How to Start a Commercial Vehicle Garage
The problem with commercial vehicles is that some garages baulk at the thought of repairing or maintaining them for customers. That’s because light commercial vehicles (i.e., vans and campervans) are large and take up a lot of space in the garage.
What’s more, some mechanics don’t feel confident working on commercial vehicles and prefer to only work on cars. If you’re keen to offer your mechanical services to the public, specialising in commercial vehicles could be the best decision you’ve ever made.
First of all, you would never have any shortage of customers. And, secondly, you’ll find it easy to create lucrative maintenance contracts with business fleet managers and rental companies, for example. Here’s how you can start a commercial vehicle garage in your area:
Find Suitable Premises
The first thing you need to do is find suitable premises for your new commercial vehicle garage. It should be a large enough unit to house several large vans, equipment like four-post ramps, tools and machinery, and an office area.
Bear in mind that some commercial unit landlords may not want vehicles stored or repaired in their units, so you might need to purchase the unit you want instead of leasing it. Whichever premises you choose, make sure there’s plenty of parking outside for customers.
Get the Tools and Equipment You Need
Next, you must have a stock of hand and power tools to carry out all kinds of mechanical and electrical work on each customer’s vehicle. You should also have various diagnostic tools and equipment to hand.
Other items you will need include consumables like PPE for yourself and any mechanics you hire, disposable gloves, cleaning solutions, and drums for storing used engine oil and coolant.
Keep a Stockpile of Parts and Fluids
It makes sense to keep some parts in stock that you’ll often have to fit on vehicles in your care. These can range from glow plugs, injectors, windscreen wipers, and even a Mercedes Vito propshaft or two!
You should also keep in stock fluids such as brake fluid, power steering fluid, engine oil, and coolant. It’s possible to purchase those fluids in large drums as they are more cost-effective than buying individual retail items.
Register Your Business
Before you can start offering your services to commercial vehicle owners, you must register your business and check if you need to apply for any specific licences. Business registration is fairly standard; you can simply contact HMRC and Companies House to set it all up.
Alternatively, have your accountant register your business and handle all documentation required. You should also register for VAT, even if you’re not going to reach the threshold for VAT registration just yet.
Lastly, it goes without saying that you’ll need plenty of insurance coverage for your commercial vehicle business. You’ll need employers’ liability insurance if you’re hiring staff, professional indemnity cover, and other garage-specific insurance.
The last thing you want to do is lose your business due to an accident or mistake that causes your customer to sue you. Insurance provides peace of mind for garage owners, and some elements are even legal requirements.