Treat and repair windshields the right way
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the September 2005 issue of Professional Carwashing & Detailing. If you would like to submit a tip or an article idea, please e-mail editor Kate Carr.
Detailing businesses can add value by selling high-quality add-on items that help enhance appearance, convenience and/or safety for customers' vehicles.
Businesses looking to ramp up profits through add-ons should consider installing windshield treatments, which are easy to provide and offer customers desirable safety and convenience features.
What are windshield treatments?
Windshield treatments are hydrophobic (rain-repellant) coatings applied to the exterior of a vehicle's glass that leave treated surfaces water-resistant by causing rain to bead-up and roll off.
Types of hydrophobic glass treatments include:
• Silicone-based products that sit atop a glass surface.
• Fluoropolymer-based products that bond with the glass material.
A recent report by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute suggested that using hydrophobic window treatments may greatly improve driver visibility in rainy conditions.
The report said a treated windshield offered drivers as much as 34 percent better visual acuity than an untreated windshield, and driver response time to identify a small target improved after glass treatment by as much as 25 percent, from four seconds to three, which could mean 58 feet of travel distance at 40 miles-per-hour.
Seven steps to windshield success
In addition to the advantages for drivers, windshield treatments can also be good for carwashing and detailing businesses.
The treatment installs in minutes, on all makes and models of vehicles. No special training or capital investment is necessary because it is easy to apply and only requires glass cleaner and paper towels to do it right.
The recommended application process for hydrophobic glass treatment is as follows:
1. Read all instructions before applying.
2. Pay particular attention to temperature limitations, the amount of product needed for effective treatment and other recommendations.
3. Thoroughly clean and dry the glass surface(s), being sure to clear as much residue as possible.
4. Depending on the type of treatment being applied, either:
o Use a clean, dry cloth or paper towel to apply treatment from a bottle;
o Spray the treatment on the windshield; or
o Prepare the treatment's ready-to-use applicator as directed.
5. Apply treatment to the entire windshield (or other glass surface) in an up-and-down and then side-to-side pattern, avoiding painted surfaces and ensuring the glass is well covered.
If the liquid or wax treatment should contact non-glass surfaces, remove it with a dry paper towel.
6. Immediately and thoroughly buff the glass with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel to ensure even treatment distribution.
7. Carefully dispose of application materials, because treatments may be harmful if ingested or otherwise misused.
To get the most return on investment for adding windshield treatment services to a carwash or detailing operation's offerings, a business can promote the treatment to customers through lobby or waiting-area displays, demonstrations, consultations and reminders for reinstallation.
Offer glass treatment for all vehicle windows instead of just the windshield: It will last about twice as long on the side and rear windows than on the windshield, and all treated windows offer additional opportunities for repeat installation charges.
Paul Baratta is an Aquapel business manager for PPG Industries, a maker of in glass technology.
Over the last 30 years windshield repair has grown from its inception to a widely - accepted practice both nationally and internationally.
With millions of windshields being repaired every year, more and more consumers are looking for a repair over a replacement, thereby saving them time, money, and improving the safety of themselves and their passengers.
Windshield repair should be a priority for every carwash owner.
Since the advent of windshield repair, the primary goal and strategy was to create equipment and supplies that could produce a repair, which fused the fracture to prevent further cracking and sustain the integrity of the glass.
Since the arrival of the windshield repair process, manufacturers continue to maintain and adhere to these basic rules followed by a tremendous amount of product development and research.
Many carwash and lube shops currently outsource windshield repair because they think it is a service that cannot be successfully integrated.
Twenty to 30 years ago windshield repair technology allowed for this statement to be true, but with today's windshield repair systems and techniques, any service center could effectively incorporate this service.
One in six
Many carwash and service centers see the opportunity in this extra profit center, but are reluctant to invest because of their lack of knowledge in the service.
The average carwash runs approximately 200 cars through their center per day. With the average repair ratio being one in six cars, that's a potential of 33 cars-a-day per carwash.
The point is any carwash or car-care center already has the car count, which is 95 percent of the battle.
Remember that most of the equipment on the market today is very easy to operate and some of the windshield repair manufacturers even offer free training to owners and employees.
Windshield repair's core principle is safety. The sole purpose of windshield repair is to reduce the visibility of the damage and to fuse the glass, preventing the damage from reoccurring in the future.
It also adds extra strength to the windshield that has been damaged, allowing the windshield to gain some of the structural integrity that was lost.
This prevents the windshield from being replaced and is an additional safety benefit if the car owner still has the original manufacturer's windshield.
The original windshield supplies the greatest safety benefit to a customer, because is has the best bonding strength to the frame of the vehicle allowing it to sustain and bare more weight in the case of a roll-over accident.
Customers can pay between $40-$50 dollars for a 10-15 minute repair rather then replacing the windshield for approximately $300-$400.
In many cases their insurance provider will pay for the repair with no out-of-pocket expenses to the customer. Offering a service that a customer does not have to pay for is a great thing.
Regardless of if it's cash or insurance, you will be increasing the safety to the customer.
The best way to have a happy customer is first to educate them on the windshield repair service you are offering.
If you have done this properly, when you are finished with the repair they should know that their windshield is much safer then it was.
Along with this, make sure that you give the customer a warranty policy that they can feel comfortable about.
With the equipment innovations that have been made in the industry, quality, consistency and customer satisfaction will help you develop this service.
Rory Most is the marketing director for Glass Technology located in Durango, CO. Rory can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.