Lawsuits, Learning With IGA
by Sue Johnson

There are three new forces in the auto glass industry, which have the potential to protect the industry and make the difference between success and failure for your business. They are: 1) auto glass benchmark pricing lists, 2) the IGA’s Litigation Campaign, and 3) the emerging realization by the average auto glass shop owner that he needs to get informed and get involved.”

Complex Non-Carbohydrates
Some of this stuff is complex. That’s why it is important for you to go to the IGA Conference in Orlando, February 24-26th, 2005. (You can register online at www.agrrmag.com.)

Benchmark pricing is complex. The act of establishing benchmarks for a range of pricing through the supply chain for a whole industry needs ongoing attention. Establishing price (ranges) instead of allowing the market to do so always carries the potential for confusion. The industry needs to be focused on which shops this plan serves and ensure that it serves all shops. We trust the folks looking at pricing systems—old and new—will remain flexible.

The IGA litigation campaign is complex. By the time you are reading this, one or more lawsuits will have been filed or will be pending; much of the litigation strategy will have been or soon will be explained. As a strategy, it strikes at the very heart of numerous law violations with which independent glass shops deal every day.

The problem in this industry is the concentration of market share in one company. Market share would not be as concentrated as it is, were it not for steering. If the spirit of the laws that protect consumer choice were respected the way the laws are intended, and various unfair and deceptive trade practices were not the rule, eroding price would not be the problem it is. It is precisely the concentration of market share that determines price. 

Illegal steering can be stopped and non-illegal steering could be forced to comply with the laws, which protect consumer choice. The auto glass industry cannot right itself until it defeats unfair and deceptive trade practices, which are the infrastructure of illegal steering.

Knowledge is a Powerful Thing
Initiatives such as the IGA’s and the Chicago Auto Glass Group (CAGG)’s will succeed or fail, based on the level of knowledge of the average auto glass shop owner.

Where do you get the knowledge? The very best place is the IGA conference in Orlando, February 24-26, 2005. Additional sources include trade publications and associations, interest group web sites and newsletters from the worthy organizations. The IGA is an alternative trade organization, which exists to take on the issues, not avoid them. We believe the auto glass industry is constipated by a huge price fix and that we have figured out how to break up the blockage. 

At the conference we will provide information on new programs, including a receivable collection program whereby the IGA will manage the collections for your shop. Additionally, we are also working on a program that will reduce your yellow page cost by allowing you to buy space through a national IGA account, which will include personalized evaluations and consultations on your yellow page buys. Finally, the IGA is working on a comprehensive certification program, which will certify installer to the ANSI standard—cheaper than other programs available—and also to certify various employees on customer service. 

The auto glass industry, like all industries, is made up of numerous forces, large and small, all competing with each other for money and influence. In order to affect the environment around them, many of these groupings circulate misinformation. Misinformation can hurt you. The shrewd businessperson can separate rumor from truth. Anyone who tells you that the IGA legal campaign to stop illegal steering is not good for you doesn’t lose jobs to steering, and/or likely has a strong relationship with a network, which you don’t have. Their financial self interest is best served if you keep losing jobs to steering. You need to be at the IGA conference because whom you listen to matters. 

The IGA represents the whole industry, not one company. We are pursuing a course of action that truly benefits the whole industry and does not serve a single company or a small constituency of self-selected financial interests. 

Sue Johnson works on the IGA Legal Fund from her office in Hopkins, Minn.