Have you ever wondered how to start selling cars from home? Perhaps it is something you have considered before and are ready to make a reality. Did you know 6.75 million used cars were sold in 2020 in the UK alone? Selling cars from home, if carefully planned, could be a way of making an income, provided you keep the overheads low. It is also an opportunity to judge if it is the right business for you, before expanding or moving to larger premises.
As specialist providers of motor trade insurance, we have compiled this general overview of selling cars from home. It will highlight some of the pitfalls and perks of running your own motor trade business.
Getting started as a motor trader
Firstly, you will need:
- A business plan
- Access to finances including business finance support
- Experience in the motor trade industry
Secondly, your business plan should contain a realistic and achievable set of goals for your business. It should also identify what your objectives are and how scalable the business can be.
A business plan will allow you to set goals and review your progress. If you are failing in certain aspects (stock or marketing for example), it will allow you to see this clearly to allow you to make changes that could lead to greater success. Other primary concerns to include in your business plan are:
- The types of vehicles you will offer
- Any existing competition in the area
- Start-up costs of establishing your business
- Sales necessary each month to generate profit
Also consider approaching other motor traders you know in the industry, who could provide you with helpful advice. Any guidance they can offer could shape important business decisions and empower you with information you had not previously considered.
Pros and cons of selling cars from home
Flippingcars.co.uk state that many newcomers and experienced motor traders alike choose to sell cars from home over larger premises. It can even be a way to complement an existing income stream as a second occupation.
Starting small can also help to keep the risk minimal and potentially grow the business at a more manageable rate. Other pros to selling cars from home could include:
- The freedom to be your own boss and have flexible working hours
- Start-up costs can be as low as you like, depending on desired business size
- There is minimal risk with no additional overheads (property rental, employee salary, etc)
There are, however, some limitations to consider before deciding to sell cars from home. Some cons include:
- You may be limited with storage space
- Advertising and customer reach could be limited depending on your budget and how much marketing you have time to do
- Striking a proper work/life balance, as your home and work life become more integrated
If you are looking to sell vehicles from outside your property, you will need to confirm that:
- You have enough space to store your vehicles
- The volume of vehicles you can store at your address legally
- Neighbours have been notified about the extra vehicles present
- Your local council will allow you to sell vehicles from outside your property
Research sales opportunities
Initially, you will want to research which vehicles are popular. You may wish to have a broad range to cover different customer needs. For example, small cars for first-time drivers and people carriers for families. Below are some of the 2020s most popular vehicles, including the key reasons for their popularity:
- Ford Fiesta: Ideal first car. Practical, spacious, and great fun to drive.
- Volkswagen Golf: Top-selling small car for 40 years. Reliable, great performance and handling.
- Vauxhall Corsa: Great for first-time drivers, low running costs, decent handling, looks great.
- Ford Focus: Sporty, high tech exterior, comfortable interior, user-friendly entertainment system.
- Nissan Qashqai: Great fuel economy, lots of interior space, and very child friendly.
Extra key points to consider
Below are some questions you should consider asking yourself as a motor trader selling cars from home. The answers will be key to understanding your business strategy and how it can be developed in the future.
- Are you looking to ‘flip’ cars quickly to make fast cash, or repair and restore vehicles to gain maximum profit?
- Where will you source these vehicles from?
- If repairs or restoration is required, do you possess the skills to do so?
- If not, will outsourcing this work justify the effect on your profits?
Where can you buy cars to sell from home?
There are multiple ways to purchase stock to sell from home. Remember to always stick to your budget and keep in mind any repair costs. Places you could start looking for vehicles to sell include, but are not limited to:
- Auction houses
- Fellow private sellers
- Auction websites (Gumtree, eBay)
- Car selling websites (Autotrader, Wizzle)
When purchasing a car make sure it has the:
- V5C document
- Maintenance history
Both documents will be essential in finding out if the vehicle has been stolen or has any performance issues/MOT advisories.
Car history websites can offer additional information too, such as remaining finance rendering the vehicle unsellable. Useful car history websites include:
How to advertise your business
When selling cars from home, your business could grow organically through word of mouth. This is a practical, cheap alternative to paid advertising until your profits and business start to expand. However, advertising can help to attract customers and potentially lead to sales. Below are some simple suggestions for generating further interest:
Used correctly, this is an effective and affordable way to advertise your motor trade business. Look at how your competitors advertise on their social media platforms. Do they use headlines, descriptions, imagery, or hashtags? Look at how competitors promote their vehicles for maximum marketplace visibility.
Instagram is ideal for this purpose and will allow you to post full-colour pictures of your inventory, along with the vehicle’s specifications.
Facebook car sales groups could also help to reach a wider audience of interested buyers. Unlike eBay or Autotrader, there are no fees for posting in these groups. The comments section allows customers to ask important questions before a sale, giving you the chance to respond quickly.
Business cards, flyers, and printed ads are useful marketing techniques when it comes to promoting your business. You can tailor your promotional material to be visually pleasing, and easy to read and target select locations. These are easily distributed in person, or can be left at local convenience stores, libraries, and community centres.
Before selling a car from home
Documents you will need before selling a car include:
- MOT certificates
- Maintenance bills
- V5C registration document
These will provide proof that you are the registered owner of the vehicle. They provide any advisory notes for vehicle issues, service receipts and main dealer stamps for any services or repairs.
It is your responsibility to ensure the vehicle is roadworthy and has no undisclosed faults before selling privately.
What is the MID?
When selling cars, it is important to update the Motor Insurance Database regularly. You will need to add all insured vehicles, and any trade plates owned by you, to the MID. This lets the authorities know that you have a motor trade insurance policy in place that covers all vehicles:
- Owned by you
- Leased to you
- Registered to you
- Temporarily in your possession
You have up to 14 days to add a vehicle to the MID. This means that whilst driving the vehicle during this period, you are at a higher risk of being stopped by the police. If you sell a vehicle and forget to remove it from the MID, you could potentially be responsible for it.
You are legally required to provide accurate vehicle details when updating the MID. All vehicle records must also be held for a period of at least 7 years. If any vehicle details require an update, this should be done immediately. Failing to comply with these regulations is an offence with a maximum fine of £5,000. For further guidance on this check www.askMID.com.
Useful apps for selling cars from home
To help make the day-to-day running of your business easier, take a look at our Top 10 motor trader apps for Android and IOS. Whether verifying vehicle details or purchasing stock on the go, these useful apps will help you get the most from your mobile when selling cars from home.
Need a motor trade insurance quote today?
Do you need a quote for motor trade insurance? At Acorn, we take the time to understand our customers’ unique insurance needs. We specialise in helping each customer, even if you have been refused cover by other insurance providers in the past. We examine each case and endeavour to help you, no matter what your driving history or background.
Click “Get a Quote” to receive a no-obligation quotation for motor trade insurance today!
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