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Looking for a crystal clear profit?

June 06, 2011
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Up until a few years ago, if a motorist had a rock chip in their windshield, they had two choices: Replace the windshield entirely, or wait for it to crack and then replace it.

Today they have an alternative that is a clear profit for the detailer and carwash operator alike. It is easy money that far too many are allowing to pass them by at a time when they need to boost revenues.

This alternative is windshield rock chip repair.

A simple concept

The repair concept is actually quite simple. Windshields consist of three layers: A plastic or vinyl laminate sandwiched between two layers of glass.

When a rock strikes the windshield, it breaks the first layer of glass, creating an air pocket between the two layers. This air is what causes the visible distortion (chip). As long as the damage is isolated to the first layer of glass, a chip repair can be successfully made.

The systems

Windshield chip repair systems come in kit-based forms and are available through a number of suppliers ranging in price from around $300 to over $3,000. No matter the price, they all use the same basic technological concept. The systems all include:

  • A vacuum device to remove the air and inject the resin
  • A UV light to cure the resin
  • A few necessary accessory items

The process

Here are the proper steps you need to take:

1. Clean out the chip. Many technicians even drill the chip to ensure a perfect opening.

2. Pour the resin into the vacuum chamber.

3. Attach the device to the windshield over the chip.

4. Evacuate the air from the chip. You can see the air evacuating the chip by the bubbling in the resin. This usually takes up to 10 minutes.

When all the air is out, the resin is forced into the chip cavity by injection, using the same device.

To hasten the curing process, a small UV lamp is included in the kit to cure the resin in about 10 to 15 minutes. Once cured, the resin acts like an adhesive to bond the layers of glass, forming a nearly invisible repair.

The pricing

The entire process takes less than 30 minutes to complete, which is mostly waiting time. But, for that total of 30 minutes, a shop can charge anywhere from $30 to $50 per chip, a tremendous mark-up considering material costs run about $2 to $3 on average.

Repair prices vary, but it will always be less expensive than windshield replacement.

Insurance companies

Because chip repair is always less expensive than replacement, insurance companies are 100 percent in support of windshield chip repair.

In fact, they encourage the insured motorist to repair rather than replace, and they will pay from $30 to $50 per chip and waive the deductible. This means it costs the motorist nothing to repair the chip(s), and it means $30 to $50 in your pocket.

Consumer awareness

Although glass repair technology has been around for over 25 years, motorists are only now aware of its existence, and many more still consider replacement as their only alternative.

You should really incorporate glass repair into your business, it is money you are leaving on the table. To be successful, you must let customers know you offer it; what it is; that it may be FREE for them (if they have insurance); and that it only takes 30 minutes.

For detailers with a shop or full-service waiting area, have your system supplier help you set up a display to show before and after examples.

Fast oil change/quick lube operators

The fast oil change and quick lube industry embraced windshield chip repair at least 15 years ago and is experiencing excellent results.

One study done at a fast oil change facility revealed that nearly 50 percent of the cars had at least one windshield chip. Think of it, a carwash that processes thousands of cars per month means lots of chips and lots of dollars.

If you sold 10 percent of the cars with chips, that is a lot of profit. For a detailer the profit potential is not as staggering as a carwash, but it can still represent big profits for the bottom line.

Promotion and advertising

All you need to do is hand out flyers. Have a display in the waiting room using a “before and after” windshield, or simply bring the chip to the customer’s attention.

Be sure to point out that the insurance company will waive the deductible so it will cost the customer nothing.

Be sure to contact local auto dealers, rental car agencies, taxi companies, government agencies and companies with vehicle fleets. All are viable customers for rock chip repair.

Also, make sure to get in touch, personally, with all the insurance claim centers in the area, letting them know you have this service available. They will refer business to you. In addition, having a familiarity with local claims adjustors will allow you to make a quick phone call to assure clients in the shop that their insurance carriers will pay for the service. It is really “give-me money.”

You could even offer the windshield repair as a free service to full-service customers now and then as a “special.” This amenity could give your shop the edge you will need to set you apart from the competition.

Glass repair can be an excellent way to build new traffic as well as provide additional service to existing customers. Whatever you do, windshield rock chip repair means clear profit for those who add it.

Abraham is president of Detail Plus Car Appearance Systems, Portland, OR, and a nearly 40-year member of the car care industry. He is also the executive director of the International Detailing Association and a member of the Western Carwash Association Board of Directors. Abraham can be contacted

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