How to Start an Emission Testing

Emission testing businesses perform tests to determine the quality and amount of exhaust produced from internal combustion motors, such as cars, trucks, and motorcycles. These businesses can prove profitable, as well as beneficial to the overall health of the planet.

Learn how to start your own Emission Testing and whether it is the right fit for you.

Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.

Start an emission testing by following these 10 steps:

  1. Plan your Emission Testing
  2. Form your Emission Testing into a Legal Entity
  3. Register your Emission Testing for Taxes
  4. Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
  5. Set up Accounting for your Emission Testing
  6. Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Emission Testing
  7. Get Emission Testing Insurance
  8. Define your Emission Testing Brand
  9. Create your Emission Testing Website
  10. Set up your Business Phone System

We have put together this simple guide to starting your emission testing. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.

STEP 1: Plan your business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Business Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.

When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:

  • Your state's business records
  • Federal and state trademark records
  • Social media platforms
  • Web domain availability.

It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.

Want some help naming your emission testing?

Business Name Generator

What are the costs involved in opening an emission testing?

One of the initial costs has to be the testing equipment itself. Equipment costs can range quite a bit, depending on the volume of business you anticipate. Testing machines can start around a few thousand and can go upwards to five figures. Additionally, you’ll need a garage to conduct the tests.

Certification for yourself and employees, licensing with the state, plus business and liability insurance will round out most of your higher startup costs.

What are the ongoing expenses for an emission testing?

Rent or mortgage for your garage, utility costs, and maintenance for your testing machine are some of the essential ongoing costs. Additionally, business licensing and insurance will incur moderate costs.

Who is the target market?

All vehicle owners and drivers, per state rules, must undergo regular emission testing. In some locations, commercial vehicles are subject to different testing procedures.

How does an emission testing make money?

Customers pay emissions testing businesses to check the emissions of their vehicles.

How much can you charge customers?

Emission testing costs for customers are relatively low, anywhere between $20-30. This means the volume of tests performed will be an important factor for your business.

How much profit can an emission testing make?

An average salary for an emission testing business owner is approximately $35,000 annually.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Combining an emission testing service with a larger mechanic-based business is a smart and profitable move. Presenting the public with more options can generate greater revenue and more repeat customers.

Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your emission testing is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

You can acquire your EIN through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?

There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Open a business bank account

Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.

Get a business credit card

Getting a business credit card helps you:

  • Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.

Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an Emission Testing business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

STEP 7: Get business insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.

Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.

If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.

How to promote & market an emission testing

Since your sphere of interest will reside in automotive, it makes the most sense to advertise in auto trade magazines and online publications. It is also important to advertise for customers who aren’t tapped into your realm of business. Local community publications, upon magazines, and billboards are some conventional methods, with online advertising reflecting the newer marketing methods. Develop both. 

Flyers, magazines, and other tangible objects still matter, but an online advertising scheme is cost-effective and can greatly expand your advertising range.

How to keep customers coming back

Since an emission testing business is specific and necessary, customer retention will often depend on customer engagement beyond the emission testing business. Offering other services keeps customers coming back for more than that one need. Once they are engaged, make their experience pleasant and personable.

STEP 9: Create your business website

After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.

While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:

  • All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
  • Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
  • Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.

Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.

Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.

STEP 10: Set up your business phone system

Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.

Recommended Business Phone Service: is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.

Is this Business Right For You?

Ideally, an emission testing business owner should understand the inner workings of the vehicles they are testing. Understanding the science behind auto emissions is also important. A background which offers insight into these areas, such as an auto mechanic, can be helpful, but not always necessary for success.

Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

Entrepreneurship Quiz

What happens during a typical day at an emission testing?

Depending on the state, emission testing businesses would be scheduling and performing tests for customers. State requirements vary, so some businesses may have customers come to them, whereas others may travel to businesses or other locations to perform tests. Once the testing is complete, and data is submitted, customers are informed of compliance or necessary next steps. 

Additional activities may include ensuring equipment, facilities, and staff are certified and regularly maintained.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful emission testing?

Understanding the ins and outs of exhaust systems can give an emission business owner an advantage. Helping customers to understand their options beyond the initial testing helps to build customer loyalty and confidence. General business and advertising knowledge is also beneficial for a relatively niche business, such as this.

What is the growth potential for an emission testing?

Depending on the state you’re set up in, emissions testing is a reliable business, although the overall earning potential is modest. Many emissions testing businesses combine with other related businesses, such as mechanic shops, which we will discuss later.

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Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Learn from other business owners

Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.

Resources to Help Women in Business

There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.

What are some insider tips for jump starting an emission testing?

Since emission testing is a specific business, some businesses choose to partner with mechanic shops or mechanics future emission testing as a service. By offering more than one service under one roof, businesses are more likely to succeed.

Be sure to determine the estimated customer need for your business. Some states have more stringent testing standards and can, therefore, support greater emission business saturation. Perform some market research ahead of launching a business.

Create a strong initial advertising presence. Make your name known and splash the market with special offers and initiatives to visit. Customers have to know you exist.

How and when to build a team

Emission testing itself doesn’t usually take more than one, or possibly two, technicians to operate. Needing a team will depend on what other services you offer, as well as the volume of customers.

Useful Links

Industry Opportunities

Real World Examples

Further Reading

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