Car repair is an impressive skill, requiring creativity, attention to detail and patience all in one. In the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020, you may have found yourself honing these skills, restoring bangers and rediscovering a passion for car restoration.
You may even be thinking of turning this into a career of sorts – joining the 12% of the UK population hoping to create full-time work from their hobby. But if you’re going to start a car restoration business, you need to do it right: and here’s how.
You may think you can run a car restoration business from your own garage, but as custom ramps up you may find yourself unable to leave the house for the queue of cars on your drive. In order to get serious about car restoration as a business, you must look for an appropriate workshop from which to base your operations. You may already have the tools of the trade, but certain additional items will need purchasing to legitimise your operation – such as a professional car lift, and an engine hoist for more involved work.
Sorting the legal side
With your space and tools in hand, you now have the unenviable task of tackling the legal side of your new business. Firstly, you’ll need to register your business with HMRC. How you register depends on which way you intend to grow your company; if you’re going to be restoring cars by yourself, you may want to keep things simple and register for sole proprietorship, otherwise known as self-employment, sole trader or freelancing.
This means any profits you make from your car restoration business are essentially your income, and the burden is on you to figure out and pay income tax annually. Alternatively, you could register as a private limited company – a more expensive option, but one which affords you the opportunity to hire fellow mechanics as employees, and reap the benefits PAYE provides.
Secondly, you’ll want to make sure that your new business is insured. Motor trade insurance is a crucial expenditure in this line of work in order to protect both your business and the interests of your customers. Consider also taking out business contents insurance to protect the more valuable of your tools and prevent the loss of work that could result from a burglary.
Spreading the word
All that’s left to do to launch your business properly is to source customers. This isn’t as easy as opening up shop and waiting for the first project to roll in – though you may have already benefited from the word-of-mouth of your friends and family.
To keep up business, and generate a healthy amount of new custom, you will have to engage with marketing your business. Start with setting up social media accounts for your restoration service, and posting up images of previous projects/results. With the right hashtags, this content will reach audiences interested in the restoration niche, who will now be aware of your business and what you’re capable of. You can also enslist the SEO services of bloggers to help grow your business.
Even with a booming car restoration business, you can’t quite rest on your laurels just yet. An important part of keeping your business vital and relevant is constant re-training. As car technology continues to improve, and more and more ‘modern’ vehicles reach an age where they may require restoration, keeping up to date on newer practices and principles will enable you to work on a more versatile range of vehicles, meaning you can retain your custom even as the restoration market changes.
So are you convinced your car restoration hobby can be transformed into a successful business? If you’re thinking of making the leap, consider these steps to ensure your business thrives from the get go.