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How to start a glass glazier business

Glass and glazing trades offer an important service for both commercial businesses and homeowners. If you're looking for information on how to start a glass glazier business, this article is a good place to start.

Want to know how to start a glass glazier business? The steady flow of work makes it a great industry to get into if you’re thinking of starting up a new venture.

Some glass glaziers contractors specialise in large flagship builds, often as part of commercial work. But most glass glaziers earn a profitable livelihood by offering their services to smaller builds. For example with residential properties and other ad-hoc work.

In short, this sector offers excellent opportunities for those aspiring to go self-employed. Particularly if you want to branch out from working as a window installer.

This guide covers off everything you need to know for how to start up a glass glazing business. We look at the tools and skills needed, as well as business planning and marketing.

What does a glass glazier do?

Simply put, glass glaziers fit, install and repair the glass found in windows and doors.

Knowing how to start a glass glazier business means being willing to adapt. Glaziers work across different builds, including both commercial and residential properties. Though often they will specialise in one area.

Glaziers will usually refer to blueprints to figure out the size and shape of glass they’re working with. They will then cut, install and remove material where necessary.

If you do this work already, you may also be trained in manufacturing glazed units. As a local glazier, you can be paid for jobs like:

  • Choosing the right replacement glass
  • Removing any old or broken pieces
  • Preparing frames
  • Fitting new glass
  • Making it watertight for customers

It is a niche specialism, and is often a side-hustle for tradespeople that regularly fit windows and doors. Many of the skills are interchangeable.

custom glass shelves

How to become a glass glazier

There is no set path when setting up a glass glazier business but there are a few common routes for entering the trade.

Formal qualifications aren’t essential but you’ll definitely need some experience before you can build up a client list. You could look into gaining on-site experience through a glazing apprenticeship.

That could be through:

  • Intermediate level glazing
  • Glazing for construction
  • Fenestration installation

Alternatively, you could look for entry-level jobs with experienced installers. After that, work your way through a career until you’re comfortable going it alone.

If you already have some experience and just want to demonstrate to customers, you’re competent, it’s worth studying for a Level 2 NVQ certificate in glazing. You could also look into courses provided by recognised trade bodies like the UK Glass and Glazing Federation.

Naturally, you’ll need to pay for your training, but it will be a great way to show you’re serious and follow best practice. There are also small business training grants that can help subsidise the cost.

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What are the skills required as a glazier?

You’ll need a mix of technical skills and some business basics to get your company off the ground.

Here is a list of some of the most important skills you’ll need for the glass glazing sector:

  • Customer service – Strong interpersonal skills help you build good relationships with your clients and meet their expectations
  • Basic maths – You’ll need to be familiar with how to work out fitting size measurements as a regular part of the job
  • Fitness – This sector is physically demanding so you’ll need to be in good health to be able to take on difficult jobs
  • Attention to detail – Glass glazing is all about getting it right down to the last square metre, so you’ll need to be very focused and spot errors

Running your own business requires a separate set of skills. If you can work as a glazier, but aren’t sure about running your own company, there are still other options to explore.

What are the tools you need as a glass glazier?

Measuring, cutting, removing, finishing – glaziers do all of these on a daily basis.

As such, you’ll need to own some high-quality tools to do the job properly. Here’s a list of the essentials:

  • Gloves
  • Glazier Hammer
  • Tape Measure
  • Glass Gun
  • Putty Knife
  • Block Lever
  • Window Scraper
  • Sealant of Caulk Gun
  • Glass Cutter
  • Suction Cups
  • Circular Glass Cutter
  • Glass Drill Bit
  • Suction Lifter
  • Glass Snips
  • Utility Knife
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Pry Bar
  • Hex Keys
  • Humidity and Temperature Sensor
  • Safety Glasses – very important to prevent accidents

Checkatrade members can save at both Selco and Tradepoint. So if you need some new tools, why not become a member and see how much you could save?

Protective clothing and safety shoes are also recommended. If you’re going to employ a small team, make sure you’ve also got all the  necessary PPE. You need to make sure that you trade safely and minimise hazards.

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What’s the process for starting a glass glazier business?

One of the first things you’ll need to decide is what types of services you’ll offer. With glass glazing, there’s a wide range you can choose from, including specialisms like emergency call-outs. Some options include:

  • Disposal and repairs
  • Commercial fitting, such as shop windows and offices
  • Domestic fitting, including greenhouses and other outdoor buildings
  • Roof and sky light fitting

Don’t forget there’s also many different types of glass to consider, including single, double and utility glazing.

Make sure your training and skills match up with these areas – you don’t want to take on a job where your skills aren’t properly matched.

Standing out from competitors

Most glazing companies carry out replacement and installation. However, if you’re looking to specialise, your glazing company could focus on a specific sector like hotels or shops.

Restoration work for listed buildings such as churches and historical structures could be another avenue for glazers if you’re searching for something a little different. Remember you’ll need to make sure there’s enough work in your local area, so research before settling on any niche.

  • Glazier businesses that offer an emergency service are likely to succeed
  • Glazing companies with great word-of-mouth referrals are also easier to market

As we move towards a sustainable future, homeowners also may want to work with greener construction methods. That means offering services with sustainable materials could be a great asset which marks you out.

You could also look at going green as a window fitter. Window recycling schemes are good for the environment and can also save your business money in the long run.

Registering your glass glazier business

Deciding whether to register your business as a sole trader or limited company can be a tricky choice. There is also the option of forming a partnership when you’re setting out.

Consider the long-term plan and whether you’ll be employing a team of tradespeople to help you. This will make your decision easier.

Limited companies can often offer greater legal and financial security. That may work out better if you plan on growing a team with lots of retained contracts.

Deciding on a business plan

Once you’ve settled on registration, it’s time to put together a business plan.

Doing your homework will help you to assess the kind of start-up and ongoing costs you’re going to be faced with. The services you decide to offer will also shape your customer base and how you market to them.

Key points to cover in your plan include:

  • Short, mid- and long-term goals
  • Target market and volume of customers in different areas
  • Competitors
  • Opportunities for growth
  • Demand for specialist services
  • Ingoings and outgoings, including taxes
  • Yearly projections
  • Recruitment

There’s a lot of paperwork when starting a new business and some of this might be unfamiliar to you.

Taxes are especially important to get right as you can be fined for improper filing. If you’re unsure about what you need to do, you could always hire an accountant to help.

Choosing the right pricing

Look at what other glass glazers are charging for their services and match yours up against them. Your prices should always reflect the type of service you offer and how long it will take to complete.

You will also need to factor in technical aspects that might prolong the job. For example, when carrying out difficult installation work on listed buildings, you should charge a higher premium rate as a glazer with more specialist knowledge.

Most glass glaziers will charge for work on an hourly or daily basis. You could set up a pricing template to help you maintain a profit..

Things to including in your pricing as a glass glazer:

  • Difficulty of work
  • Specialism
  • Time of work
  • Cost of materials
  • Other factors, such as scaffold rental
  • Window recycling schemes

Business loans can help if you’re worried about cashflow in the early days. Just remember to read the terms carefully and make repayments on time.

Marketing to homeowners

Once you’ve done a good job on a few homes, people will likely share your good work with neighbours and friends who are also in need of glazing or other glass services. If this creates a steady pipeline of work, you can always dial back on your digital spending.

Marketing methods to consider:

  • Focus on building good relationships with clients
  • Ensure the business’s name is spread word-of-mouth in your local area
  • Securing an advertisement in a newspaper
  • Raise awareness in nearby neighbourhoods and get the ball rolling
  • Social media can also be used with local hashtags and targeted ads
  • Get in front of homeowners that are actively looking for services like yours

Don’t forget about door-to-door leaflets and vehicle graphics either – these always drum up new business and get your name out there without too much effort. Just keep an eye out for junk mail notices as it will irritate homeowners if you ignore them.

Marketing to other businesses

Often the first thing businesses do when looking for a tradesperson is check online directories and reviews. That’s why a Checkatrade membership is vital for those starting up a new business.

Not only does membership raise your online profile, but also lets you showcase images of your finest work and display customer recommendations to enhance your reputation.

Other things to consider:

  • Contact local residential landlord associations to enquire about being included in their supplier’s guide
  • Work out how to get in front of developers looking for the bigger contracts on new-build sites
  • Attend networking events as they are also useful ways to get in front of the people that matter
  • Get to know people that work in other relevant trades, such as builders, window fitters and roofers

Have informal chats with decision-makers – you can always leave them a business card and take the conversation further if they show interest.

Want to get work as a glass glazier?

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Insurance for your glass glazier business

Glass is a delicate material and accidents can always happen, so make sure you’re covered should the worst happen.

  • Tools insurance – This can often cover replacement costs should your equipment be stolen, damaged or lost
  • Public liability insurance – Most professional glaziers will get this insurance to cover costs for any accidents and injuries
  • Employers’ liability cover – This insurance is essential to cover claims from employees or contractors you hire
  • Goods in Transit cover – This is something to consider with a fragile commodity such as glass panes

It is not necessarily a legal requirement to have all forms of insurance. However, it is worth considering getting covered in the unlikely event of something going wrong. After all, you don’t want your new glazing business to go out of pocket.

Cost to replace blown double glazed window glass

FAQs

How much can I earn as a self-employed glass glazier?

The average annual salary for a glazier is around £32,500 per year in the UK. But you could earn far more than this if your business is successful.

What is the hourly rate for glass glazier businesses?

In the UK, the average glazier hourly pay is between £8-£16, but this will depend largely on complexity, materials supplied, replacements and repairs.

Is glass glazing a profitable business?

You can be sure that glass glazing isn’t going out of business any time soon. What you take home will also grow as you become more established and are able to branch out and offer more specialist services.

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Content disclaimer: This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer here.

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