by Bob Beranek
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I think that it goes without saying that shop installations are better than mobile installations for a number of reasons. However, many feel that mobile installations are a necessary evil because mobile service is a luxury expected by our customers. That expectation can be changed if handled correctly. It has been done in the backyard of some of the biggest national players in the industry.

First, I would like to discuss the benefits and the drawbacks of mobile versus shop installs. I’ll list benefits first and then the drawbacks. Add them up for yourself.

Mobile Installations:

  1. Benefit – Customer convenience is by far the best benefit when it comes to mobile installs. The customer can go about their day and the mobile technician can go where the vehicle is. This is a big selling point.
  2. Benefit – Your truck is a rolling billboard that tells the world who you are, what you do and where to get what you sell. Take advantage of your mobile truck by displaying your telephone number and/or website prominently on its side, entering it in local parades, driving different routes to expose it to different possible customers and keeping it clean and well maintained to show professionalism.

Now the drawbacks:

  1. Drawback – Outfitting a mobile unit is very expensive. Go ahead and add up the cost and expenses; truck, fuel, insurance, special tools, power source, maintenance and finding a tech with a good driving record. These things add up and to make things worse, you cannot charge extra for the service. If there is a callback and you have to go out and fix a problem for no cost, then the loss is even greater.
  2. Drawback – Every time the driver does something wrong like drive erratically or offensively, it reflects on you and your business.
  3. Drawback – Mobile installations are susceptible to adverse weather conditions that can cause installation backups and missed appointments that can upset customers.
  4. Drawback – Contamination is a condition that must be addressed. Flying around in the air is debris that will not be conducive to a safe and contaminate free installation, so care must be taken to eliminate as much as possible.
  5. Drawback – The number of installations in a day are reduced due to traffic, weather, time constraints and unforeseen circumstances.
  6. Drawback – Productivity will suffer unless very good routing practices and tools are used. GPS tracking, appointment setters and email reminders will have to be implemented to assure timely and productive scheduling.

Shop Installations:

  1. Benefit– A “bricks and mortar” building gives the customer a sense of stability and legitimacy. It gives them a place to go when things go wrong, questions need answering or more glass breakage needs fixing.
  2. Big benefit – Controlled conditions mean less contaminants interfering with the installation safety, weather conditions are not a concern, scheduling can be easily managed, more paid work can be done in less time, tools can be shared for less cost, there is usually help available for setting large or difficult windshields and there can be more eyes, ears and experience to solve problems.
  3. Benefit – Management oversight is another big benefit that can mean higher quality and more productive work. When a technician leaves the building he is almost completely self-managed. Your businesses success is dependent on how that technician handles himself with customers, the fellow citizens he encounters and how he does his work in the field.

Drawbacks:

The overhead involved with buying a building or paying rent—keeping the lights on.

The features and benefits of mobile versus shop are undeniable, but how can I change my market? I have been saying forever that the customer calls the glass shop for information, not a price quote. Sure, the first thing they ask for is a price quote, but that is a question that everyone asks when they don’t know what else to ask. You have to give them a reason to ask questions and begin the conversation. Once the Q & A turns to safety and they ask what is better, “mobile or shop installation”, the answer is obvious. Believe me when I say, you will be surprised how many would rather bring it to the shop for installation instead of mobile when given the chance to choose. I am not saying that you completely give up mobile service. Only reduce the percentage of business and get the majority on the shop side rather than the mobile side. It can be done.