How to Set Up a Motor Trade Business

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The motor trade industry in the UK turns over a massive £64.1billion a year and has created over 770,000 jobs according to a recent report by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Setting up a successful motor trade business can be daunting. The motor trade industry is highly competitive, but if you do your research and understand the market you can set up a highly lucrative business.

Here are our 10 easy steps on how to successfully set up a motor trade business in the UK.blog-post-assets-gls

Step 1: Research and Crucial Decisions

The first thing you need to do, if you are planning on setting up any business, is to do your research. In depth analysis of the industry can play a crucial part in deciding which type of business to set up. In regards to the motor trade industry, the type of business you could launch could vary considerably, from a small part-time valet to a second hand car showroom.

Having at least a basic understanding of car mechanics, vehicle value and industry trends will give you a huge advantage whichever business you decide to open.

Competitor research is a great way of finding out the where the best place to establish your business is. You should consider foot fall, proximity to other competitors and space before coming to a final decision.

blog-post-assets-cardkStep 2: Branding

Any successful business requires a strong, memorable name and branding. To begin to think of a good name for your business, you should consider what message you are trying to convey. Do you want people to think of you as a small family business or a quirky modern company?

Once you have picked a suitable name, you need to check if anyone else is already using it. You can do this be visiting 123reg.co.uk or namecheck.com.

For simple branding, think of three colours which compliment each other and incorporate them in advertisements, interiors and your logo. There are countless websites with further guidance and information on how to appear professional and visually appealing.

blog-post-assets-balanceStep 3: Funding and Finances 

The Government has a number of funds available for those looking to start their own business. To find out more information on funds which might be available to you visit https://www.gov.uk/business-finance-support-finder.

Often applying for such funds requires you to write a business plan. If you need help on writing a business plan please check out our handy guide: click here to read more.

If you have money saved up to invest in your company yourself make sure that you budget for any eventualities which might cost you money such as fines, refunds or tax.

To make sure you protect yourself and your business you should consider taking out appropriate business and/or motor trade insurance.

blog-post-assets-schStep 4: Tax

Register your business with HMRC, as a self-employed trader, you will now be responsible for filing annual tax returns.  So keep on top of your finances…what you have spent, what you have earned and everything in between.

It may be worth seeking the help of a bookkeeper or an accountant in the early days. Paying too much or too little tax could cause you a lot of problems.

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Step 5: Motor Trade Insurance

It is a legal requirement to have motor trade insurance, so make sure this is in place before you start to trade. Think Insurance are specialists in this area and are always on hand to help new businesses get on their feet.

Motor trade insurance will protect both yourself, your business and your customers.

Note: Home insurance will often not cover a home motor trade business. Read more here.

blog-post-assets-think-SOCIALStep 6: Is Your Business Online?

A website can help a business in a number of ways. Customers will be able to find you and contact you, you will be able to offer discounts and vouchers and people will be able to rate and review your services.

In this day and age having a website is something a customer will immediately assume you will have and without one you risk being seen as unprofessional.

There are a number of great sites to help you quickly and simply set up a website such as Go Daddy, Moonfruit and Site Builder.

blog-post-assets-think-social2Step 7: Marketing and Social Media

To find and gain the right type of customers for your business it is important to think about marketing whether this is through advertisements, offers or social media.

Advertising your business online is a great way of gaining new customers. If you are an auto-trader for example you might want to consider using sites such as eBay and Autotrader to advertise which cars you have available to purchase. Some sites are even free to use such as The Car Lot offered by The Motor Trade Club.

Offering discounts and vouchers on social media such as Twitter and Facebook is another easy way of attracting new customers. To set up business accounts on social media check out our Social Media Guide for Motor Traders.

blog-post-assets-qStep 8: Trade Plates

Trade licence plates can help you save time and money as a motor trader. Buying trade plates means you won’t need to register and tax every vehicle temporarily in your possession.

Similar to taxing a vehicle, trade plates can be valid from 6 to 12 months at a time and cost around £100.

To purchase trade plates simply visit the DVLA website

blog-post-assets-convoStep 9: Hire Staff

Hiring employees is often a difficult task as everyone tends to be on their best behaviour during the interview process. Consider offering employees a trial period to see if they are right for the job. This will allow you to assess their true character over a 3 month period and make a decision based on their performance.

 

blog-post-assets-heartStep 10: Customer Service

There is nothing more powerful in growing a successful business than positive and genuine recommendations.

If you provide excellent customer service you can increase the chance that you will be either rated online or verbally recommended to a friend or family member. This is the best way of gaining new customers and ensuring they return in the near future.

To find out how to provide excellent customer service as a motor trade check out our Essential Social Media Guide for Motor Traders.

Now you have everything in place, its time to get started!  Good luck and congratulations on becoming your own boss!

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Motor Traders Should Take Advantage of the Plug In Car Grant

A £5,000 government grant for ultra low emission vehicles (ULEV) is to be extended to February 2016.

The Plug In Car Grant was introduced in 2011 to reduce the up front cost of ULEVs by providing a 25% grant towards the cost of new plug in cars, up to a maximum of £5,000.

In April 2015, the grant was increased to cover up to 35% of the vehicle’s recommended retail price.


 

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Motor traders and dealerships who are currently selling such vehicles should take full advantage of this grant before it runs out, by registering online. To register for the Plug In Car Grant dealerships should request a registration form by emailing olev.enquiries@olev.gsi.gov.uk.

This financial incentive is designed to help encourage people and businesses to purchase more environmentally friendly cars over other models.

In order to qualify for the Government Plug In Car Grant, a vehicle must emit less than 75 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre driven, according to Direct Gov website. For electric vehicles, they must be able to travel at least 70 miles between charges. For plug in hybrids, they must meet a minimum electric range of 10 miles.

Here is a list of all the vehicles which qualify: https://www.gov.uk/plug-in-car-van-grants/eligibility

Motor traders should also consider investing in more electric and plug in hybrid vehicles over congenitally fuelled cars in order to offer a variety of options and benefit from the government financial help.car elec

In addition, the Government is currently investing in a national charge point network to help make power points more widely available. Moreover the government is also funding a Homecharge scheme to help owners of ULEVs install a domestic charge point in their homes. This grant provides up to £700 towards installation costs. (3)

In order to successfully sell such cars, auto traders should make the benefits of eco-friendly cars very clear to potential customers and allow the government grant to make the deal irresistible.

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Major UK car manufacturers are all offering a range of eco-friendly vehicles including battery electric models and plug in hybrids and are proactively investing in further development.

Since the start of the Plug In Car Grant in January 2011, there have been a total of 35,705 ultra low emission vehicles registered in the UK.

According to recent figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the sales of electric cars has risen dramatically over the past 12 months. The average number of ULEVs registered in the UK per month is now around 2,400. (6)

Contrary to public opinion, electric vehicles are being bought by both private owners as a main vehicle and businesses for fleets.

The rapid growth and expansion of the market is set to continue with financial help from the government both through grants and investment into power points.

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Electric vehicles are far more environmentally friendly than traditional petrol and diesel cars as they produce minimal harmful emissions, but more importantly for consumers they are rated for their smooth and fun driving experience and their fast acceleration. (2) In fact according to the Goultralow website, 9 out of 10 electric vehicle owners would recommend an electric vehicle to their friends and family.

By investing in a ULEV, you can also save money on petrol and tax. As long as your vehicle emits less than 100g/km in co2 emissions you won’t have to pay any tax.You will also be exempt from fuel duty as electricity is not considered a fuel, like petrol or diesel is. (1)

In early 2015 electric cars accounted for 1% of the total new car market in the UK, however some people are still put off buying one.

One of the main reasons for not investing in a ULEV is due to the time it takes to charge. It has been reported that owners of electric cars prefer to charge their cars at home overnight, rather than at a public-use charging station. (2) The average UK home charging time is approximately six to eight hours, a lot longer than it takes to fill up a tank of petrol. (4)

The cost of buying an electric car is roughly around £8,000 more expensive. Despite being able to save money on tax, petrol and also qualify for the Plug In Car Grant, you now have to pay to charge your car at some public power points.

Master, a major provider offers a rapid charge for £7.50. With most electric cars boasting a range of 100 miles, this would mean that you would get around 50 miles for just under £10.

Marketing Secretary of Electric Vehicle Drivers Association and owner of an electrically powered Nissan Leaf said, ‘A gallon of diesel for most eco-diesels will cost you £6.30 and get you around 60 miles. A 30-minute rapid charge in my Nissan Leaf would give you a range of 64 miles. So we’re paying an extra £1.20 more to get the same mileage. It’s madness… if the rapid chargers go up to £7.50 we’re going to kill the market at a stroke”.(5)

Appearance can be everything for the automotive industry. Some people have claimed that appearance is one of the main reasons as to why they haven’t bought a ULEV. But with new models being designed and developed every couple of months, there is bound to be a car which suits your taste.

For more information about the ultra low campaign and investing in a ULEV electric car or plug in hybrid, please visit www.goultralow.com.

Sources:

1.https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/315604/factsheet-tax-implications.pdf

2.https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/307019/ulev-2015-2020.pdf

3.https://www.goultralow.com

4.http://www.thechargingpoint.com/beginners-guide.html

5.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-28054738

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Drivers Shamed on Social Media

Social media is now being used to target bad drivers who park either illegally or in an annoying way for other road users.

The internet has fought many social and political battles, such as the successful call for the return of Cadbury’s Wispa chocolate bars and the internet meme, dog shaming. Now cities across the UK have started a new campaign, this time against careless parking.

The meme Parking Like a **** has become amazingly popular with The Brighton site amassing over 5,000 likes,  Liverpool’s version of the site has over 17,000, while the original page has almost 25,000. The individual sites apparently receive around 20 images of inconsiderate parking every day, while the original page has become so famous that it hasn’t posted about parking since March and now delivers content similar to the likes of the LAD Bible.

Pictures on the local pages range from the mildly frustrating cars in supermarkets that take up two lanes, to the public menaces that park on the pavement while blocking disabled access. The local authorities don’t follow up on the images but it gives the users a place to vent their frustration and hopefully embarrass those that might otherwise go unpunished.

This can often arouse some heated conversations, so the owners of the pages tend to remain anonymous, this way they can carry on exposing the terrible parking without fear of too much backlash. Likewise, followers of the page can anonymously email or private message images to the owners to make them aware of their city’s awful parking.

Users often comment on what should happen to the drivers featured on the Facebook pages, but thankfully they do not take the law into their own hands. However, in Brazil a comedy team known as Boom performed a practical joke that was guaranteed to excite the parking shaming pages.

After finding a car illegally parked in a disabled bay without proper badges, they employed a prank involving an elaborate amount of post it notes. Covering it head to toe in the sticky blue pages, they created a disabled sign on the car to remind the driver and passersby of his crime.

With people laughing and jeering at the obviously frustrated driver the video is incredibly funny to watch, but also worrying that he then gets into his car and drives away with no clear vision of the road ahead. See the video below.

The trouble with pranks and shaming sites like these is, although you’d hope that both the photographers and the comedians do the proper checks, are they sure that the shamed people parking in disabled zones are definitely not disabled. Some disabilities are much less visible, take the case of American woman, Julie McGovern who recently had a note pinned to her car with the word ‘Faker’.

Julie, a former athlete, suffers from Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which unpredictably effects every organ in her body and can cause her to be incredibly fatigued after the smallest of tasks. It’s because of notes like this that Julie is afraid to use the disabled bays, and sometimes waits until no one is around to leave her car.

To raise awareness Julie posted an open letter on Facebook, explaining her condition and letting people know about the hurtful note.

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Read the full Facebook post here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/julie-mcgovern/today-my-fear-came-true/10153511273563921?pnref=story

The shaming sites have got law abiding drivers’ best interests at heart, but people need to be aware of the full facts before jumping straight on the shame train.

Think Insurance are experts at supplying Car insurance for our customers. If you would like to get a great price with tailored insurance, specific to you, please get in touch today.

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Cyclist Hits Parked Learner Driver’s Car

Worst First Driving Lesson Ever? Interview with Learner Driver from Viral Video ‘Cyclist Gets Hit by a Parked Car’

On your first ever driving lesson the thought of hitting anything is always going to be haunting the back of your mind, but Edward Barlow from Liverpool could never have guessed what would be in store during his first lesson when a cyclist rode straight into the back of his instructor’s car while Ed was parked.

We caught up with Ed to find out the full story behind the video that has now been seen by millions and has featured on a plethora of international news websites.

Hi Ed, tell us about your first ever driving lesson.

I was obviously very nervous as anyone would be on their first driving lesson, this was the first time I’d really driven a car at all. It all started off well, we were driving around the Sefton Park area, where it’s quite quiet with only a few cars and, well, cyclists, but I’ll get back to that in a second!

I was getting a feel for the car, learning the clutch and my instructor was pleased with how things were going,

After a while he asked me to pull into the side of the road to park, so i pulled over, put the brakes on and left the car running. My instructor told me I was handling the car well and not swerving like many people do on their first lesson, when suddenly there was this BANG! A cyclist had crashed into the parked car.

What was your reaction?

My first thought was I’d left the car in gear and it had stalled, lurching forwards, but I’m pretty proud to mention that I didn’t actually stall for the whole lesson! So I turned to my instructor and said, “I think someone has crashed into the back of me.”

He immediately went out and made sure he was okay, while I was sort of in shock. I mean, it was my first driving lesson, I thought I best just stay in the car! I didn’t know the rules, if I got out the car was I leaving a running vehicle unattended?

The cyclist then got back up and cycled off, he was okay but for a small cut and his bike was fine.

What was it like to watch it back?

My instructor got out his iPad, which is connected to the dash cams in the car, and we watched him cycling head down, riding straight into the back of the car. I really didn’t want to laugh at the time but it was hilarious! It reminded me of something from Jackass!

How did you manage to persevere with the rest of your lesson?

The rest of the lesson was fine, I was now super alert for every possible danger. The whole time I was driving past cyclists and hoping they wouldn’t fly into me. By the end of the lesson my instructor asked me if I wanted the video and he sent it to my phone, which was when I put it on Facebook.

And that’s when it started to go viral?

Yeah, when I woke up the next morning it had something like 50,000 views, and I thought it was hilarious. It was so weird! I think cyclists and drivers alike were sharing the video and we were up to 500,000. It got to the point where people were showing my Dad the video not knowing I was in the car!

Have you ever had a chance to speak to the cyclist?

No I haven’t, he’s never got in touch. I can imagine he’s really embarrassed. I hope he’s okay, I really do, I completely empathise with him.

Do you think young drivers get a bad rep?

I think young drivers on the whole are trying to concentrate as much as they can, they aren’t trying to race, they’re just trying to get it right and pass their test. There’s a very small minority of young drivers who let the side down, I remember when I was at school there were a few people who messed around but the vast majority just want to drive safely.

How many lessons have you had now?

I’m 10 lessons in, I’ve done all of my manoeuvres and the theory test needs to be booked, but I’ve been mainly focusing on just doing the basics of driving so far. My next lesson will be driving at higher speeds, so I’ll be getting to go at 60-70mph.

Confident for a first time pass on the practical test then?

My driving instructor has a really good record, but I’m not going to say anything, I’m just going to touch wood and hope for the best!

Thanks Ed!

Our expert team understand the misconceptions of young drivers and offer quality insurance and prices that reflect this. For information on Young Driver’s insurance, please get in touch with Think today.

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Chamber of Commerce Insurance Discount

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Black Country Chamber of Commerce Members can now receive an insurance discount from Think Insurance.

The Black Country Chamber of Commerce is a membership organisation that promotes and furthers the interests of nearly 1,500 businesses based in the Black Country region. With businesses ranging from sole traders, such as independent financial advisors, through to international businesses, like manufacturing and engineering firms exporting goods across the world.

Now members of the BCCC can expect great discounts on their insurance with Think, after it was announced that we would be their chosen insurance service provider. Think were chosen because of our expertise in the area of Commercial and Business insurance, and now members of the BCCC can expect an exclusive discount.

Offering 50% off broker commissions, the BCCC will be able to get cheap cover for Public Liability insurance, Product Liability insurance, Employers’ Liability insurance and Commercial Legal Expenses. We also cover Money, Assault, Goods in Transit, Contents, Business Interruption and more specialist covers like Contractors All Risk.

The Chamber is run by President and local businessman, Ninder Johal who succeeded Paul Bennet in 2014. Ninder is the Managing Director of Nachural Records and Nachural Corporate Communications, whose event and video services help organisations communicate their brands.

As part of the BCCC, members are offered many other incentives from local service providers, such as free legal expenses insurance, reduced breakdown recovery insurance premiums and and access to salary sacrifice schemes for childcare vouchers.

Members are also invited to a series of networking events, trade events, focus groups and the BCCC’s prestigious annual awards shows where business is celebrated, and local businesses can meet and discuss trade specific issues and how they can be overcome.

Their quarterly surveys gather information from members that offer in depth insights of the local economy, and are so important to the region that the Government uses the data to shape their policies.

Think Insurance are specialists in creating tailored commercial and business insurance to our customers’ exact requirements. We ensure you only pay for the cover you need. To find out if we can help your business, please get in touch today.

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