Franchise Spotlight: Auto Retail

Here is your guide to auto retail franchises - an enormous and resilient market providing parts, tools and maintenance services.

Auto retail franchises sell automotive tools, parts and accessories, but can also typically dovetail as service or maintenance businesses too.

The proportion of motorists with the time and know how to repair their own car or van is small and dwindling as vehicles grow more complex and computerised. Nevertheless, many repair and maintenance jobs – like basic servicing or installing new wiper blades – remain simple enough for non-professionals to do themselves.

Many automotive retail franchises generate custom both from motorists who want to fit parts themselves and those lacking the time, skills and inclination.

Sector overview

  • This is an enormous and resilient market: more than 37 million active UK vehicles – all requiring periodic maintenance by law
  • Auto retail franchises sell automotive tools, parts and accessories plus often provide fitting/maintenance/repair services
  • Some are generalists, providing a wide range of parts and services; others specialise in niches like tyre fitting or professional automotive tools

All 37 million vehicles on UK roads must undergo annual MOTs – 40% of which fail – and ideally should be serviced every 12,000 miles or 12 months. A typical car comprises of around 30,000 parts and the cost of repair or replacement can run into hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

So, all in all, it’s a lucrative market and for many people, especially those with disabilities or who live in rural areas, a car is a necessity not a luxury.

Is an auto retail franchise for me?

An interest in cars or the automotive sector should stand you in good stead. Nevertheless, direct experience working in the trade isn’t necessarily a must.

Some combination of retail, sales/marketing, customer service and managerial skills/experience are generally required. Typically, franchisees must be self-motivated with a strong work ethic.

The structure of auto retail franchises

Some franchises provide a wide range of services, from servicing and MOTs to fitting bulbs and batteries.

Others specialise in lucrative niches like fitting tyres or alloy wheels. There are also business-to-business franchises that sell professional automotive tools.

Automotive parts and maintenance are expensive and bewildering with consumers often fearful about getting ripped off. Offering a recognised brand, extensive franchisee training and preferential wholesale prices, franchises are well placed to provide the authoritative, affordable service prized by motorists.

They also have the scale and budgets to invest heavily in online advertising and stock a wider range of parts than an independent business.

What are your options?

Operating in the UK since 1965, Snap-on sells automotive tools to professional users through a 430-strong franchise network across the UK and Ireland.

P1 Speedyfit fits tyres, bulbs, batteries and wiper blades, plus offers MOTs, vehicle servicing, alloy wheel repair and brake checks. Outlets are often strategically located in shopping centres and retail parks where customers can occupy themselves while their car is being dealt with.

Cool Car provides car air conditioning services to both the general public and businesses, including trade, local garages and main dealers. Qualified aircon engineers provide aircon fault diagnosis, repair, servicing and recharge (regassing) for cars, vans and agricultural vehicles.

Franchisees need no premises – engineers travel to customers at their home or workplace – and benefit from online advertising worth thousands of pounds a month and discounted prices at its parts store

It’s a seasonal business, meaning long hours and weekend work during the summer, but plenty of time off the rest of the year – especially during winter months.

From a potential market of 152 million alloy wheels in the UK, the Wheel Specialist says its network receives hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of quotes for alloy wheel installations a month.

It promises your own exclusive territory, preferred suppliers sourced at preferential rates, leads delivered “while you sleep”, sales and marketing support, a bespoke training system and the benefits of in-house research and development.

The auto retail sector offers a wide-range of franchise opportunities, so if you are a passionate petrol-head or your see the vast, entrepreneurial advantages to investing in an auto retail franchise, then you can browse all of your options right here.



Joshua Antoniou

About the author

Joshua Antoniou is now Global Account Executive having started at Dynamis in the Customer Service department. He also writes for BusinessesForSale.com & FranchiseSale.com.