About three years ago Jeff Roberts, owner of J.R. Door & Window, in Upland, Calif., began offering a lifetime glass-breakage warranty on the windows he installs. The promise was simple: In addition to its lifetime warranty on product installation, J.R. Door & Window would replace any glass, broken for any reason, in any window the company installed. Roberts crossed his fingers. “I was a bit nervous,” he says. “I thought it would cost me a lot of money.”

Memories of Shattered Glass Roberts began promoting his glass-breakage warranty in newspaper ads and featuring it in the educational DVDs his company distributes to prospects. He says that at first he was baffled when people called specifically mentioning the glass-breakage policy. “But then I figured that sometime in the past they'd probably had a bad experience with glass breakage — and it's expensive. If you break double-paned glass, it's $300 or $400 per window by the time you get the [custom] glass unit and the labor to install it.” In his market, Roberts says, glass most often gets broken when a lawn mower kicks up a rock that hits the window. Flying baseballs are another cause of breakage.

Worry-Free Windows Of the roughly 500 window jobs his company installs per year, Roberts estimates that 10% are sold because of the glass-breakage policy. And the cost to the company has proved minor. He considers it an advertising expense.

“I might have to change out the glass on 10 windows this year,” he says, estimating the expense at about $3,000. That $3,000 produces, he guesses, about 100 leads in the form of people responding to his ads, and of those leads, maybe 50 jobs are sold. “The bottom line is that once we install them you're never going to have to worry about your windows again.”