When it comes to business ideas and business success there is no better starting point than doing something you love. For most people this is not always something they have a choice about but it should certainly be an aim for all established and aspiring business people. People are far more likely to give a business their all if that business is based around a subject they feel passionate about. This fact will come as no surprise to many people but can often be forgotten in those brainstorming moments when individuals or groups are looking for a new business idea.
Passions about food, music and football are common place but a passion about all things automotive is perhaps a little more of a niche. Automotive interest can come in many forms from a classic car obsession to a love of driving and racing. That being said there is a common thread running through all petrol heads and that is; well, petrol! It is fast becoming a very guilty pleasure but engines are nothing without it and a motoring fan doesn’t have a lot to love without engines.
Petrol Powered Business
Below are just a few business ideas that could help petrol heads create a successful company based on a solid passion that is far more likely to succeed than something more run of the mill.
Classic Car Hire
Where there is one petrol head, there are more and it is all but guaranteed that a classic car in one person’s ownership has huge appeal to other likeminded people. The idea of hiring out classic cars is not a new one but as the value of these cars continues to go through the roof the reality of owning one for most people becomes less and less tangible. It is this desire and increasing inaccessibility that makes classic car hire a very promising business model.
There are a number of challenges to this business idea but none are insurmountable. Primarily the challenge is sourcing the car or cars and financing them. Then the pricing of the hire has to create a viable plan to get that money back. The usual insurance policies need to be considered and often with extra coverage due to the age and value of the cars. Then of course there comes the maintenance of one or more cars that are basically falling apart all the time. But the big concern and pressure is somehow making sure customers do not cause more damage to the car than the insurance can cover.
In terms of marketing the sky is the limit. Heavily targeted advertising both on and off line can work very well. It is important to also not ignore the “experience days” type market too though; yes petrol heads want to drive classic cars but so do people with a bucket list as well as people planning unusual proposals and much more.
Track Day Experiences
If ever there was a licence to print money it is running a track day experience company. The idea is very simple; you get a number of hugely expensive super cars and then you charge people considerable sums to do a few laps of a track in them under strict supervision. There are a huge number of variations to this format and ideas are only limited by the owners’ imagination. These could include passenger rides, tuition, family rides and more. As with car hire insurance is critical but because the cars are used under supervision the risk of damage and cost is a lot less. The challenge of getting the cars in the first place is similar too. An important positive point, however, is that the cars can be far newer and therefore generally cheaper to run. Prices for a handful of laps can be anything from £99 to £200 per person depending on the level of engagement. Some of this money goes towards hiring a track for the day which is not cheap. However, it is by no means inconceivable to have 4 people per car per hour for 10 hours per day. With multiple cars the numbers soon start to look very interesting.
Marketing again could be targeted at people who actively engage is their car passion via magazines and websites but also for people as a one off experience. Social media platforms make a cheap effective marketing channel but be wary of trying to win an SEO or PPC advertising battle as some of the market leaders will have it well sewn up. Differentiation is the key, be it in the form of cars or the format of the experience.
Classic Car Buyer/Surveyor
The classic car market simply isn’t slowing down as has already been stated. Against low interest rates investment in this market has continued to soar for some years now. It is partly fuelled by wealthy petrol heads and TV programmes but also from very shrewd investors. The latter of the two groups often won’t use the cars and choose keep them in temperature controlled rooms like a painting to maintain the value.
For an expert in car mechanics and/or classic cars there is a huge opportunity to make a percentage of any sale by setting themselves up as someone who can assess and check over cars prior to purchase. Indeed, there is also a potential market in charging to simply look over a car regardless of any purchase being made much like a building surveyor would.
The beauty of this business idea is that there is little in the way of liability involved, it is more a case of setting up indemnity and making it clear you take no responsibility for issues post sale. The advice is given as requested by an experienced person and billed accordingly. The market itself is buoyant and with the right marketing and word of mouth recommendations the potential to make a healthy living from being around classic or even newer supercars all day is very real indeed.
Any marketing plan would need to very carefully target the potential classic car buyer through press and website campaigns. Ranking well in Google would be useful but for many people the service is not known about and so would not be something they would search for.
Of course there are lots of other business ideas for those of you with petrol in their veins including starting a super car club for example. A very expensive format but one that can command serious turnovers and offer a jet set lifestyle. For the less adventurous folk setting up a motoring website can yield a small but useful income. The challenge is getting enough top notch content on the site to get it ranking well before the advertising enquires start coming in. Youtube is now famously a place to make money, but again the challenge is content and how to keep producing enough to create an audience. There is also the idea of setting up multiple affiliate websites based around motoring products. This is based on the premise that using schemes like affiliate window, site owners get a small percentage of goods purchased on shopping sites if they send the traffic through. High ranking and focused product sites can often do well but the margins are tight and you need a lot of sites to make a living.
If you love cars then there is a business idea out there for you where you can indulge your passion and make money. But, beware…a few years of working with what you love can taint the relationship and sometimes it might be best left as a hobby.
Lloyd B Wells is an independent writer, working with numerous business and motoring brands – including the AA Garage Guide.