NEW biz questions!?

Post your windshield repair tips, questions, advice! Note there is a sub-forum specifically for business development questions.
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NEW biz questions!?

Post by mblair »

We (wife and I) are looking for a new business to start that can bring in (eventually) what we are used to making in our previous businesses, 100k+
We have been entrepreneurs for the past 10 years...and looking for something new!

We have several questions- of which it seems so hard to get answers anywhere. We were hesitant to post on a forum because of the usual drama and tear-downs that occur but we figured we would give it a shot.

We live just outside Nashville, TN and would be wanting to do a 100% mobile business. We are looking at both windshield repair AND replacement.

:arrow: Our questions: (we realize there are a lot of variables.. but would like some answers regardless : )

1. Do you feel its better to be able to offer both repair and replacement?
2. When starting up this kind of business- how long do you feel it took you before getting up and making a good profit?
3. We are most interested in getting insurance work through places like SafeLight- and fleet/dealership/car shop work. Is this doable?
4. Is this business seasonal?
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Brent Deines
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Re: NEW biz questions!?

Post by Brent Deines »

Welcome to the windshield repair forum and thank you for the great questions. I am really interested to hear what others have to say but in the mean time I will give you my perspective and try to answer your questions.

First, is it possible to replace a $100,000+ annual wage from your current job? Yes! We certainly have customers who make significantly more than that, which you will need to do in order to replace the benefits that go along with most jobs that pay that kind of money. Will it be easy? Absolutely not! Very few entrepreneurs will ever earn that kind of money starting their own small business, regardless of the type of business they start, and windshield repair is no different. However, for me and others who have achieved that goal the rewards of being your own boss is well worth all the hard work and sacrifice.

As for your other questions:

1. Do you feel it’s better to be able to offer both repair and replacement?
Yes...probably. There are more headaches with replacement but there are also more opportunities to profit by offering both services. I started with just repair and added replacement, then sold my glass shop to try something new that didn't pan out, now back to repair only. Some of our most successful customers are repair only, however I do think that offering replacement may help you reach your $100,000+/yr. goal faster. The two businesses go hand in hand. If you offer repair only you will be spending a lot of time talking to customers and looking at windshields that you cannot repair, only to send them to someone else. You may be able to establish a referral agreement with an existing glass shop to make a little $$ sending them business and pay them a little for sending you business, but you will put more in your pocket if you do the replacements yourself. On the other hand, it costs a bit more to get into replacement and in my opinion you should never do that unless you are willing to hire an experienced replacement technician with a good reputation, at least until you become an expert in replacement yourself, which will take some time. It would be foolish to offer replacement only in my opinion. Repair is easy and more profitable than replacement. I would be happy to speak with you on the phone if you wish to discuss the pros and cons of replacement in greater detail.

2. When starting up this kind of business- how long do you feel it took you before getting up and making a good profit?
I started part time and was working two other jobs, plus operating another part time business on the side, so I'm not sure I'm the best person to answer this question, but I do help a lot of people get started in this business and I feel that 3-5 years of really hard work is probably a realistic timeline to replace your $100,000+/yr. salary. I've seen people do it much faster and I've seen people never get there, so it's impossible to predict how fast "you" can do it. If you have a sales or marketing background you will likely do better than most. It takes very little time to learn how to do very high quality windshield repairs and the overhead is extremely low so those are not reasons people fail in this business. More often than not it is the lack of work ethic combined with a fear of rejection that is the downfall of windshield repair technicians.

3. We are most interested in getting insurance work through places like SafeLight- and fleet/dealership/car shop work. Is this doable?
Best not to rely on Safelite, Harmon, Lynx, Gerber, etc., for referrals, but if you find your own customers you can certainly bill their insurance companies through those companies with relative ease, which allows you to offer your service to individuals with no out of pocket expense to them in most cases. You don't have to be much of a salesperson to sell a "free" service! Fleets are great in my opinion because you typically have multiple vehicles in one place to work on and by repairing multiple vehicles at the same time your profit potential rises dramatically. Dealerships and car shops are also good opportunities but my favorites are fleets and insurance work. Again, I'm happy to discuss this in further detail with you but this post is already getting far longer than intended, which is no surprise to people who know me!

4. Is this business seasonal?
You will get varying opinions on this but we have customers in every state who do repairs year round. I started doing repairs in Billings Montana which I believe is considerably colder than Nashville in the winter, and for the past few decades I have been repairing glass in Eugene Oregon which is probably closer to your climate but with more rain. You can work year round for sure but it is easier and more enjoyable when the weather is warm. Some very successful windshield repair professionals take winters off, which is a great business model if you can make enough in 6-7 months a year to pull that off, but you will not likely be able to do that on your own, it will require multiple employees, but to make $100,000+/yr. you will likely need to have employees anyway so it's not out of the realm of possibility.
Brent Deines
Delta Kits, Inc.
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