Volume 9, Issue 6 - November/December 2007
Something for Everyone
There were informational opportunities, learning experiences and a chance to catch up with industry colleagues for everyone in attendance at the second annual Auto Glass Week™ in Las Vegas. The event took place November, October 31-November 3 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, in conjunction with the annual NACE Expo. The week’s events included something for everyone, including the Auto Glass Expo @ NACE, the annual Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards (AGRSS) Conference, the Independent Glass Association’s (IGA) Fall Conference, the third annual Auto Glass Technician Olympics (AGTO), the second annual Walt Gorman Memorial Windshield Repair Olympics (WRO) and the National Windshield Repair Association’s (NWRA) annual conference. In the following pages, you’ll get a taste of each of these events and the education they offered.
In addition, the group re-elected two board members, Bob Birkhauser of AEGIS Tools International and Debra Levy, publisher of AGRR magazine/ glassBYTEs.com™. Dan Mock, vice president of operations for Glass Doctor, Turiello, Timmons and Jeff Bull of J. Bull Associates also were elected to the Board of Directors.
Carl Tompkins, chair of the credentialing committee, took this opportunity to update the committee on his committee’s efforts.
“We’ve given this industry five years to learn that there’s a standard and to learn how to incorporate it,” he said. “That total of five years means it’s time to graduate,” said Tompkins, speaking of the possibility of third-party audits to be developed by early 2009.
Membership chair Jean Pero of Mygrant also provided an update on the membership committee. She reminded the group that every company that doesn’t renew its membership/registration is contacted by the membership committee—usually by phone. Rodger Pickett of Cindy Rowe Auto Glass, chair of the training programs committee, discussed his committee training program program. (See below for the list of registered training programs, which were announced during the conference.)
AGRSS is now registering training programs that can show they comply with the AGRSS Standard. Five organizations received these credentials (see below).
“How did we get there? We had to have a vision,” said AGRSS chairperson Cindy Ketcherside, as she introduced Jolliff, who is known as the founder of AGRSS. As a former IGA president he first thought of the idea of developing a Standard for safe auto glass installations.
In accepting the honor, Jolliff said he still has high hopes that the work of the AGRSS standard will go even further.
“I may not live to see it, but I hope I do and think I will, the day that every auto glass shop in the nation gets on board with the AGRSS Standard,” Jolliff said.
Mieske, who no longer works in the auto glass industry, also attended the conference to accept the honor AGRSS bestowed upon him.
“He worked day and night to get our original standard drafted,” Ketcherside said of Mieske, who thanked others for their support and noted that they all had something in common that made the creation of the standard possible.
“We needed one other ingredient and that was faith—we all had faith in the process,” he said.
In honoring Ives, Ketcherside noted that his work has often been behind the scenes—and for awhile was even pro bono.
“Bill never complained when AGRSS couldn’t pay him,” chuckled Ketcherside, who noted that the group is now up-to-date in their payments to Ives and now is fully “in the black.”
Ives, who has been involved with the standard since the beginning, said he also appreciated the others involved in the work.
“It wasn’t just the activity of those involved—it was the dedication,” he said.
In recognizing Birkhauser, Ketcherside referred to him as the “thread to link all these people,” noting that in the three previous thank-you speeches, Birkhauser’s name was mentioned.
Birkhauser also was appreciative—but said the Council still has lots of work before them.
“This industry is under a great deal of pressure to become a commodity,” he said. “We need to work with the insurance industry and we need to educate them that there is a difference.”
“Remember, we’re on a journey and the journey is not at its end,” he said.
Keynoter Rocky Bleier, former Pittsburgh Steeler and Vietnam veteran, also provided a motivational talk in which he advised attendees that they need to believe in themselves and work as a team in order to reach their common goal of promoting safe installations in the auto glass industry.
“Successful organizations like successful teams are made up of two parts—trust and commitment,” he said.
He also reminded attendees to remember the past when thinking about how to approach the future. “If you don’t understand your past, then how do you know where you’re going to go?” he asked.
Bleier noted that leadership plays an important role, too.
“When put in charge, take charge, and when you’re in charge, have the courage to do what is right,” he said.
Bleier’s speech was sponsored by Glass America.
The Audit Question
The most controversial questions proved to be timing of notice (suggestions ranged from no notice to notice of three to five days) and penalties for those in major violation of the Standard. Most in attendance agreed that some penalty needs to be provided, but there was debate as to whether the penalty should be a year before renewal of registration or only the fee to pay for a new audit (approximately $2,000) to prove compliance with the Standard.
In addition, Levy, who chairs the AGRSS marketing committee, provided a marketing update, noting that the committee has developed several new brochures and mirror tags, including a mirror tag about safe drive-away times. In addition, the group has readied a test program for advertising AGRSS in markets that meet certain criteria, with hopes of launching the program in 2008.Levy ended with some words about the group’s past and future on its tenth anniversary.
“It’s really a pleasure for me to see us reach ten years,” she said. “It’ll be a great journey to see where we go in the next ten.”
In the first, which was dubbed many as the “Panel of the Two Pauls,” Paul McFarlane, director of programs administration for LYNX Services, and Paul Gross, president of Harmon Solutions Group, participated in a panel discussion of claims resolutions.
McFarlane explained the difference between claims that need pre-approval and those that don’t. “The glass programs we administer have a standard rate which they will pay, anything beyond that requires prior approval,” he stated. “You should be paid for the service you provide to the client. What we have to decide is what portion will be paid by the insurance company and what will be paid by the client.” He gave the example of corrosion and pointed out that this is where the pre-inspection becomes so important (see the October 2007 issue of AGRR, page 32, for related story).
“The more important information you can provide on the need for this extra work, the better we can represent this to the insurance company,” he said. “Then the insurance company can say if the procedure is covered or not and, if it’s not, you can then start the conversation with the client,” he added.
Gross started his segment of the discussion by saying that when he was asked to serve on the panel he was told that AGRSS wanted a ‘good Paul’ and a ‘bad Paul.’ “I asked which one I was, but they wouldn’t tell me,” he said to general laughter.
Gross spoke about the importance of AGRSS registration but pointed out that it needs a wider ‘footprint’ nationally before it could be a mandated condition. He also explained that each insurance company has in its policies what is covered by the insurance and what is not.
“In some cases of damage, the loss of glass will be covered but not body work,” he said. “The damage has to meet the definition of a loss.” The session then became an open forum for attendees to ask questions.
Much of the interactive discussion revolved around corrosion and who pays for what and how to handle the situation when corrosion is found. McFarlane made the point that it is difficult to have customer service reps that can have knowledge about and discuss the situation of corrosion with clients on the phone.
Gross said that it would be quite exceptional to have a vehicle owner call the TPA and say that there is corrosion on the vehicle. “They see that the glass is broken and that’s as far as they go,” he said.
Hello, AGRSS, Hello
He started by saying that a company has to make a decision as to whether the customer service representative is a member of the service team or the sales team. “Unfortunately, there is very little selling over the phone in our industry,” Timmons said.
“You have 45 seconds to establish a relationship over the phone.”
“This takes you out of the commodity situation,” he added. Timmons also said that if a customer only gets a windshield replacement every seven years, “can you afford to lose that sale?”
He also advised that company define and promote its strengths for selling over the telephone, including the fact that it is an AGRSS-registered company. “Let the potential client know what AGRSS is and what your company has done to be certified and what it means,” he said.
His final piece of advice was to analyze the results of phone selling, whether good or bad. “Your close rates are going to tell you if you are hitting that emotional button which makes customers make buying decisions,” he stated.
The Fab Five
The companies had to submit the elements of their training program to the AGRSS Council for review and the education committee reviewed these to determine that the programs comply with the AGRSS Standard.
Many companies take the opportunity to launch new products at NACE.
For example, Glass Doctor of Waco, Texas, unveiled a brand-new van design for the first time at the show. The van, which will be provided to new franchisees, is one in a line of many Glass Doctor has recently re-designed for its many product lines, according to the company’s Andrew Baker. The van is already in service by two of the company’s newest franchisees.
Reid Manufacturing launched its new QC-200 quick-release cold knife system. It’s smaller than the previous version of the system.
Liquid Resins also has two new products: a headlight restoration kit and a Micro-Vac Pro 360 (MVP360).The MVP360 injector and bridge assembly is designed to work with or without an external vacuum source.
Glass Pro Systems showcased its Super Cinch windshield repair tool. Company president Michael Curl notes that the system doesn’t utilize heat, is easy to use and can negotiate any curvature of the glass and is designed for vertical repairs.
Shat R Proof Corp. introduced its new SRP Origin™ auto glass adhesive.
The company says the SRP Origin will offer crash test validated safe drive away times of 4 hours at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius).
GlasWeld launched its new G3fusion auto glass repair system, featuring the G3 ProVac injector.
The conference kicked off with a presentation by IGA president Dave Zoldowski and a two-hour discussion of the services offered by the association and the overall theme of the meeting (one of the most important topics for independent AGRR companies)—steering. Among the new services that IGA is offering are free AGRSS registration, legislative alerts, IGA certification, CSR training and certification and the anti-steering campaign. The ‘Don’t Get Steered’ campaign was introduced by IGA board member Bryan Yarborough. “It’s hard to explain to those outside our industry what is going on in our market,” he explained.
“That’s the purpose of this campaign.” Consumer brochures, radio spots, TV advertising scripts, postcards for consumers and representative press releases are all included as methods to get the message out on what steering is and why consumers need to be aware of it. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader had suggested a comic book to explain the complex concept to consumers when he spoke to members at their May conference.
“We are within 8 to 12 weeks of having this printed,” said Yarborough.
“This is a fun way to get the message out and use as a leave-behind,” Yarborough added. “And all these materials will be made cost effective so that you can use them in your shop.” Shawn Newport, an IGA board member, picked up the discussion on steering by advising that everyone check on whether or not consumers in their state have the right to choose. “This is the first thing you have to find out. Do consumers have the right to choose a shop to do their work?”
Also, because consumers are increasingly using the Internet to find a shop to complete auto glass work, Newport advised attendees to be sure they have a web presence that will capture these consumers. He also led a discussion of successful techniques to avoid having a client steered by what IGA calls a competitor administrator.
There was an emphasis on the importance of controlling the call so that the consumer doesn’t get steered.
There was also a discussion of how to respond if a customer asks if a claim is going to affect their premium. Representatives of State Farm, who were in the audience, explained that even the claims department cannot provide an answer to this question because of the many factors which are involved. They advised telling clients that they should ask their agent for information on whether filing the claim is going to affect the premium.
The final consensus was that it is up to the individual shop to educate its customers. IGA is putting into place tools to help do this.
Mr. IGA Goes to the State Capital
Those are the questions we will endeavor to answer.” He said that the purpose of the legislative activity in Washington was to prevent an entity from being a retail shop and a third-party administrator. He explained, “We couldn’t quantify any steering when we investigated, but there were statements in the company’s scripts that steered the customer, such as that its warranty was better than independent companies.” Grim told attendees that if they don’t prevent steering, no one will. “That’s where legislation comes in,” he said. “Legislation forces action.
We didn’t end up with the bill we wanted, but we did get legislation.” He added, “Legislation changes the way ‘they’ (whoever that is) do business.” He said that he has already seen changes in the way TPAs operate in his state. It takes time, a lot of it, Grim said, as well as money, commitment and leadership to get legislation passed.
“These are non-negotiables,” he said. Grim also advised that legislators respond to groups not individuals, and that you have to get legislators to care about your situation. “Make your issue matter,” he said. “Local business is always important to legislators and you can point out that you are up against a national operation fighting for business.”
Epley continued the discussion by explaining that he opens the dialog with legislators by asking if they know any industry or profession in which a company has to turn over competitive information to its competitor. “That’s what we have to do,” he tells them. Epley said that one of the strategies of opponents of legislation in his state, South Carolina, is to say that they want legislation passed and then change it into a ‘paper tiger.’
“You have to be careful. I was required to kill my own bill because it had been diluted so much,” he said.
“I hope we can have discussion so that we can change things for the better for everybody in our industry,” he said. “All we ask [for] is a level playing field.”
Into the End Zone
Gary Hart, chief executive officer of eDirectGlass, opened his presentation on Internet marketing by stating, tongue in cheek, “I’m here to steer you about how to sell on the Internet. I know you don’t like the word steering.” He said that things are still changing so quickly on the Internet that information needs to be updated every few months.
“Only 4 percent of industry companies offer the ability for real-time quotes or pricing, and only 15 percent offer fill-out contact forms for quotes and scheduling. That’s pretty pathetic,” Hart said. He added that the largest companies in the industry are offering these capabilities and said that the small, independent ones have to do so as well.
“You need a plan for Internet content,” he explained. And this should capitalize on the power of a company’s brand, he added. “You need to build a sense of trust,” he told attendees.
Hart advised that a website should be kept simple and manageable. “Consumers are coming to your website to find out about the company, get a quote and schedule service. Make it easy for them to do that,” he said. Hart said that in three years insurance companies likely will allow their clients to file their first notice of loss and schedule service online.
“They’ll be able to build the model on the website and everything, including pricing, will be there for the consumer to decide to get the work done. It’s up to you to lose the job, because the consumer is telling you who he or she is and what they need done,” he said.
Hart said that in his company’s experience, 9 out of 10 clients are converted using this method and it is one of the cheapest ways for a company to get a job. “What this does is give you more time to replace windshields, which is what you do best,” he said. The other session focused on CSR training and was provided by Dan Molloy and Mel Auston of Molloy LLC.
“The competitive advantage isn’t the glass. Consumers see all glass as being the same. The real competitive advantage is the eye-to-eye or word-to-word interaction between the CSR and the consumer,” said Molloy.
Auston said that CSRs forget that every person they speak with on the phone is a potential customer. “And that means your company loses business because of this. Trust has to be established. You have to train CSRs in how to establish trust,” he said.
Attendee Gabe Runge of Johnson Glass Co. in Yakima, Wash., says this was his first IGA conference.
“I think the most interesting portion of the conference was to listen to Tom Grim talk about the anti-steering bill,” Runge says. “It was nice to get an update on that ... He gave some good insight as to how people can get involved in legislation in their own states.”
The IGA Annual Convention and Spring Auto Glass Show, which is co-located with Americas’ Glass Showcase™, will be held May 1-3, 2008, at the Cashman Center in Las Vegas.
We are the Champions
In looking back on the competition, those in attendance—and in competition—seemed to agree on one thing—the competition just keeps getting stiffer.
“AGTO has progressed year after year,” says Jeff Olive of Glass Pro in Charleston, S.C., who was the first winner of the competition in 2005. “Each year we see it harder and harder to judge because of the quality of the technicians coming through.”
He adds, “Having the Olympics has actually improved the industry to the point that there are more and more technicians installing to those standards and the quality of the technicians has improved over the last three years. It’s very hard to judge among them, as you can see by how close the scores were.”
Jim Coman, one of the newest Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards (AGRSS) Council members, also of Glasspro, concurs.
“I thought the quality, as seems to be the case every year, was higher of the technicians that competed,” Coman says. Glasspro held its own competition to determine whom they would send and chose Tony Ford, who ranked fifth in the AGTO semi-finals. “This year we had four [potential candidates] and we had an in-house competition, kind of our own mini-Olympics, and that’s probably how we’ll do it again next year,” Coman says.
Charles Turiello of Kingston, Pa.-based Diamond Glass also was on-hand to support his company’s contestants, Bob Hosta, Jeff Morganti and Aaron Thrasher. Thrasher took second place in the competition.
“We’re already looking forward to next year and we’re shooting for the gold,” Turiello says.
Either way, though, Turiello is pleased with this year’s competition. “Everyone [at Diamond] is very happy on where we placed and we’re especially happy with the work that the technicians put in over the course since our semi-finals,” he says. “We’re proud of our technicians.”
The AGTO is co-sponsored by the Independent Glass Association (IGA) and AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com™. In addition, corporate sponsors included Pilkington, SRP, AEGIS Tools International, Dow Automotive, A.N. Designs, Equalizer, Mygrant Glass, OETech, Mainstreet Computers, GTS Services, SIKA Corp., ADCO Products and Glass.net.
The WRO is co-sponsored by the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) and AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com. Corporate WRO sponsors were GlasWeld, Glazex, AEGIS Tools International and Glass Medic.
Judges Recognize Contestants for Innovation
Spotlight on AGTO
A third-time competitor, Horne, 37, plans to use some of the prize money to modify and enhance a 1985 Chevrolet truck he’s working to make into a hotrod vehicle.
He said the most difficult part of the competition was the first heat, rather than the finals. “The first day was more difficult from having to do the interaction part and then go right into the install—90 minutes goes fast,” he said.
In the competition, each contestant has his own timekeeper/proctor, who also acts as a customer during the event—requiring the installer not only to complete the technical work, but to keep the customer appeased and get the proper paperwork completed.
Horne has 19 years experience in the industry.
Aaron Thrasher of Diamond Glass in San Diego finished in second place with a score of 234, and Matt Thompson of Royal Auto Glass in Laurel, Md., took third, with a score of 233. Thrasher wins a prize of $1,000 and Thompson $500.
Spotlight on WRO
“I do this everyday,” he said. “Preparing essentially involved making sure I’d have everything I have everyday here in Las Vegas.”
When asked if he was surprised by the win, Anderson noted he felt confident in his ability—but unsure of the unexpected.
“I was confident coming in, but it’s really hard to be sure how your going to do in something like this,” he said.
And the most difficult part of the competition was the part most might enjoy, says the humble Anderson.
“[The hardest part was] being in the spotlight,” he told AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com™.
Rich DiMassa of Dents Out Plus in Torrance, Calif., took second place, and Kelly Ditto of Cindy Rowe Auto Glass in Harrisburg, Pa., took third.
“In the past we’ve always had difficult explaining things to customers,” he said. “It’s nice to have a standard to clarify all that.”
He also talked of new programs to come in 2008, including a consumer website and a K-6 repair program designed to educate children on the advantages of repair.
“Looking forward to 2008, there’s really no better time for members to thrive,” he said.
Henderson hopes others will follow his and Good’s lead.
“I think it’s a benefit for people as far as marketing to be able to say you’re certified,” he told AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com™.
It’s Not Easy Being Green
The two-hour session looked deeply into the “green phenomena” and windshield repair’s role in environmental stewardship.
Boyle is an expert in the theoretical, having done extensive research on the subject, as well as the practical, having just completed a major company-wide effort to become more “green.”
He first led participants through the development of the green movement and explained the different types of consumers and how they react. “To some people, the green movement is a result of a modern-day tree hugger,” Boyle said.
“But to all people, the desire for a healthy and robust earth for their children is a valiant goal.” Boyle’s research also showed how important the future health of the earth is to each type of consumer, but also how the message has to be crafted carefully. “You can’t use scare tactics and attract most consumers,” he said. “Instead you want to appeal to consumers desire to improve the world.”
Citing statistics from almost every major source, Boyle, explained how the shift in consumer spending to “green” products that has occurred and is expected to grow even more in the next ten years.
“Everyone, everyone, is interested in a green culture,” he said, citing as examples everything from television networks to Pope Benedict’s recent appearance in green vestments to honor the earth.
“Windshield repair is one of the original green processes,” he said. “It keeps glass in use and the cost of producing one repair is miniscule compared to the cost of producing a new windshield. I expect it will become even more important in coming years.”
But, Boyle cautioned, there is a danger as everyone jumps on the “green” bandwagon. “Every company in every industry wants to say its green now. Everyone is flying a green banner,” he said. “But realize this, being green is way more than a marketing campaign. It is a deep and fundamental commitment to changing the way you do business in order to benefit the environment.”
Boyle said that GlasWeld has gone through a major transformation to become a truly green company. “We had an environmental audit,” he said, “and we changed a lot of things, from how we schedule to the light bulbs we use in our office. We looked at recycling paper—looked at everything and we changed a lot of things.
It wasn’t easy; people don’t like change. But we got it done and we are actually saving money with the new systems in place … and we got a couple of side benefits like better lighting in the process.”
“We, as the windshield repair industry, need to help convince the whole industry of the need to be green in their own businesses and the role that windshield repair has in it. We need to convince glass replacement retailers, insurance companies, everyone that we our industry is committed to this effort. And the first step toward that is making sure that the industry really is committed.”
Boyle said the NWRA will introduce a number of new services designed to help companies as part of the green initiative. Also at the seminar, the NWRA introduced rough drafts of ad slicks, radio spots and other marketing tools that will be refined and available for the membership.
Boyle is committed to the process and uses the polar bear as a symbol of the effects of global climate change. “This,” he said showing a photo of a mother polar bear with her three playful cubs all around, “this is what it is all about, no matter what species.”
On the Web
He noted that accredited registrars, such as GoDaddy, Network Solutions and 1and1.com are preferable when available. “You pay for what you get,” he told attendees. “If it’s under $15 and not one of these [above] there’s a good chance you’re going to lose your domain name.” He also noted that it’s important when setting up a website using a third-party domain registrar that your contact information appear in both the organization and administration spots on the electronic form-and that the domain registrar only appear as the technical contact. However, he noted, whatever contact information is provided there must be current.
“We can’t stress enough—keep your contact info current,” he warned. He also advised attendees that if an e-mail address is provided, it needs to be one you utilize. When it comes to the development of the website itself, Hart advised that branding is as important as it is elsewhere.
“Your brand is not only your name-it’s your company, [and] it’s your logo,” he said. And, as your company changes, so should your brand, warned Hart.
“Your brand evolves,” he said. That brand should also convey one thing—what your business is, according to Hart. When deciding what content to include on your website, Hart warned that it’s important to make sure that potential customers know clearly how to reach you for your services, and that the information they need to obtain your service (and what it is) is there.
“People aren’t going to your website to be entertained. They’re going because they need your service,” he said. He also noted, though, that any paperwork you give to current customers should contain your website, so they no where to find you, and to obtain customers’ e-mail addresses whenever possible so that you can remain in contact with them. Hart also provided tips on the ins and outs of meta-tags, cross-linking and the possible breakdowns for website pages. The day-long conference wrapped up with a presentation by Molloy LLC, similar to the one offered to IGA (see page 43).
Jeff Wurst of Crackmaster Windshield Repair in Redding, Calif., says he tries to attend every NWRA Conference in Las Vegas.
“It’s the number-one event of the year that I look forward to,” he says. “I’m trying to put together a website right now [for my shop], so the eDirect session was very helpful,” he says, speaking of Hart’s presentation.
The date for next year's NWRA Conference has not yet been set.
Charles Cumpston and Penny Stacey are contributing editor and editor, respectively of AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com™.