How to Start a Shoe Repair Business
Shoe repair businesses specialize in restoring high-quality footwear by replacing heels and soles, repairing worn seams, and eliminating discoloration caused by exposure to the elements. Many shoe repair businesses also repair and restore purses, belts, and other leather accessories as well.
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Learn how to start your own Shoe Repair Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Start a shoe repair business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Shoe Repair Business
- Form your Shoe Repair Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Shoe Repair Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Shoe Repair Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Shoe Repair Business
- Get Shoe Repair Business Insurance
- Define your Shoe Repair Business Brand
- Create your Shoe Repair Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your shoe repair business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
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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:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a shoe repair business?
The costs of opening a shoe repair business vary according to the cost of acquiring space in which to perform the repairs and store the needed supplies. Many shoe repair business owners reduce costs by partnering with clothing and shoe stores and renting space within their already established businesses. Others work online from their own homes, establishing a mail order business in which the cost of rent is low, but shipping costs are higher. Shoe repair equipment can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on whether it is new or used and the type of mechanical capabilities it possesses.
What are the ongoing expenses for a shoe repair business?
Ongoing expenses for a shoe repair business include:
- Supplies such as heels, soles, leathers, and dyes
- Electricity and maintenance of machinery and equipment
- Shipping costs, if applicable
- Telephone and website maintenance costs
- Rental of space to store machinery and complete repairs
Who is the target market?
Preferred customers are often business professionals who purchase high-end footwear. However, rugged work boots are expensive as well and resoling can make them last longer. Other preferred customers include those who have favorite styles that are no longer manufactured and want to preserve them for as long as possible and those who place great sentimental value on items which may have been gifts from loved ones. Those wishing to conserve natural resources and combat the mindset of disposability are also frequent customers.
How does a shoe repair business make money?
A shoe repair business makes money by charging a fee for the time and materials used to repair and refurbish shoes, boots, and other leather accessories.
How much can you charge customers?
Repair prices vary according to the amount of care needed and the cost of the materials necessary to make the repairs. A complete replacement of both heels and soles for a pair of shoes can cost as much as $100.00, while a simple shoe shine can cost as little as $12.00. Consider the prices of other companies when creating your prices, so as to be competitive.
How much profit can a shoe repair business make?
Annual income for independent shoe repair business owners ranges from $23,000 to $34,000, with an average at $25,000. However, this number varies depending on many different factors. There are also opportunities to partner with designer brands that reflect the same dedication to quality craftsmanship and long-term durability.
How can you make your business more profitable?
You can increase your customer base by offering other services such as waterproofing and shoe shines that can benefit nearly everyone, regardless of the cost of their footwear. An important consideration is researching the competition in your area and offering services that supplement, rather than compete, with those already available. Extensive knowledge of the services provided by existing businesses can help you create a list of services that will set you apart from the competition. Collaborating with designers and attending fashion shows where people that will likely require your services purchase their footwear can also substantially increase revenues. Successful shoe repair businesses maximize value for their customers—providing not just economic, but social and sentimental value as well.
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 Shoe Repair 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.
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 shoe repair business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
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 for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Learn how to get an EIN in our What is an EIN guide or find your existing EIN using our EIN lookup guide.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
- LLC Taxes
- Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
- LLC vs Corporation
- LLC vs S Corp
- How to Start an S Corp
- S Corp vs C Corp
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.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
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.
Open net 30 accounts
Net 30 accounts are used to establish and build business credit as well as increase business cash flow. With a net 30 account, businesses buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term.
NetMany net 30 credit vendors report to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our best net 30 vendors, guide and start building business credit.
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 Divvy 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 a shoe repair 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.
In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply. For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources
Certificate of Occupancy
A shoe repair business is generally run out of a warehouse or storefront. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a shoe repair business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a commercial kitchen:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your shoe repair business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
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.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
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.
Recommended: Learn what business insurance for your Shoe Repair Business will cost.
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 a shoe repair business
It is essential to have a website that lets customers know your location, available shipping options, the list of services you provide, and their prices. Partnering with shoe stores that sell high-end brands can also be an effective marketing strategy for all parties concerned. Customers are more likely to purchase more expensive footwear with a reminder that with proper care and maintenance, their purchases can last for years to come.
How to keep customers coming back
Utilizing social media is one of the best and least expensive ways to attract new customers. Social media not only allows you use special promo codes to offer special discounts for first-time customers, but it has the added benefit of providing you with valuable customer feedback on your services.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
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.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
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: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
Start a Shoe Repair Business in your State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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Is this Business Right For You?
This business is ideal for those who want to preserve the tradition of quality workmanship as well as conserve natural resources. Those who recognize the sentimental as well as economic value of restoring their customer’s favorite accessories will enjoy this type of business.
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What happens during a typical day at a shoe repair business?
Some of the daily responsibilities of a shoe repair business owner include:
- Purchasing quality materials used for restoration of shoes and accessories
- Measuring, stitching, mending, and correcting defects caused by wear
- Inspecting finished items for quality
- Customer relations and advertising
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful shoe repair business?
Important knowledge and skills to have in this type of business include:
- The ability to identify brands and models of a wide variety of shoes
- Basic requisite skills and techniques of shoe repair, including sewing, gluing, and mending which are often acquired during an apprenticeship with an established shoe repair business
- Excellent vision and hand dexterity
- Scheduling flexibility
- Customer service skills
What is the growth potential for a shoe repair business?
The growth potential for a shoe repair business depends on a number of factors, including location, the number of competitors in the area, and the strength of the local economy. Unlike other types of businesses, a shoe repair business can enjoy an increase in revenues during economic downturns.
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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:
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 a shoe repair business?
Those entering the business should know that the failure rate for new shoe repair businesses is higher than for those that are purchased after having already built a reputation and a regular clientele. The importance of researching competitors and offering superb customer service cannot be overestimated in this business.
How and when to build a team
Even if you prefer to work alone, it’s a good idea to join a professional organization for the purpose of continuing education that will keep you informed about the latest fashion trends. Many of them also offer opportunities for enjoyable networking with other industry professionals. For example, the Shoe Service Institute of America (SSIA) has a yearly convention. Other benefits of membership include access to an established network of suppliers.
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Real World Examples
- Business profile of Carolyn Blair, CEO of Cobbler Concierge, an online shoe repair business
- Cobbler Concierge, a Manhattan-based online shoe repair business
- Park Shoe Repair, an Ann Arbor-based shoe repair business