For new auto shop owners and seasoned ones alike, the success of your auto shop can come and go as seasons change or business climates shift. Although you may feel like it’s hopeless to try to salvage a failing auto shop, some careful planning and willingness to try new things can pay off to restore your business to the glory it once enjoyed. Even if your auto shop has never been wildly successful, you can still try to make a living by doing what you love by following our tips below.

What Does “Success” Mean?

The word “success” means something different for everyone who encounters this term. For some folks, it may mean making a lot of money and propelling their family into a socioeconomic status that they’ve never experienced before. For other people, it might mean being able to do what you love every day rather than doing what someone else wants you to do. Others still might see it as being known as an auto shop that has skilled mechanics and high integrity in a cut-throat business.

No matter how you define success, you should have an idea of what it means to you before you try to improve your auto business. After all, if you don’t know what success signifies for you, you may have a hard time coming up with a strategy to achieve that goal. Additionally, a lack of direction can cause you to waste resources as you’re chasing what other people think you should do or what seems like a good idea at the time.

Set SMART Goals

Once you know what success means for you, you can create SMART goals to improve your business. This means that your goals will be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, according to In other words, your goals should not be vague and you should be able to quantify whether you have reached them. Additionally, they should be realistic and relevant to your overall ambitions. Finally, they should have a time frame in which they should be completed so that you don’t have an open-ended period of when they could be achieved.

An example of a non-SMART goal for your business is “making more money.” While we’d all love to have more money, it’s hard to measure when you’ll have made more money since even a dollar more than you made last year could be more money. What’s more, if there’s no time limit, it could mean that you make more money today than you made yesterday, which could be negated if you lose money tomorrow. A SMART version of “making more money” is that you would like your business to earn $1,000 extra dollars in revenue after expenses and taxes are taken out at the end of the fourth quarter of this year. As long as that goal is attainable for your business, that would be a SMART goal that you could measure easily so you’ll know if you’ve attained it.

Get Business Savvy

While you might open an auto repair shop because you love cars, the truth of the matter is that the success of your auto shop rests more on your business skills than your passion for automobiles. Even if you’ve got the best team of auto mechanics around, it won’t matter if you don’t do the right marketing and take care of the administrative side of your business. Most of owning a business involves administrative work that isn’t as enjoyable as tinkering on cars or making customers happy with your auto repair skills, so you should get more comfortable with those aspects of running an auto shop if you find that you avoid them.

If you’ve never been to business school, you can still access educational opportunities that may benefit you and launch the success of your auto shop to new heights. Some resources like community college courses or business workshops may require you to pay for them but other resources like blogs and social media videos will be available for free. If you don’t pay for new knowledge to help you run your auto repair business with money, you’ll probably end up paying for it with time. While that’s just as valuable as finances, it may be more readily available if funds are limited due to struggles related to running or growing your business.

Encourage Customers to Shop Local

As a local auto repair shop, your greatest asset is your location. Your customers will love that they can drive a few miles up the road or a few blocks in one direction and make it to your shop from their home since that will save them the money that they could end up spending on rental cars and hotels if they found themselves stranded somewhere else in need of auto repairs. When you live and work in the same community, you can foster a sense of kinship with the folks who come to you for inspections, auto repairs, and more. Leverage that bond to make sales in tough times and to fight back against larger corporations that might try to win over your customers with consistent service across the nation.

To aid in the success of your auto shop, you can participate in social media campaigns that urge customers to “shop local” and “shop small.” Some of these campaigns take place once a year such as on small business Saturday while others might happen year-round through the use of hashtags and social media trends. Strategically partnering with other small businesses like auto detailers and even spa salons with mutual discounts for customers who patronize your establishments can go a long way in kickstarting your business’ new era of success.

Provide Unique Services

Some auto shops struggle because they provide the same basic services that every other shop nearby provides. Although you’ll want to offer the essential services for your customers so they can choose you as their primary auto shop option, you’ll also want to provide services that are out-of-the-box like applying an auto wrap with a new technique or offering paint colors that other places don’t offer. You can also bundle services together that other auto shops tend to sell separately like adding an oil change free of charge if customers come to you for inspections or tire rotations.

While you don’t need to reinvent the automobile repair wheel to ensure the success of your auto shop, you should think about what you can do that no one else can do or what you do better than other auto shops. This will make it easier to market your shop and make the case to customers for why they should go with you instead of someone else. While it can feel uncomfortable to stand out from other businesses at first, it’s necessary if you don’t want your auto shop to fade into the background as other shops succeed.

Add New Services Regularly

Although it might seem like there are only so many items you can add to your service “menu” as an auto repair service, you may be surprised at how freshening up the services you offer can attract new customers. Even if it means investing in new equipment, that can be a worthwhile investment if it brings in new customers or more money than you were making before. Updating your skillset or requiring your mechanics to get more certifications after working with you for a few years can ensure that you’re always bettering your auto shop.

If you already offer a wide range of services, the success of your auto shop might depend on whether those services follow current best practices in the industry. After you’ve operated an auto shop for years or even decades, it can feel difficult to “teach an old dog new tricks,” as they say. Still, with electric cars becoming more popular and automobiles in general changing as technology advances, these vehicles may need services that cars from thirty or even five years ago didn’t need to have.

Stay Stocked Up on Supplies

If you own an automotive paint shop, you’ll know how stressful it is to run out of supplies in the middle of a job. When this happens, customers can get angry because they may have to wait longer to see the finished product or they might have to pay more money to rent a rental car for longer than they expected. In this scenario, you’ll get frustrated and your customer will get frustrated so no one wins. What’s more, you might lose business and start developing a reputation as an underprepared auto shop.

To ensure the success of your auto shop, you should take inventory of your supplies regularly and order new ones well before they run out. If your business doesn’t have the funds to replace certain products in the shop, it may be time to start charging more to make sure that every time you use supplies, you’re replacing them. Another solution to this issue is limiting your services until you can grow your business to the point where you can pay to run it.

While it’s normal for businesses to operate at a loss, it’s not sustainable to lose money every year on a business. If you find that affording supplies is difficult, there are a few ways to turn your business around. You can partner with local suppliers and offer a discount on services or you can try to find new methods of applying supplies that reduce the waste of supplies.

Manage Waste Effectively

When your auto shop looks like a dump, it can feel claustrophobic to workers, customers, and management. Additionally, it can turn into a fire hazard or worker’s safety hazard if this issue is left unaddressed. If you’ve noticed that you have a lot of junk piling up in your shop or auto repair location’s yard, you can look into paying for a dumpster rental for a weekend to manage the waste.

Although this might not be a fun job, it’s a necessary one to ensure the success of your auto shop. A dirty or disorganized auto shop can give customers the impression that you don’t care about the appearance of the space or the safety of it. What’s more, it can make it hard to retain employees since many people wouldn’t feel comfortable working in a dirty or cluttered space. As a result, paying for a dumpster can pay for itself.

File Taxes on Time

Since turning in taxes late or avoiding them altogether can result in fees, jail time, and other problems, you should hire tax services to do the job if you’re struggling to keep up. Businesses need to file taxes every quarter. For the success of your auto shop and peace of mind, you can ask your tax service to help you with paying the right taxes for employees if that’s an area of taxes that confuses you.

Prepare for Electrical Outages

As an auto shop, you need to have a plan for what you’ll do if the power goes out to keep essential aspects of your shop running. You can partner with local electricians to ensure that the wiring in your shop is safe. Having stable power contributes to the success of your auto shop even if you don’t think about it often.

Maintain Climate Control

If your shop is too hot, it can be bad for workers and for the vehicles. When your AC isn’t running properly, contact HVAC services right away. Retaining employees and keeping them comfortable is a part of working towards the success of your auto shop.

Hire a Bookkeeping Service

From tracking expenses to managing payroll, you need a qualified accountant on your team. As a business owner, you might not have time to devote to the financial side of your auto business. This is where having help in accounting can make a major difference in the success of your auto shop.

As you can see, boosting your auto business’ success takes hard work and dedication. While it won’t happen overnight, you’ll see results if you stick with the tips above. Even if you only apply a couple of them, you should notice a difference in the reputation or even the revenue of your business over time.