If you’re setting off on a driving vacation with the family, you most likely download some road maps, chart out the most interesting route, then go online for hotel reservations and tickets for points of interest that can be found along the way.
It takes a little effort, but it keeps you from finding yourself in Possum Grape, Ark., at midnight with no place to stay. In other words, you instinctively know there are consequences for not planning ahead.
So if you were more than willing to expend a little time and do the footwork for a successful summer road trip, why on earth would you toss common sense out the window and not prepare a business plan for your auto detailing business?
After all, this is your livelihood we’re talking about here. It’s essential. And believe us when we say a good auto detailing business plan doesn’t have to resemble a 30-page term paper. This isn’t a master’s thesis. Even just a few pages of well-constructed notes with certain objectives in mind are better than no business plan at all.
But if you hope to be successful — particularly in this business climate — a well-researched business plan is as important an element as your auto detailing equipment, your auto detailing supplies and your auto detailing employees. For one thing, if you’re seeking financing, most banking institutions require a business plan before you even schedule a sit-down.
No question about it — operating with a plan in black and white is a “must” in assisting the auto detailing entrepreneur in setting up, operating and growing a successful brick & mortar or mobile car detailing business. And you don’t have to go into this task alone. There’s plenty of help for those new to the business world.
Organizations like the Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE — a nonprofit group dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground — both provide free and invaluable coaching and mentoring to assist you with developing and reaching the objectives outlined in your business plan. And here at Detail King, our own knowledgeable staff and state-approved auto detailing training programs are also valuable resources when starting a new auto detailing business of your own.
The more critical elements of a good business plan might include:
- Defining your company’s mission and vision
- Determining the demographics of your potential customers
- Securing financing and or working capital for the equipment and supplies you’ll need, among other expenses
- Assessing and surveying the competition
- Outlining what services you will be offering
- Setting up an advertising and marketing program
- Outlining a 12-, 24-, 36- and 48-month growth plan
- Establishing a plan of action to expand or sell off the business based on reaching certain future financial objectives
Your finalized business plan should be reviewed periodically throughout the year to be sure its objectives are being followed and met. Should revisions prove necessary, make sure they’re proactive modifications — not knee-jerk reactions. Among the variables that might prompt you to revise your business plan throughout the year would be:
- The state of your local economy
- New or enhanced competition
- Local, state or federal regulations
- New ways of marketing to your customers (e.g., you finally choose to get onboard with social media)
- Anything else that may impact your bottom line
Once you’ve got a business plan in place, it’s relatively easy to prepare a draft of a new plan each year. And that preparation should begin at the end of the 3rd quarter of the current year (i.e., in early-September).
Nobody ever said you’d have to be a Hemingway in order to succeed at this business, but there’s no debating the power of a properly prepared business plan. So sharpen a pencil and dig in!