9 Easy Steps on How to Start a Small Mechanic Shop in Kenya

a mechanic busy at work

Do you love cars and do you want to spend the rest of your days around them?

You should start a mechanic shop.

Before you get too excited, know that mechanics is one of the most undervalued professions in Kenya.

Despite the number of cars increasing and the services of a mechanic becoming more valuable.

Mechanics are undervalued because most of them don’t have the training or don’t respect their customers.

Some mechanical shops are known thieves and swindlers who will do anything to steal parts or overcharge customers for services they don’t need.

Although people buy newer cars every day, there are more people with older cars.

When asked, a vehicle owner may tell you that they have had their vehicle for close to 10 years, if not more.

Then you wonder how it has been possible for them to maintain their vehicles all that while.

This is where mechanic shops come in.

People who own vehicles need mechanic services to ensure that their vehicles are well-functioning.

From vehicle inspection to repairs, mechanic services are in high demand as the number of people with automobiles keeps on rising.

You not only get to serve a wide customer base but also make very high profits from your mechanic shop.

Your services as a mechanic will spread if you respect your customers, listen to their complaints and help educate them about maintaining their cars.

To make more money as a mechanic, you can start a car repair blog for those customers that love to DIY.

Or you can film videos and post them on YouTube where you show behind the scenes of running a mechanic shop.

You can provide additional services like car washing, and detailing and have a fuel station.

The more services you have within your mechanic shop, the more profits you make.

The mechanic shop industry grows through the word of mouth.

Word of mouth marketing is one of the most powerful and free forms of marketing.

Satisfied and smiling customers recommend your mechanical services to others which helps your business grow.

Remember the more services you want to provide within your mechanic shop, the more startup capital you need.

So, ask yourself, do you need funding or do you have enough money to start?

Your mechanic shop location should also expand with you.

So, it’s important for you to have a lean business plan to help you map out the direction you want your mechanic shop to go.

Remember, most mechanic shops don’t think about the interior/design of their spaces – think about how to stand out by paying attention to the design of your mechanic shop.

A mechanic shop has high income earning potential and you can easily make a living with this business.

In this article, I will shed light on everything you need to know about how to start a mechanic shop.

I will also share some tips and advice for starting a successful mechanic shop.

What’s a Mechanic Shop?

A mechanic shop is also called a car repair shop.

A mechanic shop is a place where car repairs and maintenance are done.

In a mechanic shop, a mechanic will inspect the vehicles, find out the problems that the vehicle has and fix them.

A mechanic may also need to run diagnostic tests to make sure that the vehicle is operating properly.

Vehicle owners frequent mechanic shops to have their vehicles serviced.

They will then pay you for the services they got from your mechanic shop. 

Complete Guide on Starting a Mechanic Shop in Kenya

The following is the guide on how to start a mechanic shop and the steps are:

  1. Do your research 

Before you start thinking about starting a mechanic shop, first do your research.

It is important to gain an understanding of how the industry operates and know who your competitors are as well as the target audience. 

You can also perform a SWOT analysis to know what are your strengths and weaknesses when you start a welding shop.

When researching and analysing your competitors,  ask yourself:

Who are my competitors and where are they?

What mechanic services are they providing? General or specific?

How many cars do they work on in a day?

How many customers do they get in a day?

What makes them reputable?

Knowing your competitors allows you to create effective strategies to beat them at their own game.

Your market is the audience you want to render your mechanic services to.

Who are they and where are they situated?

What types of vehicles do they use?

What kind of mechanic services did they want?

How much money are they willing to pay for these mechanic services?

Once you have a good profile of your target market, you are able to perform better in your mechanic shop.

Now, on the SWOT analysis, there are some pros and cons you need to know about starting a mechanic shop.

Advantages of Starting a Mechanics Shop in Kenya

The following are pros of starting a mechanics shop in Kenya and they include:

It is a stable type of business

You are your own boss in a mechanic shop

There are different opportunities available 

You have a good income 

It is a secure job to do

Cons of Starting a Mechanics Shop in Kenya

The following are cons of starting a mechanics shop in Kenya and they are:

You work irregular hours

You have high responsibility for people’s vehicles

Uncomfortable working conditions 

Lack of transferable skills

A looked down on career in Kenya – nobody values mechanics.

  1. Get training /certifications

Mechanics in Kenya are undervalued and the profession is overlooked because mechanics don’t have an education or any kind of qualification.

If you don’t have money to go to school, start by running a mobile mechanics shop – NO EXCUSE.

Offer to repair cars for half the price.

If you don’t have the tools, ask your customers if they can get some tools for you.

Interacting with your customers honestly and truthfully without profanities or obscene language makes them respect you as a professional.

Also, training helps you understand the terms used in the mechanics’ world.

If you have no prior experience working in a mechanic shop, you need to get training and be skilled in what you are doing.

Mechanic services can be quite complex as you will need to look at a vehicle’s braking system, the steering and the engine.

You need to know how to manoeuvre these systems.

If you can’t learn through an apprenticeship, attend a vocational training centre and get certified.

Certification is good for credibility and customers are more inclined to trust your work with that.

You should learn how to be a mechanic in a period of 6 to 8 weeks and then start your mechanic shop.

  1. Have a mechanic shop business plan

Are you planning on starting a mechanic shop? Have a business plan. 

Your mechanic business plan must include these components:

Products and services; what products and services will you offer in your mechanic shop?

Employee and staffing needs; how many employees will you need?

Company description; what is the business name and location?

Financial projection

A budget; what are your expenses?

Business strategy; are you starting your own mechanic shop or using someone’s garage?

Markey strategy

Have a well-written business plan so that it can help you get funding.

Investors and lenders want to know that your business idea is viable before they can contribute funds to start a mechanic shop.

  1. Have a budget 

Do you know the expenses that you are going to incur when you start a mechanic shop?

You need to do a cost analysis and find out what the startup costs and ongoing expenses for starting a mechanic shop are so that you can plan your finances better.

i) Expenses for starting a mechanic shop

Cost of mechanic tools and equipment 

Certification costs

Licensing costs

Rent expenses

Staffing costs

Website expenses 

Having this list, give an estimate of the amount of money you need to start a mechanic shop. 

Tip: If you need to source funds to start a mechanic shop, there are multiple funding options available for you to choose from.

You can go into your own savings, crowdfunding, get a partner or borrow from family and friends.

5. What are the Tools and Equipment Needed to Start a Mechanic Shop?

Mechanics is a hands-on job, so you need to have your toolkit and equipment ready.

You can opt to buy new mechanical tools/equipment or used ones depending on your financial situation.

I recommend buying new mechanic tools to last you for the long term.

i) What do you need to start a mechanic shop

Hammer

Screwdrivers

Wrenches

Pry bar

Heavy-duty scissors 

Flashlight 

Oil filter wrench

Ratchet and sockets

Pliers

Allen wrenches 

You can get these tools online or buy them from a manufacturer’s shop.

Have a reliable supplier to get you the tools you will need for a mechanic shop.

6. How to Find a Good Location for a Mechanic Shop

Location is everything when starting a mechanic shop.

You need to scout for the best sites to start a mechanic shop because location can make or break your business. 

A bad location will not get you, clients. 

For starters, when you are choosing a location to start a mechanic shop, a few things should be kept in mind.

  • Accessibility; your mechanic shop should be near roads and motorways to allow vehicle owners access to mechanic services.
  • Parking access; a mechanic shop should be in a place that has parking space 
  • Crime; the location you choose to start a mechanic shop should be a crime-free zone to avoid cases of theft and vandalism.
  • Legalities; check to make sure that the area you choose for a mechanic shop is not marked off as government property 
  • Visibility; if you choose to have signage for your mechanic shop, it should be in a place that is visible.

The best places to start a mechanic shop include residential areas or places near towns.

Tip: As you think about the location of your mechanic shop, also think about the design.

For example, you can have a waiting room for clients or a separate car wash for vehicle owners who want to have their vehicles cleaned.

  1. Meet the legal requirements 

What are the legal requirements for starting a mechanic shop?

Before you start a mechanic shop, you have to make sure that you are in full compliance with the law.

There are some legal requirements you just meet to start a mechanic shop.

For starters, register your mechanic shop so that it can operate legally.

Choose an entity that you want to start your mechanic shop as; either a sole proprietorship or an LLC.

Once you have your business registered, go through the licensing requirements for a mechanic shop.

Business license

Business insurance

Tax certificate

Occupancy permit 

If you don’t know the legal documents/ process for starting a mechanic shop, you can ask the local authorities and they will help you.

Starting a business in compliance with the law helps you avoid getting into the government’s hot soup.

You do not risk having your business shut down or paying heavy fines.

Note: Check out the zoning laws before you select a place to start a mechanic shop.

  1. Select your staff

Who are the people you want to have onboard? 

Sometimes running a mechanic shop alone can be quite hectic.

You need to find people who are going to help you run business activities and manage clients.

If you have a big sized mechanic shop, you will need all the help that you can get.

Hire highly skilled personnel who possess the skills and qualities needed to work in a mechanic shop.

The right team will help you propel your mechanic shop in the right direction.

  1. Promote your mechanic shop

You need to find clients for your mechanic shop. There are effective marketing strategies that you can use to promote your mechanic shop both online and offline.

i) How to attract customers to a mechanic shop

Feature your mechanic shop on local paper/magazines/TV ads

Ask for referrals; ask clients to recommend other vehicle owners to your mechanic shop if they are satisfied with your services.

Have a mechanic shop website and share your location information and business contact details

Use social media platforms and add links to your website

Use proper signage 

Word of mouth marketing 

Have business cards 

ii) How to promote a mechanic shop

Use social media

Have a loyalty programme 

Offer incentives

Get positive business reviews

Have reward programmes

Have a loyalty programme for loyal customers

Email marketing, give out newsletters for service reminders to vehicle owners. 

Use your mechanic shop website for content marketing and talk about your mechanic services 

Networking with vehicle owners or car dealers in showrooms. 

What are the Services Offered in a Mechanic Shop?

These are the services offered in a mechanic shop

Vehicle repairs

Car inspection 

Fluid service 

Tyre rotation and balance 

Battery replacement 

Radiator flush and fill service 

Monitor inventory 

Selling vehicle tools and spare parts

What are the Skills Needed for Mechanics in Kenya?

These are the skills and qualities you need to be a mechanic. 

  • Practical skills; handling hand tools and heavy equipment. You will also be looking at electrical systems and doing other hands-on services 
  • Mechanical skills; you need to understand mechanical terms and use the techniques needed to service a client’s vehicle.
  • Attention to detail; being keen on details is useful when you are running a mechanic shop. You cannot miss out on the tiniest details that can make a change to a client’s vehicle.
  • Problem-solving skills; when a customer comes to you with a problem, you have to put on your problem-solving skills and fix the issue effectively.
  • Organisation skills; know how to manage business activities and plan your day ahead to avoid any confusion or inconveniences caused by not servicing a client’s vehicle.
  • Communication skills; learn to listen to your customer’s complaints about their vehicle and their feedback about your mechanic shop. You will not only get to serve them better but also improve your mechanic shop.

8 FAQs on Starting a Mechanic Shop in Kenya

The following are the FAQs on starting a mechanic shop in Kenya and they include:

Q. Is starting a mechanic shop profitable?

Yes. A mechanic shop is very profitable.

Q. How much does it cost to start a mechanic shop?

The amount of money it costs to start a mechanic shop depends on how much you want to scale the mechanic shop.

Small-sized mechanic shops will have fewer startup costs than big sized mechanic shops.

Have a list of all the expenses you need to start a mechanic shop so that you can know how much it costs.

Q. How do I make money with a mechanic shop?

With a mechanic shop, you make money based on the mechanic services you render to your client’s vehicles.

You can also sell complimentary items like car tyres to clients and make money this way.

Q. How much should I charge my customers?

If you don’t know how much you should charge your customers, look at what competitors are charging and use that as the base price to charge your customers.

You can also charge based on the type of service needed and how complex the required service is.

Always keep your charges fair, competitive and profitable. 

Q. How much money can I make with a mechanic shop?

A mechanic shop can make you a lot of money.

The amount of money you can make with a mechanic shop depends on the number of clients you get, the type of mechanic service and the model of the car.

More clients mean more money.

High-end cars from luxury models and brands will make you a lot of money since they require a certain level of attention and skill.

You can earn around $500 a month in profit with a mechanic shop.

Q. How can I make a mechanic shop profitable?

If you want to make a mechanic shop more profitable, start by selling mechanic related products to your clients.

You can even start a car wash business on the side and make more profits this way.

Q. How can I become a mechanic without school?

You can become a mechanic without school but school/education provides you with basic knowledge and ideas of how to become a good mechanic.

Q. Can you teach yourself auto mechanics?

Yes, you can teach yourself auto mechanics – practice does make perfect.

If you have a lot of physical stamina, you may definitely want to spend your time with cars.

There may be a million cars plus in Kenya but how many trustworthy mechanics do you encounter?

How many qualified mechanics do you see around?

The mechanics industry is a very profitable and secure business as long as people keep buying cars.

It is estimated that this industry has billions of dollars in profit and is expected to grow in the next few years.

Mechanics need to be honest, skilful, educated, experienced and able to spot opportunities in order to help them grow their businesses.

Find a good location and market your mechanic shop on social media and YouTube.

Make more money by starting a car vlog or how customers can do simple DIY from their homes.

The more customers trust you as a mechanic, the more money you make.

Also, capitalise on the word of marketing.

Encourage your customers to tell you what services they enjoyed the most and what you can add to make your business profitable and sustainable.

A car repair shop attracts a wide range of customers – high profile individuals.

These high profile individuals can introduce your awesome services to their pool of friends.

Provide the best customer service and ensure customer excellence.

Ensure you maintain your mechanic shop as a day one place.

Having a loyal client base means you never struggle to make money in your auto repair shop.

Also, diversifying your mechanical services means pooling customers from all backgrounds.

Do you want to become a mechanic or are you in training to start a mechanic shop?

How do you plan on standing out as a mechanic?

How do you plan on making your mechanic shop profitable?

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Online Businesses / Work in Kenya