Volume 8, Issue 3 - March 2007

The Cutting Edge

“Yes” and “Now” 
Getting Homeowners to Say These Words
by Jim Plavecsky

To many, the soft market means making changes. Some scale down. Others reduce manpower, lower costs and slash budgets. But, while thinking about how to make the organization leaner, why not also think about how to broaden marketing capabilities? What else can we do to expand the list of product options? How can we excite prospects to buy more windows in a soft market where consumers are looking for reasons to put off a purchase? 

In the new construction market, it is hard to influence builders to buy more windows if they’re building fewer homes. But, let’s look at the replacement market. This is a different story. Some people buy windows only when they absolutely have to as in “my windows are falling apart.” However, others can be influenced to upgrade their windows for a variety of reasons. For many, this reason is to improve energy efficiency. They want to feel more comfortable and possibly lower their energy bills. But what if their windows are already doing a fairly decent job of keeping out the cold? What other reasons can we give them to buy new windows? What other technology could we offer that could give prospective customers good reasons to buy new windows sooner as opposed to later?

The Answer—Laminate
What about laminated glass? Laminated glass offers prospective buyers more reasons to say both “yes” and “now”—two words that are music to a window salesperson’s ears. Laminated glass offers both added security and better sound insulation. Both of these can be huge reasons why a prospective buyer might be convinced to say the two magic words.

Laminated glass is produced by bonding two or more layers of glass together permanently with a polymeric elastic and adhesive interlayer. This interlayer imparts two major properties, both of which lead to consumer benefits. First, in the event of glass breakage, it holds the glass together thereby preventing glass from falling or flying out of place. The key benefits here are safety and security. In the event of a major storm, if a wind-driven object hits the window, the glass stays in place as opposed to becoming a form of deadly shrapnel flying throughout the house. It also makes it very difficult for burglars to break through the glass, and thereby gain access into the home. The second major property that the interlayer imparts is sound absorption. Sound waves are transmitted through glass by way of vibration. The interlayer, however, acts as a sound-dampening layer because it tends to absorb sound waves as opposed to transmitting sound energy. 

How to Produce it
There are two major ways to produce laminated glass. The first involves the use of a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) film, which is sandwiched between two or more glass layers and processed in an autoclave with heat and pressure. The equipment is very capital intensive, so companies producing laminated glass with this technology are often in the business of distributing laminated glass to smaller fabricators. Because it is difficult to cut, it is usually ordered in the exact sizes needed, unless one has the capital required to invest in special machinery that is capable of cutting through the tough laminated layers. 

However, medium-sized fabricators who cannot justify the expense of an autoclave can make their own laminated glass by using liquid resin interlayer technology. This entails the use of a one- or two-part liquid resin that is pumped into a cavity created between the two layers of glass. An adhesive perimeter tape is placed around the first layer of glass to form a shim as the second sheet of glass is placed on top. The liquid resin is then injected between the two layers with a pump. When the resin is finally cured, this three-layer composite becomes a sheet of laminated glass. 

This liquid resin technology is much less capital intensive and offers the window manufacturer fabricating smaller quantities the option of producing laminated glass in-house, possibly establishing better lead times and lower costs.

When times are tough, the one area that should not be scaled back but actually beefed up is marketing. Incorporating laminated glass into the game plan, enables window fabricators to offer additional marketing leverage. In addition to all of the other reasons to buy a new window, the window salesperson can now offer benefits such as storm safety, burglar resistance and sound control. These might just be the extra edge that the salesperson needs … three more reasons for consumers to say “yes” and “now.” 

Jim Plavecsky is the owner of Windowtech Sales Inc., a Columbus, Ohio-based sales and consulting firm that specializes in the door and window industry. He can be reached at JimPlav@insight.rr.com.


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