Setting Up Shop! – Tip #2 of 10

Be Conservative – Take Your Time & Set Priorities! Determine whether you should start up as a Mobile or “Fixed” Detail Operation: You can begin working out of your garage at home, from the trunk of your car, the bed of your pick-up, from your van, out of an attached detailing trailer, from your own retail location, parking garage, parking lot or a shared location with a car wash or other auto related business types. All of these choices are reasons this opportunity is so lucrative. If you work out of your garage at home be sure your neighborhood is zoned for this type of business. If it isn’t you may want to request a “variance” from your local municipality. They may grant you permission to operate out of your driveway but they may have stipulations. If you must lease a physical location ask for flexible terms for the first 6-12 months, this will help you generate positive cash flow.

Start-Up Costs: You can start part-time from your home or operate mobile out of your vehicle for under $1600 and offer popular paint protection and express interior services. If you jumping in head first as a full time business and want to cultivate commercial and dealer business you could invest as much as $21,000. This would provide you a professional enclosed mobile detailing trailer including the necessary training, equipment, supplies, tools, auto reconditioning materials, web site and a protected territory. If you need financing be sure to shop around because interest rates vary. You may want to consider alternative financing, too.

Have a good Communications System: Especially if you are a one person, mobile operator you will need a procedure to take incoming phone calls and emails from new prospects and past customers. There are sophisticated automated voice mail services that can tell the caller more about your services and then give the option of scheduling an appointment, leaving a message or connecting live to your smart phone. Once the caller initiates the selected option you will be notified immediately. We have found that both Bookfresh.com and Ringcentral.com provide excellent virtual services for handling your incoming calls and even scheduling detailing appointments. Utilizing the features of these services will free up your time while representing your business as a state of the art company. It is recommended at the end of each business day you contact any leads or appointments that were handled with your virtual office, there is nothing like talking or emailing your contact direct. Be sure to also check your emails several times per day for prospects that are looking to book an appointment or have questions about your services. You can easily check and reply to emails on your smart phone.

Set-up a credit card account for business purchases: Many suppliers do not offer credit terms or COD, so you can organize your business purchases with a credit card account, it will provide you cash flow flexibility. Chase and American Express have flexible credit card programs for new businesses. Be sure you pay your balances off every month before you incur interest charges.

Accept credit cards from your customers: Customers that are paying with credit cards tend to spend more with you. Let’s say your average charge of a complete detail may be $175. But there are additional services that need performed like headlight restoration, cigarette burn repair or even rock paint chip repair. So you offer them a “package price” for all of the above mentioned services. If you don’t accept “plastic” you may be losing sales opportunities. Today it is easier than ever before to offer to take a credit card payment. You can obtain a “credit card reader” for your smart phone from companies like PayPal Here™, Intuitgopayment.com or Squareup.com. Just plug the device into your smart phone and slide the card through it. It will charge your customer’s credit card and even send them an emailed receipt.

Investigate state and city tax laws: Some require that you charge sales tax on the services you will be providing. If so you will need to apply for a sales tax number. This will also allow you to purchase many auto detailing related products “tax free.” You can apply for your sales tax number typically through your Dept. of State. There is a lot of great information at SBA.gov for each particular state. It is wise to set up an appointment and meet with an attorney and or an accountant so they can make sure all your “I’s” are dotted and “T’s” are crossed. It is well worth the couple hundred dollars they will each charge you to meet with them. Legalzoom.com is a legal online service that can provide you professional services like incorporating your business and even applying for your federal ID number (EIN) any permits that you may need. Score.org is an organization mainly comprised of retired business owners and executives that will offer complimentary consultation services for your business. You may have a SCORE in your home town.

Open a business bank account: Keep your business expenses and your personal expenses separate. If you don’t it could become a nightmare managing your personal finances along with your business affairs. The nightmare even gets worse around tax time. Shop around for the best deal with the banks. They all want your business, see who will give you the best service at the lowest cost. Try and have both your personal account and business account at the same bank, it could make transferring funds very easy.

Executing the above items now before you actually start your business will alleviate headaches down the road. Blog Post Tip #3 will discuss choosing a great name and reserving your web site address. Until then have a great day!

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