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Growing your motor trade business

With most motor traders starting out part-time, it might seem a daunting task to give up a main occupation and move into the motor trade full-time.

Likewise, if you’ve been trading full-time for a while and want to move to the next level, you could be unsure how to go about it.

We look at some ways to get your motor trade business moving, including:

  • Developing a strategy
  • Deciding where to work
  • Making the right connections
  • Promoting your business
  • Keeping your costs down and maximising profits

Do all the above properly, and you could be onto a winner!

Strategy to grow your motor trade business

With your experience in the trade, you’ve probably already learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t work for you.

When it comes to buying and selling vehicles, you’ll need:

  • Reliable places or people to buy your vehicles from
  • Vehicles that sell well – in terms of profit and how popular they are
  • Places to source parts from to repair vehicles
  • Good mechanical knowledge – or access to people in the trade
  • The ability to carry out minor body repairs
  • The right place to promote your vehicles and sell them for a good profit

When it comes to repairing or servicing vehicles, you’ll need:

  • The right tools and equipment to carry out work
  • Suitable space to work on vehicles
  • The ability to diagnose and fix as many problems as possible
  • Good sources to quickly provide parts, at affordable prices
  • A strong customer base who will return to you in future

Think about the basics first. Review these lists and see if there is anything that could be improved, or if you need to develop a wider network of suppliers and customers.

In all cases, you need to be confident that you’re making a decent profit which can increase as you move your business forward.

If you’ve already hit on a winning formula, is it possible to do more of the same and take your business to the next level?

Where should I locate my motor trade business?

It’s time to think about where you are trading. Do you have enough room to store or service vehicles? Are you in the right place to attract enough customers?

If you already have business premises, you’ll know about the costs of leasing, business rates and taxes, utility bills, insurance for your buildings, internet access etc. If you’re working from home, though, you might not have considered these things.

Make a move to premises that are easily accessible for you and your customers – but make sure you can afford the bills as well as the cost of renting or buying business premises. Moving to the wrong premises could eat into your profits significantly, so think about whether the potential gains are worth it.

Or carry on working from home if it’s suitable – but not everyone has the luxury of a big enough house to work on lots of vehicles!

Get connected

You need to make friends in the trade who you can trust.

Whatever your situation, the motor trade is full of workers who will gladly recommend each other’s services. Asking for other people’s help and giving them a steady supply of business will build their confidence in you as somebody who can help them make money.

Whether it’s sourcing the right vehicles or the right people to work on them, it pays to be connected within the trade, as those people will refer business to you, too.

This is especially important when moving from part-time to full-time trading. Being able to rely on other traders can help build your business and give you the confidence to make the leap.

You could even consider employing friends in the industry directly. It might save you money compared to paying their professional rates.

Promoting your business

There are more easy ways than ever to promote your business.

Make sure your details are listed on Google first, including your address, phone number and website. Building a website is easier and cheaper than ever, with various providers offering website builders included in the price.

Social media is a great way to get the word out to the local community about what you do. Facebook encourages local business, so get yourself setup with a business page. Build trust with local people, and you’ll get positive reviews on platforms like Facebook or Google.

Additionally, there are often publications that promote local businesses which you can consider advertising in. All of this is especially useful for service and repair garages who most rely on local trade.

When it comes to promoting vehicles for sale, you have Auto Trader, ebay, Facebook, other traders and dealers, auction houses etc. Promote your vehicles right through these platforms, and there’s profit to be made.

Know what works best for you (learning from what doesn’t work so well), then scale up your promotions to grow your business.

Keeping costs down and maximising profits

There are lots of tricks of the trade when it comes to getting good deals on used cars, or buying parts in bulk to reduce their cost, for example.

Getting affordable business premises, keeping vehicle stocks to a minimum and picking the quickest cars to sell are some examples of ways to cut back on expense and make money more quickly.

However, perhaps the last thing traders think about is insurance – arguably, it should be one of the first.

Bollington has helped tens of thousands of traders save money and get the right motor trade insurance cover for their businesses. For over 45 years, we’ve worked to get access to a range of insurers who can cover all types of motor trade business, and all sizes.

Grow your business with us and benefit from a company that understands what you do and offers insurance to cover it. Request a quote online or call 01625 854458 for help and advice.


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