by Bob Beranek
  • facebook

Why do people often fight change? Is it because change is uncomfortable? Is it because people are convinced their way is better, despite all of the evidence to the contrary? I think it is a little of both. I have personally witnessed heated discussions that rarely change minds or beliefs.

In my interactions with technicians over the years, there seems to be a competition between installation procedures. Two perennial favorites are the arguments over “tucking” or “stuffing” the glass without pulling the cowl panel versus pulling the cowl panel, and squabbles over the benefits of round bead versus triangular bead urethane application.

When it comes to “tucking” or “stuffing” the glass, I always thought that even those who do it realize that it is an improper practice. I believed that if they were given enough time to get the job done right, they would practice safe sets. However, recently I heard a technician actually brag about the great job he did using the “stuff” method of install.

From his description, the bead was applied above the top edge of the panel and the glass is set into a cowl that uses hooks for support and panel attachment. This does make the “stuffing” installation possible because the glass can be set onto the bead and not into the bead. However, the seal and bond are hidden from the tech by the panel. This is not visual confirmation of a bond or a seal being made. If the glass is not set properly, even by a fraction of an inch, the bead will be displaced and the bond compromised. If it oozes out and the cowl is adhered to the glass, the cowl may be damaged upon removal by the next installer. If the glass is inserted into the bead, the chances of air leaks are increased.

The kicker here is that none of the issues described above will be known until the glass is replaced again or if someone is seriously hurt due to a bad bond and installation. Yet the technician bragged about “stuffing” the glass and holds it up as proof that his method is better and faster than everyone else’s. I don’t get it.

In the same vein, triangular beads are recommended and in some cases required for use with adhesives.  Every adhesive company, (automotive, structural or architectural) instruct the application of triangular beads. Every vehicle manufacturer instructs the application of triangular beads. Every assembly plant using adhesives uses triangular beads. Every physics teacher can explain the benefits of the triangular shape and how it is superior in distributing product on a surface. Yet, some auto glass installers continue to believe that round bead distribution is better. Again, I don’t get it.

I know that change is not an easy thing. We all feel more comfortable when the procedures we use are familiar and we all believe our methods work. I remember a time years ago when my boss instructed me to use a plastic stick to put in gasket jobs from then on instead of a metal hook tool. Even worse, he told me to teach this new method to all our technicians. I fought the concept tooth and nail at first because I felt that all technicians needed to know how to use the hook tool. However, if I wanted to keep my job I had to learn and master the “stick-in” style of installation and forget the “hook-in.” How did that workout? Glass breakage dropped by over 75 percent and our company saved thousands of dollars. I learned something new.

I would like to propose a challenge to all who “stuff” and apply round beads. Give change a chance, it will bode us well to be a little less rebellious at times and to try new things that experts tell us work. It may save you money and hassles down the road. What could it hurt?

Several of my recent posts have been about glass quality, primarily because it has been a frequent topic of discussion in our industry. Today, I want to discuss what increasing the quality of auto glass will mean to your business.

Will increasing the quality of auto glass mean that the price of glass goes up? It probably will. If you want higher quality, you will have to pay for higher quality, and you will have to sell the benefits of that higher quality to your customers.

Selling customers on higher pricing has been a problem for many of the owners and operators I‘ve talked to in past years. They say they can’t compete with X’s glass shop down the street if they don’t meet or beat its price. I disagree.

Selling the benefits of your auto glass replacement service is similar to selling anything else. Every service and every product offered to the public occupies its own niche in the marketplace. You can be the “low cost,” the “fast service” or the “high quality parts” supplier. The key to success is not figuring out how you can provide a similar product at a lower price, it is figuring out how your business is different from the competitors’ and then selling that distinction. “Difference” sells.

Remember that if price is the only decision point of a consumer, there would never be luxury or “quality” items offered.  If price is the only decision point, we would only drive Nissan Versas (the lowest priced vehicle for 2017) and talk to our friends on flip phones.

We as consumers choose products that appeal to our particular needs. If our need is for safety, we’ll look for items deemed safe. If our needs are cosmetic, we’ll buy what looks good. If our needs are to have our vehicle perform the way it always did, we’ll buy what is necessary to achieve that prior performance. Price is important, but it’s on a sliding scale that is directly proportionate to the perceived value.

It’s true that glass isn’t always an easy sell. A windshield is not a new boat, a new piece of furniture or new technology TV—it’s a transparent panel people look through and never notice. However, we all know good glass from cheap glass. If we explain to customers why our glass is better, they will know it, too.

Don’t simply put in what you get and complain among yourselves about the quality. Glass professionals need to explain the importance and performance features of the product they sell. You need to illustrate to your customer the benefits of his or her new windshield and explain how it contributes to comfort and safety. You need to sell its value; if you don’t, you are doomed to forever selling and installing junk glass for junk prices.

You want good glass? Learn about what good glass is. Then find it, pay for it, refuse poor quality and sell it for what it is worth. Cream rises to the top and so will the profits if you put forth the effort.

Since I began in the auto glass industry, technicians have regularly complained of poor glass quality. I remember the DW725-26 Chrysler windshield that had a bend problem that reached unbelievable proportions.  The edges and bottom could be placed dry and directly on the pinchweld and the top center had almost an inch gap off the pinchweld. That was a problem. I remember having to convince Volvo owners that their desire to have OE glass installed was a mistake, because OE didn’t fit. The glass was too small and the moldings would not cover the gap between the glass edge and the pinchweld wall, causing the moldings to rattle or blow off. I had to sell them on the Safeguard FW404 and OE clips to make it work.

It has occurred to me lately that as a technician, I never brought my concerns to the people that could do anything about quality issues; the glass manufacturers. I just adjusted my install to compensate for poor quality glass, complained to my fellow technicians and continued on. That was wrong.

Recently I have been hearing complaints on glass quality again. Extreme protrusion of laminate, mirror pads put on crooked and falling off, glass being out of bend, VIN windows being misplaced, and attachments poorly applied. These add time and money to each installation and in some situations they can stop the installation completely.

It seems obvious that the quality of some glass pieces has deteriorated. However, if you have read my recent posts I think it is evident that glass quality will and must be improved or the manufacturers will soon be out of business. Proof of that statement is a recent glassBYTES article in which Pilkington has announced a huge upgrade to their Kentucky plant that will improve quality and increase production. That is a good sign and a step in the right direction.

What I am saying is that if you want better quality glass you must fight for it. How many of you have gone to your supplier with a complaint and they tell you, “We have not had any complaints about that problem before”?  Is it that we don’t protest enough? Do we simply deal with the defect and continue on with the installation like I used to do?

Technicians have to demand higher quality to get higher quality. I believe in the old adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” If a glass manufacturer or distributor doesn’t know that there is a fit problem with certain part numbers, or if they don’t know that glass quality is important to you, they will supply what sells. At this point, that may be glass that is the lowest price (with marginal quality.)

You can’t expect suppliers to feel your pain unless you are direct with your expectations. Glass manufacturers are in business to sell glass and make a profit.  If you keep quiet and ignore the problems, you will get what sells, not what you want. It is in our best interests, and our duty to our customers, to speak up about poor quality glass. The moral of this story is that the manufacturers cannot deliver to us what we want unless they know what that is. We as aftermarket consumers of auto glass must voice our likes and dislikes or we will be subject to the only thing the manufacturers know; sales. If you want change, speak up. If you want quality, pay for it.