Love to teach people how to save money! I have been on the business side of the automotive industry for 12 years. Have a degree in business management. I have also spent a few years taking elective courses at a community college in automotive technology.
There are a few ways you can go about doing this. The first way is to get your business into trade shows and do some old school marketing. More exposure for your company only increases your chances of getting in with a big company. Ideally there will be a buyer for home depot. In case you did not know what a buyer is, they typically work on the corporate side of businesses. Their primary job is to introduce new products into their company's stores, and to manage the ones that are already in the stores. If a buyer thinks that your product will sell better than the competition, then they will bring your product on. There are a few variables that can go along with this. Feel free to call for more info on that.
The second way is to file for a new product submission. You have to contact home depot and request the form. They will ask various questions such as financials of your business ( costs, retail costs, margins, logistics etc. ) Once submitted, it will take 60 days for a representative to reach out to you.
Feel free to reach out to me with any question. I am always available to help.
It is best to take payment upon completion of the work performed in most cases. This shows the customer that you are not just out for money. This is the fastest way to build a positive rapport and reputation around the community. Word of mouth is the best form of marketing in the automotive repair industry. As far as deposits are concerned, my best recommendation would be to feel out the customer. If they seem a bit sketchy, or are asking a lot of abnormal questions regarding payments, then it may be smart to take some sort of deposit. 10% of the total bill is a fair amount. I have seen significantly higher in some shops, but their reputation as an honest shop simply isn't there. When it comes to materials, that all comes down to turn around time of the materials. If a case of paint takes 10 business days, don't wait until you are down to your last can to order more. Gauge your business. Running a successful business all comes down to expense control. Order the right supplies at the right time. One quick note on this: make sure your technicians know the importance of expense control, and being strategic on when to order supplies. If you have buy in from the entire shop, you are more likely to succeed. I would absolutely accept online appointments. The name of the game in any type of automotive repair is cars. The more cars, the better. It is important to note that in order to not hurt your reputation or customer service level, that when taking in a higher volume, you set a realistic expectation with the customer on when you can get them their vehicle back to them.
I hope I was able to help you. Feel free to reach out with any other questions either automotive or sales related.