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I know this is a big question,but is there good money in flat glass,mirror,insulated units?Is it controlled by networks like autoglass?What are the ups and downs?The reason I am asking is because I might have an option to buy a flat glass buisness in my town,I never went that way because we always respected eachothers space.But I am thinking it would be smart to have both in one place.We are the only two glass shops n town,small town though(3000 pop).Thanks guys!!!
We do autoglass, flatglass, and screens. For us it is good business and nice to have the diversity in work. We are a small family owned business and find comfort in not having to rely on just one type of glass work to keep us a float. A lot of our flatglass and screen work comes from property management companies and apartment complexes, so there is always work for us to do. You may want to check with the business you are thinking of buying and see if they have any accounts all ready set up to do flatglass work for. Another thing to check out is the material cost on flatglass, it is pretty cheap. Our material costs for a standard broken window is less than $5. Good luck.
Networkss in flat have been tried at least three times that I remember. No dice. It seems flat guys ('n gals, sorry ladies) aren't gullible enough to fall for promises of extra biz by turning your customers over to someone else at a call center.
One thing, a town of 3000 with two glass shops is odd. One (successfull) shop to 7000 pop with surrounding rural pop is the least I've seen, so if you are buying the other biz in town, it should be an inexpensive purchase. The blue sky just has to be small. I am guessing that is not the case or you wouldn't be worried about stepping on their toes, so I suggest you consider going it from scratch.
You can go into flat on your own with a small expense and expand on equipment and tools as you go. You decide what jobs to do, what rates to charge, what profit to make. Your market will react to you for the quality and service and value you provide for the dollar you charge. If you are mobile only, you will want a shop, even if a small one. I just can't imagine doing flat mobile only...total nightmare. And anyone that comes in from more than thirty miles out from their shop cannot underbid you and be profitable at it. (neither can mobile glass, but flat glass people seem to be smarter about 'mobile', we call it 'MILEAGE'.) If out of towners come in, it's because you fail your customers with quality or service, or you chose not to do the job for other reasons, like profit, so let the other guys have it.
When I started several decades ago, I did it with $10K, built my own trucks, tables, storage, some tools, and went to work. I had experience. I now still build my own trucks, tables, storage and some tools, because I cna't buy what I want many times. I still think it can be done in a small market very comfortably with $10K now, especially since you have your biz structure in place now with auto only, so that expense isn't there, meaning more money for, say, a flat glass truck. Oh, and yes, the $10K includes a basic, though small, start-up inventory.
Services are wide open, glass, screens, windows, hardware, fabrication, furniture tops, equipment glass, weatherstrips and moldings (for flat stuff, not auto), shower enclosures, porch enclosures, storm windows and doors, commercial storefront doors and entries, repairs and maintenance on commercial entries and fronts, and on and on and on.....you decide what to offer as you explore your market.
Flat is 55% of our gross sales, yet only 2% of cash flow headaches. What does that say? It screams at me daily that consumers are willing to pay bills, and insurance companies and networks aren't.
What more could you ask? (ok you could ask to win the lottery with a cold brew in hand...but let's stay on topic. lol lol)
OH OH OH.....I forgot the BEST PART!!! (other than no networks..) NO NAGS!!!!!!! They tried flat once too, but, same as above.
Say, did you consider a merger with that other shop in town? He gains an experienced auto partner, you an experience flat partner. Could be worth a look? Then the two of you could expand quickly into surrounding areas.
One last thing, you think Diamond is going flat for the fun of it? They're lookin' fer cash flow, baby!
Thanks for the replys.The guy that owns the biz is retiring and wants to give it to family,it seems his family is not so intrested.He is a highly respected man in town and almost everybody knows him,it would be a mistake to start up somthing without being involved with him somehow.I would loose alot of agents if I did that.I do have a shop already but I would need to get a bigger one if I did this.Also I would have to hire a glazier because I am packed full with the auto year round.I have alot to learn about the flat ind,but I have been doing auto for 10+ years and not completly blind to it.Just not enough to jump right into it.Without a dought my overhead will go up fast but is it worth it?There #s are about half of whatI do now in auto,but with this auto changing so much it would be nice to have a second income.Sorry if I am being long winded.Thanks again,keep them coming,it really helps!
Mark 2,I forgot to tell you that the pop is around 3000 to 8000 with rural around,We cover a pretty large area as long as we can make a profit at it.The bigger towns around us all have full service glass shops in them.and they do very well.So to me it kind of only makes sense,if I play my cards right.I have no idea where to find a good flat man that I can trust,I guess just ask around.
Who does this guy that's retiring have working for him? Tons of flat stuff requires two man installs, hire his guy. Or is he the glazier as well as the owner, and just doesn't do anything over 4' square? Either way, work the deal with him to stick around a while, and have him teach you and a new guy the ropes. He benefits by finding a buyer quick and easy. It's not likely that the shops in the bigger towns will want to chase a rural shop purchase.
Why do you think the overhead will go up a bunch? You just have to balance the cost of what he wants for the purchase against the sales, and evaluate the cash flow potential, decide how fast the investment can break even, and then pay off.
As to the agent loss, if this guy just closes shop, then you add the service after finding your glazier. No reason for agents to be upset with you. His flat accounts will not have a lot of choice but to try you and see if you can win their biz as he did, or call out of town to get the others to travel, which won't come without a cost to them so, you are still the first choice, and in the drivers seat because of your service advantage (speed and credibility).
This guy has every reason to work with you for his benifit and yours. If it does not work out that way, you still are in a position to move on the biz that's there without any hard feelings among the locals. Not unless you start calling him names in public or something. Be patient, and be smart, I know what you're saying about small towns.
He only does small stuff,man power issues.He turns down alot because of it.They have two options.1, have me buy it and he will help train me or 2, he will hire a glazier and have one of his sons run it.From what I gather his sons are not really intrested in this,they will if they have to.If I knew they were going to close shop I would just wait and start from scratch,but that is not going to happen.The overhead thing is that I would have to buy a bigger shop,the shop that I am in now is almost to small for auto.(crew cabs,bigger trucks)The building that I am intrested into is close to 200,000.It offers a graet location and size for both bizs.And also paying him on an agreed price for his biz,also hiring either an auto tech or glazier,But I guess as biz owners we are always taking risks this way.Thanks alot mark2 For all of your info,it helps.
we started doing equipment and oil field glass when dad still ran the place and it is a big source of income i remeber when he added the equipment glass he went out and got a disc sander , three saw horses , a sheet of wood and some carpet and that was the cutting table. he got three sheets of lami ,a glass cutter and a lighter. With less than a month after starting... it exploded he had three large oil field companies , two equipment rental companies and one construction company with over 400 pcs of equipment ( he had to hire three guys to handle the work load after about 6 months he built a better cutting table for under $100 (I still use it today and still service the same companies 15 years later)( i just wish we stil had those three techs).
but i would higly recomend moving in to the flat glass area it pays off , we also fab & repair screens we are the only company in town that does this i started this about three weeks ago so its still hard to see how its going to work but so far so good.
The only thing that would be dumb is not to run a complete cash flow analysis before you jump in with both feet.
Ask to see the books, AND the past income tax statements, and check if they match. Make an appointement with your accountant and LISTEN to what they say. It's quite likely your banker will want to see both of these also, to determine the viability of what you are purchasing/asking a loan for. Even if you are not asking for a loan, keep that fact to yourself for now, and state to the current owner that the bankers want to see the books/statements. If he asks you to sign a confidentiality agreement in case you decide not to buy, agree. He has every right to this.
I would also take a serious look at just exactly what this business has been 'passing up' due to size in the past. It is important to know what potential business is there as well as the established clients. I would guess that by only accepting what one man could handle, this business was missing as much as 75% of the available flat work.
With that extra information, you gain a future plan for growth as you learn the ropes. This could be extremely important. If the current cash flow analysis isn't positive, then the future addition of the extra work will quickly swing it in the positive direction. It will also help you establish your business plan for growth into that extra business, by setting goals that you will simply have to meet for cash flow/profit purposes.
All good for you in the short term, AND in the long term.
I would offer one other piece of advice: As you start out small, NEVER forget your 'roots'. Small business has it's roots firmly planted in customer service and quality. People might allow this to slip with their cars, but I assure you, they don't with their houses. It will also build you a larger foundation of return customers that will come to you for auto as well.
Thanks mark 1.I have took all of those steps and now working on the purchase price.The profit & lose look good along with the last 8 years tax returns.I am working very close with my accountant and banker to make sure it is all there.My biggest worries are buying a bigger building(no room for exspansion at current place)and hiring a flat tech or auto tech.I am a one man shop with secretary,and doing very well in auto.We have alot of loyal ins work and a strong clientel.There is more than enough for me to handle by myself(6-11 a day normal not including repairs & labor jobs)But hiring another guy will have to happen,for auto and flat.The main problem I am trying to figure out is to either hire a good auto tech so I can do more flat,or hire a flat guy to do the flat work.A guy that does both good is hard to find for less than 25.00 an hour and wants full bens(dont blame them)I know alot of auto techs but very few that I would want working with us,I guess I will have to let my gaurd down.I will stop rambiling on now,thanks guys!
Don't let your guard down there bud. Hire good people and train them yourself. Takes more time but you're talking about moving lsow anyway. Risking the new biz, you can't afford to have people you don't trust screwing around with your established auto biz. Train new people. If they're worth keeping later, then they're worth paying later as they learn. If they're not worth keeping, you'll find out before you've put too much time into them. Keep the employees jobs separate from each other. Installers don't need to look up parts, or handle invoices. Secretaries don't need to know how to install glass, and techs don't need to be dealing wiht your vendors. Manage your biz from the top.
If the building your looking at is too expensive now, don't do it. Work on a smaller one that will let you get your feet on the ground wiht less risk on the outlay for now.
You said you're in a small town, means people won't have a hard time finding you even if hte building that was your first choice don't pan out.
Rates may triple for glaziers, comp is covered under individual states' statues....call any agent for info. You are usually rebated for not filing any claims, etc. You will be audited for employee classification/salary. You will probably be audited for how many glass trcuks with racks you have, how much flat glass is in stock, etc.
We put together a folder to be marketed to apartment companies and management companies(that manage condos and apartments)with info on our company, what we do, and some standard patio door sizes and costs.It included a sheet that they can just fill out with all the info and just fax to us. Owner(tenant) name, address with info on how to get ahold of them, work, home, cell, what was broke. Then we could work it out with the owner or tenant, measure and then get back to them for an okay to do the job. It works well.
Believe it not, one thing that worked for us are the insurance agents. Let them know that you do the work because they do get inquiries about their customer's insurance. Most policy owners have a $500 deductible so it doesn't pay for a normal claim. But it does get the word out. Also try networking through the local chamber. Just let everyone know that you do the work.
If you have a web presence, include flat glass. Have your webmaster include glass repair in you meta words and you should start getting hits. One thing we are going to try as well is cable advertising. It's not too expensive to try.
The one thing I can caution you on is pricing. We have two shops, one in a pop of 9500 with a large rural area as well and the other shop in a pop of 100,000, small by most standards. In the small town, people expect us to provide flat glass service and the issue we are having is labor charges. We don't know if we are charging enough because there is always a job that bites you. You do a favor for low $ and the customer expects more.
However in the larger city, most of the compitition is going after the larger jobs, $50k or better. That's where we shine. Profitability should be the same as a large job with less risk. Typically you control the job and do not have to rely on others to get their part done, or worry about their compitency.
What I find amazing about these forums are the idiots who post messages that are negative or poke fun. I think these folks need to stay off these forums because it is obvious that they are extrememly successfull and have all the answers that they do not want to share.
I found it interesting the poo-poo repsonse about advertising. If you really have thoughts or experiences either share them or shut up. We have limited marketing $ like everyone else and when we try a new or different marketing campaign, we go in with the intent of trying it and monitoring it for results. That takes work and effort, but the pay off is there.
The way price is controlled in AG business the only way to survive...or at least to make more money than operating expenses is to diversify. I don't know how the new construction market is in your area but we do alot of mirrors and shower enclosures/doors in our area due to all the new home construction. So even if you just add those services you'll see a big difference in your bottom line. The profit margin is alot higher than AG. One thing about flat or glazing is good glaziers are hard to find, but mirrors and shower doors aren't difficult to do, however some of the bath/shower enclosures require an experienced glazier. Good luck Rat