Starting out...

Post your windshield repair tips, questions, advice! Note there is a sub-forum specifically for business development questions.
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RockstarRepairs
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Starting out...

Post by RockstarRepairs » June 25th, 2017, 5:00 pm

Hi all,
Couple things... first, I've been lurking around the forum for a while, but finally decided it was time to get myself registered. So thanks for all your posts and advice that I've already benefited from. My name is Sean, and it's good to meet you.

I'm working on getting started in windshield repair. I currently live in New Mexico (but I'm originally from Michigan, and I *may* be heading back there before too long... family stuff).

My questions for you are these:

1. How long did it take you to go full-time in WSR, and how doable do you think it is? I'm not in a position where I can leave my full-time job to do it, but I'd like to make WSR my primary income (and walk away from my full-time job) sooner rather than later. In real numbers for me, I'd like to be around $45-50k/yr to walk, but I might be inclined to go full-time WSR even at $30-35k, if I knew my biz was growing and headed in the right direction.

2. What are your thoughts on working in a cold weather state like Michigan? I don't know that it much matters, because if that move happens it'll be because of family and not WSR, but I'm curious about what I'd be getting myself into.

3. Along those lines, (and I've read many of your archived posts about options, so thank you!) what do you think is the best way to get going? Obviously Michigan isn't great for tents in the winter. New Mexico could do it year round. But the consensus I've seemed to see here is that you don't really suggest tent locations anyway? Better off to pursue dealerships, fleets, and some retail? For sake of reference, I'll be an entirely mobile operation.

Thanks in advance for all your help and thoughts. As I think of things, I know I'll be looking to you all for even more help.

Sean

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Re: Starting out...

Post by screenman » June 26th, 2017, 11:53 am

Hi Sean, 30 years ago I spent £4,000 on a franchise for windscreen repair, I turned that over and more in the first six weeks, so I would say if you are prepared to put the effort in the rewards are certainly there.

Not sure about your weather for that are as I live in the damp old UK.

No tents for me, fleets and dealers all the way. Seldom do a private job unless they bring it too me at my house, not enough money in it for me to travel for one off jobs.

The business is so cheap to get into and with proper training and a bit of effort then a good income is very possible, how self motivated are you?

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Brent Deines
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Re: Starting out...

Post by Brent Deines » June 28th, 2017, 3:41 pm

Like screenman I started out 30 years ago. I was in Montana then so the weather was probably not all that different than in Michigan. Not ideal in the winter but I made it work. The weather in New Mexico is great for the windshield repair business! I started part time but within a year quit driving buses and tow trucks to go full time. I started out doing fleet work and eventually rented a shop on a busy street to do insurance and walk in work. I think tents are a good option for many if the location and weather is right, but with fleets you have the advantage of low overhead and you are never sitting around hoping your next customer will show up. There is a lot of fleet business to be had if you are willing to make the cold calls to develop the clientele. Reliability, quality, and responsiveness are more important than price for most fleet managers. That doesn't mean they won't try to beat you up on price but if you answer your phone, do better work, and are more reliable than the competition, you will find work.

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Re: Starting out...

Post by RockstarRepairs » June 30th, 2017, 7:03 am

Thanks Screenman and Brent!

It definitely seems like fleet is a great way to go. Right now with working full-time, I really only have about 2 days a week available to me to do windshields (Friday and Saturday). Do you think fleet is still something that I could reasonably work that way, or do I need to consider a tent or something to start and transition into fleets as my schedule would (hopefully) begin to open up? It certainly seems like the issue with a tent location is the waiting, and really just not knowing if any business is coming. I'd sure hate to sit at a tent for 8 hours and not get a single job. That would be a waste of time.

Also on the subject of being full-time, how busy do you stay and how much time do you have available where you feel like you can take some time off? Of course if I stay in New Mexico I'll be needing to travel back and forth to Michigan. Even if I go back to Michigan I'll want/need to take time off here and there.

I think that covers everything. I actually started this post yesterday and am finally finishing it now. It's just been one of those weeks. Thanks again for your advice!

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Re: Starting out...

Post by Brent Deines » July 12th, 2017, 6:22 pm

Hey Rockstar, sorry for the late reply, I haven't been very good about keeping up with forum posts lately.

My opinion is that you can do fleets 2 days a week but there may be some fleets that will not work for. I had a number of fleets that I only worked on the weekends and they rarely if every called me with anything that needed to be done sooner than my regularly scheduled visit. However, I had other fleets that I checked on a regular basis but from time to time they called me and wanted me to get something done for them right away. Had I told them they would have to wait a few days I may have lost the account. Maybe. I had a pretty good relationship with most of my customers so it usually would not have been a problem but that is not the way I like to do business.

I can't tell you how busy you will stay, just too many variables to consider, but mostly it will depend on how hard you work to establish and keep good accounts. I stayed busy enough to be able to afford to take time off when I wanted to but when I was a one man show I hated to take time off. A good day for me was 10+ repairs so if I missed a week of those days I could be out over $3000 and of course when I take time off I tend to spend money as well so it can get pretty expensive. However, I do think it is important to take some time to enjoy the fruits of your labor so I took time off every year to do things with my family. Afterall, that is one of the reasons we all want to be self employed right? That gets a little easier if you have employees to cover your accounts when you take time off but managing employees is not for everyone and not for most of us when first getting started.
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