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Volume 7    Issue 4            July/August 2005


Fair Labor Payment

Dear AGRR:
I was in the dealership the other day and saw a $75 per hour charge for vehicles being repaired. I questioned what the hourly labor rate for body work was and was told it was $55 per hour. 

Here is where it gets interesting. I was working on my PC when spammed me with a ‘compare your salary in your area’ email. So I took the challenge. I compared auto glass techs to auto mechanic to auto body technicians.

Believe it or not, auto glass techs came in the highest at $36,000 to $54,000 with $44,900 being the medium. Second was auto mechanics at $29,000 to $52,000 with a medium of $38,000. I could not find auto body techs on Monster so I referred to which reports $26,000 to $41,000 average salary depending on experience.

Based on these numbers, a fair billing rate for our technicians would be $75 dollars an hour. Considering the drastic reduction in the NAGS list price, it also looks reasonable.

Insurance companies will argue, as they always do, that they can get it done cheaper and it is not a fair market rate. But considering that they have never shared the comparisons with anyone in the industry makes me skeptical. I don’t doubt that they can sign a contract and get a volume discount. But I haven’t heard of any insurance companies reducing medical benefits or stopping funding of their retirement packages either. Don’t the people in our industry deserve to make an honest living and retire in modest comfort in the end? 

John Wisniewski
PayLess Auto Glass
Hartford, Conn.

Educate, Educate

Dear AGRR:
I am glad to see the auto glass industry is finally willing to address the lack of safety standards and do something about it. I have been installing glass and trying to educate my counterparts and the public for over 30 years. It has been frustrating, and I realized long ago that there was no way I could achieve this on my own.

The Independent Glass Association (IGA), Texas Glass Association (TGA), National Glass Association (NGA), and the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards Council (AGRSS) have all taken steps to make auto glass replacement safer, but more needs to be done. We all agree on what safe installation practices are, but so far have been unable to fully guarantee that it actually takes place each and every installation.

Licensing alone is not enough because it does not guarantee that knowledge of safe install practices will be followed just as education alone does not guarantee it either.

There must also be a process in place to ensure and verify that technicians always perform the safe practices they have been taught. There are plenty of external forces at work compromising technicians’ safe installations.

Some examples are over-scheduling of work by either profit-minded management or the technician’s own reasons to get the installation done quickly.

Sometimes the customers’ time constraints and their unwillingness to go without their vehicle for the extra time required to do the job safely is a driving factor. This is compounded when a glass shop that knows this tells the customer that the installation will only take so long. This is an example where the customer needs to be educated that a safe installation may take longer due to necessary preparation time or cure time before safe drive-away time. For too long people have been taught that the “best” technicians are fast. This is not always true.

A well publicized, toll free hotline and Web site could inform the customer exactly who has been properly trained and certified to safely perform the installation.

In Texas, vehicle safety inspection stations and their inspectors know that there are undercover investigators spot-checking for violations of the code. When violations occur, the stations and the inspectors can be cited, fined, or license suspended or revoked. Some violations can lead to jail time.

This same type of enforcement will get the job done by weeding out the unsafe shops and technicians, educating everyone and protecting customers from unsafe installations.

After all this takes place, glass shops will equally be able to be compensated for the time and materials required to do safe installations.

If we do not accomplish this mission, the future will be tainted and muddled by lawsuits between consumers, shops, and insurance companies. It will be much more economical to do the right thing now before lawyers and insurance companies get involved.

Al Kolak
Affordable Glass Specialists
Kingsland, Texas 

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