If a windshield cracks or breaks, a car owner will want a knowledgeable and skilled service provider to repair or replace the auto glass. As an auto-glass installation professional, you can meet that need. Before opening your own business, be sure to explore options for the type of business you launch, secure funding, obtain the necessary insurance and acquire the proper training.
Determine Your Auto-Glass Business Scope
The extent of your ambition and budget will determine the scope of your auto-glass business since there are several options from which to choose. Research each one and determine which will work best based on your situation. For example, you could open a stand-alone repair facility, start a mobile repair service or choose a franchise opportunity.
Stand-Alone Repair Facility
A repair facility will require a site that has an appropriate space for working on cars and trucks. You might be able to rent a vacant repair shop, or you may need to renovate a comparable space. The setup should include storage space for glass and tools, a work area and a dedicated customer-waiting area.
Mobile Repair Service
Many customers may find it difficult to get their car to a shop for a window repair. Offering mobile service at a customer's home or work will position your auto-glass business as customer-focused and convenient. This service can operate out of your physical repair location or operate solely in a mobile capacity. As a mobile-only service, you will need to maintain a storage space for equipment and glass inventory.
Mobile repair service is also a larger investment since you will need to purchase a truck for transporting tools and windshields. Vehicles will also need to be insured, serviced and fueled. However, despite the added expenses, your business may benefit greatly since many customers take advantage of this convenient service option.
If you don't want to strike out completely on your own, purchasing a franchise opportunity will give you extra support in equipment and product acquisition, training, marketing and name recognition in the community.
There are many options among windshield-glass manufacturers who offer franchises as well as separate repair-shop franchises. Expect to put out an initial fee of at least $50,000. In exchange, you will receive training on glass installation and industry best practices as well as assistance with setting up your business.
Secure Funding and Establish Your Business Entity
With any business option you choose, secure the funding necessary for the initial building and equipment purchases. Pursue a loan through a bank or seek the assistance of a local chapter of the Small Business Administration.
You'll also need to establish a formal business entity either as an LLC, a partnership, a sole proprietorship or a corporation. A lawyer can help you choose the best option and walk you through the paperwork. Also obtain a federal employer identification number for tax purposes, a state business license and number and a sales tax account number if it is required in your state.
Obtain Insurance Coverage
Insurance coverage is essential for business owners and should never be overlooked. In addition to auto insurance for your vehicles, you should have liability coverage to protect you in the event of an accident or problem with any of the work you do on customers' vehicles.
A general business owners' policy will protect both your property and provide for loss of income if you are unable to work. Also, workers' compensation insurance is essential if you are planning on hiring employees.
Acquire Specialized Training and Certifications
Get training from professionals in the industry so you can provide excellent auto-glass installation service. Both auto-glass manufacturers and private schools offer instruction, including in-person and online options. Display documentation of your certified professional status so your customers will feel confident in your knowledge.
Find Your Customers
Once you are open, register your business on Google My Business so you appear in customer searches for "auto glass business". Expand to other sites like Angie's List and Yelp and ask satisfied customers to leave reviews. Consider applying for preferred repair-facility status with insurance companies or AAA. These businesses refer their customers to approved repair sites and can send additional customers your way.
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