Building Your Retail Windshield Repair Business

Post your windshield repair tips, questions, advice! Note there is a sub-forum specifically for business development questions.
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Coitster
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Building Your Retail Windshield Repair Business

Post by Coitster » October 8th, 2003, 9:55 pm

Hey everyone,
I wanted to start this post because I know their are a lot of people out there who either want to learn how to get retail business (which is the most profitable per job) or already have lots of retail business and would be willing to share what they know to help other out. BTW this will be kind of a long posting so I can say everything. This kinda lays it all on the table so if you live in Dallas don't read this. LOL just kidding.

This is a topic that I personaly like a lot. In my 11 years in this business I have concentrated on nothing but retail business. I have never really spent any segnificant time trying to build any fleet business or stuff like that. I have always concentrated on retail and developing a client customer based business. I am also really interested in finding out what other ways people out their have developed business from.

I break down retail business into a couple of catigories.
1st People that already know me or I have done business for before and want to do it again (Referral business).
2nd People that don't know me and are curious about windshield repair "especialy for FREE with their insurance".
3rd People that like the idea but are a little busy now and want to know if I can do it later or want to call me back when they have decided that they will do it.
4th People that aren't interested in getting it done at all now because they don't have time to think about it, but at some point down the road may be in a better position to talk to me.

These are some of the things that I do personaly that work for me, they may not work for you, but this is my 2 cents. Special Note: Some of this takes a lot of work. Their is a lot of follow-up work involved, don't expect your phone to ring off of the hook. Lets face it, windshield repair is not the first thing on everyones mind. We offer a great service but chips are just something most people don't get around to until it's too late and they have to replace a windshield. At that point we are pretty much out of luck because then you don't make any money.

I will start with #1 People that already know me or I have done business for before and want to do it again (Referral business). This is by far the easyest kind of person to sell. You have already done a chip for them and they know what to expect, they call you up and are ready to go. Oh if all my jobs where this easy. How do you get to this point, well you have to impress your client with a quality chip repair and a great attidude. What I do after every repair is when I get home I send them a new client package. All it costs me is postage, .32 cents. The best money you will ever spend. In my package comes a few things. I send them a thank you letter that is personalized to them, not just a blanket letter to whom it may concern. Make it personal, reffer to a few things that you may of had a conversation with them about. That will knock the socks off of them, I also send them a lifetime customer care card. This is really important I want them to think of me whenever they have a problem again or if one of their friends have one. It's basicly a business card made up on microsoft word that says they are a lifetime customer of my comany and they are entitled to "Preffered Discounts". I put their name on it, and then laminate it. If it was an insurance job, I write down all the drivers on the policy and send a card with each ones name on them, seperate cards of course. It has my name and phone number on it. I also send a refferal coupon packet, it has 5 small coupon for their friends. It entitles them to a FREE windshield repair with insurance and a $5.00 dollar refferal fee to the person who gave them the couple. It doesn't say that on the coupon but it says it in the letter to the customer so that they will give it too their friends who they know that have glass damage. Works both for repairs or replacements ( I reffer the customer to a replacement company and make a commission). So they get a thank you letter, lifetime customer card and 5 coupons to give to their friends. Trust me guys I do get repeat business, I guarantee you not 1 person in business in 500 do this stuff. Yea everyone knows to send a thank you card, but most don't. I take it a step further. Thats another reason you need to get a contact management software program. Ok enough of this topic.

The second thing is people that don't know me and are curious about windshield repair "especialy for FREE with their insurance". This is your standard customer. I wish all could come from refferals bet lets face it you have to build your business. Lets get customers, now their are lots of ways to do this. I have tried a lot of them. I have set up tents on the side of the road which works very well as long as the city lets you stay there, which mine won't. I have don't B to B (Business to Business). I have handed out business cards, tried flyers (those don't work). You name it, I have probably tried it. What works for me is a few things. 1st thing I do is I don't just go into a business and hand them a card. Some people do, and it will work for you only if you do a lot of walking. Besides some people get nervous about just walking in. What I do is first before I walk into a business I want to walk in for a reason. I walk the parking lot outside of a small complex where I know the vehicle parked out front is owned by someone inside. It would be a small company where everyone know's what everyone drives. I find which cars in the lot have chips in them and then I walk in and enquire as to who owns that paticular vehicle. I usualy start the conversation out like this. Hi there, I was wondering if you could help me out for a second..... (Sure, or I'll try). Can you tell me who own's that (points to car) car or truck right their? They usually say yea, thats my managers or thats mine.. whats wrong. I respond with the reason I ask is I was next door fixing a chip in someone windshield and I noticed that you also had one in your vehicle, and since I was out here already I was just curious if you wanted to get that fixed. It's usualy FREE. Thats it guys, if they are interested they will start asking you questions. PLEASE don't let questions scare you because if they ask one THEY ARE INTERESTED. Granted you might have to do a little selling or explaining how the service works, but thats the easy part. This is one of the techniques that I use, not the only one, but this one works very well.

The 3rd thing I run into is 'people that like the idea but are a little busy now and want to know if I can do it later or want to call me back when they have decided that they will do it'. Now when you talk to people about getting their chip fixed you are going to find that a lot of people like the idea but they are really busy they just can't break away now, or they want to confirm with their insurance as to what you just told them or they want to talk it over with someone, or they just don't want to make a desicion on the spot. They want to think about it. Hey thats fine, nothing wrong with that it happens, but what do you do about it. Do you just hand them a business card and wait for them to call you back. Sadly this is what most people do. They think someone is interested, sure why wouldn't they call me back, they said they where going to call their insurance, I mean come on, who wouldn't want something for FREE. Let me tell you something. It's my experiance that people are lazy, forgetfull, and procrastinators. Granted their are exceptions to this, but by far the majority of people 99.99999999999% of them will never call you back. I do not carry any business cards on me at all (thats just a reason for them to put me on their too do list that never gets done). I don't not leave it in the customers hands..... no good marketeer would ever do that. I tell them sorry I didn't bring any with me today. Tell you what, let me get your card from you and I will fax you a flyer with my phone number on it so that if you want to get it done you can call me (that is a very non-threatening and low key approach). I am almost never turned down. BTW this also works in those situations where the person isn't in, they are gone, or they can't come to the front, or you have a nasty secretary that is in a bad mood, or worst yet, you give them your whole 1 minute pitch and they walk into the back and say some guy is up front asking to fix their windshield. Do they want it done (notice that they didn't tell them a thing you told them to say). Don't waist your time guys, get their card, name and let them know you will fax a flyer. What I do is go home, fax them my flyer (because remember you got permission to) and most importantly I fax them a 3 to 4 page sales letter that goes into great detail on my service. Remember you letter is you in print and you have to sell yourself. You may think sales letters don't work....WRONG they do. Now I have their card, I call them up the next day, tell them who I am, and ask the if they got my fax....Low key of course. If they are interested they will talk to you, if not no big deal. Guys I close a ton of deals this way. I don't mean 1 or 2 a week. I mean 15 to 20 a week just with this technique. Again don't wait for them to call you, THEY WON'T.

Lastly the 4th thing is people that aren't interested in getting it done at all now because they don't have time to think about it, but at some point down the road may be in a better position to talk to me. This is the group that you aren't going to get a lot out of them but they do work for rainy days. Like the last part I get the card and I fax them my letter and flyer. If that doesn't get anywhere then what I do is mail them to their office a card offering a free chip repair, not even billed to their insurance company if they by chance know of someone who has one. If they reffer me to someone great, if not who cares. Worth a shot, no loss to me.

In a nutshell thats what I do most of the time. I am really curious what other's do to get business. I also do cold calling on rainy days (Only rainy days to businesses), and a few other things I have mentioned on the forum. Doing this my average day is ranges between $250 minium to $400 dollars in volume. Special point here, I don't work 5 days a week. I typicaly only work 3 days a week and make a good income. If you have any questions on this please ask me. Let me know what you all are doing..... please....thanks.
David
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Fleet accounts

Post by Repair1 » October 8th, 2003, 10:13 pm

GREAT POST!!!!

gaf
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windshield replacement

Post by gaf » October 9th, 2003, 1:10 pm

Those are some really great ideas. so let me get this right you do between 250 and 400 a day with this approach. And you don't do any fleet or dealer accounts. how big of an area do you have to cover to do this kind of retail volume?

Coitster
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???

Post by Coitster » October 9th, 2003, 1:22 pm

Hey Gaf,
I live in Dallas Texas, big area. In order for this kind of thing to work well you need to live in an area of 150,000 plus people. I used to this in Spokane Washington. Thats where I developed it.
David
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Post by Coitster » October 9th, 2003, 4:53 pm

The whole point is that anywhere you see cars their is a potential to get chip repairs. Just don't be afraid to approach a complete stranger. I do stay away from a few places, like Grocery Stors, Hospitals, schools and government buildings. Basicly anywhere that has cars has lots of potential customers. Also its not hard to sell someone a chip repair when you let them know that it's free and that you are going to call their insurance before you do the work so that they can verify it also and reconfirm everything you just said. I think selling chip repair is the easyest thing I have ever done. The problem is that its so easy that a person can tend to get super lazy doing it. :lol:
David
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I wont

Post by gaf » October 9th, 2003, 10:35 pm

I live about 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh so those ideas should work for me too. thanks for the good advice.

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Business Cards @ a good price

Post by desertstars » October 10th, 2003, 10:29 am

Follow through, follow through, follow through.

Extra effort.

Dedication.

Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.

Actually, David, you work more than three days per week.

When you aren't actually performing a repair, you're laying the groundwork for one.

A robust business is like a garden. One needs to till the land and sow the seeds. Water and eradicate the weeds.

Only then will one be able to put fresh vegetables on the table.

I hope that you get as many good ideas from this forum as you contribute.

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business ideas

Post by desertstars » October 10th, 2003, 10:58 am

P.S.

David is correct. Not only are windshield passouts not worth the effort, they leave you open to someone claiming that you either broke their windshield, their windshield wiper, or scratched their vehicle.

Secondly, remember to plant more seeds while you are on a job in a residential area. If you see a neighbor, walk over and talk to him/her and tell him/her what you are doing. They're curious to begin with. Many times, they have a chip (usually low) they aren't even aware of.

Sometimes they are aware but it's on the "other" car. Get their number and tell them you will call them that evening. They are more inclined to talk to you because they already "know" you.

My best record so far is five jobs that spun from the first without having to come back for any of them. The original customer even called a relative who drove about five miles for the repair.

Many times, I've done two or three but five is still my record.

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Post by gold star wsr » October 10th, 2003, 11:09 pm

There is a 5th category of people: Those who will not believe that windshield repair really works. Either they have had a bad experience with wsr at some time in the past, or they refuse to accept the fact that windshield repair and science have merged and that even hard-core insurance companies will indeed waive the deductible. Unfortunately, these people tend to be the most vocal, especially when a potential sale is about to be consumated ... as if they are on a personal mission to 'save' strangers from the conningness of windshield repair charletons. The up side of this is that if you can manage to convert this person, s/he will then usually become at least a vocal on your behalf! How does one deal with this type of person? I offer to repair their windshield for free (really free... not the insurance pays kind of free)... pointing out that they have nothing to lose, since the windshield is doomed to crack out anyway if its not repaired. You may be thinking "Give away repairs, are you nuts?" ... no... when the person sees the finished repair and then lives with it, with it being hardly noticable, and not cracking, s/he can hardly bad-mouth repair any more, since their own windshiield serves a evidence that it does work, and most often will say so whenever the opportunity arises.

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fleet business

Post by Coitster » October 11th, 2003, 1:01 pm

Hey everyone,
When trying to put together a marketing plan or just going by the seat of your pants in marketing your business there are always lots of things you can do. I personaly recommend that you all go out and buy a book by a guy name Jay Conrad Levinson "Guerrilla Marketing Weapons : 100 Affordable Marketing Methods For Maximizing Profits From Your Small Business". Great books has lots of idea's. To give and idea oh some of the different things you can do, here is a list of the topics on the book, and if anyone wants to comment on any of them please do.

1. Weapons from the outset: Name, Niche, Quality, Color, Logo, Theme, Location, Research Studies, Distribution, Marketing Plan, Identity, Pricing, Selection, Customer Mailing List.

2. Weapons not recognized as part of marketing: Pachage, Business Cards, Stationery, Order Form/Invoice, Inserts, Contests & Sweepstakes, Roadside Stands, Gift Baskets, Audiovisual Aids, Audiotapes & Videotapes, Marketing on Phone Hold, Decor, Attire, Ad Specialties and Gifts, Matchbooks, Music.

3. Weapons that begin with attitudes: Phone Demeanor, Neatness, Smiles, Speed, Service, Follow-up, Contact time with the customers, how you say hello and goodbye, Publicity Contacts, Brand-Name awareness, Enthusiasm, Competitivnesness.

4. Weapons Overlooked by NonGuerrillas: Community Involvement, Take-One Boxes, Window Displays, Club and Association memberships, Team Sponcerships, Reprints of Ads and Publicity, Sales Training, Circulars, Refreshments, Books and Articles, Courses and Lectures, Gift Certificates, Testimonials, Tie-ins with others, Column in a publication, Newsletters, Classified Ads, Posters

5. Weapons That Make You Eay To Buy From: Hours of Operation, Days of Operation, Credit Card Accepted, Availablity of Financing, Catalog, Samples, Toll-free Phone Numbers, Credibility, Satisfied Customers

6. Weapons That Are Frequently Misused: Outside Signs, Word-Of-Mouth, Brochures, Yellow Pages, Public Relations, Telemarketing Scripts, Access to Co-op Funds, Access to Marketing Materials

7. Weapons That Produce Instant Results: Inside Signs, Trade Show Displays, Fairs and Flea Markets, Special Events, Searchlights and Blimps, Seminars and Workshops, Merchandise Dispalys, Demonstrations, Consultations, Sales Presentations, Direct-Mail Letters, direct-Mail Postcards, Postcard Decks, Booths for Malls, Doorhangers, Sales Representatives

8. Weapons That Have Extra Firepower: Advertising, Reputation, Newspapers Ads, Magazine Ads, Radio Commenrcials, TV Commercials, Outdoor Billboards

9. A Strategy For Using The Weapons: The Weapons, The Priorities, The People, The Timing

This is a list of the chapters in the book. I put this in here because this is one of my more favorite books on marketing, and not everyone will apply to our industry. I would like to see us brainstorm on new idea's to add to our arsinal of weapons to use in marketing, or work on existing idea's and make them better. What do you all think.
David
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