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Window installation and repair businesses outfit residential and commercial structures with new or replacement windows and related parts. Especially for today’s energy conservative and efficient world, new windows are essential to maintaining a low carbon footprint. Either as an independent business entity or as a sub-contractor for larger window retailers, the bulk of the business will revolve around new window installs and replacements.
Who is this business right for?
If you have construction experience or have worked in window sales, you may be an ideal candidate to open a window install and replacement business. Having knowledge in the product, the installation process, and necessary carpentry skills, or all three, will help a new entrepreneur immensely. Good customer service and personability is also an important trait for a successful start up business owner.
What happens during a typical day at a window installation and repair business?
For most window installation and replacement businesses, day to day work revolves around estimations of damage and warranty coverage, actual window installation, customer service before and after the job is complete, devising and implementing business marketing techniques, and contacting new and potential customers, either through referral, customer contact via website or email, or direct service requests from authorized window retailers.
What is the target market?
Depending on if you choose to perform residential or commercial services, you will be targeting new construction and remodels within each sector. If you are able to become a sub-contractor for a larger building company or a window retail company, your target market may shift a bit to be more focused on the companies that are sub-contracting you. Overall, make sure you are always presenting a professional image for your business and services.
How does a window installation and repair business make money?
For each window replaced or newly installed, the customer is charged the price of the window and labor costs for installation. If working as a subcontractor for a window retailer as a repair specialist, the retailer’s warranty pays for your services, as well as the cost of the window for the consumer.
What is the growth potential for a window installation and repair business?
Window installation and replacement is a profitable and steadily growing industry. With homebuilding on an upswing, the need for qualified and licensed window specialists continues to grow. Additionally, many consumers are looking to replace older windows for more energy efficient models, which ensures window installers have multiple growing aspects within their industry.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful window installation and repair business?
Having experience in retail sales of windows will give you great insight into the types of windows available on the market and will increase customer service ability by understanding what types of windows are available and for which applications. At the very least, you should attend seminars or classes on the brand, styles, or types of windows and installation techniques for the windows you are looking to install and replace.
Experience in construction is also a bonus, as you will need to understand the ins and outs of measuring and installing windows properly. A poorly done installation can nullify the effectiveness and, in some cases, the warranty of a window. Make sure you are regularly staying abreast of industry standards and policies for window installations and repairs.
What are the costs involved in opening a window installation and repair business?
Initial costs for opening this type of business can be relatively low. Licensing and insurance and tools and transportation are often the bulk of your costs. Much of your inventory will be ordered and delivered directly to your business or the job site, itself, eliminating a need for warehousing much product.
An average startup cost could range between $5,000- 10,000.
Some of the cost areas associated with a start-up:
- Residential or commercial contractor’s license (check state and local requirements for your area)
- Business insurance for yourself and any additional employees.
- Certification courses for installs and repairs of certain company’s windows. These courses will vary, from company to company. It is also recommended that you seek national certification. American Architectural Manufacturers Association
- and American Window and Door Institute are great resources to get you started.
- Tools and equipment for installation, basic construction and care and maintenance of windows and window parts.
- Reliable transportation and ability to transport and deliver windows. A truck or panel van are reasonable options. Commercial auto insurance coverage may also be a strong consideration.
- Office equipment, such as a desktop or laptop, printer/scanner/fax machine, and file cabinet, plus additional consumables.
What are the steps to start a window installation and repair business?
Once you're ready to start your window installation and repair business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your window installation and repair business is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your window installation and repair business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers. Save 15% when you create a business website with Weebly.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I find a business mentor?
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a window installation and repair business?
As with any start up, research the number of competitors in the area, determine your niche, and advertise accordingly. You have to know what kind and how much business you can anticipate and you have to make sure people know who you are. Window installation and repair can be a saturated market, so always test the waters to see what your best options are and follow those leads.
Connect yourself with other professionals in the area, both in your industry and in related industries, such as residential and commercial contractors, insurance providers, and window retailers. A large part of successful marketing grows from networking. Attending seminars, taking training courses, and connecting to industry associations, both in person and online, will allow you to drive your business in positive directions.
How to promote & market a window installation and repair business
As mentioned before, much of your marketing will rely on the reputation you build with your clients and customers. Word of mouth is always a great method for attracting and retaining customers, but it is also necessary to spread the positive stories and experiences of your customers. Therefore, having a web page, Facebook account, or engaging in online forums gives a platform for your reputation to grow exponentially. Additionally, trade magazines, websites, and trade shows can be excellent methods for generating more business and making new contacts.
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How to keep customers coming back
Offer customers reasonable pricing, never skimp on quality or workmanship, insist on professionalism from yourself and all employees, and deliver these traits consistently and reliably.
How and when to build a team
Initially, your business can grow and thrive with only one or two other employees, especially if you handle all paperwork and expenses internally. Two to three workers will be able to handle most installs and repairs. As your business grows, an office manager will be a critical addition to ensure orders, deliveries, job tickets, and all other aspects of a smooth running business are being carefully overseen. Additional field techs can be added, as business remains steady or is growing.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a window installation and repair business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
How much can you charge customers?
Depending on if you are charging the customer directly, or billing a window retailer or contractor for your services, you should be charging for the labor, transport of products, and additional fees for preventative maintenance and specialty work. Hourly rates range from $25-50 an hour. Make sure this is part of your initial market research to determine average fees in your area and overall numbers for ensuring profitability.
What are the ongoing expenses for a window installation and repair business?
Maintenance for service vehicles and tools and related materials costs will be the bulk of your expenses. If you choose to rent office space or warehouse space, that will also be an additional cost.
How much profit can a window installation and repair business make?
The national average for annual sales for a residential window business is $600,000. Earnings after taxes and business costs would average around $250,000-350,000, annually.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Offer customers a preventative maintenance service in which you regularly check window hardware, seals, and overall construction, as well as cleaning glass and servicing hinges, sashes, locks and related hardware. You may also consider a recycling and restoration service for older, hard to find sized windows. Being able to replace windows to match historical restoration specs can allow the window installer to charge considerably more than the average install.