When running an independent auto shop or other automotive business , there are some specific considerations you need to make aside from just pinpointing a location  that’s easy for customers to find.
Mike Anderson is an automotive consultant specializing in the collision industry and founder of Collision Advice . He has owned two successful collision shops of his own and now advises other shop owners on the various aspects of running their businesses. He recently spoke with Small Business Trends to offer some tips on finding the best location for your automotive business. Here are some of the top insights.
How to Choose the Right Location for Your Automotive Business
Consider the Importance of Your Location
You already know that location is one of the most important decisions for any small business. But for some automotive businesses, it’s actually not as big of an issue as it would be otherwise. If you get most of your business from insurance carriers, then customers have to find your specific business in order to take advantage of the services provided by their insurance company. So you might be able to save some money by not targeting the most premium business locations. However, some auto shops still choose to make their location a major selling point for other customers.
Anderson said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “But if your goal is to not be so insurance dependant, then your location is critical. Find a location on a main thoroughfare where customers are more likely to see you.”
Make It Convenient for Customers
In addition to simply choosing a location that’s easy to find, auto repair businesses should also consider how many customers need to drop their vehicles off and then have options for walking to restaurants or other transportation options.
Anderson adds, “If you’re in a major metropolitan area, like let’s say Washington D.C., then it can be beneficial to position your business near public transportation so that if people need to drop off their vehicle they can just jump on the subway.”
Use Signage to Attract People
Of course, it’s best to choose a location that’s right on a main road so that people driving by can see it and know exactly where you are when they need automotive services. But that’s isn’t necessarily in the budget for every small businesses. In those cases, you can opt for a location on a sidestreet that’s still relatively close to a main road or intersection. Then you can use signage to direct people from those main areas right to your front door, essentially making this the next best option at a significantly more affordable price.
Choose a Spot That Trucks Can Get To
For automotive businesses, choosing a location isn’t just about finding a place that customers can get to. You also need to be able to receive shipments of parts and other materials from large delivery trucks. So your location needs to have enough space in and around the building so that trucks can get to it and have a designated spot to unload. So make sure you’re not just working with a cramped driveway that comes off a narrow side street that large vehicles wouldn’t be able to turn down or access. You also need to make sure that you’re going to have enough space for all of your customers’ vehicles to park and enough space for bays that allow your team to work quickly.
Do Your Zoning Homework
Finally, some areas are zoned only for certain types of businesses or properties. So you need to do some research to find the specific locations that will work for your business and the services you provide. For example, collision work and restorations can be fairly loud. So some locations that are especially close to residential areas might not available to those types of businesses. Abiding by these rules will help you avoid any potential issues with your municipality or neighborhood organizations.
Anderson adds, “Before you choose a location, just make sure you do your homework and make sure that the area you choose is zoned for whatever type of repair work you want to do.”
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