Volume 11, Issue 1 - January/February 2009

I n d e p e n d e n t ’ s D a y

This Just in From Vegas … to Florida
by Dave Zoldowski

AGRR MAGAZINE WILL GIVE you the facts and figures of our 2008 Marketing Conference in Las Vegas last November within the pages of this issue, so I will provide for you the color commentary. To begin, IGA was not the only industry group holding a conference in Las Vegas that week, but I’m pretty sure everyone else only showed up because they heard we were going to be in town. Besides the party going on across town at the Las Vegas Convention Center, a party affectionately known as SEMA, the IGA’s Marketing Conference was part of Auto Glass Week, which is co-located with the NACE Expo. 

This was the second year we held a fall conference in conjunction with the automotive repair industry’s primary trade show and I’m glad to report we had 10 percent higher attendance this year than we did last year. We will continue to expand the conference’s offerings and build on its success. 

Incidentally, since we plan on continuing to hold this event every fall in Las Vegas and associate it with the NACE Expo, we have decided to move our annual Independents’ Day Conference and Spring Auto Glass Show™ to the East Coast. This year’s event will be held May 12-14, 2009, at the Sanibel Harbour Resort and Spa in Fort Myers, Fla. This move was in response to member feedback and will allow our East Coast members greater opportunity to attend. Sanibel Harbour Resort offers a family-friendly environment in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Mark your calendars now and make plans to visit us in May.

We also heard from the auto glass industry that there was a desire for reasonable room rates in a family setting. Our hotel rate will be $124 per night in a lovely setting and includes pools, spas and affordable dining. 

Some of the most exciting news coming out of our Marketing Conference was the meeting of the IGA certification committee. That committee has begun work on an IGA professional level program. Designed to be a “hard-to-obtain” certification, the goal of the professional level will be to identify the elite technicians of our industry and will require a practical demonstration of the technician’s installation technique according to the AGRSS standard. 

The certification committee is also making plans to add on to our training program with web videos focusing on the perfect installation, corrosion, customer service, pre- and post-inspections as well as mirror and rain sensor removal. Our goal is to have the most respected and complete training and certification program in the auto glass industry. 

During our opening session we discussed and reviewed the past year’s efforts with attending members and guests. Growth has been our trend the past few years. IGA saw its membership increase by 30 percent last year. Even in these tough economic times where we have seen estimates that one auto glass shop closes its doors everyday, we have maintained our numbers and presence in the industry. 

Our growth prospects for 2009 are more reserved than in the past five years, but we still expect to increase in membership size and increase our services to those members and the industry. 

But the largest discussion we had in Las Vegas was concerning the issues that affect all independents. Why are so many shops going out of business? Are they not keeping up with the ever-changing market? Are their costs of goods going up while the average profit per job is going down? Are our customers driving less and needing fewer repairs? Are more shops fighting for less market share that has created more downward pressure on price? Are we seeing fewer jobs due to restricted access to the customer?I believe the answer to all these questions is yes. 

I believe these questions paint an accurate picture of why shops are going out of business at such an alarming rate. I also believe the current economic climate makes the IGA more important to the industry than ever before.

So let me tell you with complete clarity, IGA is up to the task and is passionate about helping you keep your doors open. We are here. We are healthy and we are motivated. Call me. Call our IGA office. Call any of our board members. We are here to help and we can help. 

You’re not alone. 

Dave Zoldowski is president of AutoOne in Brighton, Mich., and serves as president of the IGA. Mr. Zoldowski’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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