How To Start A Body Shop Business

By Mike Gomez

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Body Shop

Are you are an experienced auto mechanic with the skills and a good reputation for quality and timely auto body work?

Do you have the capital, business know-how and perseverance to keep going during the difficulties of any startup business?

If so, you may have what it takes to start your own body shop.

You will be dealing with people during one of the most stressful times of their lives, when they will be at less than their best. So ,diplomatic skills, sincerity, honesty and follow through are a must if you are to succeed in making a go of your own shop.

If this sounds like a perfect match for your skills, personality and temperament, starting an auto body shop might be the right career move for you.

Body Shop

[photo credit: Rodney McDaniel]

How Big Is The Body Shop Industry?

Auto body revenue brings about $40 billion a year into the economy through the efforts of 330,200 employees working at 123,384 shops nationwide, according to IBIS World.


Why Starting A Body Shop Now Is A Good Idea

IBIS World predicts a growing market demand for painting and dent repairs in the wake of the continuing economic recovery after the recession. Lingering financial concerns are causing people to procrastinate essential repairs and forego discretionary repairs.

The economic upturn drives many to replace rather than repair their cars, cutting into the market for auto body repairs. Another challenge is that the market is super saturated so it will be important to quickly and clearly identify a niche in your local market to meet a need no one else is meeting.

Nonetheless, the market grew slowly in the last five years and the relative outlook for increased prosperity driving the auto body business even higher makes it a good time to put your toe in and try to nab a piece of the multi billion dollar pie.

How to Start a Body Shop Infographic


Body Shop Business Facts

Here are some facts and figures about the body shop you should consider:


Body shop startup costs

BPlans estimates that one small shop in the Seattle area could open for around $32K. Other sources indicate it may take as much as $100K to $150K or more of upfront capital investment to get an auto body shop up and running. Besides your actual shop space and land, your biggest cost will be your repair equipment. It is important not to underestimate this cost when considering opening your own repair shop.


How much do body shop mechanics make?

Body shop employee wages run from $11.72 to $22.49 an hour, according to Shop manager salaries range from $32K to $89K per year.


How much do body shops charge?

That depends on the extent of the damage, the parts required and the labor time required to restore the vehicle to its pre-accident condition. Some repairs can run into the thousands of dollars. You will want to do a walk around with the customer and a thorough inspection of the damage to give the customer an accurate estimate. Don’t be in a hurry. Be as accurate as possible in giving the customer the estimated repair times and labor costs. In some states, you may offer the customer a discount or rebate on their deductible.


How do body shops find customers?

The key is to drive word of mouth referrals through dependable, reliable, honest and trustworthy service that makes you better than anyone else in town. Quality work in a timely fashion at a reasonable cost with the least degree of hassle is what customers want from an auto body shop. Traditional print, radio and TV ads are one way to get your name out there. Direct mass mail can blanket your local area with your fliers. Stratosphere Studio is a big proponent of auto body shops leveraging the power of their website and an auto body blog that accurately and succinctly answers actual customer questions and common concerns rather than giving tips on car care and driving. They report great success in turning an online interaction with your website or blog into actual leads that result in business for your shop with action buttons that make it easy for the customer to get an estimate, schedule a repair, check on repair status and so on.


What skills are required?

Mechanic skills (glass, painting, auto body collision repair), repair estimation, people skills, business administration, accounting, bookkeeping, accounts payable/receivable, payroll, HR, scheduling, organization, logistics, insurance, computer and social media skills.


What do I need to operate a body shop?

Business license, property use permit, tax structure and ID number, Labor Commission registration, shop and secure vehicle storage space, lift(s), tools, diagnostic machine, vehicle fluids, mechanic certifications, liability insurance, supplier relationships for ordering parts, insurance relationships for settling claims, dropoff and pickup procedures, estimation and invoice forms or software, business cards, brochures and fliers, computer(s), printer/scanner(s), phone, fax, email, comfortable waiting area for customers, accounting and bookkeeping system, scheduling system, loaner or rental vehicle arrangements, professional website, blog and social media presence.


Body Shop Business Ideas


Quality service

car resotoration

[photo credit: Vetatur Fumare]


car repair

[photo credit: Paul L Dineen]


car repaint

[photo credit: Greg Gjerdingen]


Reasonable cost

Affordable repair

[photo credit: Greg Gjerdingen]


honest and trustworthy service

[photo credit: Jaimekop]


friendly employees

[photo credit: Richard Elzey]


Struggling with what to name your body shop, here are a few ideas:

The Car Doctor All Round Quality Automotive
Auto Stop Northwest Car Clinic
Integrity First Auto Body Star Performance Auto Service
(Name)’s Auto Body Repair Pike’s Peak Pros
Car Pros Evergreen Automotive Services
(Town) Auto Body Shop Transformations Auto Center
White Knights Auto Body Repair Auto House
AccuAuto Repair Shop An Honest Mechanic


Youtube Videos

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References Average Hourly Rate for The Body Shop Employees Body Shop Manager Salary

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Miracle Body and Paint: How Auto Body Repair Shops Estimate the cost of repairs. Part 2

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IBIS World: Car Body Shops in the US: Market Research Report

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