From March to October during the afternoon and evening hours, an area known as “Hail Alley” is hit with hail season. This region covers Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Oklahoma. Solo PDR technicians who go by the name “hail chasers” live a nomadic lifestyle during these months, making anywhere from $60 to $75 on each nickel-sized dent and having 100% of the profits. But what does it really mean to be a hail chaser, other than knowing the tips and tricks of the PDR industry?
Due to its popularity and that PDR is a service that anyone can claim to do, Hail Chasers flock to disastrous hail sites to set up temporary shop. These can range from veteran professionals to technicians who, let’s just say, you wouldn’t otherwise choose to spend time with. One PDR technician claims that,
“life after hours for these guys (and for some, during work hours) can range from the ridiculous to the sublime. Excessive drinking, drug use, philandering and adult entertainment are par for the course.”
But if you know this up-front, have a business plan, and know how to market your PDR business the right way, that reality will just have to be part of the journey. Literally.
Thankfully, there have been significant improvements to the PDR industry that raised the bar and set high standards, especially for the hail chasing market. Ever since insurance companies became involved, they have heavily influenced and raised the PDR repair standards, especially for hail repair. This helps both the customer and the technician ensure the repair is done the way it should be and reduced the volume of sketchy characters just out to earn a buck. Having a well thought out business plan and strong marketing skills will instantly get you more business than being a greed-based technician with poor-quality repairs. In fact, lowering the price of your repairs just to gain more business will actually lessen the quality and affect your business significantly. “Quality over quantity” will always trump how many repairs you do in a day, no matter who you are and what skills you have.
Do keep in mind that the lifestyle of a hail chaser is not for lightweights. Nobody prepares you for the unhealthy travel food and how almost every night, you’re sleeping on a different bed up to 150 nights in the year. The hours are long and the work conditions are rough. You miss your loved ones, your home, and your own bed.
Ultimately, it’s up to you if you want to pursue the path of being a hail chaser. If you do decide to do it, don’t do it only for the money. That’s a setup for failure and the wrong mindset for running your mobile PDR business. If you do it right, you can have an active and profitable hail season and work only 3 to 6 months of the year. The rest of the year, you can have the flexibility to do whatever you want until next year’s storms. The choice is up to you.