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Help Me Assess Location for New Shop

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Hi!  I'm looking to open a new automotive repair shop and I could use some help assessing a specific opportunity from the experts here.  To put this in perspective, I would be a new owner without prior repair shop experience, however, I understand repair work and have done almost all of my own work on my personal vehicles for nearly 30 years.  The scope of work I have personally performed included transmissions swaps, suspension, brakes, ignition systems, fuel systems, computer diagnostics and so on.  My formal training is in science and management and I've been in corporate positions for 20+ years.  I also have experience running my own real estate rental business.  I've always been interested in auto repair and I believe this business would be a very good fit for my aptitude, skills and experience.  I would plan to operate as the business owner and bring in skilled staff to handle repairs and customer engagement under my leadership.

Here is the scenario I could use help with.  I found a 10,000 sq. ft. building which is split up between 6 existing bays (3 front and 3 rear), office space and retail area.  The section with the bays has about 5000 sq. ft. , about 1000 sq. ft. of office space and another 4,000 sq. ft. of retail area.  The property has not been used for auto repair in a long time but could be converted back very quickly along with opportunity to do something interesting in the retail area.    I have many potential ideas for the property.  I am running into two primary challenges in evaluating the opportunity.  The first is the competitive landscape and the second is how quickly I could ramp up the business along with how much business I would likely do from the location after ramp up.

The property is located on a main road with 20-40k total vehicles/day depending on the day of week.  About a mile up the road, in a cluster, there are 6 name brand auto dealerships.  On the same road, within just a few miles from the site, there are three tire shops, one local and two name brand, along with a Midas and another local 6 bay garage.  Think of this as 5 competitors, each with 6 bays plus the new car dealers.  There are a handful of smaller local shops with 1-2 bays locally as well.  Also, there is a State DMV location, with inspection services in the same zone.  The overall geographic area is in a town that contains a Wal-Mart, Lowes, BJ's and a Costco plus restaurants, etc..  These stores are all within 10 minutes from the potential new location.  The next closest big retail areas are 30 minutes north or 40 minutes south of the target area described.  The demographics of the area skew affluent and population density is moderate - this is not a big city - however people are drawn in from at least a 30 minute drive time radius due to the shopping and other resources. 

I have a few ideas to differentiate my business from the rest in the area although on Google, it appears that most of the competing businesses have decent reviews overall.  My shop would do all types of repairs including the heavier stuff and the bays are very tall so we could potentially accommodate trucks too.

So, my questions are:

  • Is this an opportunity worth considering given the competitive landscape?
  • If I were to open a shop, how quickly should I expect business to ramp up?

I am really looking for solid feedback from folks with deep experience in this industry to help me evaluate if this is a business proposition worthy of consideration at this location.

Thank you!

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Edited by abs
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