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April Showers Bring May Profits

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As you well know, your customers are not always educated on their vehicles. Often, they will procrastinate on addressing even the smallest of repairs or regularly scheduled maintenance items, such as wiper blades.

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And since April is Car Care Awareness Month, this may be a good time to address wiper blades as they relate to regularly scheduled maintenance.

According to driving safety experts, 90% of driving decisions depend on good vision, so a clean windshield is critical. When a driver has a windshield with streaks and smears, their vision is impaired, which can lead to trouble.

Wiper replacement and service offers you plenty of opportunity for your shop to make your customers safer, as well as add profits to your shop. According to the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, the windshield wiper market totaled $723 million in 2000. However, even this profitable aftermarket segment can grow, as nearly one-fourth of the vehicles on the road have worn wiper blades.

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You see, as important as driving vision is, the windshield wiper system is seriously undermaintained. According to a 2003 report from the Car Care Council, 21% of vehicles that were inspected at free car clinics during National Car Month had bad wipers.

That means while you are driving to the shop, one out of every five motorists that you pass may have trouble seeing you, especially in inclement weather.

Sounds scary, doesn’t it?

Sure, some shops are already doing a good job of communicating with customers on the need to replace their wiper blades each year; according to Professional Automotive Repair Technician Survey, the average number of times a shop replaces wiper blades each month is 10. But if you are thinking that wiper blades are mostly a DIY replacement part, you are way off. As you know from experience, not all vehicles are easy for installing wipers. In fact, many vehicle owners will delay replacing their wiper blades because of the difficulty in using the adapters that come with the blades. (Some drivers have gone as much as five, six and even seven years before replacing wipers!)

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One way to increase the sales of replacement blades at your shop is to have available a list of the vehicles that are difficult to replace the wiper blades. When one of those vehicles is in your shop, check with the customer to see when the last time the blades were replaced. If it’s been more than a year, explain to them the safety aspects of the wiper system and offer to change their wiper blades.

If the customer tells you that they replace the blades themselves, take a moment to educate them on the importance of using the correct replacement blade – not just the most/least expensive. Today’s windshields are more sloped than in years past (due to improved aerodynamics), and the “cab-forward” vehicle design offers more windshield.

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These designs present a windshield with a lot of glass, which directs more wind against the wipers. This can force the blades away from the glass at high speeds; that is, unless the wiper system and blades are designed to resist lift.

Explain to your customers that if they replace the blades and other wiper system parts, the aftermarket components should be properly designed to equal or exceed the anti-lift performance of the original parts.

By addressing a simple service like wiper blade replacement, you not only make your customer safer on the road, but at the same time provide a window of opportunity for your shop.

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