How to Start a Custom Car Shop

Operating a custom car shop can be a lucrative and unique business. But just like any business, you have to plan for it and follow a step to open and properly run one. So if you plan to open a custom car business, we just have the idea on what you need to do so you can start making money out from custom cars.

Owning a custom car shop is a feat in itself; it really takes a person the talent and finesse to own one.

It is very easy to open a custom car shop, especially if you have the idea about the basics of the business and the right equipment to use. On the process, you will learn a lot and eventually, you will get into your head and master then repair works and customization.

Now, if you have the knack but you don’t know how to start this business, let our tips guide you so you can sooner open the custom car shop of your own.

Have enough capital

Estimate how much you are going to spend in opening the business. Make sure to include every expense from paying the space, buying the equipment, processing the permits to the salary of your employees. Take down everything that you have to spend for and allocate funds for it.

Look for a wide space or building

The first thing that you have to do is look for an adequate building – preferably 40’ x 100’ to house all your customer’s cars. Make sure that the building has concrete, electrical, finishing, etc. If the building does not have these, install or have it added. Then, have it stocked with (4) 25’ bays. Don’t forget that your custom car shop needs to offer body work. Thus, you may need another 2 bays or less. The first bay is for the preparation and finishing while the other is for the painting booth.

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Have the Necessary Tools and Equipment

Also, don’t forget the equipment that you will use for the body work. More likely, you’ll need to have the following:

  • air compressor
  • refrigerated evaporating system
  • jitter bugs, dual-action sanders
  • sanding blocks
  • masks and paint suits
  • a cabinet to keep solvents, paints, and cleaners
  • HVLP guns of different sizes
  • Lift
  • Air tools (like impact, air nozzle, etc)
  • Tools to stock boxes
  • Parts washer
  • Diagnostic machine
  • Rebuilding counters
  • Woodworking tools
  • Fiberglass tools
  • Electrical tools for stereo and complete body wiring
  • Phew

The list begins but it does not end here. Be sure that you get these tools and equipment from reliable supplier.

Look for an Experienced Employee

Now that you have your space, tools, and equipment, the next thing that is you have to hire your staff. Choose employees who have experience in this work. Ask him about his experience and to what extent does he know about the work.

Do Your Homework

Think of ways that can make your custom car business a unique one. Draw a reliable, realistic business plan that you will follow as you start running the business. Get ready with the whims and requests of your customers. Once you have one, accept him. In a matter of time, you’ll find your shop with a lot of customers coming back and forth. Always update yourself with what’s the latest in the business so you won’t be out-dated. Always offer what’s new to your customers.
 

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45 Comments

  • jesse said on October 13, 2009
    what if you don't know much about cars but you still want to start the business? do you just hire a mechanic and a panel beater
  • Mike Jones said on November 9, 2009
    Please send more info and details on how to start a custom car shop. I have been restoring my own classic cars and need some direction. Thanks
  • tim cline said on January 4, 2010
    To whom it may concern. I have been around the car industry all my life, & I want to open a Custom Hot Rod shop & car restoration facility. Watching Barret Jackson auto sales gives me a lot of thoughts & ideas. I also have been around Drag Racing since my early days has a boy. I grew up in a Body Shop, learned how to prime & paint & do body modifications & body work, my steo farther also tought me how to led cars with bars of led 30-70(30% tin& 70& led). I am also a very good spray painter. I have the talent & the will & the drive, but having a place to do it is one of my faults. I am also a member of SCORE who help people like me tutor me on the Business end of a business. I went far to contact a car designer to help me, with designs. I just need to get capital to get started. I live in Fla where it is warm most of the time. Any thoughts on this? Let me know something sooner or later. I recently painted a Custom Bike & it is going to be in a up coming edition of Easy Rider Magizine. Thanks for your time. Tim Cline
  • Albie said on January 20, 2010
    First build a reputation and expand from there.
    Here are some ideas to get your business up and running:-
    Decide on a name and stick with it. Use it as your Brand name, whenever you can.
    Getting featured articles in Easy Rider, Speed and Sound, and other mags is a good idea.
    Get a web page and a listing on Autostart (They made my business a possibility, seeing the internet i am growing rapidly, this is a must. I am getting a lot of exposure through this ).
    Vehicle make specialization and promotion via a relevant clubs. Contracted fitments for a styling house.
    Mobile service dealers for fitment of bolt on accessories.(bull bars etc)
  • fullmetal said on July 12, 2010
    i know a lot about cars i have most of the tools i'm running out of my home garage but i still need more tools and i'm not getting a lot of good work coming my way how can i make more money
  • rajit panickar said on September 2, 2010
    hi! i am from chandigarh which is from india i was just thinking to setup a car custom shop so i thought why not search on the net and believe me by reading this whole page i have understood the hard work that goes in running one car custom shop so by remembering these things i will be able to do my work more properly and one thing about me is that i am only 16 years old and have come up with this idea
  • Mr Francis said on September 9, 2010
    what about state or provincial grants ? are there ways to use these to help the buisness ??? and what if there are a lot of local car clubs but they are bias to other clubs and dont want to have their ride parked next to the opposition?
  • rich said on September 18, 2010
    -what are the pricing strategy of a car customizing shop..???
  • Jeremy Neese said on September 22, 2010
    Hi I am jeremy neese, i am from palm city fl, and i want to know what it takes to start a custom car performance shop..
  • abhijeet singh said on January 10, 2011
    hi, i have am a car enthusiast and i draw my own designs. i am eager to do set up my car customization. right now i am doing my master degree in AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING from UNIVERSITY OF BATH, UK . my course is providing deep knowledge about the engines and all these stuff but i would first like to have some real experience about real customization. please provide me some guidance. thanks for your time
  • Andre' Brown said on January 25, 2011
    Hey guys. I recently finished school at U.T.I in houston tx. I know a lot about rebuilding and engine or building one. I'm also looking to go back to school for business to add to my background but I pick up book and read. I am going to start a shop but i need real life suggestions. I'm probably moving to LA with my wife and kid to be in the right area for this type of work. Anything you guys recommend, please let me know.
  • Dustin Bailey said on March 23, 2011
    Ok, So i'm 17 years old and i plan on opening my own shop after i graduate from College. First thing i wanna know is: Whats the best school to learn everything on the trade, Second thing is: Whats the best way to get the money to start the business, cause i know that the lifts are definitely not cheap. I was wanting to go to Wyotech, But i heard that its just a rip off, As of now im going to go to a community college in my town but all they offer is Automotive Tech, so i wouldn't learn the rest such as Paint and body, Collision Repair, Custom Fabrication, Or any of the Wiring. What i know about Cars is very little, But i have a huge passion to learn Restoration and and open up a Body/restoration Shop in Colorado, i Currently Live in East Texas. If anyone has any info PLEASE email me. Dusty_Bailey@yahoo.com Thanks.
  • Clint Mathis said on March 29, 2011
    i'm 21 years old basically grew up in my papaws garage he recently passed away last oct and left it to me, i'm very familiar with the tools and the work going back to school for paint and body and putting new paintbooth in and opening garage back up but dont know where to get started with all the legal work any help greatly appreciated thanks.
  • Jason DeFisher said on May 26, 2011
    Hey Clint Mathis I own and run a small repair/collision+paint/ custom fab shop in rochester ny, where are you located. I'm 26 and have been working professionally in the restoration & collision industry since 2003. I've got welding certifications, automotive paint exp. and have restored dozens of cars in my life. Everything from a '31 model A to a custom one off fiberglass street rod. I was also assistant manager of a collision/restoration shop for a few years, so I'm familiar with dealing with customers,retailers,parts suppliers and quoting jobs and all the other little things. If you get this get at me maybe we could get some kinda business partnership going. With your shop and both our tools and experience I'm sure we could do anything we wanted. If you get this email me at blackjeep420@frontier.com title it CUSTOM SHOP so i know its not spam or anything haha thanks hope to hear from ya.
  • Fastoldcarz said on August 21, 2011
    This is really stupid. I've been in the business, successfully, more than 40 years, and the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT thing to have is KNOWLEDGE. That comes from EXPERIENCE. You also need TALENT. Mechanical aptitude, understanding of engineering principles and design skills are paramount, and even some supposedly good shops don't have what it takes to do top-notch work. This field is filled with hackers and so-called experts who routinely BUTCHER fine old machines, that I end up re-doing CORRECTLY. I'm really tired of seeing the kind of garbage work so many shops put out. If you just want to make money, please become something else. If you want to do beautiful work because you love it, AND ARE REALLY GOOD AT IT, welcome and good luck. There is WAY more to this than just working on cars for a little while. ( that is of course IF YOU WANT TO BE GOOD )
  • Q said on January 30, 2012
    i am fairly new at this i went to auto school for 3 years. when first starting you really want to look at the price of 100k. thats how much i did and luckily my brother was in the car business longer than me so i offered him part ownership. so i don't pay anyone. this makes it easier to upgrade you car shop. i started out charging almost dirt cheep prices but it would take a lot more time than a fully up and running place. it will be very easy because not a lot of people want to pay a lot so this will help get you started out.
  • creativeman1969 said on April 25, 2012
    Looking to find a Grant or loan to start up a Auto and Truck business. Concept and Custom Designed Vehicles. Have the land, machinery, tools, past schooling, and more.
  • XXX said on May 9, 2012
    I helped add some body parts to my cousins friends car and enjoyed it. It seems to come naturally to me. I want to start a shop of my own. I think I can figure out the rest as I go and learn on the job. Is J.C. Whitney a good parts source? That is where we bought the parts for the car I helped on and I was looking into Harbor freight for some tools and a lift. Anyone have any other recommendations? I plan to put an ad in the classifieds next week to get started.
  • Justin edwards said on May 20, 2012
    Hey i am from clarksville tn i am huge into the mini trucking scene i have all the know how and common sense to do it as a business i am stuck at the point of having no credit no capital? and no co signer how can i go about doing this
  • elroy burnett said on July 9, 2012
    hi i'm elroy burnett and I own my own business i do custom paint and body work on cars i have been in the business for twenty years and i was wondering how could i start keeping my business papers together and keeping them on file on my computer some one help
  • christopher shegog said on September 20, 2012
    Hello I'm very experienced in car custom, how much will it take to start a shop up with all the equipment, i will be locating somewhere in GA.
  • steve marsell said on December 7, 2012
    i am a young boy managing car is what i prefer best i am not financially up as others if the world it self can give me an opportunity then i will say thanks for the helping hand i live in cameroon (douala) and a university student to be in 2013 by gods grace thanks for understanding and please let the world remember me for a helping hand.
  • johnson blue said on April 7, 2013
    Am 24yrs of age, male from an african country..nigeria. down here were lacking such resources and restoration centers for repairs, despite the fact we drive a lot of nice, and expensive cars down here but the repair and maintain system is so out-dated and I intend to do some upgrades since I love cars and intend opening my own custom auto work shop. but first I need to know more about owning and running a custom hot shop. will be truly grateful if I get all the assistance I need. thank u
  • kiran said on April 19, 2013
    hi, I stay in Dombivli its a developing town of Maharashtra, country India. I want to start a custom car n bike modification business here, do u think this will work here?
  • Tim Allen said on April 24, 2013
    I am thinking about starting an engine building business for race cars I have been a auto tech for over 30 years and have been in racing for at least 20 years. But have no idea where to start as far as getting engine building equipment.
  • Okhiria christopher said on August 15, 2013
    I am 20yrs of age. I live in Nigeria, in the capital city of Edostate to be precised. I wish to have a car custom shop here in edo state but no capital to start up. I have passion for customizing cars. I need a place that i can gain some experience before i start my own business. I pray God help me. Amen
  • Nate C. said on September 21, 2013
    In Fort Worth, trying to get out the trucking business and get back to my first plan of starting up a Hot Rod, customs, and restoration shop. But no capital and very few faithful return clients.
  • Hani said on October 6, 2013
    Hi there, I am thinking of opening my own car custom shop. But before I get to know that I want to learn as much as possible about the mechanical work. It would be great if you could advise me on what are the best custom cars institutes in the US. Thank you..
  • Charles said on November 13, 2013
    In Jacksonville, AR. I have a custom auto repair/body shop. We are currently looking for an good prep and body person, a good upholstery, and another good mechanic to help the business grow.
  • Kristina Pilarmeo said on November 28, 2013
    Puerto Princesa City, Philippines. Driver's Edge. I want to start a motorcycle customs and service. I wish you could help me in other services I could offer. I am thinking of tied up with business who sell auto parts and supply. i want to start this business because there are many motorcycle here in Puerto Princesa. What I must do to make this business successful? Aside from having a knowledge and passion. Thanks. God Bless.
  • vin said on March 2, 2014
    I need an Experienced Auto Restoration Mechanic for my shop where can I go to look for one?
  • vin said on March 2, 2014
    Please help me in starting my own custom car shop in Ca, lake forests
  • Zee said on April 6, 2014
    @abhijeet singh, If you are still available call me on 07590014004.. Would like to discuss something relating to work. If you are interested Please call me. Lee
  • akash mhasawade said on December 4, 2014
    I am in maharashtra pune i complete diploma in mechanical. I want a custom shop But i dont have an experience but i am Very interested in this What can i do for this. give me a suggestion
  • praveen kumar said on December 9, 2014
    hi, i am studying 2nd year mechanical engineering. i would like to open a car remodelling shop how much i should inverse, and how much minimum profit i will get for a car . i love cars, so only i am eager to open a shop
  • Kalvinder mondair said on April 19, 2015
    Looking to settle in India next year from uk... Have for my obi card and have capital to invest and am looking for partner/ mechanic to get into my hobby..... Cars; be it selling, maintenance, customizing etc. I have land already and am looking for someone with my passion
  • Steve Carguy said on May 17, 2015
    I'm working out of my custom car, restoration shop near Savannah, Ga. I'm semi retired after 39 years in the car business owing several independent cal lots and managing large multi franchise mega dealerships and for ten years of that time spent as a wholesaler working auto auctions. I basically grew up working on cars at my Dads auto paint and body shop in Charleston and as young as ten was working with Johnny Jamison of Jamison's Corvettes learning how to do some of the cutting edge corvette customizing by one of the best on the planet. Now that I've retired from dealerships for the past few years I've been basically restoring classic and muscle cars either for friends and referrals or some that I buy to restore and sell. I have a fully equipped three bay shop, all the tool and plenty of experience but would like to do more. I'm having to turn away work almost every week simply because I'm a one man show. I've got a shop full now . I'd be interested in meeting someone like minded who may be interested in pooling our resources and talent and take it to the next level. There is a huge demand for this market and it's getting even hotter. There is unlimited potential for fe nominal growth in this field and would like to meet with interested parties to discuss some type of partnership to become one of the South East premiere Classic and Muscle car restoration custom hot Rod shops. Hit me up and let's chat.
  • Jamal palmer said on August 21, 2015
    Hello, I'm 20 years old. And I live in Miami, Florida, I've always wanted to open my own car shop since I was a child. Ok let me give you any idea on how I want my shop to be. My shop will consist of Quality tuning for those who love to race on the track, painting and body work, Engine building with wiring, I would like to bring people Passion to life. I just really want to have a shop that can evolve around that for people who just want a full-blown race car or for those who just want their cars to show room clean or car show ready. Do u think living in Miami could be the right choice or moving to LA would be better?.
  • Jamal palmer said on August 21, 2015
    What school would benefit me more to reach my goals. I have some vocational schools in mind but I would like a school that would more in to that Field
  • Yash said on January 29, 2016
    I am Yash I live in pune India do you really think the idea of car customization will work here I really want to start this business over here BTW I'm only 17 so after graduation me and my dad had a plan to do so please help.
  • Arijit Sarkar said on March 6, 2016
    I'm Arijit, from kolkata,India.I'm actually too much crazy about cars and custom modifications, and it's been my biggest dream to build a custom. I don't have a lot of knowledge about it. But I imagine a lot about it. I can't live my life without cars.I wanna build a custom soon. But facing some problems specially financially. Thank you.
  • vijay said on April 29, 2016
    I want learn car design ..car restoring .. For experience any best shop for learning..near by my home ..(I living in pune Maharashtra India) Email I'd "vijay2u143@gmail.com"
  • Rajvaibhav Patil said on June 8, 2016
    I am Rajvaibhav Patil from India and I am a mechanical engineer(diploma). Now I am completing my bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and I want to start a customisation shop not only for cars but for other things too like Central ACs, Agricultural machines, Vehicles, Special purpose machines, etc. Please help me about what should I do, what things and tools I need and what amount will I require to do this in India. Please guide me about this.
  • ARFAT said on November 4, 2016
    @yash yeah bro i am 16 and i am so crazy about this stuff that my family and friends call me petrolhead . i too wanna build a custom which might remain legend for years .
  • leon dale lay said on September 22, 2017
    more cars and trucks and how much the com. made

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