council additional information on becoming a MoT tester is available here.
We have Class 4 and 7 ATL bays and Motorcycle MoT bays, so whatever your requirements maybe we have you covered, our MoT Bay installations come with full project management from call to install. View our full range of Class 1/2, Class 4 and Class 7 MOT Bays here.