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January/February  2004

Expert Advice
pros who know

Branching Out
by Kerry Wanstrath

Trying to grow your business? Why not consider add-on services?

Over the past 20 years of my involvement in the auto glass replacement and repair industry, I have seen many changes; some good, some bad, but one question continues to puzzle me—why don’t glass shops offer add-on services to their customers? I have seen auto glass repair, in particular, adopted by numerous auto service-related businesses, including quick lubes, car washes, detail shops and new and used car dealers, just to mention a few. All of these auto service centers were, no doubt, looking for ways to grow their businesses. It must have seemed logical to them to add-on a related service that would increase their bottom lines. Since they had the vehicles in their possession, why not perform another service that would benefit both them and their customers? Hence, embracing windshield repair was an easy decision. 

Inside Our Industry
What puzzles me is this: why have so few auto glass replacement and repair businesses looked to additional services to expand their businesses? Is auto glass repair and replacement so profitable or unique that other services aren’t attractive? I think we all know the answer to that question. Are you so focused on competing in auto glass that you don’t see other opportunities?

Let’s consider for a moment the quick lube business and its evolution.

When it started years ago, a quick lube performed one service—a 10- to 15-minute oil change, period. Then someone’s light bulb went off and thought, “Hmmm, why not try to add services so I can keep that customer coming back to me?”

So, they did—they added interior cleaning the interior. Then the industry increased the levels of service for a slightly higher price. They also added more value by offering more complex services such as radiator and transmission flushes, air filter changes and the list goes on and on. Now people go to them for all these small or minor repairs instead of going to their mechanics. Now, instead of an average invoice being $21 it may be $39, an 85-percent increase.

A Strong Sense of Accomplishment
This business plan accomplishes several things:
1) It increases your profits and grows your business; and
2) Perhaps more importantly, it keeps your customer coming back to you, rather than to a potential competitor. 

Yes, lube shops, car washes and other service centers are your competitors.

So how do you compete? First, you have to get on the battlefield. Up to this point, you may not have even known there was a war. If you want to use add-on services as a weapon to grow your business, consider services that match your business, services that are adopted easily and related to your current business. I’m not suggesting you start draining transmissions and radiators, but consider services that are quick, easy, profitable and related to automotive glass repair.

There are many services that can be added quickly with very little investment on your part. Consider adding minor interior detailing; since most replacement shops vacuum the front of the vehicle already, just extend that service. There could be levels of service to include cleaning vinyl, leather restoration and detailing.

Headlight restoration (for acrylic headlights), one of the newest services being offered by detailers, is adding $50 for about 15 minutes work. Advancement in technology has also made glass scratch removal a viable add-on; this is a natural fit for the glass shop. When you add additional services, move incrementally into the services you feel require the least amount of prior experience or technical knowledge. Once you feel comfortable in that particular line of service, expand into its next logical step. In other words, get your feet wet before your dive into the water. Start by adding a service your area needs or one in which there’s little competition.

Growing Your Army
On the business battlefield, think about growing your army by adding services to expand your customer base. Customers on whom you perform ancillary services will someday need your primary service: auto glass. Keep them thinking of your business and not your competition. 


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