Volume 15, Issue 2 - March/April 2013


Broken Mirrors Bring Opportunity
by Elisabeth Mervenne

According to folklore, breaking a mirror was a surefire way to doom yourself to seven years of bad luck. Thankfully superstition has been set aside and a whole new vision has become clear. Automotive glass replacement companies searching for ways to increase sales and profits are beginning to see the benefits side-view mirror replacements can offer to their bottom line. Automotive mirror replacements have the power to generate significant additional revenue both with installations and by marketing the core business of automotive glass replacement.

Wiping the Mirror Clean
Replacing car mirrors used to be an extension of goodwill by the consumer’s local glass shop. This work was done for little or no money in hopes that the customer would return to their glass shop if they needed their windshield replaced in the future. Oftentimes they had a flat glass person at a cutting table who could cut a replacement mirror from a sheet of household mirror. Household mirror is highly reflective and at times, blinding. It was deemed a nice “promotional service” when margins on auto glass replacement were good, but it was certainly not the best alternative.

Today’s glass shops are beginning to recognize that they offer a unique service to the person searching for a way to fix their car mirror.

Reflecting Back
Automotive mirrors are first-surface chrome glass. This is essentially one-way mirror manufactured by a select number of companies. Using this type allows headlight glare from behind the vehicle to be absorbed through the mirror into the mirror housing. This allows the driver to see reflections from activity on the sides and behind the vehicle without being impaired by bright headlight reflection. Since the 1970s, passenger side mirrors have been convex with the standard “Objects are closer …” statement at the base of the mirror. A convex mirror is used to increase the field of vision to the rear of the vehicle.

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 111
FMVSS 111 is a specification pertaining to the rear vision parts of a vehicle. This federal standard is as enjoyable to read as, well, any other FMVSS listing that pertains to the AGRR industry (see: 212, 216, etc.) FMVSS111 specifies the required range of vision the driver must achieve utilizing rear vision products. These ranges are both horizontal and vertical angles from the side and rear of the vehicle. In addition, the standard requires rear vision products use “low reflectivity mirror” (40-60 percent reflectivity). From a shop liability standpoint, you must replace your customers’ mirror with a product that meets FMVSS 111. Household mirror should never be used in automotive mirror applications.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Savvy consumers will search the Internet and other avenues for options to get their side-view mirrors fixed. By taking the initiative to promote mirrors on your website and in your shop you will see results. In addition, some side-view mirror manufacturers offer retail point-of-purchase materials highlighting the mirror replacement service you provide. This will increase awareness with your in-shop windshield customers and hopefully they will bring the “other car” at home that has a broken mirror back to you. The more times a person comes into your store, the more likely they will keep coming back to you for all of their automotive glass and mirror needs.

Elisabeth Mervenne is vice president of sales and marketing for Burco Inc.

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