Opening an auto body shop in Florida can be a very lucrative opportunity for someone committed to making it work. But while the rewards of the business can be tremendous, it takes a dedicated effort to make it grow. Here are a few of the key steps to opening your auto body shop.

Plan to win

You need to start with a business plan. Your financial lender needs to see this, and it will also help you keep on track. The lender will want to see that you have researched the costs associated with setting up and running your business.

This will involve getting estimates for the property, supplies and equipment, staff, marketing, insurance, and so much more. The more information you collect while preparing your business plan, the more prepared and reliable you appear to lenders.

Build your network

You will need to start making contacts with local Orlando-area suppliers, contractors, and other professionals. Choosing suppliers and vendors is an intuitive step, but consider outsourcing some of the work, as well.

For example, working with a company that does auto glass replacement can help you build your reputation or fill in a hole in your services while you work your way up.

Choose a good location

Location is everything in the world of auto repair. You need a place large enough to build your shop and hold at least a small office. You also need to be where people can see you, and naturally, it must be a location you can afford. 

Yet you also have to be convenient to your customer base. If you are too far out, you may have to offer loaner cars for customers who come a long way to get to your shop. It’s going to take a bit of time to find the right location, so be patient and careful with this step.

Hire the right people

People mean everything to your business. You need at least one person who can answer the phones and emails in a cheerful and personable way that offers your customers an excellent experience. 

Beyond that, of course, you need certified mechanics who have been through a robust training program and bring good value to your company. When you’re just starting out, two or three well-trained, motivated, and experienced mechanics are worth 10 willing to work for less.

Market yourself wisely

You need a marketing plan that is proactive and based on proven methods and best practices. In today’s world, it’s not enough to just put your name out there and hope for the best or rely only on offline advertising. You also have to actively monitor your online reputation, respond to customer complaints or reviews online, and provide a personalized experience that reaches the people you want to visit your shop. 

Central Florida media solutions can help you build a website and SEO campaign based on proven best practices that will get your name out there to the people you need to reach.

Acquire equipment

The best mechanics in the world can’t do a good job without the right equipment. Don’t skimp when it comes to quality lifts, tools that will last and make it easier for your professionals to do their job, and a solid inventory of replacement parts. 

While there will always be a need to occasionally source a part for a specific job, the more you can do on the spot without having to wait for a parts shipment, the faster you go and the more pleases your customers will be.

Serve your first customers well

While an online reputation is very important in every industry, the auto repair industry still relies on word-of-mouth. 

Most people don’t have any idea what to do when something goes wrong with their vehicle, and they are wary of trusting a stranger. If you treat your initial customers with special care, you can be sure your reputation will spread and business will steadily increase.