How profitable is an auto repair shop?

Data provided here comes from our team of experts who have been working on business plan for an auto repair shop. Furthermore, an industry specialist has reviewed and approved the final article.

auto repair shop profitabilityWhat is the profitability of an auto repair shop, and what income can one expect in the automotive industry?

Let's check together.

Revenue metrics of an auto repair shop

How does an auto repair shop makes money?

An auto repair shop makes money by charging customers for labor and parts used in repairs.

What do auto repair shops sell?

Auto repair shops sell a comprehensive range of products and services to address the needs of vehicle owners.

These establishments offer automotive parts like engine components, brakes, suspension parts, and exhaust system components for routine maintenance and repairs.

They also provide a variety of fluids and lubricants essential for the proper functioning of a vehicle's systems.

Tires and wheels, including different tire types and wheel styles, are commonly sold alongside services like mounting, balancing, and alignment.

Batteries for various vehicle sizes and types are available for replacement.

Additionally, auto repair shops offer diagnostic services, utilizing specialized equipment to accurately pinpoint and assess vehicle issues, helping customers understand the necessary repairs or maintenance required for their vehicles.

Beyond these tangible products, auto repair shops also provide intangible services like labor and expertise from trained mechanics, ensuring that vehicles are safe, reliable, and performing at their best.

What about the prices?

An auto repair shop offers a variety of services and products at different price ranges.

Common services like oil changes typically fall within the range of $30 to $60, while more extensive maintenance tasks like brake pad replacements might cost around $100 to $300 per axle. Engine diagnostics can range from $50 to $150, depending on the complexity of the issue.

Tire rotations and balancing usually range from $20 to $50, while a set of four new tires can cost anywhere from $300 for budget options to over $800 for high-performance or specialty tires. For more significant repairs, such as replacing a transmission or engine components, costs can vary greatly, usually ranging from $500 to $3000 or more, depending on the make and model of the vehicle.

Additionally, labor charges are usually applied on top of parts costs, with hourly rates varying from $60 to $150.

Service/Product Price Range ($)
Oil Change $30 - $60
Brake Pad Replacement (per axle) $100 - $300
Engine Diagnostics $50 - $150
Tire Rotation & Balancing $20 - $50
New Tires (set of 4) $300 - $800+
Transmission/Engine Repair $500 - $3000+
Labor Charges (Hourly Rate) $60 - $150

business plan dealershipWho are the customers of an auto repair shop?

An auto repair shop may serve a variety of customers, including individuals, businesses, fleet operators, and dealerships.

Which segments?

We've made many business plans for projects like this. These are the groups of customers we usually see.

Customer Segment Description Preferences How to Find Them
Individual Vehicle Owners Private car owners seeking maintenance and repairs. Quality service, transparent pricing, convenience. Local advertising, social media, word of mouth.
Fleet Managers Businesses with multiple vehicles needing regular service. Bulk discounts, timely repairs, fleet management solutions. Networking events, B2B partnerships, online directories.
Diesel Vehicle Owners Owners of diesel-powered vehicles (trucks, buses, etc.). Expertise in diesel engines, emission-related services. Online forums, diesel-specific publications.
Luxury Car Owners Owners of high-end and luxury vehicles. Specialized care, premium parts, attention to detail. High-end auto clubs, luxury car expos.
Emergency Repairs Customers in need of immediate, unplanned repairs. Rapid service, availability, quick diagnostics. Emergency service advertising, roadside assistance partnerships.

How much they spend?

In our thorough analysis of the business operations of an auto repair shop, we find that customers tend to spend between $150 to $500 for standard auto repair services. These figures fluctuate based on the complexity of the repair, the cost of parts needed, labor charges, and any additional services rendered during their visit.

Insights indicate that an average car owner might require repair services approximately 1 to 3 times annually, contingent on the vehicle's age, model, usage, and the owner's maintenance routine. Some customers visit more frequently due to unforeseen breakdowns or accidents, while others might need only periodic maintenance.

Consequently, the estimated lifetime value of an average auto repair shop customer would be from $150 (1x150) to $1,500 (3x500), spread across the various services they may need within a year.

With these considerations, we can deduce that the average revenue per customer that an auto repair shop could expect is around $825, balancing out those with minimal needs against customers requiring more extensive, costly repairs.

(Disclaimer: the figures cited above serve as generalized estimations and may diverge from your individual business experience due to regional market variations, the economic climate, and differing operational expenses.)

Which type(s) of customer(s) to target?

It's something to have in mind when you're writing the business plan for your auto repair shop.

The most profitable customers for an auto repair shop are typically vehicle owners with higher-end cars or older models in need of frequent maintenance or repairs.

They tend to be more profitable because they often require specialized parts and services, leading to higher invoices.

To target and attract them, the shop can focus on marketing efforts that emphasize expertise in handling luxury or vintage vehicles, offering competitive pricing on premium parts, and showcasing a track record of excellent service. Building partnerships with local luxury car dealerships or car clubs can also be effective.

To retain these customers, consistent communication and personalized service are key. Maintaining a customer database for reminders and follow-ups, offering loyalty programs or discounts for repeat business, and ensuring top-notch quality and customer satisfaction will encourage them to return and refer others.

What is the average revenue of an auto repair shop?

The average monthly revenue for an auto repair shop can typically range from $15,000 to $100,000. This wide range depends on various factors including location, services offered, and the scale of operations. Let's explore these variables more closely.

You can also estimate your own revenue by adjusting these parameters to match your business model, using our financial plan for an auto repair shop.

Case 1: A basic auto repair shop in a small town

Average monthly revenue: $15,000

This type of auto repair shop is often a small, family-run business located in a rural area or small town. It provides essential services such as oil changes, tire repairs, and other basic maintenance work.

With its limited customer base due to its remote location, the shop might serve roughly 10 cars per day, averaging about 250 service availabilities a month considering it operates on weekdays. Given that the average service charge is around $60 (this could be a composite of different services offered), the monthly revenue for such a shop would be approximately $15,000.

Case 2: A full-service auto repair shop in an urban area

Average monthly revenue: $50,000

This auto repair shop is in a busy urban area, attracting a higher number of customers due to its convenient location. It offers a comprehensive range of services including advanced diagnostics, electrical system repairs, engine repairs, and perhaps even collision repair.

This shop might cater to 20 cars per day, considering its extended services and customer base, operating six days a week. This allows for roughly 480 service opportunities per month. With the variety and complexity of services, the average cost might increase to around $100 per service. Thus, this urban auto repair shop could make around $50,000 monthly.

Case 3: A high-end auto repair shop specializing in luxury vehicles

Average monthly revenue: $100,000

This auto repair shop positions itself at the high end of the market, specializing in luxury, foreign, or performance vehicles. It not only offers repair services but also enhancements and customization, appealing to car enthusiasts willing to pay a premium for such services.

The shop might only handle a specialized clientele with about 15 cars per day but operates throughout the week, providing around 390 service availabilities a month. Due to the specialty services and higher costs associated with luxury vehicle parts and labor, the average service charge could be around $250 or more. Consequently, this type of auto repair shop could see an average monthly revenue of $100,000.

It's important to note that these figures are rough estimations and actual revenues can vary based on a multitude of factors including seasonal trends, competitive pricing, and unexpected expenses.

business plan auto repair shop

The profitability metrics of an auto repair shop

What are the expenses of an auto repair shop?

Auto repair shop expenses include automotive tools and equipment, parts, staff wages, and marketing and advertising.

Category Examples of Expenses Average Monthly Cost (Range in $) Tips to Reduce Expenses
Rent and Utilities Shop rent, electricity, water, gas $1,500 - $5,000 Optimize energy usage, negotiate rent agreements
Equipment and Tools Vehicle lifts, diagnostic tools, hand tools $1,000 - $3,000 Buy quality tools to reduce replacement costs, consider leasing equipment
Employee Wages Mechanic salaries, administrative staff $3,000 - $10,000 Offer competitive wages to retain skilled staff, cross-train employees
Inventory and Parts Replacement parts, fluids, consumables $2,000 - $6,000 Manage inventory efficiently to avoid overstocking or understocking
Insurance Liability insurance, worker's compensation $500 - $1,500 Shop around for insurance providers to find competitive rates
Marketing and Advertising Advertising campaigns, online presence $500 - $2,000 Utilize digital marketing, encourage customer referrals
Repairs and Maintenance Repairs to shop equipment and building $200 - $800 Schedule regular maintenance to prevent costly breakdowns
Taxes and Permits Business taxes, permits, licenses $300 - $1,000 Stay compliant with local regulations to avoid fines
Office Supplies Office supplies, software licenses $100 - $400 Buy in bulk for cost savings, consider open-source software
Miscellaneous Bank fees, legal fees, unforeseen expenses $200 - $600 Monitor expenses closely and create a contingency fund

When is a an auto repair shop profitable?

The breakevenpoint

An auto repair shop becomes profitable when its total revenue exceeds its total fixed and variable costs.

In simpler terms, it starts making a profit when the money it earns from services such as repairs, maintenance, and parts replacement becomes greater than the expenses it incurs for rent, equipment, salaries, and other operating costs.

This means that the auto repair shop has reached a point where it covers all its expenses and starts generating income; this is known as the breakeven point.

Consider an example of an auto repair shop where the monthly fixed costs typically amount to approximately $15,000.

A rough estimate for the breakeven point of an auto repair shop would then be around $15,000 (since it's the total fixed cost to cover), or servicing between 50 and 150 vehicles with the customers paying for services ranging from $100 to $300.

It's important to recognize that this indicator can vary widely depending on factors such as location, size, service fees, operational costs, and competition. A large auto repair shop with high-end equipment would obviously have a higher breakeven point than a small garage that doesn’t need as much revenue to cover their expenses.

Curious about the profitability of your auto repair shop? Try out our user-friendly financial plan crafted for auto repair businesses. Simply input your own assumptions, and it will help you calculate the amount you need to earn in order to run a profitable business.

Biggest threats to profitability

The biggest threats to profitability for an auto repair shop are high operating costs, intense competition, and fluctuating customer demand.

Operating costs, including rent, utilities, and employee salaries, can eat into profits if not managed efficiently.

Intense competition among repair shops in the same area can lead to price wars, reducing profit margins.

Additionally, the unpredictable nature of car breakdowns and maintenance needs means that customer demand can vary widely, making it challenging for the shop to maintain a consistent stream of business.

To thrive, an auto repair shop must carefully control costs, differentiate itself from competitors, and establish a loyal customer base to mitigate these threats to profitability.

These threats are often included in the SWOT analysis for an auto repair shop.

What are the margins of an auto repair shop?

Gross margins and net margins are financial metrics used to assess the profitability of an auto repair business.

The gross margin represents the difference between the revenue from the repair services provided and the direct costs of providing those services, such as parts, labor, and the cost of any subcontracted work.

Essentially, it's the profit remaining after deducting the costs directly tied to the auto repair services, including mechanic wages, parts purchases, and costs of tools and equipment used for repair tasks.

The net margin, however, encompasses all expenses of the business, including indirect costs like administrative overhead, marketing, rent, and business taxes.

Net margin offers a comprehensive view of the auto repair shop's profitability, encompassing both direct and indirect costs.

Gross margins

Auto repair shops generally have an average gross margin in the range of 45% to 65%.

For instance, if your auto repair shop generates $20,000 per month, your gross profit will be approximately 55% x $20,000 = $11,000.

Let's delve into an example for better understanding.

Suppose a repair shop services 20 cars in a month, with each customer being charged $200 on average, bringing total revenue to $4,000.

The direct costs, including parts, labor, and consumables, might total $1,800. So, the shop's gross profit equates to $4,000 - $1,800 = $2,200.

Therefore, the gross margin for the repair shop would be $2,200 / $4,000 = 55%.

Net margins

Auto repair shops generally maintain an average net margin in the range of 20% to 30%.

In simpler terms, if your repair shop has earnings of $20,000 per month, the net profit might hover around $4,000, which is 20% of the total revenue.

Using the consistent example for coherence:

If our auto repair shop services 20 cars, generating $4,000, and incurs direct costs of $1,800, we have that part covered.

Now, the shop also faces indirect expenses, such as utilities, rent, administrative costs, advertising, and business insurance. Assuming these additional costs amount to $1,000, the total expenditure now stands at $1,800 (direct) + $1,000 (indirect) = $2,800.

Subtracting both direct and indirect costs from the revenue, the shop's net profit is $4,000 - $2,800 = $1,200.

Thus, the net margin for the auto repair shop would be $1,200 / $4,000, resulting in a net margin of 30%.

It's crucial for business owners to recognize that the net margin offers more insight into the actual profitability of your auto repair shop since it accounts for all operational costs and expenses, unlike the gross margin.

business plan auto repair shop

At the end, how much can you make as an auto repair shop owner?

Now you understand that the net margin is the indicator to look at to know whether your auto repair shop is profitable. Basically, it tells you how much money is left after you've paid for all the expenses.

How much you will make will, of course, depend on how well you execute your business strategies.

Struggling auto repair shop owner

Makes $1,200 per month

If you start a small auto repair shop and make decisions such as investing in outdated tools, limiting service offerings, ignoring advertising, and not engaging with the customer community, your total revenue might stagnate around $6,000.

Moreover, if your expenses are high due to poor management or inefficient operations, your net margin could be as low as 20%.

In simpler terms, this means that your monthly earnings would be around $1,200 (20% of $6,000).

So, as an auto repair shop owner, this is the worst-case scenario for your income.

Average auto repair shop owner

Makes $7,500 per month

Suppose you decide to run a standard auto repair shop with decent equipment. Your shop offers a range of services, engages in local advertising, and maintains a solid relationship with customers.

Your efforts are reflected in your earnings. Your total revenue might climb to $25,000.

By managing your expenses—such as bulk ordering parts, or negotiating rent—you could potentially maintain a net margin of around 30%.

In this situation, your monthly earnings would be approximately $7,500 (30% of $25,000).

Exceptional auto repair shop owner

Makes $50,000 per month

You excel in providing superior services, using the latest technology, offering extensive repair options, and building a loyal customer base through exceptional service and community engagement.

You understand that investing in high-quality tools, ongoing staff training, and a comfortable waiting area contributes to customer satisfaction and positive word-of-mouth.

With such a high-standard auto repair shop, the total revenue could soar to $200,000 or more.

Furthermore, by implementing strategic expense management and establishing beneficial partnerships with suppliers, you could achieve a net margin of about 40%.

In this scenario, the monthly earnings for the exceptional auto repair shop owner could reach approximately $50,000 (40% of $125,000).

We hope this becomes your reality! If you aspire to be an exceptional auto repair shop owner, it all starts with a comprehensive business plan for your auto repair shop, a strong understanding of your customer base, and an unwavering commitment to service excellence.

business plan dealership
Back to blog