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January/February 2003

CASEYRepair Talk
    thoughts from the shop

Want More Insurance Work? 
Go Get It!
by David A. Casey

The answer to the question about how to get more insurance work is easy. It’s the same answer as the one to the question every business faces, “How do I get more work, period?”

When we say “insurance work” we should mean repairs that are approved by, and paid for by, an insurance company. The phrase “getting insurance work” shouldn’t, and doesn’t, mean that repairs will come out of the blue—over the telephone from the insurance companies to our cell phones.

Waiting for the Phone to Ring
Too many repairers think that obtaining insurance repair business is a matter of convincing the insurance companies to call them with repairs. That’s not the way it is today and probably won’t be for a long time. First of all, the insurance companies themselves aren’t calling anyone for repairs. They leave that up to their networks. And, the networks generally are not dispatching repairs in any significant volume to repair-only companies. So, sending in your network applications and waiting for the phone to ring is pretty much a waste of time and could lead you to expect business that’s not coming.

The way to get insurance repair business is simply to go get repair business from individual motorists and run the approval and billing through the insurance company or its designated network. That’s how “insurance repairs” are generated. It may sound like it’s too simple or elementary to be logical, but this is only because too many repairers expect something different. They expect the insurance companies to hand over their policyholders via a three-way call, but this is happening too infrequently to count on. 

Your Responsibility
In any business it is the responsibility—and the primary role—of the leadership to create new and enduring business. You shouldn’t treat the insurance industry any other way. Certainly you can introduce yourself and your service to lots of agents in your area. 

You will find some who understand the issues and will refer policyholders to you, and some of these agents will occasionally call you directly. But most of them will throw up their hands and tell you that they are “locked in” to the networks and won’t be willing to buck their companies’ systems of reporting glass claims to the networks rather than referring policy holders directly to you. 

The place to find the business is at the source—the policyholder. You reach them just like you reach any retail customers—by advertising, by promoting and by following up your service with each customer. A few obvious ways to reach policyholders on your own are cable or TV advertising, direct mail coupons, rush-hour radio spots, local newspaper advertising, billboards, bus bench signs and telemarketing. There are plenty more, but there a few avenues to explore that have shown success for other businesses.

New Business
Getting a new customer is just the start. You can build a strong base of customers over the years by ensuring that you keep each customer for their subsequent repair needs. By adding new insurance customers to your existing base of repeat insurance customers you will eventually ensure a steady flow of this type of business. It can also be beneficial to try to expand each repair customer into multiple customers. With many households having two to three vehicles, two neighbors with two to three vehicles and workmates with two to three vehicles, the opportunity is there to multiply the results.

The first key to encouraging the customer to call you for his future repair needs is to provide the best possible repair and exceed the customer’s expectations on the results. The second key is education. Lots of accurate information about repair, retaining the original factory seal and the pitfalls of improper installation will enlighten the customer about his choice and impress him with your knowledge.

Last, but not least, make the repair encounter as enjoyable as you can for the policyholder by being pleasant, courteous and professionally dressed. Having your customer like you goes a long way toward encouraging him to call you again. Leaving him with a windshield saver card will help keep your telephone number handy for him and make it easy for him to find you when necessary.

Someday the insurance companies—or their dispatch arms—will be reaching out to you and calling repair companies for repair. By instilling policies and procedures now to build this type of business you will position and prepare your repair business to take the best advantage when the insurance companies do turn to you. 

David A. Casey is president of SuperGlass Windshield Repair Inc., located in Orlando, Fla.



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