Whether your hobby is buying and selling cars, or you have decided to go out on your own and start a dealership, it is important to know what steps to take get started. In this blog I will walk you through what you need to do, and when you need to do it, so that you can get started. Too often I have worked with dealers who didn’t get this process right and it led to added costs and the dealership not getting out to the best start. The first step would be to build your budget and asses your costs to make sure that this is a viable business option. For more information on what to expect from your insurance costs, refer to this link where I discuss this topic in more detail. Now that you have determined you want to start, follow the steps below:
- Complete the Dealer License Certification from an approved school as required by the state of Florida. For a list of approved schools click here.
- Set Up the Business Structure. Whether you will be a Sole Proprietor, LLC, or Corporation you will need to establish the business as such. This can be done through a licensed professional such as attorney or accountant, or set it up yourself through sunbiz.org
- Obtain a Federal Employer I.D. Number (FEIN). If you hired a professional from above, they should do this step for you as well.
- Get Your Location Approved. Before signing a lease, it is important to make sure that the state approves the location to be operated as a dealership. Once you find a location that you like, most landlords are willing to work with you to have the location inspected and approved before committing to the lease. When you are ready for the inspection, find your regional office and schedule an appointment for the inspection. Here is the link for the list of regional offices: https://www.flhsmv.gov/pdf/buyingvehicle/bur_field_ops_address.pdf
- Obtain a Sales Tax Number. To sell vehicles you must secure a State of Florida Sales Tax Registration Number. For instructions on the process you can click here or if you want to go straight to the form just follow this link
- Electronic fingerprinting must be done through an approved vendor and a receipt submitted with the final application. For a list of approved fingerprint providers follow this link: https://www.fdle.state.fl.us/Criminal-History-Records/Documents/InternetDoc_ServiceProviders.aspx
- Deed or Lease. A copy of the deed or lease agreement must be submitted with the application in the name of the dealership. At this point the location should be approved and you can execute the lease.
- Insurance and Bond. You may obtain quotes earlier (usually during the location approval), but now is the time to execute the insurance. For quotes and to purchase the garage liability insurance and the surety bond call one of our licensed agents at (850) 389-2001.
- Sign Installed. Before submitting your application, you must have a sign installed which includes your Name, Hours of Operation (including the days of the week),and be visible from the road.
- Pictures of the dealership entrance, parking area, and spaces must be included with the application submission.
- DMV Dealer Application. Complete the application and submit with everything mentioned above. The fee for an auto dealer is $300. You can find the application to complete here https://www.flhsmv.gov/pdf/forms/86056.pdf