Increasing Costs Continue to Impact Auto Glass Shops

Winter is over and summer is around the corner, but auto glass shops continue to struggle with the same challenges the new year presented in January. Costs of materials, availability of glass and the price of gasoline impact business.

Patricia Smiley has been the president of Quackt Glass in South Carolina for three years. Quackt has locations in Lancaster, Charleston, Fort Mill and Columbia, S.C. Smiley says material costs are up 46% from 2021 for the company. “We’re not getting paid any more to do what we do,” she says.

The company also has mobile units and feels the impact of increased gas prices. But the most significant impact for Quackt, Smiley says, is the unavailability of auto glass. “Some of the basic stock items are just not available anymore,” she says. Or the company has to wait for glass products, and customers are not willing to wait. She says if Quackt cannot get the glass fast enough, customers go somewhere else for installation.

Matt Bailey of Greenville, S.C. commiserates with Smiley. He has owned 20/20 Auto Glass since 2007. Bailey has to order OEM glass to avoid calibration issues, and sometimes the dealerships have auto glass on backorder. “We’ve had situations where a customer backed out,” Bailey says. But his shop already ordered the glass necessary for replacement, and dealerships usually charge a restocking fee to return the glass. “If they’ll take the glass back,” he says.

For example, a couple of months ago, a customer ordered auto glass but had to wait three months. When the glass came in at the dealership, Bailey says the customer had sold the vehicle. So he had to pay a 25% to 30% restock fee to return the glass to the dealership.

Bailey says he orders from four vendors but had to change one of the vendors when it could not deliver the glass he needed because it was not available. “Between all four of them, we’re not having too many problems getting what we need [now],” he says. But glass availability has presented challenges in recent months.

Bailey also says he pays $5,000 more per month for gas. “The gas prices are pretty bad. I think we’re paying twice what we did,” he says.

Josh Bradley opened Clear Choice Auto Glass in Greenville, S.C., 11 years ago. “The first part of the year, it was a little rough,” he says. While the availability of glass has not been a concern for him, Bradley says the rising costs of materials are becoming more of an issue. Bradley says his company paid $39,000 for auto glass and materials from three different wholesalers in April. “That’s high,” he says. Typically, his company pays $30,000 per month.

“I’m just now starting to do that,” Bradley says of looking into ways to offset the increasing costs of materials for his business. He says he will encourage customers to bring their vehicles to the shop. “But that’s up to the customer. They’re so used to mobile,” he says. He will watch how they use supplies and not waste anything. “Jobs come in, I got to get them done. I got to have the parts.”

“My gas bill has doubled in the last month,” he says. Bradley says he used to pay $1,400 to 1,500 a month to keep his five auto glass trucks fueled. Now he pays $2,500 to $2,800 per month.  Also, wholesalers are charging $8 to $9 per delivery per day for increased gas prices. Clear Choice receives deliveries from three wholesalers each day with a total charge of at least $24, more if the company receives two deliveries from the same wholesaler each day. “Those are just costs that we got to eat.”

Another issue Bradley faces is rising labor rates. “Everybody is wanting more money,” he says of new hires. “Across the board, everything is up. And something’s got to be done.”

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6 Responses to Increasing Costs Continue to Impact Auto Glass Shops

  1. Despite increasing costs NAGS prices go down with every update and don’t in any way reflect the actual cost of doing work. How can we as the industry impact the pricing and hours that are randomly assigned by NAGS to part #s? This is a topic I would like to see addressed at the upcoming conference in San Antonio.

  2. I guess what frustrates me about being in the glass business, is that we’re one of the only industries that don’t get to charge costs based on a normal business model. We are forced to bill based on a dictated price versus a price that fits our own business costs. I fault NAGS for knowingly lowering list prices on parts, while the cost of the item keeps going on. We have no control over the fuel surcharges which keep going up, gas prices keep going up, insurance, overhead, payroll, taxes, etc. and yet, we aren’t allowed to pass any of those costs along to the consumer.

  3. Rob Gilbert says:

    What can we do to get through this? This is a real issue and the TPA’s are like talking to a brick wall; a true third party administrator represents both the service provider as well as the insured/insurance company.

    • T Tebow says:

      Unfortunately Safelite likes to play both sides of the coin and so far it seems to have been successful. I have a problem with this and I think that we all need to take control over our businesses back! WE do NOT have a contract with ANYONE!! Remember that! They expect us to honor a contract made between the insurance company and the TPA! Our shops are Our Shops!! Just like any other retail / service shop except that WE have TRAINED and EXPERIENCED licensed and insured TRADES PEOPLE working at our shops! We should be allowed to charge our OWN Fair and Reasonable Labor rates and also NAGS Prices or higher for the materials! I don’t know ANY other business that has to EAT the extra prices! Not even the hospital!! If you use a Q-tip at the hospital they charge for it! It’s very repressive and quite honestly a monopoly!

  4. Kris Griffin says:

    All I can say is that when PGW got sold to the Investment Holdings Company there is more writing on the wall of the “big guy” monopolizing the industry more and more. I have been told they undercut other TPA’s by 10-20% and use that as a loss leader so they get the jobs and when the “dissolved the public leg of the wholesale glass division. NAGS has been sailing since pre-covid but with no one steering the ship.

    • Kristopher Griffin says:

      If they would play fair that would be one thing, I’ve said it 100s of times, it is unethical for a company/corporate group to have such leverage on an industry. Unfortunately buying into politics and having so many shell companies makes setting the playing field even virtually impossible.

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