Add-Ons: Auto Glass Replacement

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Some automotive maintenance purchases are easy for customers to put off. However, if a customer’s vehicle has broken or busted windows, they rarely delay fixing them. Of course, having the glass paid for by the vehicle owner’s insurance company helps make the decision easier.

Are you looking for an add-on service to help your customers? Have you considered auto glass replacement? Here is why and how it works so well when done properly.

An auto glass replacement is a high ticket service a lube shop owner can offer a customer without having to surrender any bay space. Most of the auto glass replacement industry in the United States performs these services via mobile van at the customer’s home or place of business. With an average cash price of a windshield being $225 in most markets, and the average insurance windshield replacement generating $380, this is a dream come true for average tickets.

A quick lube owner offering auto glass replacement has an advantage over legacy glass shops because an established customer base and daily car counts. Furthermore, based on the needs of the business, it can be decided at the time of the sale where the service should be performed. This represents the highest degree for flexibility for an owner. More than 90 percent of all auto glass customers expect to make an appointment for a replacement later that day or the following day. This includes those customers who are in the shop for lube, tires or general automotive services, so customer flow is rarely affected by adding auto glass replacements to an existing business.

Auto glass replacement is one service where you can maximize ticket average without pressure selling. The glass is either fine or it’s broken, and the need for a replacement is obvious. With the trust your shop has earned in gaining that customer, why wouldn’t they purchase from you?

It is clear several key elements need to exist for a lube shop to be successful when adding auto glass replacements to their business.

1. Proper Training and Certification

Each shop owner, more than likely, has access to at least one mechanically inclined technician. In many cases, the owner is looking for ways to retain that employee because of what’s been invested in their skills. When adding auto glass replacements, it is important to continue to invest in each employee to ensure they have the expertise to maintain the level of service and quality the business has established for all its services. A certification is available through the Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC), which offers training for proper, safe installations.

Another option when adding auto glass replacements is to seek a franchise that offers premium installation training as part of its overall training suite. This training should also have the ability to certify your technicians to the AGSC standards.

2. Cost of Goods Sold

Managing your cost of goods sold through suppliers is as important with auto glass as it is with lubricants and other automotive supplies. If you are able to establish a strong supply chain with aggressive pricing, you will not only increase your COGS, but you should also be able to run your business on a just-in-time inventory basis. This is a huge plus when startup capital is tight.

Additionally, since there are no expensive tools or machinery to purchase, a lube shop should be able to add auto glass replacements to its existing business for under $20,000.

As an added benefit, in most markets, quality distributors can supply your business with all you need on a daily basis. This will help keep your initial costs down significantly. However, note, buying power is based on volume. If you are just starting your glass business from the ground up, make sure you continually work with your suppliers to see when your volume will warrant the next price break. One benefit to working with a reputable auto glass franchise should be the buying power and lower overall COGS you receive from the first day of business. This difference can be significant. A well-run auto glass replacement shop should have a COGS around 25 percent; whereas an average startup shop will typically run a COGS around 50 percent. This is important to consider when weighing the short-tem and long-term costs.

3. Business Infrastructure

It should be obvious there is a need for an auto glass technician to perform the replacement of glass. However, it may be less obvious there is be a need for someone to answer the phones, source the parts to be installed from the distributor, process insurance claims and schedule installations. Although many auto glass shops and/or mobile-only installers perform all of these functions themselves, there are advantages to separating the task of installation from sales.

The main thing to keep in mind is multi-tasking causes tasks to be done poorly. When it comes to selling jobs and setting schedules, make sure you do not allow anything to interfere with cash flow or revenue. This is one area where it makes sense to work with a franchise system or outsource agency that specializes in this level of selling, insurance processing and part sourcing.

4. Advertising and Web Presence

One of the biggest benefits of adding auto glass replacements to an existing business is its ability to attract new customers. Make sure your business is listed first when customers search for auto glass in your market. Do not overlook the importance of mobile searches performed on smartphones. Many customers search for auto glass while they are looking at the damage, so mobile device compatibility is a must. Once again, a quality auto glass franchise will provide this as part of the system, so make sure you evaluate that element of the business before making your final decision.

5. Enjoy the Numbers

Each installer can generate an additional $25,000 a month in revenue ($300,000 per year). Depending on how well materials and supplies are purchased, the net profit margin can be as high as 47 percent for an add-on business. For most businesses, that can make all the difference in whether next year permits expansion or not.

If you’re looking for an add-on service that clearly provides value for your customers and provides them with one less stop to make, you may want to consider auto glass replacement.

CHRIS BURREI is the director of Business Development for Techna Glass International, LLC. Burrei received degrees in Business and Administration, Management, Marketing and Communications from Southern Illinois University. He has worked in business development and operations in the auto glass industry for 13 years and with the retail lube industry with various premium brands for seven. He can be reached at burrei@sisna.com and welcomes any questions you may have.

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