The vast majority of motorists don’t know how to fit the tyres on their car. As a result, many people will rely on somebody else to do it for them and are willing to pay for the convenience of having it done at their home or workplace. 

According to the British Tyre Manufacturers’ Association (BTMA), around 50 million new tyres are supplied in the UK each year. In addition, the demand for mobile tyre-fitting services during the pandemic is on the rise, making mobile tyre-fitting a lucrative business.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about starting a mobile tyre-fitting business, including:

  • Qualifications and license requirements
  • The equipment you need
  • The insurance you need
  • How to register your tyre-fitting business
  • How to market your new business
  • How to organise your finances

Qualifications and license requirements

There are currently no qualification or licensing requirements relating specifically to tyre fitters. But some local authorities – particularly those in Scotland – require sellers of part-worn tyres to obtain a second-hand dealer’s licence. Contact your local authority trading standards department to find out more if you think this could apply to your business.

Some tyre fitters use large goods vehicles to provide a mobile commercial vehicle tyre repair or fitting service. If you decide to use a large goods vehicle (any vehicle with a gross plated weight of more than 3.5 tonnes – or an unladen weight of more than 1,525 kg for unplated vehicles), you will need a goods vehicle operator’s licence in England, Scotland and Wales.

Tyre safety standards

Specific regulations set standards for the construction and marking of all tyres sold for road use in the UK. You must only supply tyres that comply with these standards. Retreaded tyres and part-worn tyres must also comply with the appropriate British and European Standards and legislation. British Standards also cover tyre repairs, so if you mend any punctures, make sure that the repair is done properly. You should also be familiar with the minimum tread depth requirements so that you are able to advise customers when their tyres are approaching the legal limits.

Tyre labelling

Tyre manufacturers must provide a ‘consumer advice’ label with the tyres they distribute. This must provide information about fuel efficiency, wet grip and rolling noise. Tyre retailers must pass this information on to the end-user. There is more information about tyre labelling requirements on the National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) website.

The equipment you need

Van

Depending on how much time you want to put into it, you can convert your own van or buy a converted can with all the equipment needed for tyre fitting already in it.

Some businesses sell complete packages of tyre-fitting equipment, and they also offer installation services, so you can have your can ready to go without having to do it yourself. 

Fixed equipment needed for a mobile tyre-fitting van

Generally, a mobile tyre-fitting van will need a pneumatic car jack and the following fixed equipment:

  • A PTO (Power Take Off) compressor built into the vehicle, which removes the need for a separate engine and associated maintenance whilst freeing up valuable space. Depending upon the make of the van, you may be able to order one from the manufacturer or have a bespoke one retrofitted.
  • Alternatively, if the initial cost is the determining factor, you could opt for a petrol or diesel driven compressor, which can be used anywhere as no power source is required.
  • Tyre fitting machine suitable for your customers’ applications
  • Wheel balancer suitable for specific requirements
  • Tyre inflators
  • Tyres

What type of tyre inflator do I need?

There are two types of inflators you could choose from, fixed and manual. It may be that a combination of a fixed and manual inflator is the best choice to meet the varying demands cost-effectively.

  • Fixed – where the operator presets the pressure, then the inflator recognises when the set level is reached.
  • Manual – where the operator determines both the required pressure and when the final pressure is reached.

The insurance you need

If you fit tyres on-site, you will have invested heavily in mobile equipment, and your livelihood is in your van. The mobile nature of your work may also take you to some challenging locations. Your tools and equipment can be vulnerable to theft, and accidents involving the public are also a consideration. 

Public Liability Insurance and Road Risks Insurance is a must for most business owners offering a mobile service. 

Consider the following insurance types:

  • Road Risks Insurance
  • Employer’s liability (if you intend to hire people)
  • Goods in Transit Insurance
  • Public Liability
  • Contents and equipment insurance
  • Defective Workmanship (including cover for damage to the vehicles you work on)
  • Product liability
  • Motor trader’s insurance, to cover you and your staff when you’re driving customer’s vehicles – and to cover customers’ vehicles when they’re on your premises
  • Premises, premises contents and stock
  • Cash
  • Business interruption
  • Motor insurance (for parts collecting vehicles, mobile tyre-fitting van)

This is not an exhaustive list of the insurance covers you may need, and you should get quotes from different insurance providers. Take as many covers as you feel comfortable with to protect your business. The National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) has negotiated special rates on business insurance for its members with several insurers.

How to register your tyre-fitting business

To start running your business correctly, including opening a bank account and paying the correct tax, you need to register your business with the HMRC. If you’re working alone, you probably want to register as a sole trader. But if more than one person will own your future company, you need to set your business up as a limited company.

Learn more about the differences between sole traders and limited companies and how to set up either of them here.

Self Assessment tax return

If you’re registered as a self-employed sole trader, you must file a Self Assessment tax return. 

If you know you need to file a Self Assessment tax return, the first step is to register with HMRC before 5 October of the calendar year that the tax year ends. 

Sole traders must keep records of business income and expenses for their tax returns. As a sole trader, you must also keep a separate record of your personal income since any money you make from sources like investments or property may affect the tax you pay.

For more information, check out our detailed guide on How to Do a Self Assessment Tax Return.

How to market your new business

Marketing is vital to a new tyre-fitting business. Before you start thinking about customer retention, which is equally important, you must work on attracting your first clients. Here are some of the initial steps you can take to bring in your first customers and build a steady stream of clients.

  1. Build a website 

Searching online is the primary way consumers look for products and services these days. 85% of customers will research a business online before deciding to make a purchase, and more than half of all searches are done via mobile now. Therefore, your website must be professional and mobile-friendly.

These days, easy website builders like Squarespace or Wix.com allow you to launch a great-looking website at minimum costs and low effort. You can build your own website and start advertising your services and make it easier for customers to find your business. Learn more about how to create a business website here.

  1. Develop a customer referral program

By offering a customer referral program, you can directly approach new customers through existing ones. In addition, incentives such as lower prices or free merchandise will encourage more of your customers to participate in your program, increasing your outreach. 

With the right incentives, you can encourage your customers to advertise for you. As potential customers are more likely to trust recommendations from people they know over traditional ads, your client list is likely to grow. Learn more about how to get referrals from your existing customers here.

  1. Create a presence on social media

In addition to a website, you will also need to be active on social media to help improve your online presence. When it comes to social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will be among some of the best as they will allow you to market your business, connect with your customers and provide visual proof of your abilities.

Learn more about how to market your business on social media here.

  1. Network with similar businesses in your area

Make a connection with local businesses in your area, for example:

  • Garages and workshops
  • Body repairs
  • Used car dealerships
  • Mechanics
  • Towing services

You can ask for their help advertising your business and offer to advertise them to your new customers in return. This way, you can easily access local client bases that need your services by establishing relationships with related business owners. 

How to organise your finances

Organising your finances is an important part of running a successful business. However, many self-employed small business owners fall into the trap of mixing their personal and business banking. 

If you use your personal bank account for company expenses and income, your finances can become intertwined and cause confusion and errors in your tax return. To avoid paying an incorrect amount of tax or even a fine when you get audited, you might want to put some thought into keeping all your records straight. 

Get a business bank account

If you haven’t opened a business bank account yet, don’t put it off any longer. Not having to dig through your personal bank account to separate personal and business transactions manually will make your life so much easier. Having a separate bank account for business dealings is the easiest and best way to keep your finances organised.

Track your income and expenses

Tracking your income and expenses is essential when it comes to organising your finances. Categorising your expenses can help you save money because controlling your expenses is easier when you clearly understand where your money is spent.

You can probably deduct some of your business costs from your taxable income, so it’s essential to keep an accurate record of your income and expenses to make your tax return easier to complete.

Mileage

HMRC (or HM Revenue & Customs) may let you claim money back from the government on vehicles you use for work, including cars, vans, motorcycles, and bicycles. You’re only allowed to claim on business-related journeys. 

How much you can claim depends on whether you’re using a personal vehicle that you bought with your own money or a company vehicle that your company purchased solely for business purposes.

You claim the total business mileage amount as tax relief on your self-assessment tax return. Learn more about how to claim mileage allowance here.

Save time and organise your finances with a simple app

Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.