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Making windshield repair work

If you operate an auto glass shop


February 13, 2009
By Canadian Rental Service

Topics

If you operate an auto glass shop, there is a pretty good chance you
have various tools and equipment to make your job quicker and easier.
You probably also have an extensive inventory of windshields, or at
least have quick access to whatever windshields you may need.

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Today’s windshield repair systems have the ability to produce repairs that meet or surpass the expectations of both retail and wholesale customers.
Photo courtesy of CR Laurence.


 

If you operate an auto glass shop, there is a pretty good chance you have various tools and equipment to make your job quicker and easier. You probably also have an extensive inventory of windshields, or at least have quick access to whatever windshields you may need. In addition to windshields, you may also offer aftermarket services like running boards, window tinting and wood dash trim kits. The purpose of having all these products, along with the right tools, is to be able to effectively service your customers and give your business the competitive edge.

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However, there is one vital piece of equipment that may be missing from your shop and the shops of many of your competitors. This equipment has the ability to bring in new business and create a major source of income. What is it? A windshield repair system.
 
Over the last few years, windshield repair has come into a field of its own. No longer is it the ”snake oil” of the glass industry. Today’s systems have the ability to produce repairs that meet or surpass the expectations of both retail and wholesale customers.

But if windshield repair is so profitable and easy, then why are there so few auto glass shops offering it? Some will tell you windshield repair takes away from replacement business. Others will tell you that windshield repair equipment is unreliable and does not make acceptable repairs. Those are both valid concerns, but are based on a lack of marketing skill and product knowledge.

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When comparing windshield repair systems consider what materials the components are made from and what accessories are included in the kit.
Photo courtesy of CR Laurence.
 
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Windshield repair systems can generate extra income from repair service work by bringing in new business.
Photo courtesy of CR Laurence.


 

Increase new customers
With regards to windshield repair taking away from replacement business, there will always be damaged windshields that cannot be repaired. But there are a lot of repairable windshields that may never see the inside of your shop. Why? Because the owners of these vehicles don’t know that their windshields can be repaired, usually with their insurance companies paying 100 per cent of the cost. By offering windshield repair, you can reach all these potential customers and by bringing in new customers, can also increase your replacement business.

As for finding the right windshield repair system for your shop, there are a lot of choices. Like any other piece of equipment, you have to find one that meets your needs. From a practical point, you will want to make sure the system uses components that last. Avoid systems that use a lot of plastic parts and make sure the system is easy to use.

A system that is difficult to operate can lead to costly mistakes.  One of the most important points to look at when deciding on a repair system is what process the system uses to make repairs. Many low priced systems use a screw pressure process. While this may be quick, the repairs tend to be poor. Most times they can still be seen as air tends to get trapped inside the break. This air looks black when viewed from an angle and over time can expand with heat and cause the break to spread.

Some manufacturers have introduced a newer process that involves a pump, manual or electric, that removes the air in the break prior to injecting the resin. This process is catching on, as the repair quality is visually superior to the screw pressure process. However, keep in mind that some hand operated pump systems cannot produce enough vacuum to remove the trapped air.

When shopping for a windshield repair system, it’s easy to become confused. It seems every manufacturer claims its system to be the best while showing how everyone else’s is junk. This is a purchase not to be taken lightly. Your business depends on being able to provide the highest level of service. Every tool and part you use must perform exactly the way it’s supposed to.

Look for manufacturer support
So how do you know what system is right for you? The best way to get product information is by calling the manufacturers. Most of them have videos and catalogues that will show you how their systems work. You can also get a lot of information from their websites. Here are some key points to think about when comparing systems:

What materials are the components made from? Metal is best: plastic components tend to wear out from regular use. What accessories are included with the system? Check to see if a drill and UV light is included. See how much resin is included. Will you have to purchase additional components or upgrade to better accessories?

What repair process does the repair system work on? Screw pressure is based on old technology and tends to produce repairs that are not visually clear. Look for systems that are based on a vacuum/pressure process.

Is there a pump? Is it manual or electric? Although manual pumps are less expensive, electric pumps provide the best control and generally make the best repairs. What kinds of repairs do you want to make? Some systems may only be able to repair certain types of stone chips.

Others may only be able to make repairs on specific areas of the windshield. This could hinder your ability to effectively make windshield repair work for you. Check to see the limitations of each system.

What kind of aftermarket support does the company offer? Is personnel training available? How about technical support? Make sure there is a good warranty on your system.

Where is the manufacturer based? Try to look for companies that are located relatively close. Having to deal with currency exchange and customs can lead to big headaches when you are waiting for a new part.

Adding to your service
Even after you have found a system you like, the issue of cost can play a big part in deciding whether to get it or not. But don’t let it be your number one concern. Keep in mind that your mark-up for each repair is many times higher than that of windshield replacement.  Many small to medium sized glass shops can generate additional revenue by offering windshield repair.  Also, keep in mind that powered systems tend to be more efficient and quicker than manual systems. This can further help to reduce your cost per repair.

Once you have your windshield repair system, you need to let the world know that you can do the best repairs! To do this you need to do some marketing. That doesn’t mean you need to spend money though. First check out some used car dealers. Then hook up with some fleets like cab companies, couriers and car rental places. If you are already doing work for them, adding windshield repair to your list of services is easy. Remember that by offering ways for your customers to save money, you will in turn make more money.

One thing worth noting, windshield repair, like all your other services, is just one part of your business. It is all the products and services added together, backed by great customer service, that will ultimately decide how successful your auto glass business is. Remember that you are not in business to replace or repair windshields, tint windows, or sell accessories. You are in business to turn a profit.

Retains the vacuum
Glass Pro Systems has announced its latest addition to its arsenal for windshield repair: the Annihilator! Made mostly of Delrin, which is very strong, lightweight, and is totally impervious to chemicals, this new tool is designed for vertical repairs to windshields as well as any repairable damage to the glass on a windshield. 

The Annihilator has a vacuum pump system using a modified Wood’s pump and is quickly attached and removed from the vacuum chamber with a slip luer.  It has been designed this way to eliminate any possibility of fouling out the pump. The slip luer is a friction fit that enables a positive vacuum with a quick connect and a quick disconnect feature.  Once a vacuum is in place the pump can be swivelled as needed and still retain the vacuum.  Once the injector is lowered to the glass the Wood’s pump can be quickly disconnected. The tool is extremely fast and completes very high quality repairs with minimal training. The total weight is 9.3 ounces without the pump and 10.3 ounces with the pump attached.

Michael Curl, president of Glass Pro Systems, says what makes this tool unique is the secondary vacuum, which is actually creating a strong suction right in the resin pool. He says this is much more effective compared to techniques that use a vacuum zone over the resin because the surface tension in the resin has a fluid connection and draws a motion in the resin to extract any remaining air from the break. This allows for much better repairs and higher quality on a consistent basis. 
Parts include:

  • Vacuum chamber with female slip luer
  • Injector and piston (Injector anodized aluminum)
  • Hold down nut (Aluminum)
  • Adjustable bridge with allen screw to pivot end.
  • Standoff legs (aluminum) and suction cups
  • Rear adjuster screw
  • Modified Wood’s Pump with male slip luer
  • O-rings and insert seal (seal to glass and vacuum chamber)


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