When should I take their payment?
Should I require a deposit beforehand?
At which point should I buy materials?
Should I schedule their appointments before or after they pay?
I'm thinking I'll have the customers schedule a drop off time, take cash up front at drop off, buy materials, paint the vehicle, and then schedule a pickup time.
Also I am thinking of a website for the paint shop where customers can select car color to give estimates.
Should I accept online payments or no?
In person cash or credit?
Take a SMALL deposit upfront (the actualy - not marked-up cost - of the materials. That way if they skip out on you at least you didn't lose anyting. Second, you won't give them back their car until they pay, so you always have their vehicle as collateral.
The point at which you buy materials will depend on how long the lead time is before you get them, and how quickly you're guaranteeing the service. In this day and age, the faster the better. How long will it take you to paint the vehicle?
You should schedule their appointments before they pay. You can start with a free "consultation" where they bring their car in, you walk them through the process, and explain to them how its going to work.
I would have the option to accept deposits online, but anything outside of that, I would not.
In person, you need to be able to accept cash AND credit...especially credit.
My suggestion is to have a process like this:
1) customer calls asking for a paint. Likes what you say, agrees to use your service
2) Collect the deposit
3) Go get the materials
4) Schedule a time for them to drop-off their vehicle AFTER you've purchased the materials so there's less downtime
5) Paint the vehicle
6) Customer picks up the vehicle and pays
I'm more than happy to speak with you on this further. Feel free to schedule a follow-up call and I can walk you through this step-by-step: https://clarity.fm/taylormitcham
So many great questions here. Every market is different so the most important thing you can do is research your current marketing. Here's what I would do if I was you.
1. Go online and visit the 5 biggest paint shops in your town. Using the questions you just asked answer each and every one of them.
2. Pick the strengths of each answer and implement that in your own paint shop. Discard what you don't like. Focus on things that will make the customer experience smooth and efficient.
3. Create a website to build your brand but don't worry about taking payments online just yet. You need to prove your business model by face-to-face agreements. Websites are the new business card. You want to get that up asap.
Hope that helps. If you want more business advice I'd love to chat with you.