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Rave

I Want To Set Up A Car Breaking Business...

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I won't go into too much tedious detail about my life up until this point, but to cut a long story short I recently received a £100k inheritance. Originally my plan was to keep it until house prices fell to the extent that I could afford to buy a decent place with a small and manageable mortgage and live happily ever after. Unfortunately thanks to ZIRP, HTB and all the rest that plan didn't work out. I'm currently living rent free with my mum and so last year I went part time at work, with a view to doing the London Taxi knowledge. However I'm not doing all that well and in any case I'm kind of going off the idea, it's a good living, but not necessarily a secure one in the long term!

So now I'm thinking that I should set up a business instead. I've always liked cars, but never really had the space to get much into working on or modifying them. I'm reasonably intelligent and physically able though and so I'm sure that I could learn the business of dismantling them without any real bother. I also (another long story) would like to help out my friend who is in need of a job, but who would struggle with conventional employment. He knows nothing about cars but lots about web design, and so my thinking is that he could be in charge of the sales side of the operation, while I source and break the cars.

Now I'm sure there are plenty of sole trader types dismantling cars in their gardens and flogging the bits on ebay, but unfortunately I don't have a suitable space to work in here, and in any case I'm looking to do something on a larger scale than that. There's also the fact that it's very dubious legally, due to environmental regulations. Which brings me to my main problem as I see it: I would like to do things by the book, both for the sake of an easy life, and because I wouldn't want to damage the environment in any case. However it seems that if you're looking to do anything at all beyond simply buying scrap cars and then flogging them on to a scrap merchant (for which you need a Waste Carrier's Licence), you need to be an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF).

I haven't actually got a definite price for the kit, but looking into what's required for a small scale operation, it's just several tanks and associated pipework to collect and store the various fluids, plus a bit of specialised kit to do stuff like blow the airbags safely. However, you also need to get a licence to be an ATF...which in turn seems to require the licencee to be a 'competent person'. And that's where my research trail goes a bit cold, because I have no idea how much training I would have to pay for before I was considered competent, or where to go about obtaining it. There's also the problem that I presumably can't get a licence until the EA or whoever it is have inspected my setup....and I can't get set up without investing a large chunk of my projected setup costs and taking out a lease on some premises!

So- anyone got any experience in the field? I know HPC-ers are a diverse bunch which is why I'm asking here initially, rather than in, say, a car forum. I think I have a reasonable idea of what else I'd need- a tow truck, a couple of grands worth of tools, four poster ramp, maybe a van for delivering parts locally, a few grand set aside for contingencies. I'd be happy to risk £30k on startup costs if I thought that I had a realistic chance of success, maybe even a bit more. It just seems that the barriers to entry are rather high, and I'm not sure if I can clear them :unsure:.

I have had a look on various business-for-sale websites to see about buying a place that's already a going concern, and come up a blank, pretty much, at least within a commutable distance of SE London. All advice (or non-specific encouragement) greatly appreciated :) .

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Couldn't you simply stack up the motors and charge the punters to extricate their own parts with tools they bring themselves? minimal effort/ expertise required on your part.

I use to patronize a breakers like that years ago when I drove a banger Metro.

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I knew a chap who made a fortune out of reconditioned car parts, engines etc, but he said the bottom fell out of the market in the early 90s.

Yes, I doubt that there's much call for replacement engines for cars nowadays unless people have a cambelt let go etc. I'm thinking that the money's in ancilliaries, lights, body panels etc., and would be looking to buy and break top spec models with a view to flogging the alloys/interiors etc. to owners of poverty spec models. However I do know what type of engines are popular with kit-car builders, and so I'd be looking to source cars containing them where possible... ;)

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Couldn't you simply stack up the motors and charge the punters to extricate their own parts with tools they bring themselves? minimal effort/ expertise required on your part.

I use to patronize a breakers like that years ago when I drove a banger Metro.

This obviously requires a lot of space, and AFAIK under the environmental regulations now prevailing you would have to depollute them anyway. Plus there's the H&S aspect of having punters scrambling around on your cars- it may still be legal, but I daresay the liability insurance is prohibitive! :blink:

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At the risk of sounding like a killjoy - before you try to be the organ grinder, it's very wise to have some experience as the monkey.

Or in other words: I've seen too many people sink their life-savings into a business that they've always fancied (e.g. running a pub) but in which they have no actual experience.

Bye-bye savings...

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Yes, I worked for a large vehicle dismantlers for 6 months in 1989. My job was to remove parts from engines and then spin the engine in a washer

Then I went to Japan where I could make 3 times as much money for half the work.

Why don`t you try mini-cabing?.

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At the risk of sounding like a killjoy - before you try to be the organ grinder, it's very wise to have some experience as the monkey.

Or in other words: I've seen too many people sink their life-savings into a business that they've always fancied (e.g. running a pub) but in which they have no actual experience.

Bye-bye savings...

Good advice.

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Yes, I worked for a large vehicle dismantlers for 6 months in 1989. My job was to remove parts from engines and then spin the engine in a washer

Then I went to Japan where I could make 3 times as much money for half the work.

Why don`t you try mini-cabing?.

Do you know any wealthy mini-cab drivers? :P

What were you doing in Japan then? Something I could get into easily? :lol:

At the risk of sounding like a killjoy - before you try to be the organ grinder, it's very wise to have some experience as the monkey.

Or in other words: I've seen too many people sink their life-savings into a business that they've always fancied (e.g. running a pub) but in which they have no actual experience.

Bye-bye savings...

O.K., but how would I go about getting that experience except by breaking some cars up? I accept that I'm putting my money at risk, but clearly it is a viable business model otherwise breakers wouldn't exist! :) And it's hardly my life savings, it's a windfall...

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Specialise in certain makes that you know your onions about.

I think a business like this has much greater odds of being sustainable than the average space cadet, with redundancy money burning a hole in their pocket, that takes on a pub lease or opens a coffee shop.

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Best mate did this for 10 years - family buisiness running a big yard, then on his own as a dismantler and transport/recovery. I have a lot of other friends and aquaintances in the trade as well.

It's a hard business. You need a lot of knowledge to do it well as a start up.

I could give you a very long list of reasons why you haven't thought about this enough.

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I could give you a very long list of reasons why you haven't thought about this enough.

Well please do, as that's exactly what I'm looking for?

If I haven't thought of any of your reasons and they are a deal breaker, then obviously I won't proceed! :)

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Go and work for one for a bit.
Research the competition.

It's probably a minefield with environmental regulations.

What else did you feel like doing for a living?

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Specialise in certain makes that you know your onions about.

I think a business like this has much greater odds of being sustainable than the average space cadet, with redundancy money burning a hole in their pocket, that takes on a pub lease or opens a coffee shop.

Cheers. I was thinking Fords, at least to start off with; obviously there are lots of Ford breakers, but equally the cars are cheap, and generally excellent. It might be a slight disadvantage that there's a ford breaker half a mile from my house, but he refused to sell me a Mondeo window glass on the basis that it was from a pre-facelift car! So he deserves to have sales taken off him IMO! :lol:

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Ask on Pistonheads - there are bound to be people from the trade or with trade experience in there and they're usually a helpful bunch (although plenty of cynicism as on here).

Oh, and never employ friends/family out of sympathy - it WILL end in tears. Plenty of options for web design work out there if he puts himself about a little, even just the freelancer and peopleperhour sites.

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The whole market has changed! It used to normal to hear hammers on a sunday afternoon, as dads tried to fix the vehicle for Monday!

Cars are relatively cheap now, and so is the finance, so people just get another one on tick

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The whole market has changed! It used to normal to hear hammers on a sunday afternoon, as dads tried to fix the vehicle for Monday!

Cars are relatively cheap now, and so is the finance, so people just get another one on tick

Well quite. People in the UK have a pretty throwaway attitude to cars, which makes us probably one of the cheapest secondhand markets in the world. So in the longer term I'm thinking along the lines of container loads of Toyota parts to East Africa etc. ;)

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The whole market has changed! It used to normal to hear hammers on a sunday afternoon, as dads tried to fix the vehicle for Monday!

Cars are relatively cheap now, and so is the finance, so people just get another one on tick

The market is strong though. The money is in interior/exterior trim though these days rather than a throttle body.

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Ask on Pistonheads - there are bound to be people from the trade or with trade experience in there and they're usually a helpful bunch (although plenty of cynicism as on here).

Oh, and never employ friends/family out of sympathy - it WILL end in tears. Plenty of options for web design work out there if he puts himself about a little, even just the freelancer and peopleperhour sites.

Thanks, I will ask on PH when this thread dies! :P

As for the mate, I am already well aware of his shortcomings (as I said, long story). But I have known him 20+ years, and I trust him implicitly. And ultimately, if he doesn't put in any effort for me then we won't make much money and he won't get paid!

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Well quite. People in the UK have a pretty throwaway attitude to cars, which makes us probably one of the cheapest secondhand markets in the world. So in the longer term I'm thinking along the lines of container loads of Toyota parts to East Africa etc. ;)

I saw some very amusing used car part shops in India! :mellow:

I think many people here are saying "Danger Will Robinson!"

I don't have a throwaway attitude, and I'm getting some welding done for the MOT, and some suspension bits!

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The market is strong though. The money is in interior/exterior trim though these days rather than a throttle body.

I watched 'Fake Britain' today, which had a puff piece for trading standards 'protecting' the public from counterfeit badges, wheel covers etc. They took 3 truckloads from a warehouse of an Ebayer. I understand copyright infringement, but it seemed to be a bit OTT to talk about 'safety' when it was a replacement bonnet roundel for a Fiat.

They never really explored any links with criminal

underground which may strengthen the case for wading in.

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The whole market has changed! It used to normal to hear hammers on a sunday afternoon, as dads tried to fix the vehicle for Monday!

Cars are relatively cheap now, and so is the finance, so people just get another one on tick

I still do some jobs myself, e.g. Oil and filter changes, air filter, pollen filter. Simple jobs that take very little time and tools. Just done a service for £50 which would have been nearer £250 at the dealer or about £150+ at an independent.

Brake pads and discs are also very straightforward and worth doing - less than one hour each axle and that's £200 saved.

Some things are getting far more difficult for the home mechanic due to all the complex electronics. Was just thinking of fitting a towbar to my car - what a nightmare to do yourself - bypass relays needed, vehicle specific wiring looms adding hundreds to the cost, potential to knacker your ECU if you get it wrong - what used to be a doddle is now a minefield.

Well that's progress I suppose.

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Well that's progress I suppose.

I guess it's a microcosm of a continuing general trend towards increasing specialisation. Once upon a time we were all jacks of many trades, and a small tribe of us would be completely self sufficient. Later, the minimum unit for self-sufficiency was a village, then a town, etc. until now with pretty much the whole world relient in some way upon others. It's the price we pay for progress, but you have to wonder how fragile our massively interdependent society might be in the event of some major shock to the system.

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Invest in lap top screws.

For some reason there's an online market for them in the US.

My brother recently met someone who was given a pile of them by his boss. The guy says he flogged them on the internet, and the demand was so steady he sourced a new supply from China and is doing alright.

Quick google: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=lap+top+screw&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb&gfe_rd=cr&ei=VghsU9WWCOnR8gfxwoGgDg

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I suggest Rave you watch on demand the two classic car restoration series running at the moment on Ch 4 and Ch 5.

They go to businesses like you're suggesting for parts.

My observation is that they fall into two camps:

The prestige car parts business - breaking cars that people are restoring at any cost, the Mercedes SL was a good example.

The cheap and cheerful - MGs, Austin Allegros. Cars that people are selecting to restore partly because they're cheap.

Each business was working but the former looked a more comfortable operation: buy a scrap SL for £2k and sell the parts (very very quickly) on ebay for £3k. The cheaper end had much more haggling as you're dealing with people restoring on a budget.

Your proposed business is the even cheaper end. I want a new front wheel bearing I tell the garage to sort it and they buy new. I would only be going to a breaker if I couldn't afford that so you will only be getting customers trying to do it on the cheap who will try to batter you down on price.

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