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How to Write an Auto Repair Business Plan: Complete Guide

Whether you’re looking to raise funding from private investors or to get a loan from a bank (like a SBA loan) for your auto repair shop, you will need to prepare a solid business plan.

In this article we go through, step-by-step, all the different sections you need in your auto repair business plan. Use this template to create a complete, clear and solid business plan that get you funded.

For more information on auto repair and body shops, make sure to read our guides below:
How Much Does It Cost To Open An Auto Repair Shop?
8 Strategies To Increase Auto Repair Shops Sales & Profits
How To Build a Financial Model For an Auto Repair Shop
How Profitable Are Auto Repair Shops?
How To Open an Auto Repair Shop: Complete Guide

1. Executive Summary

The executive summary of a business plan gives a sneak peek of the information about your business plan to lenders and/or investors.

If the information you provide here is not concise, informative, and scannable, potential lenders and investors will lose interest.

Though the executive summary is the first and the most important section, it should normally be the last section you write because it’s the summary of the different sections included in your business plan.

Why do you need a business plan for your auto repair shop?

The purpose of a business plan is to secure funding through one of the following channels:

  • Obtain bank financing or secure a loan from other lenders (such as a SBA loan)
  • Obtain private investments from investment funds, angel investors, etc.
  • Obtain a public or private grant

How to write an executive summary for your auto repair shop?

Provide a precise and high-level summary of every section that you have included in the business plan. The information and the data you include in this segment should grab the attention of potential investors and lenders immediately. Ensure that the executive summary doesn’t exceed 2 pages in total.

The executive summary usually consists of the 5 major sub-sections that include:

  • Business overview: introduce your auto repair shop and its type or concept. For instance, you may offer a body repair shop, auto glass repair shop, auto systems expert shop, etc. Also, provide a brief of your shop’s size and a list of services offered
  • Market analysis: introduce the market and mention the service radius, average income of the target audience, and their demographic distribution. Also, mention the problem that your auto repair shop will solve alongside the total competitor count within your service radius
  • People: introduce the management team and their industry experience. Mention your business partner(s), if any. Give an overview of the staffing requirements and the reporting hierarchy
  • Financial plan: how much profit and revenue do you expect in the next 5 years? When will you reach the break-even point and start making profits? It is ideal to include a chart depicting your key financials such as revenue, gross profits, and net profit
  • Funding ask: what loan/investment/grant are you seeking? How much do you need? How long will this last?
An example of a Funding Ask slide (source)

Download the Auto Repair Shop financial model template

  • Lender & investor-friendly
  • Easy-to-use Excel template
  • CPA-developed financials
  • 30+ charts and metrics

2. Business Overview

The Business Overview segment of your auto repair shop’s business plan will introduce your company and try to answer some important questions that potential investors and lenders may have. Here is a sample list of questions that you must try to address in the company overview section:

  • Why are you opening an auto repair shop?
  • Where is your shop located? Why did you choose that location?
  • What type of auto repair shop will you open?
  • What services will you offer? At what prices?
  • What will be your operating days / hours?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • How many customers can you serve per week / per month?
  • What will be the legal structure of your company?

a) History of the Project

Any business must have three components:

  • Passion & experience of the business owner
  • The rationale behind you starting this business today

Passion & Experience

You must be passionate about the business and demonstrate the same to the potential lenders and/or investors through the business plan.

Also, you must have some experience or training in this type of business. Maybe, you worked as a repair technician somewhere, or maybe, you have the necessary training & education.

Rationale

The business must try to resolve some issues in its current area of operation. For instance, there may not be any dedicated auto paint repair shop in the area and residents there need to travel far to get the job done. Thus, an auto paint repair shop there will solve the problem that auto owners face.

b) Business Model

Describe the business model that you will adopt in this sub-section. Here you must answer the 2 following questions:

  • Will you acquire an existing auto repair shop and remodel it, or will you start your shop from scratch?
  • What type of auto repair shop will you open?

What are the different types of auto repair shops?

For example, you may open any of the following types of auto repair shops:

  • Auto System Expert: In this model, you will specialize in the survey of a vehicle’s key systems such as breaks, gears, engine, etc. This model has a high revenue potential
  • Auto Repair Service Technicians: This is the most standard model where you will perform basic checks like electricals, oil fluid levels, etc. This model thrives on regular repeat customers since vehicle manufacturers recommend servicing every 10k to 12k miles or every 12 months. So, those who drive a lot will be more likely to pay regular visits
  • Auto Body Repair Service: In this business model, you will be dealing with vehicles involved in accidents and crashes. Though it is highly unlikely that you will get regular (or high volume) customers, the revenue earned per sale is very high. The model involves fixing broken parts, scratches, replacing damaged parts, etc.
  • Diagnostic Technicians: In this model, you will perform skilled checks for underlying vehicle issues. Such issues cannot be seen from the surface and hence, require a higher level of skill compared to regular service technicians
  • Auto Glass Repair: In this model, you will focus on repairing glass-related auto parts such as windows, windshields, etc. This model also has high-income potential for each order, but there will be times when you get customers who don’t want a complete replacement and require fixing only small cracks, scratches, etc.
  • Auto Repair Painters: In this model, you will engage in vehicle repainting and stylizing & visual customizations as per customer requirements. The revenue potential of this model is often tied to pollution levels. Thus, places with high environmental pollution will offer more customers looking for a fresh coat of paint
Will you open a franchise or an independent auto repair shop?

c) Products & Services

It is needless to say that the products and services you will offer will depend on the auto repair shop model you are selecting. It is very important to outline the products & services that you will offer so that the investors know exactly which offerings will attract more revenue for your business.

Here is a sample list of products & services that you may offer (but remember to list only those that are relevant to your business model):

  • Brake repair services
  • Tire rotation services
  • Tire change
  • Transmission services
  • Oil & filter change
  • Scheduled maintenance

Make sure that you are listing all services because generally auto repair services will not offer hundreds of products & services. They are quite limited and hence, listing them all is possible.

d) Pricing Strategy

In addition with the list of services you offer, provide an estimated price range for specific services. There should not be extreme differences between you and your competitors.

For example, you cannot charge twice as much as your competitors charge for a simple oil & filter change. If you try to do that, you will fail to attract customers.

Include a pricing list for the products and services that you will offer. You don’t need to provide precise numbers. Average pricing will do.

For example, you can provide an average price range for tire replacement because tire prices will vary depending on the manufacturer, model, type, country of origin, etc.

Offering a pricing list, or at least average prices, is important as it will allow investors to tie your pricing strategy with your financial projections later on (more on that below).

Example of average car repair costs

e) Legal Structure

Finally, your business overview section should specify the legal structure of your business.

Is this a corporation or a partnership (LLC)? Who are the investors? How much equity percentage do they own? Is there a Board of Directors? If so, whom? Do they have experience in the industry?

Download the Auto Repair Shop financial model template

  • Lender & investor-friendly
  • Easy-to-use Excel template
  • CPA-developed financials
  • 30+ charts and metrics

3. Auto Repair Market Overview

A complete understanding of the market where you want to operate is important for the success of your business.

For example, if you want to open an auto glass repair shop in an area where most of the vehicle owners usually come for regular servicing, it might not be a viable business model for the area.

Similarly, if your auto repair shop is located in a low-income neighborhood where only a small percentage of the residents own private vehicles, your business may not succeed.

Break this section into three sub-sections that will include:

a) Market Trends

Understanding market trends will not be easy. It may require a lot of research, unless you already have strong experience (as a car mechanic for example) in the area.

The best way to perform your research will be to talk with your potential customers. Also, you can study competing auto repair shops to get an idea of the type of customers they receive, the services they provide, etc.

Some common questions you may ask the target audience include:

  • What type of vehicles do they drive or prefer to drive?
  • How many vehicles do they have in a family?
  • What type of auto repair services do they usually require?
  • How often do they go to a repair shop?
Number of auto repair shops in the US (source: Statista)

b) Competition analysis

Studying your competitors’ business models is vital. You need to understand what makes them successful or why they fail. A clear understanding of their products and services, marketing strategies, etc., will allow you to provide a better service.

If your competitors are offering nearly the same products & services, then what is their market share and how do they market their products & services to attract new customers?

It is always a good idea to do some research (if necessary, physically visit your competitors without revealing your business intentions) and create a comparative table summarizing their product & service offerings, marketing strategies, target audience, etc.

Here is a sample table that you can use:

Competitor #1Competitor #2Competitor #3
Locationxxxxxx
Business model (type of auto repair shop)FranchiseIndependentIndependent
Products & services offeredxxxxxx
Marketing channels
Social media outreach
Local business listing
Online PPC ads
Social media
Local business listing
Radio ads
Radio ads
Loyalty programs & rewards
X free oil & electrical checks
Google Rating4.2 (250+)4.0 (120+)4.4 (220+)
Average price $$$$$
Shop size2,500 sq. ft.3,000 sq. ft.2,000 sq. ft.
Staff8126

The table you will create will depend on what information you need and want to include based on your proposed business model.

c) SWOT Analysis

Try to provide a SWOT analysis. It must be crisp and highly focused. SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats.

Here is a sample that you can use as a reference:

  • Strengths: 20 years of experience in car body repair and customization service, a team of highly specialized diagnostic technicians, etc.
  • Weaknesses: Startup cost, zero reputation, little marketing experience
  • Opportunities: High accident-prone zone, no car body repair shop within a 15-mile radius
  • Threats: Low-cost service providers

A clear understanding of your strengths and weakness along with opportunities and threats in the real market can help you to design your marketing strategy. It also helps potential investors to assess the risk and reward profile of your business.

d) Customers

This is the sub-section where you will provide a detailed analysis of your target audience. You will expand the data points your provided earlier in the Business Overview segment.

Some important points that you must include in your customer analysis include:

  • Age and gender distribution (you can get local demographic data from census.gov)
  • Driver gender ratio
  • Number of vehicles per family
  • Average monthly income and disposable income
  • Average bill size per visit
  • Average yearly spending on auto repair services
  • Vehicle type & brand preferences

You can add as many data points as required to validate your business decision. The idea here is to display your deep understanding of the target audience and the needs, preferences, and expectations. This knowledge can help you to tailor your products & services to attract new customers.

4. Sales & Marketing

This is the section of your business plan where you outline your customer acquisition strategy. Try to answer the following questions:

  • What are your Unique Selling Points (USPs)?
  • What are the different marketing strategies you will use?
  • How do you intend to track the success of your marketing strategy?
  • What is your CAC or customer acquisition cost?
  • What is your marketing budget?
  • What introductory promos and offers do you intend to provide for attracting new customers?

What marketing channels do auto repair shops use?

A few marketing channels that auto repair shops typically use are:

  • Signage, billboards
  • PPC ads, Facebook ads, etc.
  • Print media
  • Radio ads
  • Loyalty programs
  • Online local listing (Google Business)
  • Content marketing (share content like vehicle maintenance tips, safe driving tips, etc.) on platforms like blogs, social media, etc.
  • Word of mouth

You must have a fair and nearly accurate estimate of your marketing budget. Therefore, make sure to budget for marketing accordingly in your financial projections.

Example of social media ads for a auto repair shop

What are your Unique Selling Propositions (USPs)?

In other words, how do you differentiate yourself vs. competitors? This is very important as you might need to win customers from competitors.

A few examples of USPs are:

  • High quality service
  • Location: you store is closer to a busy road and/or to where your customers live
  • Partnerships with car manufacturer brands that refer you to their customers
  • Loyalty reward programs: X number of free tune-ups, alignments, and brake services per year

Your USPs will depend on your business model, competitor analysis, and target audience. Whatever your USPs are, it should appeal to your potential customers and attract them.

5. Management & People

You must address 2 things here:

  • The management team and their experience/track record
  • The organizational structure: the different team members and who reports to whom

Management

Small businesses often fail because of managerial weaknesses. Thus, having a strong management team is vital. Highlight the experience and education of senior managers that you intend to hire to oversee your auto repair shop business.

Describe their duties, responsibilities, and roles. Also, highlight their previous experience and explain how they succeeded in their previous roles.

It is also important that you explain how their experiences and qualifications help you in implementing the auto repair shop you are proposing. If they have specialized training and education (such as automotive technician training, collision & auto body repair training, etc.), add that information.

Organization Structure

Even if you haven’t already hired a service manager, mechanics, helpers, and other relevant staff members, you must provide a chart of the organizational structure outlining the different teams, roles and their reporting lines.

An organisational chart example for an auto repair shop

6. Financial Plan

The financial plan is perhaps, with the executive summary, the most important section of any business plan.

Indeed, a solid financial plan tells lenders that your business is viable and can repay the loan you need from them. If you’re looking to raise equity from private investors, a solid financial plan will prove them your auto repair shop is an attractive investment.

There should be 3 sections to your financial plan section:

  • Your historical financials (only if you already operate the business and have financial accounts to show)
  • The startup costs of your project (if you plan to purchase new repair equipment, renovate your facilities, etc.)
  • The 5-year financial projections

a) Historical Financials (if any)

In the scenario where you already have some historical financials (a few quarters or a few years), include them. A summary of your financial statements in the form of charts e.g. revenue, gross profit and net profit is enough, save the rest for the appendix.

If you don’t have any, don’t worry, most new businesses don’t have any historical financials and that’s ok. If so, jump to Startup Costs instead.

b) Startup Costs

Before we expand on 5-year financial projections in the following section, it’s always best practice to start with listing the startup costs of your project. For an auto repair business, startup costs are all the expenses you incur before you open your shop and starting making sales. These expenses typically are:

  • The lease deposit for the commercial space you rent (if you don’t buy it)
  • The design and renovation of the existing facilities
  • The auto repair equipment

Assuming you do not buy the land and the building but decide to rent instead, typically startup costs will represent anywhere from $67,200 to $225,500 for a typical small (5,000 sq. ft.) auto repair shop.

For more information on how much it costs to open and run an auto repair shop, read our complete guide here.

Startup CostAmount
Equipment$32,000 – $150,000
Building refurbishment$20,000 – $50,000
Rent deposit$15,000 – $25,000
Licenses$200 – $500
Total$67,200 – $225,500

Download the Auto Repair Shop financial model template

  • Lender & investor-friendly
  • Easy-to-use Excel template
  • CPA-developed financials
  • 30+ charts and metrics

c) Financial Projections

In addition to startup costs, you will now need to build a solid financial model over 5 years.

Your financial projections should be built using a spreadsheet (e.g. Excel or Google Sheets) and presented in the form of tables and charts in your business plan.

As usual, keep it concise here and save details (for example detailed financial statements, financial metrics, key assumptions used for the projections) for the appendix instead.

Your financial projections should answer at least the following questions:

  • How much revenue do you expect to generate over the next 5 years?
  • When do you expect to break even?
  • How much cash will you burn until you get there?
  • What’s the impact of a change in pricing (say 20%) on your margins?
  • What is your average customer acquisition cost?

You should include here your 3 financial statements (income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement). This means you must forecast:

  • The number of customers over time ;
  • Your expected revenue ;
  • Operating costs to run the business ;
  • Any other cash flow items (e.g. capex, debt repayment, etc.).

When projecting your revenue, make sure to sensitize pricing and the number of customers as a small change in these assumptions will have a big impact on your revenues.

Source: Auto repair shop financial model

7. Funding Ask

This is the last section of your auto repair shop business plan. Now that we have explained what your auto repair business model is about, what’s your strategy, where you go and how you get there, this section must answer the following questions:

  • How much funding do you need?
  • What financial instrument(s) do you need: is this equity or debt, or even a free-money public grant?
  • How long will this funding last?
  • Where else does the money come from? If you apply for a SBA loan for example, where does the other part of the investment come from (your own capital, private investors?)

If you raise debt:

If you raise equity

  • What percentage ownership are you selling as part of this funding round?
  • What is the corresponding valuation of your business?

Use of Funds

Any auto repair business plan should include a clear use of funds section. This is where you explain how the money will be spent.

Will you spend most of the loan / investment in paying your employees’ salaries? Or will it cover mostly the cost for the lease deposit and the machines and equipment?

Those are very important questions you should be able to answer in the blink of an eye. Don’t worry, this should come straight from your financial projections. If you’ve built solid projections like in our Auto repair financial model template, you won’t have any issues answering these questions.

For the use of funds, we recommend using a pie chart like the one we have in our financial model template where we outline the main expenses categories as shown below.

An example of a Funding Ask slide (source)

Download the Auto Repair Shop financial model template

  • Lender & investor-friendly
  • Easy-to-use Excel template
  • CPA-developed financials
  • 30+ charts and metrics