Here comes winter in all its snowing, blowing, drifting, freezing glory. Winter’s tricky snow- and ice-covered driving conditions create challenges for your customers. Not to mention the difficulties facing your team when replacing or repairing windshields in harsh, frigid weather.
So, for those working and driving in parts of the country blanketed by snow and plummeting temperatures, here are some things to keep in mind as you and your crew try to keep warm while handling customer calls.
- Plan ahead: Get everything organized, check the weather to see if it may change, and be prepared for any emergencies you may encounter from helping a stranded motorist to becoming stranded yourself. If you know your routine, you can plan accordingly so you’re ready should something happen because of winter weather conditions.
- Dress for warmth and movement: Before heading out the door, be sure you’re dressed appropriately in your warmest cold-weather gear. The key here is layering your clothing. Compression gear is great for keeping the warmth in while not sacrificing any of your movement. As each job is different, it’s important to remember than some tasks take more than others, so the time that you spend on each task is always different. Be sure to double check that you have your full range of movement available before venturing out to any cold weather job.
- Shorter open times: Keep in mind that when it’s cold – 32° or lower – material open times become shorter. That’s because the cold causes the urethane to harden quicker and makes it difficult to shape properly. By having shorter open times to work with, there is a much smaller margin for error than when working in the summer. Upfront preparation is extremely important to ensure a smooth time of it on the job.
- Repairs take longer: The colder it gets, the less you want to stay outside. Yet, repair times in the winter are slower than those in the summer, increasing the Safe Drive-away Time (SDAT) for reasons including:
- It takes more time to remove the old windshield
- Any plastic you use becomes more brittle and harder to handle
- Primers take longer to cure, going from an average of 10 minutes to an average of 25 minutes
With longer repair times comes a greater attention to scheduling. Make sure you don’t have too many back-to-back appointments, and be sure you have a clear course set up in order to get to the next job with time to spare.
Repair times in the winter are slower than the summer, increasing the Safe Drive-away Time (SDAT).
On the other (glove-covered) hand, as the temperature drops business can drop as well. Drivers often wait until spring to get cracks fixed, as long as the crack doesn’t become larger. However, in the case of a driver experiencing a major crackout, business can always take a bit of an upswing during heavy winter weather.
Glass Protection for Winter Driving
Once you do repair or replace a customer’s glass, help them drive safely to keep the glass in good shape during the winter. (And all year long, of course.)
Here are some protective tips to offer your customers:
- Use the defroster: Drivers should run their defroster first – not the heater – because it slowly warms glass and prevents cracking. This includes the rear-window defroster as well, so check that it’s working properly.
- Don’t chop icy patches: This can lead to chipping the glass. Scrape the ice, which becomes easier as the defroster warms the windshield.
- Never use hot water to melt ice: Sure, the ice will thaw fast. But the extreme temperature swing could easily crack the glass just as fast.
- Make sure wiper blades work: They should clean the windshield clearly, including wiping away water from melting snow, slush, or thrown up by truck tires onto the windshield.
- Turn OFF wipers BEFORE turning the engine off: Water frequently freezes overnight during the winter. Should the blades freeze to the windshield when starting the car, the wiper motor could burn out trying to get them back to the “rest position”.
- Keep windshield washer reservoir full: Poor road and weather conditions can cover windshields in crud, leading to heavy washer usage. Advise customers to keep filling their windshield washer reservoir, and also to carry extra fluid in the trunk so they don’t run out.
Tell drivers to run their defroster first – not the heater – because it slowly warms glass and prevents cracking.
By preparing properly and taking extra precautions in case of bad weather and bad roads, you can plow through winter business without putting a chill on your bottom line.
Need more tips, suggestions, or advice on winter car care and winter glass replacement? For more helpful information, please visit www.serviceautoglass.com/download.