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How To Start A Windshield Repair Business In 2023

How To Start A Windshield Repair Business In 2023

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How To Start A Windshield Repair Business In 2023

How To Start A Windshield Repair Business

Cracked windshields and minor glass damage are common issues for vehicle owners, making the windshield repair business an essential and thriving industry. Entrepreneurs seeking a practical, in-demand venture may find this field an ideal fit.

Learning to repair windshields is a relatively easy skill to acquire, meaning that someone who hasn’t ever repaired a windshield before could still go into business quickly. Starting up a windshield repair business of your own is also highly affordable, making it a great opportunity.

Read on to learn more about what’s involved with this type of business and to determine if this might be the right opportunity for you.

Business Overview

Windshield repair businesses specialize in repairing (and sometimes replacing) windshields that have been chipped or cracked. These businesses are often mobile businesses that will travel to customers since driving a car with a damaged windshield can make that damage worse.

While a business can offer to repair a crack in a windshield, many also cross over into auto glass replacement, offering a full-service option if the damage is too severe to be repaired. Some businesses also offer complementary services, like window tinting, repairing rock chips, headlight restoration, or auto detailing.

Industry Summary

The windshield repair industry falls under the broader automotive repair and maintenance services market. This industry has shown steady growth over the years due to the increasing number of vehicles on the road and the frequent need for maintenance and repairs.

According to IBISWorld, the auto windshield repair industry experienced growth over the last five years (2017-2022) and brought in $7 billion in revenue. There were 13,980 businesses in operation and they employ 42,044 people.

The windshield repair industry is often affected by evolving trends when it comes to auto glass manufacturing and use. According to Glass America, windshield repair companies need to keep pace with these trends so that they can still service customers’ new cars. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems have become more popular, and these systems help drivers avoid accidents by alerting drivers or stopping the car when an obstacle is in their path. These systems are usually positioned on windshields, so repair technicians need to understand how to repair or replace windshields in vehicles with this technology.

Smart glass is another current trend. Windshields made of smart glass are more durable and stronger than traditional windshield glass. Windshield repair technicians need to be trained and knowledgeable when working with smart glass products.

Also, the increasing popularity of mobile repair services is a significant shift, with customers preferring the convenience of having repairs done at their location.

Target Market

The target market for a windshield repair business primarily includes vehicle owners, both individuals and businesses. Here are more specifics:

  1. Individual vehicle owners: The most apparent customer base includes anyone who owns a vehicle – cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles. Regardless of the type, all vehicles have windshields that are susceptible to damage and, therefore, may need repair or replacement.
  2. Fleet owners: These include corporations or small businesses that own and operate multiple vehicles. Fleet owners require regular maintenance and often have a need for windshield repair and replacement. Examples include taxi services, bus companies, car rental companies, delivery services, and more.
  3. Used car dealerships: These businesses often need to repair or replace windshields on their vehicles before selling them. A partnership with such dealerships can provide a steady stream of business.
  4. Insurance companies: Some windshield repair businesses work directly with auto insurance companies. In many cases, insurance policies cover windshield repair or replacement, and these companies will refer their clients to approved repair businesses.
  5. Government agencies: These include law enforcement agencies, public transportation services, and other governmental departments that manage a fleet of vehicles. They may need regular windshield repair services.
  6. Auto repair and service centers: Partnering with other automotive businesses that do not provide windshield repair or replacement services can also be profitable. They can refer customers to your business and vice versa.

Understanding the specifics of your target market is crucial for formulating effective marketing strategies and tailoring your services to meet their needs better.

Checklist To Start A Windshield Repair Business

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If you’re thinking about starting a windshield repair business, it’s important to do your research first. Here is a checklist to help you get started.

Step 1: Research the Industry

Before jumping right into starting a windshield repair business, equip yourself with a full understanding of the industry.

To start your research, consider joining online groups around glass repair, attending industry trade shows, and join industry associations such as the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) as associations often provide a wealth of resources and updates on industry developments. They can also offer networking opportunities to connect with experienced professionals who can provide valuable advice and insights.

Education is also an integral part of this process. Consider taking courses on windshield repair to master the technical aspects of the job. Some businesses like GlassWeld and Auto Glass Academy offer training programs. Moreover, online platforms like Udemy offer inexpensive windshield repair courses that can enhance your knowledge.

If needed, you can also seek business-related training or workshops to understand how to manage and grow your venture. Courses on entrepreneurship, marketing, customer service, and financial management can be highly beneficial can be found on Udemy, Skillshare, among others.

Also, obtaining certifications can add credibility to your business and instill confidence in your customers. One of the relevant certifications in this field is the Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC) Certified Auto Glass Technician program. This certification covers all aspects of auto glass installation and repair, ensuring that you are equipped to provide safe and high-quality services.

Finally, consider finding a mentor if possible. Someone who has experience in the windshield repair business can provide invaluable guidance and help you avoid common pitfalls.

Step 2: Assess Market Demand

With a solid understanding of the market under your belt, the next step is to research your local market. Taking this step will give insights into the demand for your services, competition, and potential customer base. A lack of demand is one of the key reasons new businesses fail. If there are not enough customers in need of windshield replacement or repair in your target area, your business is unlikely to be successful, regardless of the quality of your services. Hence, thorough market research helps you assess the viability of your business idea, identify potential challenges, and better understand how to position your business for success, before investing a lot of time and money. It can also inform your marketing strategy, pricing, and other key business decisions.

Here are some cost-effective ways to learn whether there is a potential market for an auto glass service in your area:

Online research: Start by researching demographic data for your target area. Websites like U.S. Census Bureau or Statista provide a wealth of information on vehicle ownership and use by geographic area. You can also utilize search engines and social media platforms to understand how often people are searching for windshield repair services and what their common concerns are.

Competitive analysis: Identify who your direct competitors would be and study their business models. Look at their service offerings, pricing, customer reviews, and marketing strategies. You can find this information through online searches, visiting their websites, and reading customer reviews on platforms like Yelp and Google.

Industry associations: Joining industry associations like the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) or the Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC) can provide invaluable insights into the market. These associations often conduct their own market research and provide resources to their members.

Networking: Reach out to existing windshield repair businesses in different areas (to avoid direct competition) and ask for advice. Most people are willing to help newcomers to the industry, and you can gain real-world insights about the demand and operation of such a business.

Local Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Offices: These organizations often offer resources and guidance for market research. They can provide information on local business trends, demographics, and more.

By taking these steps, you can form a realistic picture of the market demand for a windshield repair business in your target area. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better positioned to make informed decisions about your business launch and operations.

Step 3: Write a Business Plan

After getting data that supports the need for a windshield repair company, the next steps is to write a business plan. Writing a business plan for a windshield repair business is akin to drafting a blueprint for a building – it allows you to design and plan your company’s structure and future. This document is useful for securing funding and guiding your business decisions and strategies, ensuring your windshield repair business is on the path to profitability and growth.

A well-structured business plan also plays a key role in securing funding. Investors or lenders are more likely to support your business if they can see a detailed and feasible plan that demonstrates potential profitability and strategic planning. Moreover, your business plan can help you gauge your progress, keep you focused on your goals, and help you tweak your strategies as needed.

While a windshield repair business plan includes typical sections such as an executive summary, company description, and marketing strategies, certain aspects demand particular attention, especially if you’re seeking funding.

Services & pricing: Be clear about what kind of windshield repair services you offer. Are you specializing in specific types of vehicles or all kinds of windshield damage? How does your pricing compare to competitors?

Market analysis & strategy: Highlight your market research findings. Show potential investors that there is a demand for your services. Outline your plan for reaching your target market and how you plan to stand out from competitors.

Financial projections: This section is particularly significant for investors. Your projections should include income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. Remember, as a windshield repair business, your income might be subject to seasonality, with potentially more work during periods of harsh weather or road construction. Make sure to factor in these seasonal fluctuations in your financial forecasts.

Related: How to write a business plan

Step 4: Secure Funding

Starting a windshield repair business, like any other business, requires a financial investment. The level of funding required will depend on various factors including the size of the business, the location, and the type of services you plan to offer. Let’s delve into the most common sources of funding for a windshield repair business.

Personal savings: Personal savings often serve as the cornerstone for the initial funding phase. Using your own savings provides immediate access to capital without the burden of loan repayments. However, it’s important to ensure you maintain a financial cushion to absorb unforeseen costs or fluctuations in business income, particularly in the early stages of your business. Most windshield repair startups tend to have comparatively low costs related to inventory and equipment, making personal savings a viable source of funds.

Bank loans: When personal savings are not enough to get started, traditional bank loans serve as a common source of funding. Banks will typically evaluate your credit score, require a solid business plan, and may require you to personally invest a significant portion (often around 15%-25%) of the total needed capital. They may also require collateral, which could be property, inventory, or other assets.

If a bank deems a loan too risky, they may require that the loan be backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). An SBA guaranteed loan can be easier to obtain as it reduces the risk to the lender. However, it’s important to note that you’ll still need to meet the bank’s and SBA’s lending criteria, plus there’s a lot of extra paperwork.

Microloans: For a business that requires lower startup costs, a microloan could be an ideal option. Microloans are smaller loans often provided by non-profit organizations and certain financial institutions. They are designed to support smaller businesses that may not be able to get credit through traditional sources.

Angel investors: Angel investors are high-net-worth individuals who provide capital for startups, often in exchange for equity in the company. While securing an angel investor can be challenging (as they often seek high-growth, scalable businesses), it is not unheard of in the windshield repair industry. If you have a unique selling proposition or a promising business plan, you may be able to attract an angel investor, particularly one who knows you personally and wants to help you succeed.

Acquiring funding for a new business can be a complex process, requiring careful planning and strategy. By evaluating your business plan, understanding your funding needs, and exploring the options above, you can put your windshield repair business on solid financial footing from the start.

Related: Finding the money to start a business

Step 5: Register the Business

With funding out of the way, it’s time to begin registering the business, which involves several legal steps. It’s essential to research the specific requirements in your location, as regulations vary widely between states. Following these steps ensures your windshield repair business is legally compliant, protecting you and your investment in the long run. A few things to check out include:

Choosing a business structure: Choosing the right business structure is fundamental for your windshield repair business. The most common structures for small businesses in this industry are the sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), and corporation.

Each of these structures has different implications for liability, taxes, and administrative complexity. The sole proprietorship is popular as it is the simplest structure, involving minimal setup costs and less paperwork. The business and the owner are legally considered the same entity, meaning that the owner has personal liability for the business’s debts and obligations. Another popular structure is the LLC because, unlike the sole proprietorship, it provides personal liability protection should the business get sued.

Related: Comparison of business structures

Business name registration: After registering the business structure, you may need to register your business name. This process will vary depending on what business structure you pick. Sole proprietors and partnerships will often be required to register a “Doing Business As” (DBA), while corporations and LLCs register with the state during the formation process.

Related: Ideas for naming a windshield repair business

During this time, it’s also a good idea to check if the name you want is available as a web domain, even if you’re not ready to set up a website yet.

Related: Finding a domain name for your business

Obtain business licenses and permits: Depending on your location, there will likely be a variety of general licenses or permits needed before opening. This could include a business license, seller’s permit, and Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Related: State guides for general business licensing

Step 6: Purchase Equipment & Supplies

Securing the necessary equipment and supplies represents an exciting step towards starting a windshield repair business. This stage is where your plans truly start to take physical form. It’s a crucial process whether you’re launching a traditional storefront or a mobile service.

The list of required equipment for a windshield repair business can include a variety of specialized tools and supplies. This typically includes windshield repair kits, resin, UV curing lights, inspection tools, and safety equipment, among others. Companies like Delta Kits and Glass Technology offer comprehensive ranges of windshield repair equipment, while Ultra Bond and GlasWeld offer high-quality repair materials.

A mobile operation would also require a reliable vehicle, preferably one that can comfortably accommodate all your equipment and tools while still providing ample working space.

It’s often a good idea to begin with essential items and gradually add more specialized equipment as your business grows and as demand dictates. Comparing offerings from different suppliers and reading reviews from other businesses can help you make informed decisions. Keep in mind, investing in high-quality equipment can lead to better service quality and fewer replacements in the future.

Step 7: Set Up a Location

After ensuring funding is secured and officially setting up the business, the next step is selecting your base of operations. In the windshield repair industry, this could either mean choosing a physical location for a traditional brick-and-mortar shop or establishing a mobile unit to provide services on the go.

Choosing a Physical Location
For a conventional windshield repair shop, the selection of a location is instrumental in determining visibility, accessibility, and overall operational success. Factors such as proximity to major roads or highways, visibility from the street, and accessibility for customers should guide your selection process. An area with a high density of commuters or close proximity to other automotive businesses could be ideal.

Once you’ve selected your location, preparation for operation involves setting up repair areas, installing signage, organizing tools and supplies, and ensuring the space is clean and professional. If required, arrangements for utilities, Internet service, and waste disposal should also be made. For premises requiring renovations, necessary permits should be acquired, and licensed professionals should be engaged for the work.

Setting Up a Mobile Service
If you choose to provide mobile windshield repair services, the concept of location transforms into defining a service area. Your service area can be identified by analyzing the number of vehicles, population density, and the general need for windshield repairs. This ‘location’ is mobile, extending your reach and potentially allowing for a more extensive customer base.

Your mobile unit is your workshop on the go. It should be equipped with all necessary tools and supplies, be well-organized, and represent your brand professionally. Considering travel times, appointment scheduling, and the potential for after-hours repairs is part of operating a mobile service. Like a physical shop, your mobile unit should also have measures in place to protect your tools and equipment.

Many windshield repair businesses are mobile, operating out a van, but if a business expands to the point of hiring multiple technicians and running multiple vans, it may be necessary to rent a garage or warehouse space.

One thing to consider as a mobile windshield repair business is that depending on the climate where you live, your ability to work on vehicles outdoors can be limited in the winter or during periods of rain unless customers have access to a garage. In areas where temperatures are very cold in the winter or where the winters see a lot of precipitation, having your own garage space that customers can travel to can help keep you working when the weather isn’t cooperating. While customers often love the convenience of a service that will come to them, they may be willing to travel to you if it means that they can get their windshield repaired sooner.

Step 8: Hire & Train Employees (if applicable)

Many windshield repair businesses are owner-operated, but if you plan to hire a team, you will need an understanding of the requirements as an employer. Each state is different, but some of the requirements include:

Employer Identification Number (EIN): This is needed for tax purposes and to report information about your employees to state and federal agencies. You can apply for an EIN through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website.

Labor law compliance: Familiarize yourself with both federal and state labor laws. This includes minimum wage laws, overtime regulations, and safe working conditions.

Worker’s compensation insurance: Depending on your state’s law, you’ll likely need to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover any work-related injuries or illnesses.

Record keeping: There are several records you need to keep for each employee, including wage and hour records, tax withholding forms, and employment eligibility verification forms.

Related: State guides to hiring employees

Step 9: Begin Marketing

Marketing is a key component to the success of any business, including a windshield repair business. Implementing a strong and targeted marketing strategy will help you attract and retain customers, increasing both your visibility and your revenue.

When starting an auto glass repair company, do careful research into any competing businesses that already exist in the area. If you’re in an area with a well-established business that multiple car insurance companies already refer their customers to, it can be difficult to break into the industry locally. You may have to repeatedly extend your service area to bring in enough customers, which will eat into your profits and time.

In the digital space, several strategies can be beneficial for a windshield repair business. Building a professional and user-friendly website can establish your online presence and provide potential customers with information about your services. You should optimize your website for search engines (SEO) to improve your visibility on search engine results pages.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn can be utilized to reach a wider audience, engage with customers, and promote your services. Regularly posting engaging and relevant content can help you build an online community around your business.

Business directories can also be a useful tool in your online marketing toolkit. By claiming your Google Business Profile, you can increase your business’s visibility on Google Search and Maps. This tool lets you post updates, respond to reviews, and see how customers are interacting with your business online. Other relevant directories might include Yelp, Yellow Pages, and local business directories.

If you are competing against existing companies, you’ll need to heavily focus on your marketing. Establishing an active online presence with a website that ranks well in search engines is important. It’s also helpful to build up your online business reviews so that customers who search for your business will instantly see that you do good work and have satisfied customers.

While the digital landscape offers lots of opportunities for marketing, traditional methods can also be effective. Direct mail campaigns, for instance, can help you target potential customers in specific neighborhoods or regions, especially during spring and summer months if your area typically experiences hail. Flyers or leaflets distributed in strategic locations, like shopping centers or automotive stores, can also increase visibility.

Local newspapers, radio stations, and even community television networks offer advertising opportunities. These can help you reach a broader local audience, particularly those who may not be as digitally engaged.

Networking also plays a crucial role in traditional marketing. Joining local organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, can provide valuable opportunities for networking and partnership. Participating in local events or sponsoring community activities can also help build your brand’s presence in the community.

In essence, marketing your windshield repair service involves a combination of online and traditional methods, each complementing the other to maximize your reach and engage with your potential customers effectively.

Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business

Step 10: Prepare to Launch

As you near the launch of your windshield repair business, there are several additional steps that likely need to be addressed to ensure you’re fully prepared for a smooth and successful start. While everyone’s needs will differ based on their unique situation, these steps cover many of the common requirements for a windshield repair company.

Business insurance: To safeguard your business from financial losses, it’s advisable to procure suitable business insurance. General liability insurance can protect your business from claims of bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury. Worker’s compensation insurance can provide coverage for work-related injuries or illnesses if you have employees.

We recommend getting at least three insurance quotes, including local insurance agents and online providers like Coverwallet or Hiscox to get the best coverage and price.

Bookkeeping: Setting up a systematic bookkeeping process is essential to manage your finances effectively. This includes tracking your income and expenses, invoicing, payroll, and tax filing. You may want to use accounting software like Wave Accounting (FREE) or Quickbooks or hire a professional bookkeeper or accountant.

Contracts: In the windshield repair industry, you’ll likely need service agreements that outline the scope of work, pricing, and terms of service for your customers. You may also need contracts for employees or independent contractors, and lease agreements if you’re renting a shop location. RocketLawyer and Law Depot have free and inexpensive templates that may be helpful.

Bank account: Open a business bank account to separate your personal and business finances. This will make your financial management more organized and simplify your year-end tax preparation.

Business management software: Several software solutions can streamline your operations. For instance, GlasPacLX, Questx, and GlassBiller are popular choices in the windshield repair industry. They can help manage job scheduling, customer relationship management, invoicing, and more.

Accepting credit cards:
In order to accommodate a wide range of customers, ensure your business has the capability to accept credit card payments. You’ll need to set up a merchant account with a bank or use a third-party payment processor like Square or Stripe.

This material is property of StartingYourBusiness.com

Greg’s Tip: If you are planning a completely mobile windshield repair business with no employes, implementing an online booking system is highly beneficial since being on the move can limit your ability to answer calls from potential customers.

An online booking system allows clients to select a service, enter their information, and secure an appointment at their convenience. This system not only enhances customer experience but also serves as a crucial tool for securing clients while maintaining your mobility.

Greg's Business Tip

Common Questions When Starting A Windshield Repair Business

How much does it cost to start a windshield repair business?

The cost to start a windshield repair business varies based on numerous factors, including whether the business is mobile or has a fixed location, the quality of the equipment purchased, and the scale at which you plan to start. However, on average, you can expect to invest between $10,000 to $50,000 to get your business off the ground.

Equipment and supplies: You can expect to spend around $1,000 to $5,000 on professional-grade windshield repair tools and materials. This includes repair kits, resin, a drill, ultraviolet light, and more.

Vehicle (if mobile): If you’re starting a mobile windshield repair service, you’ll need a reliable vehicle. Costs here can vary widely, depending on whether you lease, buy new, or buy used. On average, expect to spend $10,000 to $30,000. Additionally, you may want to invest in vehicle branding or wraps, which can range from $1,000 to $3,000.

Shop lease or purchase (if applicable): The cost to lease or purchase a commercial space for your shop can vary significantly based on location, size, and local real estate market conditions. In some areas, you might be able to find a suitable space for as little as $1,000 per month, while in others, it might cost $5,000 per month or more.

Training and certification: Expect to spend around $500 to $1,000 on training courses to enhance your windshield repair skills. Professional certification, while not always required, can increase customer trust and potentially lead to more business.

Licensing and permits: While costs can vary depending on the local regulations in your area, budget around $200 to $400 for business licensing and permits.

Initial insurance costs: Startup insurance costs, including liability and vehicle insurance, can range from $500 to $2,000.

Marketing: Initial marketing costs to promote your new business can range from $1,000 to $5,000, covering website setup, online and traditional advertising, signage, and promotional materials.

Business registration: Depending on your chosen business structure, the cost of registering your business can range from $50 to $500.

Software: Budget about $100 to $500 for software, including scheduling, invoicing, and other operational software.

Last, it’s wise to have three to six months’ worth of operating expenses on hand before starting. These funds act as a safety net and can help cover unexpected costs or slower-than-expected initial growth.

How much can a windshield repair business owner make?

Profitability in a windshield repair business can depend on several factors, including the volume of customers, pricing strategy, and operating costs. Here’s a rough estimate for better understanding:

The average cost for windshield repair ranges from $50 to $100 per job. If a business completes an average of five repairs a day, five days a week, the revenue could be about $62,500 to $125,000 per year (5 repairs x $50-$100 per repair x 5 days x 50 weeks).

Expenses vary greatly depending on whether the business is mobile or based in a fixed location. Costs include equipment and supplies, vehicle maintenance (or shop rental), fuel, insurance, advertising, and employee salaries (if applicable). For a mobile business, operating costs typically average around 20-30% of the revenue, which would amount to $12,500 to $37,500 using the revenue numbers above.

Subtracting these expenses from the annual revenue gives a rough profit estimate. So, if a business makes $125,000 in revenue and has $37,500 in expenses, the potential annual profit could be $87,500.

However, keep in mind these are rough estimates. Actual profits can vary due to local market conditions, efficiency of operations, and the business owner’s ability to effectively manage costs and attract customers. It’s also important to remember that these figures don’t include taxes, which will also affect net profit.

What skills are needed to run a windshield repair business?

While a windshield repair business owner doesn’t need to have a business degree, certain skills, and experiences can help make that business a success.

Automobile knowledge: General knowledge of automobiles is helpful in this industry. Awareness of current automobile glass technology trends can also help a business owner keep their training and service offerings up to date.

Experience with glass repair: A business owner who has experience in automobile glass repair will understand the challenges of this job.

Physical strength: Windshield repair technicians need to be physically strong, and they’ll need to be able to repeatedly lift and position windshields by themselves.

Networking talents: A business owner who is a skilled networker will be able to capitalize on relationships with auto insurance companies, local garages, and mechanics, potentially driving customer referrals and building the repair business’ customer base.

Customer service skills: Good phone and customer service skills can help a business owner to make a great first impression. Arriving at appointments on time is also important to building the business’s reputation.

Attention to detail: A business owner needs to do quality work, both for the customer’s safety and for the windshield repair business’s reputation.

What is the NAICS code for a windshield repair business?

The NAICS code for a windshield repair business is 811122.

The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.

Related: What is a NAICS code?

Resources:
Independent Glass Association
National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA)

Author

  • Greg Bouhl

    With over two decades as an entrepreneur, educator, and business advisor, Greg Bouhl has worked with over 2,000 entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses. Fed up with clients finding and acting on inaccurate and outdated information online, Greg launched StartUp101.com to be a trusted resource for people starting a business.

How To Start A Windshield Repair Business In 2023

How To Start A Windshield Repair Business In 2023

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