Accounting For Panel Beaters & Smash Repairers

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JTU Accounting Group - Specialising in advice for Panel Beaters and Smash Repairers

As you know, repairing a damaged vehicle is a labour intensive process and running a smash repair or panel beating shop is hard work. You have to contend with long hours, weekend work, impatient customers, insurance companies, deadlines and occupational health and safety issues. You might also have to manage apprentices and keep adapting to technological change in the industry. 

We understand the majority of car smash repairers in this country are small, family-owned businesses that employ less than ten people and most panel beaters work with a range of vehicles such as cars, motorbikes, four wheel drives, vans and buses. However, some of our panel beater and smash repair clients specialise in trucks, boats and even aircraft while others focus on niche areas including vehicle restorations and modifications to hot rods and muscle cars. As a client once said, "You don't need to be a perfectionist to work in smash repairs but it helps!"

While our Principal Jim Ulrich hasn't completed a Certificate III in Automotive Vehicle Body Repair he understands the trade and is familiar with the metal working techniques and the  specialised tools you use to repair damaged vehicle bodies and manipulate body panels made of fibreglass, alloys and steels, plastics and carbon fibre.

Your customers expect the perfect finish on the body work of their vehicles so you have to pay attention to detail. Unfortunately, a lot of panel beaters and smash repairers don't pay the same level of attention to their bookkeeping and tax administration. While GST, BAS and tax payments often represent some of the largest financial obligations for a self employed panel beater, mechanic or auto electrician, many end up paying too much tax and incur fines for late lodgement or non-compliance.

If you're looking for help with your GST, BAS, PAYG and superannuation obligations, we are here to help you cut the cost of compliance. In addition, we can help you manage your cash flow and train you and your team to use the right software to prepare quotes, invoices and manage your payroll and apprentices. Having an accountant who understands the auto trade can potentially mean the difference between just surviving and potentially thriving. Over the past decade, Jim and his team of accountants have mentored a number of smash repairers, motor mechanics and auto electricians through the various stages of their business life cycle – from start up right through to sale.


Starting a business is a bit like building a house and the foundations of your business are your taxation structure, accounting software and marketing. Your choice of business structure is critical and there are a number of different options such as sole trader, partnership, company and trust. When selecting the right business structure asset protection is a key consideration because of the risks associated with the smash repair industry. We also take into consideration your family profile, future profit projections and plans regarding the potential admission of new business partners.

Accounting software selection is another brick in the foundation wall. Again, the wrong choice can be catastrophic because poor business records is one of the biggest causes of business failure in this country. You need up to date, accurate financial records to make informed business decisions which is why we insist your accounting software matches your business needs and level of accounting skill. Using sophisticated double entry accounting software without a reasonable level of accounting skill will simply create a computerised shoebox. We aim to minimise the cost of compliance for our clients but shoebox records defeat the purpose. Once we evaluate your business needs and bookkeeping skills we train you to use the software. Here at JTU Accounting Group we want to slash the time and cost associated with bookkeeping so together we can spend more time working on your business and your marketing.

As you know, to build a house you also need the right tools. When constructing your business we also use a number of tools including our business start up checklist and our start-up expense checklist to identify all your potential establishment costs. It dissects your start up costs into several categories including:

- tools
- equipment
- IT expenses
- professional fees and
- marketing costs.

These figures can then be transferred into a cash flow budget template to produce a projected trading statement for your first year of operations. For a smash repairer, your van, tow truck or ute is arguably one of your most important business tools. You can download our Motor Vehicle Tax Guide from the resources section of our website to learn more about the alternative methods of claiming your vehicle expenses and the distinction between a business and private trip. In addition, through our affiliate partners we can also assist with vehicle finance (chattel mortgage or lease) and get you fleet pricing on your new car, ute or light commercial van that could save you thousands of dollars.

As accountants, we can do some financial modelling and prepare some ‘what if’ scenarios so you understand your best and worst case profit scenarios. Next, using industry benchmarks we can compare the performance of your business against your peers so you understand what is working in the business and what areas need working on.

As a business start-up there are numerous issues to consider including site selection, tax registrations, insurances, the lease of your premises as well as health and safety regulations. We can assist you in all of these areas plus provide advice on HR matters, payroll and the preparation of a business plan. Over the past two decades, Jim and his team of accountants have helped dozens of smash repairers, panel beaters and mechanics get their business off to a flying start. We offer you experience, technical tax knowledge and most importantly, an intimate understanding of the smash repair industry.


In the digital and social age, your marketing can be the difference between gloom, doom and boom.

Traditionally, most panel beaters and smash repairers have relied on their reputation and referrals to grow their business. While these ingredients remain important, you need to shift your marketing focus online. Increasingly local searches like ‘Panel Beater Blackburn’ or 'smash repair Canterbury' are driving traffic to your website. Often your website is the first touch point with a potential new customer and it is important that you make a good first impression. Your website is effectively your 'shopfront' and silent sales person working 24/7 to promote your business.  Over the past few years we have worked with dozens of clients to help them create affordable, quality lead generation websites that are responsive to smart phones and tablets.

We can provide advice and guidance with your website content including video production and if your website lacks calls to action or lead magnets we'll help you build them. In addition, we'll introduce you to strategies like re-marketing and search engine optimization to drive more traffic to your website. Our marketing skills are one of our biggest points of difference compared to other accounting firms and we can assist you with your branding (business name, logo and slogan), your corporate brochure and even help you harness the power of social media to win more referrals.

We recognise the fact that business owners like you want more sales, more customers and more profit and if you aren’t using some of these marketing techniques your business probably won't reach its full profit potential. We will help you understand the Four Ways to Grow A Business so you know the key profit drivers in your panel beating business. We can walk you through a number of profit improvement strategies and even quantify the profit improvement potential in your business. Our role is to make sure you don't leave any profit on the table and if you're an smash repairer, auto electrician, motor mechanic or panel beater we offer you a range of accounting, taxation and business coaching services including:

  • Start-Up Business Advice for Panel Beaters, Auto Electricians and Smash Repairers
  • Advice regarding the Purchase or Sale of your Business
  • Tools - Start-Up Expense Checklist, Templates for a Business Plan and Cash Flow Budget
  • Advice and Assistance with the Establishment of Your Business Structure
  • Tax Registrations including ABN, TFN, GST, WorkCover etc.
  • Preparation of Business Plans, Cash Flow Forecasts and Profit Projections
  • Accounting Software Selection and Training – Bookkeeping, Invoicing, Quotes & Payroll
  • Preparation and Analysis of Financial Statements
  • Preparation of Finance Applications
  • Bookkeeping and Payroll Services
  • Income Tax Returns and Tax Planning Strategies
  • Wealth Creation Strategies and Financial Planning Services
  • Industry Benchmarking and KPI Management
  • Vehicle & Equipment Finance (Chattel Mortgage & Lease)
  • Assistance with your Marketing including your Branding, Corporate Brochure and Website
  • Monitoring and Controlling Labour and Sub-Contractor Costs
  • Advice & Assistance with Pricing your Services and Claiming Vehicle Expenses
  • Recession Survival Strategies
  • Advice regarding Employee Relations and Workplace Laws
  • Business & Risk Insurances (Income Protection, Life Insurance etc.)
  • Business Succession Planning

Here at JTU Accounting Group, we do more than just keep the score for our smash repair and panel beater clients. We are business and profit builders who genuinely care about the success of your business and view your tax return as the start of the client process, not the end. 

We understand the auto trade and if you’re looking to get your business off to a flying start or want to book your business in for a ‘service’, we invite you to book a FREE, introductory consultation to discuss your business needs. You can expect practical business, tax, marketing and financial advice that could have a significant impact on your bottom line. To book a time, call us today on (03) 9878 5444 or complete your details in the box at the top of this page and let's get to work ON your business so it is more profitable, valuable and saleable.

JTU Accounting Group - Accountants Who Think Outside the Box