Do you want to start a mobile PDR business? If YES, here is a 20-step guide on how to start a paintless dent removal business with no money or experience.  If you intend starting this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the country or state you reside in to know what is expected of you.

The bottom line is that you would need to pay a visit to the regulatory bodies in your country to get all the information you need before you can legally open the business in your city. You can start your mobile paintless dent removal business from a small town in the United States and if you are good at what you do, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes nationally recognized especially if you go into franchising.

20 Steps on How to Start a Mobile Paintless Dent Removal Business

1. Understand the Industry

Paintless dent repair (PDR), which popularly called paintless dent removal, it is a method of removing minor dents from the body of automobiles. A host of body damages in automobiles can be repaired using Paintless dent repair (PDR) techniques as long as the paint surface is intact. PDR may be used on both aluminum and steel panels.

The most common practical use for Paintless Dent Repair is the repair of hail damage, door dings, minor creases, large dents and bodylines damage. Paintless dent removal was invented by Oskar Flaig in February of 1960 during the “International Motor Sports Show” in New York City, USA.

Paintless dent repair business falls under the car body shops industry and players in this industry provide repair and customization work to the interior and body of passenger cars, trucks, vans and trailers. Some industry operators specialize in specific auto repairs; for example, paint shops specialize in post-collision paint jobs, while automotive glass shops replace, repair and tint windows. Restoration shops, which typically represent a niche market, restore classic and antique cars.

If you are a close watcher of the Car Body Shops industry, you will agree that the industry has improved steadily over the past five years. Industry revenue has experienced steady growth since 2012, reflecting steady increase in per capita disposable income and motor vehicle registrations, alongside aging vehicle fleets.

Stricter regulations have pushed car manufacturers to include heavy safety provisions for the driver, and these advanced technologies in new vehicles have led to fewer collisions over the past five years, resulting in a smaller client base for industry operators. This smaller client base has also led to overcapacity among industry operators; consequently, operators have either consolidated operations or exited the industry entirely.

The Car Body Shops industry will continue to experience growth in all parts of the world. As a matter of fact, there are no companies with a leading market share in the industry. Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 120,780 licensed and registered car body shops and auto detailing businesses responsible for employing about 330,732 employees and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $42bn annually with an annual growth rate projected at 1.9 percent.

A recent report published by IBISWorld estimates that the car body shops industry is in the mature stage of its life cycle. Industry value added, which measures the industry’s contribution to the overall economy, will grow at a lower rate than US GDP over the 10 years to 2022.

Industry value added is expected to grow at an annualized rate of 1.6 percent during the period. GDP is expected to increase at an annualized rate of 2.0 percent during the same period, indicating that the industry is growing slower than the economy as a whole. The marketplace for automotive bodywork, paintwork and glass repair is highly saturated.

Over and above, paintless dent repair and auto detailing businesses are still enjoying good patronage particularly if they are well positioned and if they know how to reach out to their target market.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who patronize mobile paintless dent removal services cut across all genders; male and female above 18 years who own automobiles hence the demographic composition for mobile paintless dent removal services is all encompassing. In essence, your target market can’t be restricted to just a group of people, but all those who own automobiles.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

It is important to state that there is no known niche area when it comes to mobile paintless dent removal services. It is niche idea in the car detailing and body shop industry.

Mobile paintless dent removal, and automobile detailing services involves going to the location of clients to carryout thorough cleaning, restoration, and finishing of an automobile, both inside and out, to produce a pristine level of detail; it involves cleaning and restoring or exceeding the original condition of the surface of the car’s finish (usually a paint with a glossy finish), chrome trim, windows, wheels, and tires, as well as other visible components on the exterior and of course interior of a vehicle

The Level of Competition in the Car Detailing Services and Car Body Shop industry

The competitions that exist in the mobile paintless dent removal business goes beyond competitions with mobile paintless dent removal services; you will be expected to compete with other players in the car detailing and car body shop industry that also carry out paintless dent removal. So, it will be right to say the competition in the mobile paintless dent removal services line of business is tough.

The truth is that, no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your services or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure you are well-equipped, your workers are well-trained, your customer care services is top notch and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.

4. Know Your Major Competitors Industry

Here are some of the most popular mobile paintless dent removal companies in the United States of America;

  • DingSmith Mobile Paintless Dent and Ding Removal Company
  • Lake Norman Dent Repair
  • Mobile Dent Repair Charlotte NC Paintless
  • North American Paintless Dent Repair
  • Orange County Paintless Dent Company
  • Evans Mobile Paintless Repair Company
  • Elite Mobile Paintless Repair Company
  • Atlantic Mobile Paintless Repair Company
  • Palm Harbor Mobile Paintless Repair Company
  • 313 Dent and Detail Paintless Repair Company
  • Mobile Dent Techs

Economic Analysis

When starting a mobile paintless dent removal business, you just have to get your costing cum economic analysis right if your intention of building the business is to generate profits, grow the business and perhaps expand the business and start competing at national level.

When conducting costing and economic analysis for your mobile paintless dent removal business, you just have to critically examine these key factors; place, pricing, and promotion. You would have to continue to review these key factors at regular intervals while running your business.

As a mobile paintless dent removal business owner, you just have to have a proper grasp of your competitive landscape if indeed you want to maximize profits and be in the frontline of the industry.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

When it comes to starting a business of this nature, it will pay you to start from the scratch as against buying a franchise. Besides, it is easier to start and run a mobile paintless dent removal company from scratch to profitability without leveraging on a known brand name. People will patronize your services based on ability to fix their automobiles as against relying on a brand name.

Please note that most of the successful mobile paintless dent removal companies around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

If you decide to start your own mobile paintless dent removal company today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established paintless dent removal garages in your target market location.

The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market; concentrate on households, individuals, startups transportation companies, haulage companies and startup businesses who need the services of paintless dent removal companies from time to time.

Some other threats and challenges that you are likely going to face when you start your company are mature markets, bad economy (economy downturn), stiff competition, volatile costs, and rising fuel prices.

So also, unfavorable government policies, seasonal fluctuations, demographic/social factors, downturn in the economy which is likely going to affect consumer spending and of course emergence of new competitors within the same location where yours is located. There is hardly anything you can do as regards these threats and challenges other than to be optimistic that things will continue to work for your good.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

You have the options of either choosing a general partnership, limited liability company, or a sole proprietorship for your mobile paintless dent removal company. Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale mobile paintless dent removal business in a small neighborhood.

But people prefer limited liability Company for obvious reasons. As a matter of fact, if your intention is to grow the business and sell franchise all across the United States of America, then choosing sole proprietor is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas

Normally, when it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Typically, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.

Here are some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own mobile paintless dent removal business in the United States of America;

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

If you are considering starting your own mobile paintless dent removal business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successful run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.

But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Aside from the results you produce, professional certification is one of the main reasons why some mobile paintless dent removal services companies stand out. If you want to make impact in the industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization.

These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own mobile paintless dent removal company;

  • Original ASE Certified
  • Certified Mobile Paintless Dent Repair (PDR)

Please note that you can successfully run your mobile paintless dent removal company without any professional certification as long as you have the technical ability to repair, service and maintain automobiles.

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentation. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catch up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own business in the United States of America;

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Starting a standard mobile paintless dent removal business is not capital intensive especially if you choose to launch the business on a small scale and you are the only full – time employee on your payroll.

Purchasing a truck/van (for easy movement of your tool box and equipment) and of course the purchase of tool box and equipment are part of what will consume a large chunk of your start-up capital, in essence, if you choose to start the business on a small scale, you may not have the need to go source for fund to finance the business.

When it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your mobile paintless dent removal business;

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

Starting a mobile paintless dent removal company comes with its own challenges; it is a business that can be started in any location as long as there are people and organizations that own automobiles. As a matter of fact, you can start your mobile paintless dent removal business in your house and still grow the business to profitability.

In business, it cannot be overemphasized that the location you chose to start your business is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of people and businesses that own automobiles and with the require purchasing power, and lifestyle.

If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business.

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

When it comes to starting a standard mobile paintless dent removal company, you will need a truck/van, tool box and other related equipment that will aid you in carrying out your job. It is important to state that this equipment can be purchased as fairly used if you are operating on low budget.

When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing a facility for your mobile paintless dent removal company, the size of the company you want to own, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. Besides, you don’t need a big office/garage to operate from since you will be going out to attend to your clients as against your clients bringing their automobile to your garage.

As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, when it comes to starting a standard mobile paintless dent removal business on a large scale, you would need the services of the following professionals; Chief Operating Officer (you can occupy this position), Admin and HR Manager, Accountant, Paintless Dent Removal Technicians and Customer Services Executive/Front Desk Officer.

Please note that if you are operating the business as a one man show, then you must be ready to occupy all of the above positions and also outsource some key functions like bookkeeping and accounting et al to professionals when the need arises. Over and above, you would need a minimum of 3 to 7 key staff members to effectively run a medium scale but standard mobile paintless dent removal company.

The Service Delivery Process of a Mobile PDR Business

The operation process as it relates to mobile paintless dent removal depends on the nature of the repair work to be carried out. Basically, mobile mechanics will come or travel to you to fix your vehicle. When a client calls a mobile paintless dent removal company, it is the responsibility of the technician to quickly ask useful questions that will help him know the tools to carry along when going to the location.

When the mobile paintless dent removal technician gets to the location, he will access the repair job to be carried out on the vehicle. The total cost of executing the job will be given to the client and once an agreement is reached, the job will be carried out and the technician will be paid as agreed.

It is important to state that a mobile paintless dent removal services company may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated business process is not cast on stone.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies

The fact that the entry barrier for starting even a small – scale mobile paintless dent removal business is low means that more players would want to come into the industry if they have the skills and training. In essence, you must come up with unique marketing strategies if you must carve out a market for yourself within the available market in your community.

So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience in mobile paintless dent removal, it is important to clearly state what you have been able to achieve in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place. Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your mobile paintless dent removal services business;

  • Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to households, haulage companies, transport companies, auto sales garage/car dealership shops, corporate organizations, and schools amongst others with your location of operation
  • Advertise your services in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business and products on yellow pages ads  (local directories)
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your mobile paintless dent removal company
  • Engage in direct marketing and sales
  • Encourage the use of Word of mouth marketing (referrals)
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your business
  • Join local chambers of commerce and industries around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
  • Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing for you.

17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products

One key factor that will help you offer your mobile paintless dent removal services at a price that is highly attractive is to ensure that you source your working materials from sources that will give you reasonable discount.

Another strategy that will help you offer mobile paintless dent removal services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name.

Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your services. So also, if you are able to secure business partnership as it relates to getting referrals, then you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.

18. Develop an Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

The car body works industry is a competitive industry, and you must come up with a unique and highly creative strategy to be able to outsmart your competitors in the industry. Part of what you need to do in order to stay competitive in the industry is to continue to create easier and cheaper ways of fixing dent problems.

In other to stay competitive in this industry, you must ensure that you are always on time when called upon and always ensure that you pay attention to details when carrying out your job. The truth is that if there are fluctuations in the services you provide, customers can choose to shift allegiance and settle for other options available.

19. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your products and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.

If your services and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers retaining your services. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also attract new ones.

Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.

With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).

20. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting your brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend good money to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.

No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your company;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and auto magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community – based events / programs
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your mobile paintless dent removal services company
  • Install your Bill Boards in strategic locations all around the locations where you operate
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • List your mobile paintless dent removal services company in local directories / yellow pages
  • Advertise your mobile paintless dent removal services company in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
  • Position our Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the locations where your mobile paintless dent removal company operates.
  • Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and vans are well branded with your company logo et al.
Joy Nwokoro