Volume 13, Issue 3 - May/June 2011

Repair Round-Up
nwra reports

Dropping Like Flies
by Kerry Wanstrath

They are dropping like flies, but why? I’m sure we have all read the news of yet another large, seemly well-run auto glass company in trouble. This type of news, which we’ve been hearing for the last five years, seems to have no end in sight. Surely all these companies can’t be getting into financial difficulty as a result of just a poor economy or the competitive nature of the auto glass business.

Beyond the Economy
I personally don’t think it’s a result of those issues. Rather, I believe it goes beyond that. The evolution of this industry has more to do with it than the economy at any given time. The control of the fees for the service we provide, the guidelines for the actual service and the interface for the billing, in my opinion have everything to do with the continued headlines of business failures.

There is a cost to you for performing all that is asked of you by insurance providers. Are you able to charge for the added labor incurred for all the added steps you now do just to bill a simple insurance invoice either through a third-party administrator or directly to an insurance company? Are you able to charge for follow-up for non-payment or short payment of invoices? Do you charge for the picture you may take to verify a pre-existing condition of a job, whether it be rust, a scratch on the vehicle, a missing part, two windshield repairs instead of the one reported by the consumer, etc.? Why is it that all these tasks required by insurers are essentially absorbed by you, the service provider?

“There is a cost to you for performing all that is asked of you by insurance providers.”

I realize there is a need for verification of many of the services or tasks required, but whatever happened to trust? Our entire country operates on trust. You trust your vendors will provide you with the parts you ordered at the price on which you agreed, and you trust they will send them on time. The vendors trust when you receive the parts that the quantity count you provide is truthful. And, as a supplier, after 27 years in business we have developed ways to red-flag customers that might always come up short on products in their orders. You then can put in place systems to watch that particular customer’s order. However, you don’t distrust your entire customer base because of a few.

I feel insurers have chosen to throw everyone into one lot and the burden in on us. I was once told that a “good” business deal is when both partners—not just one—feel they got a good deal. How are you feeling?

The insurance industry needs to take a fresh look at the demands they ask of their auto glass industry partners. If, in fact, they discover the need to have all these tasks performed so that they can feel positively about the service providers with which they contract to perform service, they should pony up to a point that allows these shops to stay in business. With more being requested everyday, more compensation should be available for those tasks. The service provided is not just the repair or replacement of a the windshield, but it is the entire process with all the associated tasks asked of us.

Kerry Wanstrath is the president of the National Windshield Repair Association. In addition, he serves as president of Glass Technology in Durango, Colo. Mr. Wanstrath’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

Calling Repair Company Owners and Techs
Registration is now open for Auto Glass Week™ event in Memphis, Tenn., September 15-17. The event will bring together several industry groups, including the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA). Visit www.autoglassweek.com to pre-register at discounted rates, and see page 30 for more information.

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