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January/February  2004

Repair Talk
 
thoughts from the shop

Change is Constant
by David A. Casey

Twenty years ago, all you had to do was show up on time and repair the glass. There were few enough repairers in any market and the biggest challenge was getting all the work done on time. But, times do change, even in our repair industry.

Ten years later, with the market expanding to the insurance customers, with more repair companies in each town and more replacement companies adding repair, the level of customer service has risen by necessity. You canít keep your customers just by showing up anymore.

Every repair technician wears a nice uniform now, the mobile service vehicles are lettered professionally and almost every call is answered by someone who can book an appointment for a repair. Also, industry-wide communication, trade publications and new talent have pushed the quality of repairs to the highest quality level to date. This is what repairers have had to do to keep up with the needs of the emerging and maturing market. Commercial accounts have come to appreciate this level of image, service and response and now expect it from their repair vendors.

An Evolving Market
The repair market, especially the insurance network segment, has evolved with enough dynamics that it requires more diligence and more business tools to keep pace with the service needs; those who have resisted or didnít recognize the need for change are gone from this market.

Just when we think weíve got it all down with the systems current and in place, the need for change rears its head again. Even change for the better can be difficult; it forces improvements that would not take place during complacency. When you have to try harder to beat a competitor or meet the more stringent needs of a particular customer, you become a better company from the effort and the result. This is whatís happening to the most successful repair companies now.

What You Need to Keep Up
The windshield repair industry is bigger and better than itís ever been. More windshields are being repaired by more properly trained technicians, with more advanced tools, than at any time in the past.

So, with increased competition and higher customer expectations, repair companies must prepare again for change that will help them retain loyalty with their current customers and strengthen their efforts to gain more business in their markets.

A company uniform and a professionally lettered vehicle are fundamental. Washing all the glass on the repaired vehicle and leaving a mint is a nice service touch, but not enough to make the big difference to the customer.

Building a relationship with the customer is the key to creating a secure business that can also grow. The first step in building a long-lasting relationship with any customer is to learn all you can about his business so you can best understand his needs. Auto dealers arenít trucking companies and rental companies arenít insurance companiesóall of their needs differ. Blanket service policies for all 
market segments will result in mediocre service to many of your customers.

The second most important step is building trust and showing the customer that youíre not there just to fix all the broken glass, but that your overall function is to save him money in the area of glass. 

A few easy ways to promote that trust are to ask for someone to look at the damages before you repair them and recommend that certain severe damage be replaced rather than repaired. For a repair-only company that makes no money from replacement, this instills the ultimate trust factor.

Another way to add more service and increase your trust factor is to provide monthly or quarterly savings reports to your customers. Show the vehicles youíve repaired, the repair costs, the potential replacement costs and the customersí bottom-line savings. These savings reports show you to be accountable, illustrate the benefits of your service and show you to be proactive in improving the service and business relationship.

Extending Your Services
Adding other glass-related products and services, such as glass polishing, can make you more valuable to your customer, more versatile than your competitor and show your companyís desire and willingness to make changes to benefit the customer 
relationship.

The first step is recognizing the need for change or improvement. The second step is to strategize about the specific changes and how you will implement them. The third step is making them work and confirming the customerís recognition.

Nature controls business, too. If you canítóor wonítóevolve with the industry, youíll become outdated and left behind. On the other hand, the changes that business nature forces on you will make your company better, help to ensure your continued success and make you more proud of the way you run your repair business. 

AGRR

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