The Evolution of Auto Glass Installation
Since I started my career in the auto glass business, I have seen some serious changes over the years. Some of them we might label as good and others as bad. However, what do those definitions really mean?
Consider the word “good.” Is it good for profits? Is it good for the technician? Is it good for the consumer? Or, is it good for the industry? Over the years, I have had many a debate with others in our industry on these issues but have never come to a consensus of what is good for all concerned. What might be good for profits, may not be good for the technician. What might be good for the technician, may not be good for the consumer. And so on.
Like any industry, when new vehicles are introduced, problems are identified and solutions are found. Unfortunately, the solutions may very well satisfy one problem but cause another problem somewhere else. Rarely do the problem solvers take into consideration all of the aspects involved with the big picture. Their only duty is to solve the problem presented.
Case in point, recalibration. Who would have foreseen this issue coming ten years ago? Yes, we saw technology progressing. But could we see that those of us in the aftermarket would need to be involved with the tools, software and expertise necessary to recalibrate an entire vehicle after glass replacement? I didn’t.
When asked to estimate the cost of tools for auto glass replacement by my clients, I could estimate the hand tools, the power tools and specialty tools and come up with a price at retail of about $2,000 to $3,000. Now, with the necessity for recalibration, you may spend five or six times that amount. When asked to estimate the cost of starting an auto glass business, I was able to estimate the cost of a “bricks and mortar” business to be around a $10,000 to $20,000 to begin business, day one. Today, you must consider the infrastructure of the building and size of the service bays to have level floors and thirty feet in front of the vehicle for recalibration. This could double or triple that startup investment.
Now that this technology is here, decisions are being made to deal with this new challenge. Owners are asking, “Will my technicians need additional training and learn new skills sets?” Will my current way of doing business need to be changed to accommodate the new demands of technology? What about the future? Will my investments in the current technology pay off, or will new upcoming systems make them obsolete?
None of us can see the future. We can only use our experience, research future trends and act on what is best for our immediate needs. Owning an auto glass business isn’t always easy. In the short term, at least, it has become even more difficult. Successful business owners have to be realists as well as fortune tellers. Embrace the changes caused by recalibration because this need is going to “cull the herd” so to speak. The need for a professional auto glass shop is greater than ever, and those who pay attention to what that means will come out on top.