How to Start a Small Engine Repair Shop

Do you have a talent for fixing small engines? You might even be repairing the lawn mowers of your neighbors for a little spare cash on the side already. Instead of earning some cash under the table, you can turn this talent into a business that everyone in your community can enjoy. Here’s how you’re going to be able to make that happen.

1. Decide on your business structure.

You’re going to want to limit your liabilities with a small engine repair shop. What if your repair fails and it causes damage in an unintended way? You could be held responsible for some serious damages that in some business structures would put your personal assets at risk. Consider becoming a limited liability corporation.

While you’re at it, file for your business license, any sales tax authorizations you’re going to need, and any specific certifications that may be required. Talk with your local county clerk to determine what your requirements may be.

2. Find a suitable location.

Working in your home’s garage might be your comfort zone, but it could be against the zoning requirements of your neighborhood. Many homes forbid having a business where customers come for services to be rendered. Some don’t allow any businesses but virtual businesses to be run. Check with your local zoning board to discuss your options.

You may be able to secure a commercial location, but some communities might require your small engine shop to be in an industrial zone. If your shop is operating in a zone where it is not allowed, you may be subject to fines and penalties that may be levied on a daily basis.

3. Decide on your pricing structure.

Whenever a new business begins in a community, it is important to make sure that the pricing structures are competitive with similar businesses. You don’t want to undercut other repair shops and create a race to the bottom where no one makes any money. You also don’t want to charge more than the competition unless your work is authentically better in some way. Stay competitive and you won’t create any enemies from your competition.

4. Get the word out.

If you’ve already been taking some jobs on the side, then you’ve got the perfect opportunity to market your new business. Get some business cards printed up and hand them out to your existing customers. Offer them discounts for referrals and check-in to see if they need any work done at the same time. Recruit family and friends to do the same thing. You could post fliers and other marketing materials, but word of mouth marketing is going to be your best asset when you first get started.

5. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed.

Good services are going to become in great demand when your community finds out what you can do. Consciously decide to start small and work up to a level of business that you’re comfortable doing. You might even consider hiring an employee or two. If you do hire, remember that you’ll need to register your business with the national government for tax purposes.

6. Be as consistent as possible with results.

What drives business today are relationships and good work. You’ve already got the relationships, so now it’s time to create a system of consistency. Accurate estimates on pricing and repair times will have people coming back. Meet your deadlines as often as possible and have transparent, open communication for those times when you might be running late.

7. Start making money.

You’d be surprised at what people will just throw away. Instead of investing into spare parts and tightening up your margins, ask if you can take some of that “junk” off of people’s hands so that you can get some parts to use for future repairs. Keep everything in a safe place and then just do a great job with every customer.

8. Have loaners.

For that extra bit of class, consider having some spare equipment on hand that customers can use while you are repairing their equipment. Your customers can still get their chores done and you’ll have an effective marketing tool that could distinguish yourself from the competition.

Knowing how to start a small engine repair shop may take some extra work when compared to a job on the side, but the efforts are quite worthwhile. Follow these steps and you’ll be able to create a potentially profitable business doing something that you love.