Tinting, Protecting, and … Replacing?

Dwight Lopez Sr. opened Dwight’s Auto Glass in Southern Arizona in 1986. Today, his son Dwight Lopez Jr. runs the same company, which has expanded to four locations in the 36 years since it opened.

Dwight’s Auto Glass has more than 21 team members.

“It’s good to do both so that we keep the business in-house,” says Dwight Lopez Jr., of his company, which offers film and auto glass repair and replacement services. “That’s what started us. My dad was doing window tinting when he started, and people came in with broken windows. He taught himself [the trade].”

Dwight Lopez Jr. oversees stores in Green Valley, Tucson, and Marana, Ariz., managing a team of eight film installers, eight auto glass technicians and several customer service representatives (CSR). The company’s film mix is an estimated 80% tint and 20% paint protection film (PPF). For Gilbert Quesada though, the owner of All Star Glass in Bosque Farms, N.M., it’s a 50-50 split.

“I’ll tint a couple windows, and down the road, you get a rock chip or need glass replacement,” says Quesada, who estimates that more than half of his jobs feed off each other. “There’s a lot of returning customers here for tint and glass replacement.”

Customers mix and match at All Star Glass.

The multi-skilled installer says repeat glass customers often become repeat window film clients. “A customer will schedule a windshield replacement, and see all of my film and XPEL advertising,” Quesada adds. “It turns into a replacement and film job at that point.”

Quesada’s company has been in business for three years and surpassed $200,000 in sales in 2021. His crew includes his mother, father, and sister. “Sometimes we’re stretched thin trying to do replacement and tint, but it has boosted our business,” Quesada says. “It’s not just one type of income; I’m replacing door glass, replacing a windshield, and then tinting a full [vehicle].”

Auto glass work accounts for 75% of business at Earl’s AutoGlass in Cozad, Neb., with tint comprising the remaining 25%.

“There are not many costs involved with tint,” says Tyler Earl, installer at Earl’s AutoGlass. “You can make a profit quickly by tinting windows, but if you were only doing window tint, you’d have to be pretty busy.”

Tyler is considering competing in the Automotive Tint-Off™ at the 2022 International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT), Sept. 14-16 in San Antonio. He works alongside his parents John and Beth and says the company’s offerings keep him on his toes. “You’re working on different vehicles every day,” Tyler says. “I’ll help my dad put a piece of glass in, tint windows, or detail a vehicle. What I’m doing varies.”

Dave Cotter has offered auto glass and tint from the jump.

The tinting combination at Dave’s Glass & Tint in Pocatello, Idaho, is 50% automotive and 50% flat glass (commercial/residential). Commercial film jobs often include substantial tickets, but auto glass projects bring in 75% of the company’s sales. The business reached an estimated $900,000 in sales in 2021 and is projected for $1.2 million in 2022.

Dave Cotter founded the company—which celebrates its 30th anniversary in August—in 1992 and has offered both auto glass and film services from day one. “We have a Toyota Camry where we did paint protection film (PPF), tint, and replaced its windshield.”

Dwight’s Auto Glass reached $3.8 million in sales in 2021 and is projected for $4.2 million in 2022, but Dwight Lopez Jr. isn’t satisfied. The owner plans to take his team to this year’s Auto Glass Week/International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT) in San Antonio from September 14-16.

“New products and tools excite me—to see what’s out there,” he says.

Are you interested in learning more about the auto glass side of things? Grab a free subscription to AGRR magazine and the glassBYTEs.com e-newsletter.

Unfazed: Film Shops Thrive Through the Slow Season

The film industry finds itself in the thick of slow season, a period packed with cooler temperatures, varying demand and overall financial uncertainty. Which strategies and services are shops leaning on this fall? PPFMag caught up with owners in Georgia, Tennessee, Maryland, New Mexico and Colorado for a countrywide check-in.

Quesada says drawing attention to your shop is crucial.

“We have to be creative as business owners,” says Lawrence Williams Jr., owner of Tint Masters Window Tinting in Owings, Md. “If you’re just a window tinting company, I can see it [being] a little harder for you to make it through seasons like this. But you have to be willing to step outside the box.”

Williams entered the industry in 2004 and discovered ways to keep busy as a shop manager during business days that dragged. “The one thing that peaked outside of window tint for us in the cold months was remote starts and car-seat heaters,” Williams says. “That is probably the easiest money you can make.”

Chuck Cochran, owner of Eastcoast Motorsports in St. Marys, Ga., has been in the industry for 30 years. He recently hired a new employee in preparation for the busy season.

Cochran makes personable customer interaction a priority.

“Right now is the time that we use to beautify the shop, get pressure-washing done, change the showroom, wipe everything down and take a look at our presence so we don’t have to try to do that when we’re busy,” Cochran says.

What’s the key to Eastcoast Motorsports’ slow-season success? Cochran says it came down to focusing on personable outreach in 2018.

“When I quit advertising, we were doing around $800,000 a year in sales,” Cochran says. “Since then, we average $1.2 to $1.4 million every year. . . . We started concentrating more on our personal relationships with our customers, giving them a better experience.”

That experience is enhanced by a zero-discount policy that allows Cochran to hone in on worthwhile investments.

“If I give away 10% of my business on a million dollars in sales, that’s $100,000 gone,” Cochran adds. “I can take that $100,000, and I can buy better signage, [purchase] better rugs, have nicer windows, have better paint and make my facility cleaner. I can buy that new Keurig machine and a vending machine. I do those things with that money, and my customers see a direct appreciation value other than just saving them $10 or $20.”

Jan Milburn, owner of The Tint Shop in Parachute, Colo., opened his doors in August 2020, right before slow season. The initial crawl was manageable, but 2021’s pace began slowing dramatically in September.

Milburn plans to strengthen his service lineup for 2022.

“I’m down to doing a flat glass job—a business or a house—maybe once or twice a month,” Milburn says. “In the summer, I was doing one a week. I was doing 10 cars a week in the summer. Right now, I’m down to maybe five cars per month.”

Ceramic coatings, residential projects and persistence have kept the new owner pushing forward during an unpredictable second year.

“I’ve gone through my Tint-Wiz list and [touched base with] customers I did work for,” Milburn says. “Put proposals in that never got approved or jobs that I never did—follow up on them, see if they’re interested and if there is anything I can do better.”

Milburn plans to incorporate paint protection film (PPF), vinyl wraps, signage and graphics in 2022 to diversify and fortify service offerings. Gilbert Quesada, owner of All Star Glass in Bosque Farms, N.M., focuses on an appealing presentation to ensure a steady flow of customers.

For Case, it’s about making the first move.

“I’m hanging banners from my truck, parking my truck by the road and constantly trying to draw up some type of attraction [and] commotion to where it looks like we always have cars here,” Quesada says. “Make it seem like you’re not just going home; make it look like you’re busy.”

Business is generated by hitting the pavement and making conversation for some owners. Cory Case, owner of Case’s Tinting in Morristown, Tenn., says, “Carry business cards. If you see a car that doesn’t have tint on it, go up and introduce yourself because I’ve got a lot of business from doing that. If the back is ugly and bubbled up, say, ‘I’ve got a lifetime-warrantied film. This will never happen to your car if you let me tint it.’”

How has slow season been for your shop?

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