If you’re thinking about starting an auto glass shop, there is a lot of profit potential. The annual market for auto glass replacement services in the U.S. is expected to exceed $8 billion by 2025. And, with its relatively low start-up and recurring costs, starting an auto glass shop can reap big rewards.
If you’re wondering how to start an auto glass shop, then look no further. This guide will walk you through the key steps, so you can launch your business—and make it a success.
STEP 1: Do Auto Glass Market Research for Your Shop
As you likely already know, auto windshield repair services involve the replacement, repair, and tint of a vehicle’s glass. But before you can start your auto glass shop, you need to have a full understanding of the market you’re getting into. That means you need to gather as much information as possible to validate the market and your business idea. Your goal is to understand the supply and demand of the market, your competition, and potential customers.
The number of cars on the road, the number of collisions, and your potential customers’ disposable income will affect demand. You’re also going to want to think about the average age of vehicles. That’s because older vehicles are more likely to need repair and reconditioning than newer ones, which means more business for you.
If you’re looking for a framework for your research, a SWOT analysis can be a good way of assessing the market. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. If you have any questions about how to start an auto glass shop, a SWOT analysis will help you find answers:
What financial resources do you have to start an auto glass business?
Do you have a large pool of potential customers (i.e. car owners) in your area?
Do you have knowledge of the market and its potential?
What makes you different from your competitors?
What internal resources do you have? (This could be your staff, the technology you use, etc.)
Where are you limited in resources?
Are there other auto glass shops offering similar products and services?
What could your competitors do better than you?
Are there additional cars on the road and therefore an increased need for your services?
Is there a decline in new car sales?
Are more people driving older vehicles?
Is there a need for an auto glass repair business in your area?
Do you have little competition in your area?
Do your potential customers have higher disposable income and therefore more likely to act quickly on non-essential glass repair services?
Do your potential customers have an increased disposable income meaning more new cars with better safety features?
Do you have new competitors in your area?
Will regulations change in your industry?
STEP 2: Write a Business Plan for Your Auto Glass Shop
Once you understand the market, the first step in making your auto glass shop successful is writing a business plan. Statistically you’re 2.5-times more likely to actually start your business after you write a business plan.
A well thought out, one-page business plan helps you organize all of the ideas and mitigate any potential pitfalls. It can also help you to secure funding.
Here are the key points your business plan for your auto glass shop should cover:
- A mission statement describing the main focus of your auto glass shop
- Information including your registered name, address of any physical locations, and names of key people involved in the business
- An objective statement that explains your goals and vision for your auto glass shop
- A business strategy that goes into detail of how you plan to achieve your goals
- Your business and management structure that outlines key employees, managers, and other owners of the business, including their percentage ownership and their involvement in the company
- A plan of how you will package your auto glass repair services and how you will set pricing
- An outline of the potential customers you will target, their pain points, and how your business can help solve them
- A definition of your unique value and what differentiates you from your competitors
- A marketing and sales plan, including messaging on why your services are worth buying and what channels will you use to promote your business
- A financial plan, including your revenue goals, start-up investment, and growth opportunities
For an in-depth step-by-step guide to writing a business plan, read our article and find a template.
STEP 3: Decide Your Budget and Source Funding
With your business plan as a guide, you should have a good idea of how much funding you need to start your auto glass shop. It’s important to commit to a budget at the start, so that you remain in control of your finances. You should budget for initial start-up costs, such as licenses and permits, legal fees, insurance, tools, business software, branding, and inventory. It’s also advisable to think about the other expenses you may incur in the first year. This would include your monthly rent, utilities, marketing, and salaries (including your own).
Keep in mind that the start-up costs for a mobile auto glass repair business will be less than a brick-and-mortar location. This should certainly be taken into consideration when setting your budget.
Once you know how much is required, you then need to source funding. You may be able to self-fund or you may have to take out a loan. Thankfully, there are lots of resources to help you fund your new business venture if you need it. The U.S. Small Business Association has a helpful guide on funding a small business.
STEP 4: Apply for Licenses and Permits
To start a business, including an auto glass shop, you need to apply for certain licenses and permits, which will vary depending on your location.
Your business can be set up as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company (LLC), or a corporation. If you’re not sure which structure would be best for your business, you can get help. Contact a CPA or your local state secretary’s office.
By establishing your business as an LLC, you limit your personal liability for business debt. For most states it involves filling out some paperwork. As an LLC business owner, your home, personal bank account, and other personal assets are protected.
You should also obtain tax IDs for federal and state taxes. To do this, you will need to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). It’s free and easy, but if you need help, this checklist on the IRS website is a useful resource.
If you plan to open your auto glass shop at a physical location, you’ll need a Certificate of Occupancy. This confirms that your business meets building codes, zoning laws, and government regulations in your area.
STEP 5: Register Your Business and Website Domain Name
Before you finalize your business name, you want to make sure that it’s not already in use or trademarked. If you’re a sole proprietor, then you need to register your business name with the county clerk. For LLCs, limited partnerships, or corporations, your name will be registered when you file your paperwork.
The next step is finding a website domain name that works for your auto glass shop and registering that as well. That way, no one else can take it.
STEP 6: Hire Your Team
A team is not essential to starting your auto glass shop and there are many one-person car glass repair businesses out there. However, even if you do plan to work alone, it’s always helpful to have a support network. This could be a mentor, business coach, or family members. Starting a business can be challenging, so there’ll be moments you need someone to lean on for advice or ideas.
If you will be hiring a team, now is the time to think about what that will look like. Which positions are you looking to fill? You’ll also need to decide whether employees or contractors will make the most sense for your business. Contractors are a less risky option if you need more financial flexibility. But a contractor will afford you less control than an employee and could be more expensive long term.
Before you start searching for contractors, make sure you have an independent contractor agreement first. If you’re hiring employees, the Small Business Administration has a useful employee hiring guide.
STEP 7: Open a Business Bank Account and Credit Card
Starting your own auto glass shop may be a personal goal, but the financial aspects of your new venture should remain strictly business. By opening a business bank account and credit card, you protect your personal assets should anything not go to plan. It’s also a lot easier to manage your business finances, when it’s separate from your personal spending.
STEP 8: Invest in Auto Glass Shop Repair Tools and Business Software
As a car window repair shop, you should factor in tools and business software as part of your initial investment. The most basic auto glass repair tool kit will cost around $300. For premium auto glass removal kits, you’re looking at closer to $2,500.
The right software will ensure greater efficiency, higher revenues, and make you look more professional. Look for a software, like Mobile Tech RX, that is designed with auto recon professionals in mind. It’s also beneficial to find one that is integrated with an accounting software like QuickBooks, so you can manage your finances in addition to the other features.
Make your auto glass business work for you.
Try the #1 auto glass business app for free. Make more money, save time, and look more professional.
STEP 9: Promote Your Business
After all the hard work you put into starting your business, the final step once you’ve opened your doors is promoting it. Getting customers into your auto glass shop is key to your success. At a minimum\, you’re going to want to build your online presence with a website and some social media accounts. You can then work on building and improving that over time with customer reviews, etc.
Don’t be afraid to try a few tactics at the beginning before deciding which ones work best for your business. It’s also worth recognizing that you may have to spend more at the beginning to get the word out. But by having a marketing plan from the start, you’ll ensure you’re not wasting valuable dollars.
STEP 10: Get Started on Your Auto Glass Shop Today!
No one said starting an auto glass shop was easy, but it’s worth it. By investing your time and effort at the beginning, you’re going to set yourself up for success!
Mobile Tech RX is the country’s number one business management tool for auto glass professionals. To make more money and grow your auto glass business, try it now for free.