Start a Business
Replacing Broken Window Glass

(Last updated: April 26, 2010)

This page shows how to start a business replacing broken window glass held in a wooden sash.

Use this information together with the Business Plan for Simple Services page.

You are assumed to have the skills and equipment needed to perform this service. You may have performed this or similar types of activities in the past. Thus, you may have learned the skills and accumulated most of the required equipment from those prior tasks.

The methods and procedures described on this page can be used to help satisfy your needs, and the needs of likely customers.

Here are the topics:

Introduction to idea
Estimated startup costs
Putting idea to work

Other useful information

The Vital Guidelines for Novices page helps beginners who want to start a business. These guidelines provide focused advice and useful insights.


IMPORTANT

Before using this information to start a business be sure to read the following notice: Disclaimer

Introduction to idea

This topic provides an overview of the business idea so you can decide if it suits you.

Basic idea

Owners or tenants pay you to replace broken window glass in their apartments or homes. This idea refers to glass held in place in a wooden sash using glazers' points and glazing compound (putty).

With the hard times we are having, people will be staying in their present homes longer, rather than trading up. This practice increases the demand for home repairs.

Getting these jobs usually is just a question of making yourself known to potential customers, being qualified to do the work, and quoting the right price for the job.

This activity is performed by the job. Once one job is finished you will have to find another job. However, if you do a good job for a large property owner, you may be called back when other units need these services.

This is an indoors and outdoors activity that can be performed year round (roads and weather permitting).

Suitability of idea

This idea is best suited for people who are physically fit and enjoy working with their hands.

Skills and equipment required

Primary skills -- You must have handyman skills and be able to remove and replace broken window glass.

Other skills -- You must have driving skills and a valid driver's license.

Equipment owned -- This business idea assumes that you own the following equipment:

Pickup truck or van -- You will use this vehicle to travel to job locations and haul any equipment, materials, supplies, and protective gear needed to perform the work. Also, you may have to haul trash away from the job site.

Job equipment -- Typical items needed: aluminum step ladder; broom and dust pan; chisel; claw hammer; electrical extension cords; extension ladder; hair dryer, small propane torch, or soldering iron; portable work light; putty knife; small paint brushes; tape measure; utility knife; water container (for drinking); and wide trowel or shovel.

Protective gear -- Typical items needed: goggles, and heavy work gloves.

Other items -- You need to own or purchase other items, such as office equipment and job supplies. These items are listed under the startup costs on the next topic.

Also, you will need to purchase some or all of the materials needed for each job. The customer will repay you for these materials when you finish the job.

Typical materials needed: glaziers' points, glazing compound (putty), linseed oil, touchup paint, and window glass (cut to proper size).

Profitability of idea

In order to show a profit, you will have to sell enough of your services to cover the startup costs, job costs, and operating expenses. The more income you collect over a certain time period the larger your profits. Therefore, you want to have substantial sales, along with low costs and expenses.

The fees you charge pay for your services and equipment, and your ability to perform the work in a professional manner. You might charge an hourly rate for your services, or a lump sum for a particular job. Your fee also should include any miscellaneous out-of-pocket expenses you have, such as dump fees.

How much should you charge for your services? This depends on how well off the customer is and how anxious both you and the customer are to make a deal. The economic conditions of the local area might also influence these negotiations.

See the Setting the Sales Price page in another section for more detailed information.

Top of Page


Estimated startup costs

This topic discusses the estimated startup costs for this business idea. Startup costs are what you need to pay in order to be ready to begin business operations. The amount of these costs also helps you decide if the idea suits you.

List of items in startup costs

Note: I am only showing one month for certain expenses. You should be able to get your first job or two in a month. Then these items become operating expenses, not startup costs.

The assumed startup costs for this business idea, using a frugal style of business operations, consist of the following items:

Advertising and promotion (1 month) -- Small classified advertisements in a local newspaper and/or the newsletter of the local property owners association.

Business insurance (1 month) -- Business liability insurance. (Talk to a local insurance agent to see if you need this coverage.)

Governmental requirements -- Local fees and business license. (Note: You might also be subject to state and federal deposits and registration fees, but these will vary. So I have not included them in these startup costs.)

Job supplies -- Typical items needed: cardboard boxes, and plastic sheets.

Office equipment -- Business telephone; desk accessories (stapler, paper clips, pen and pencils, etc.); and listing adding machine.

Office supplies -- Check blanks for business checking account, file folders or large manila envelopes (for filing papers), lined writing tablets, pads of accounting journals and ledger, and pads of standard job bid forms.

Other operating expenses (1 month) -- Business telephone expense.

Reference book -- Bookkeeping for Dummies (Paperback) available from Amazon.com or other online bookstores. (Note: The "for Dummies" series of books are easy to read manuals for normal people, not dummies.)

Dollar amount of startup costs

Here are the dollar amounts for a frugal business operation:

 

Estimated Startup Costs

  Advertising and promotion (1 month) $ 75
  Business insurance (1 month)   50
  Governmental requirements (local fees and business license)   50
  Job supplies   30
  Office equipment   120
  Office supplies   100
  Other operating expenses (1 month)   50
  Reference book   15
     
       Total estimated startup costs $ 490

Note: See the Planning costs and expenses subtopic in the Business Plan on another page for ways to reduce these startup costs.

Top of Page


Putting idea to work

This topic satisfies the Starting business operations subtopic in the Business Plan page.

Preparing for business operations

Completing the startup requirements -- This is the last step needed just before you start business operations. See the Listing the startup requirements subtopic in the Business Plan for the items remaining to be completed.

As a minimum, you should have discussed the business idea with your family, set up your business entity, and satisfied all governmental and insurance requirements.

Local information needed -- You need the location of local dumpsites, fees charged for dumping, restrictions on materials allowed to be dumped, and rules for hauling trash.

Operating the business

Soliciting customers -- Place classified advertisements in your local newspaper and/or newsletter of the local property owners association. Use a simple, honest description of your services. Once you become well known in the community, you should benefit from word of mouth advertising from satisfied customers.

For additional ideas on soliciting customers, see the Sales Methods page in another section.

Getting jobs -- Hopefully, some of the people who read your advertisements will inquire about your services. During this initial telephone conversation, you should determine if you are willing and able to provide the desired services. If so, you may want to discuss the tentative cost of the job. However, in most cases you probably want to inspect the broken window(s) before quoting a price.

I recommend that you meet with customers in their homes or offices, or at the job site. Your neighbors may object to having a stream of strangers arriving at your home. Also, meeting with customers in your home may violate the zoning rules in your town or city.

See the preceding Profitability of idea subtopic for my thoughts about setting your fee.

Before taking on any dangerous jobs, you should have adequate experience and workmen's compensation coverage.

Job procedures

Preliminary job activities -- After arriving at the job site and greeting the customer, inspect the damaged window(s). Use a tape measure to find the approximate inside width and height of the place to receive the new glass.

The customer may be in a hurry and want you to work on a holiday, weekend, or at night to get the glass replaced. In addition, you may be asked to come back later and paint over the cured putty bead to make it weatherproof.

You can use your job bid forms to estimate the costs of replacing the broken window glass. This bid should include the fees for any extra services to be performed, such as working on weekends or at night, any needed painting or staining, and hauling away any trash. The cost of materials (paint or stain, and replacement window glass) can be estimated, subject to actual retail cost. The bid probably should include a completion date, subject to availability of materials. If the customer accepts your bid, you both can sign the bid form.

If doing the work later on, you need to set the time and date, and arrange for access to the property.

Main job activities -- Before starting work, put on goggles and heavy work gloves. Then use a wide trowel or shovel to pick up any visible pieces of broken glass inside and outside the affected window. Place these pieces in a sturdy cardboard box. Then lay down a plastic sheet to catch any more pieces that may fall down.

After heating the old putty, remove all remaining pieces of broken glass. Place them inside the cardboard box. Then use a chisel, putty knife, or utility knife to remove all of the old putty from the window sash. Use a whiskbroom or small paintbrush to clean all around the wood where you removed the putty. Then apply linseed oil to this bare wood.

Use a tape measure to find the inside width and height of the place to receive the new glass. Then deduct 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch from each measurement to allow for clearance when replacing the pane. If the wood is straight and square, use the 1/16 of an inch deduction. Otherwise, use the 1/8 of an inch deduction.

Have the glass pane(s) cut to size at your local glass shop, hardware store, or building supplies store. (Be sure the glass is the correct size before you leave the store.)

Roll lumps of fresh putty between your hands. Use these rolls of putty to form a thin bed all around the wood frame that will receive the glass pane. (If the putty is cold, warm it up first.) Then gently press the new glass pane into the wood frame. This should force some putty out of the wood frame behind the glass.

Use the putty knife to insert new glaziers' points every six inches or so along the wood frame. Force the point straight into the wood. Don't put pressures against the glass or it may break. The points should not be visible from inside the house. Use at least two points for each side of the glass pane. Don't put a point closer than an inch from a corner of the glass.

Roll more lumps of fresh putty between your hands. Use these rolls of putty to form a triangular bead against the glass and the exposed wood frame. (If the putty is cold, warm it up first.) Then use a putty knife to flatten and strike off the surface of the putty bead. This shape of this putty bead should match any old putty beads near it. Also, the edge of the putty bead should not be visible from inside the house. Dip the putty knife in linseed oil if needed to make a smooth surface on the putty bead. Use the putty knife or utility knife to scrape off any excess putty around the glass inside and outside the house.

Follow the directions on the putty container as to curing and painting. When painting the cured putty bead, let the paint extend slightly beyond it (onto the glass and the wood frame) to protect the putty bead from the weather.

Final job activities -- Inspect the premises to verify you have finished all required tasks. Remove all your equipment and supplies. Make sure all pieces of broken glass have been placed inside a sturdy cardboard box.

Collect your agreed upon fee from the customer. Haul the trash away, if part of your agreed upon services.

Top of Page


Return from Replacing Broken Glass to Emergency Services main page

Return from Replacing Broken Glass to Start a Service Business main page

Return from Replacing Broken Glass page to Home page