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Volume 7, Issue 1        January/February 2005

Repair Talk
     Thoughts from the Shop

The Real Decision Maker
by David A. Casey

Some repairers think it is the networks that decide who repairs a policyholder’s windshield when a glass claim is reported. Others think it is the insurance companies that choose the vendor for their customer’s repair. 

The truth is, the real decisionmaker in the insurance/repair cycle, the person with the most authority over the vendor chosen for repair, is the individual motorist who has the break in his or her windshield.

As repairers figure this out and understand and identify whom they can really influence regarding the choice of repair companies, the dispatch and approval process becomes much more understandable and easier to complete. It also becomes more effective in gaining quick authorization for the repair.

Once you have the call …
Too many repairers tell potential customers to call their insurance company and “ask for me” to do the repair. Unfortunately, the policyholder can be influenced easily by a customer service representative (CSR) who may not understand the best solution for the customer’s glass problem. Most policyholders’, without a strong reason to do otherwise, will follow any suggestion given to them by their claims administrator.

The sure fire way to gain approval without losing your repair job is to go ahead and make the appointment with the policyholder and to inspect the damage before calling any insurance entity. Of course, you will qualify the damage on the telephone to ensure it is repairable before setting an appointment. Inspect the damage and determine if it can be repaired to the customer’s satisfaction, then call the claims department or network for your approval. 

Introduce yourself and your company to the claims CSR, let him know that your company is the policyholder’s choice and that you conform to the insurance company’s prices and billing procedures. Tell the CSR that you will give the telephone to the policyholder so that the CSR can confirm their coverage and issue an authorization number. If there is going to be a problem gaining approval, you will hear it at this point and can ask for a supervisor if necessary. A little confidence and courtesy goes a long way in eliciting cooperation from the CSR.

Where to find customers …
Post repair interviews by our company show that our two largest sources of repairs are from those who request us specifically and by name (repeat customers) and insurance agent referrals—that’s right, insurance agent referrals. Just because the claims, dispatch and billing processes go through the networks doesn’t mean that the agents are totally out of the loop.

Many policyholders call their agent first when dealing with insurance issues. The agent is still allowed to tell them that a particular company is reliable, professional and known to perform quality repairs. It’s your job to make sure that the insurance agents in your market know those things about your company. When coupled with standard advertising on radio, television, cable or newsprint, a campaign can attract policyholders to call you first or ask for you based on that exposure.

To increase your repeat customer business be sure to educate the policyholder about the importance of retaining the factory seal and the safety record of repair. Remind customers of the financial savings and leave them with a windshield saver card to make it easy for them to find you again when they need you. 

Also, give them more reasons to call you direct or ask for you by name, by giving the customer an exceptional customer service experience. Begin by showing up on time in a professional uniform. Take a moment to explain exactly what you are going to do to the vehicle and how long it will take. You could even clean all the glass on the vehicle and offer to check the tire pressure in an effort to exceed your customer’s expectations and impress him enough so he wants to call you for future glass repair needs.

When the individual motorist looks specifically for you and is determined to use you, you have influenced the real decision maker. You have also established a repeat business relationship that can be used to network neighbors, workmates and family members too.
Don’t waste your time railing at the insurance companies and networks for not handing out jobs on a silver platter. Implement a plan to influence the people who will demand you and your service time and time again. 

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

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