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Gaining Cash Flow from Glass Repair

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A Texas shop added glass repair work and quickly added to its $7 million in annual revenue.

SHOP STATS: Concho Collision and Auto Glass   Location: San Angelo, Texas.  Operator: Jim Osborn, Tom Smith  Average Monthly Car Count: 150  Staff Size: 35 (13 body technicians, 7 painters, 3 estimators, 2 blueprinters (one is production manager), 3 glass technicians, 2 CSRs/glass admin, 1 general manager)  Shop Size: 27,000 square feet; Annual Revenue;$7 million (not including glass repair)  

“We were already spending the money on someone to repair glass in-house,” notes Jim Osborn, owner of Concho Collision and Auto Glass.

Osborn was paying his glass vendor as much as he would be paying a full-time employee. That fact didn’t sit well with the Texas shop owner. So, he decided to make that person a permanent member of the collision repair shop’s team.

Concho Collision and Auto Glass is one of a small percentage of body shops performing in-house glass repairs and, thus, taking advantage of the additional revenue stream. 

“Probably just short of 20 percent of the Fix Auto network has put a glass shop in their body shop for example,” Stommel says. 

Before adding a new arm to the business to include glass repair work, Osborn’s shop was already raking in nearly $7 million in annual revenue. And, with the additional work, the San Angelo, Texas, facility brought in roughly $100,000 more. 

 

The Backstory

Osborn entered the industry in 2002. After spending the majority of his career on the insurance side of collision repair, he had built up a contact base from working on a major DRP partnership. When he switched to the other side of the collision repair industry, he took the connections he made with him.

Soon, Osborn made the same drive every day after work. He passed by a dealership on his way home. Eventually, he noticed a “For Rent” sign in front of the dealership. Inspired, he teamed up with some of his insurance contacts and formed Concho Collision. Then, in 2004, he moved to the shop’s current location after buying a new facility.

Over time, the body shop became the busiest and the biggest one in town.

“People naturally gravitated over here to bring their cars,” he says.

 

The Problem

Osborn and his partners quickly saw that the shop was spending tons of time subletting glass repair work.  In fact, the team was spending as much as $4,000 some months on an outside glass vendor. 

And, at the same time, Osborn was having trouble getting his glass vendors to perform work and service his accounts like he needed. The shop went through three different vendors before deciding to bring someone into the shop permanently. 

The vendors were busy themselves, and had trouble coming to the shop for same-day glass repairs. As a result, customers at the body shop often had to wait an extra day or more before they could pick up their vehicles.

 

The Solution

Osborn sat down with one of the vendor techs servicing the shop and started pitching the idea to bring him into the shop permanently. In 2018, that hire was made official.

Roughly one year ago, Osborn and his team opened a new, 2,400-square-foot glass repair facility. They purchased an empty lot across the street from the collision repair shop. They rebranded the facility Concho Collision and Auto Glass. The staff made sure to include Auto Glass on its Google My Business page and Facebook page. The name-change process took a month to complete. 

“We decided at first to hire a full-time glass repair technician to work here just to remove windshields or install new glass,” Osborn says. “Then, because he was bringing in a lot of work, we decided to go into the glass sales side of the business.”

The team found another glass repair tech at a glass shop that folded in August 2018 and hired another one that works as an apprentice to form a team of three. 

The new glass repair area gets roughly 40 jobs per month. In addition to the physical, non-moving location, the team also implemented two mobile glass repair vans so they could work for other businesses outside the area, like other collision repair shops not considered competition,  and capture more fleet work. Fleet accounts typically want glass repair work to be done at their own maintenance garage.

Shortly after adding the glass repair business, the Texas shop was not getting a lot of walk-in business, prompting the addition of the glass repair vans. They then branched out to capture the work from the part of town that included a large oil market. The motivation was simple: the more windshields they sold, the more money they made and, in turn, the more they built their base of glass repair customers. 

The shop sells about 3–4 windshields per day.

“We do service a couple shops located outside our area if they don’t consider us competition,” Osborn says.

The team also reached out to a wholesale glass vendor and decided to purchase that type of glass to start making glass sales to the general public.

 

Expert Advice: What You Need to Know About Adding Glass Repair

Noah Stommel, franchise development director for NOVUS Glass, a windshield glass repair franchise, answers a few common questions shop owners ask before incorporating glass repair.

How much do I invest?

Shops could launch into a full-functioning glass repair shop for around $50,000 to $60,000. The big expenses will include adding a mobile vehicle if the shop wants to create an additional revenue stream. The other big expense will be training, tools, marketing, sales support and fleet relationships.

 

How many people do I hire?

NOVUS can train a collision employee to do glass repair work, so at minimum zero. But, it’s best to start with one employee that is trained in the auto glass repair business and then grow the glass repair business to the point of needing extra employees.

 

How long does this process take?

If the shop has no glass repair background, companies like NOVUS provide one month of training.

 

 

 

The Aftermath

Since opening the new glass repair facility, Osborn says the shop’s cycle time has been reduced by half a day.

The team gained a return on investment of the new facility within three months of opening it, and brought in roughly $150,000 of glass repair work.

“We can generally convince customers for the most part to have extra glass repair work done,” Marcus Osborn says. 

 

The Takeaway

By working hand-in-hand, the team at the body shop and the team at the glass repair business can work to coordinate their strengths and similarities to put the customer back into a safe car.

For instance, most people coming through the door in the glass shop don’t care about the safety of the repair and having their car undergo diagnostic scans. But, since the body shop has a team that’s thoroughly trained in collision repair, the two teams can work together to convince the customer to get a scan of the vehicle after the glass is repaired. 

The teams will send customers to dealerships that will then perform the scans and re-calibrate the vehicle.

 

How to form dealership relationships

Noah Stommel, franchise development director for NOVUS Glass, shares steps that collision repair shops can take to form relationships with dealers. Here are a few steps to take if the collision repair shop chooses not to invest in calibration equipment in-house and wants to sublet that work to dealerships.

Step 1: Form relationships with multiple dealerships, because they will only calibrate their own model of vehicle. 

Step 2: Find someone who won’t require you to use OEM glass. OE-equivalent glass is sufficient for a forward-facing camera to calibrate, but some dealerships won’t try at all without OEM glass.

Step 3: If the collision repair shop has the space and does glass repair work in-house and not mobile, purchase the necessary equipment to calibrate in the shop.

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