Volume 8, Issue 6 - November/December 2006

Trainer’s Corner

Training the Office
by Dale Malcolm

You advertise your business to customers emphasizing safety, quality and service. When your customers call, they expect exactly that. 

Every time you schedule an auto glass replacement, you should include a simple sentence or two preparing the customer for the possibility of corrosion being present.

While charging for corrosion treatment may be new to some, many glass shops around the country treat corrosion successfully and charge for it, because it is a required procedure. Your ability to sell this service comes with thorough preparation and the right mindset. 

Do not limit yourself only to older vehicles. Vehicles of any age may have had a piece of glass replaced, sometimes without the owner’s knowledge. Failure to prepare the owner of a newer vehicle can make corrosion problems more difficult to deal with. Disclosing to the customer the possibility of additional procedures avoids misunderstandings later. This needs to be mentioned again during the pre-inspection, especially if the person doing the inspection notices one of the indicators of a previous replacement. 

Should there be an obvious previous replacement, you may want to probe further by looking deeper into the area around the glass. It is better to bring corroded scratches to a customer’s attention before you even start the work. If corrosion is found before work begins, this is the best time to elevate the discussion to one of corrosion treatment and any associated charges. 

The Right Words
Consider adding the wording Mark Rizzi, owner of ACR Glass in Alliance, Neb., uses into your written and verbal quotation and estimate language: 

“This estimate/quotation is based upon items most commonly needed for the stated repairs based upon the information supplied to us about the vehicle. Additional/different items or procedures may be found to be required once disassembly of the vehicle has taken place. Additional items may include, but may not be limited to, additional/different parts, clips, mouldings, or corrosion treatment or butyl removal procedures.”

Be prepared to answer the customer’s questions about why you are mentioning these requirements when other shops are not. Simply reply that other shops may not be performing those procedures even though they are required to. Associate the level of quality and service to your customer with the price you are quoting and set yourself apart from others. 

The Paperwork
Let’s cover the recommended forms of documentation. The simplest and easiest is a pre-printed form that makes it easy to note things like pre-existing damage, missing parts and signs of corrosion. If the customer is available when the inspection turns up something of note, it is best to present the issue directly to the customer and have him or her initial the form. This can be invaluable when Mr. Smith says you never told Mrs. Smith about the problem when she dropped the car off in your shop.

The use of a digital camera has proven to be one of the best forms of documenting pre-existing conditions. Digital pictures are inexpensive to take and store and can be used to prove existing damage or corrosion. These images can be quickly e-mailed to a customer at home or the office. The old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is never more true then when explaining existing corrosion after it has been treated and the glass installed. Customers are easily impressed when shown pictures of the corrosion found on their vehicle as well as what it looks like after it is treated. These photos can also be used to put together a photo book that assists in explaining the problem to other customers who are considering having their corrosion treated. Contact your adhesive supplier for any documentation or literature that will also help in this explanation.

When corrosion is found in the bonding area, the next step after documentation (including pictures) is to evaluate the extent of the corrosion. The corrosion likely will be more extensive than it appears and this should be taken into account before quoting an estimated treatment price to the customer. It is best at this point to explain the range of the cost involved. 

Factors that need to be added up when estimating the selling price of the corrosion treatment are: abrasives that will be consumed, labor time anticipated, cost of any metal primers or coatings, and allowance for a reasonable profit. Consider a simple procedural fee structure, such as “$xx.xx per linear section of Level 1, 2 or 3 Corrosion = $xx.xx,” and bill materials and labor accordingly. Adjust the simple formula for the amount and level of corrosion as required for the job at hand. 

Gotta Believe
One aspect of the corrosion treatment process that causes shops problems is getting the office and shop staff to believe in what they are selling. A well-trained and equipped auto glass technician can do as good a job at treating corrosion as body shops and do it immediately. Most body shops would prefer not to deal with small, unscheduled jobs like treating a small area of corrosion on a pinchweld. Because of this, many body shops price this service higher than the average auto glass shop would be thrilled to charge. Treating the corrosion in-house at the glass shop gives the vehicle owner a high value, quality job with a minimum of difficulty and, again, is required to promote a safe and proper installation. When your people believe what they are selling is necessary for a safe installation at a high value for the customer, they will find it easier to sell. 

Remember to pre-inspect, document and photograph. Please remind your employees that the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS) states you may not ignore problems like corrosion, and proper treatment is the only safe way to do a proper installation.

The next time I will talk about teaching your installers how to treat corrosion. 

Dale Malcolm is technical manager with Dow Automotive/Essex ARG in Dayton, Ohio.

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