by Penny Beverage
and Brigid O’Learyn
I found Penny Beverage’s “Field of Vision” in the January/ February issue of AGRR magazine to be very interesting. I agree that the scenario she laid out quite accurately describes the “typical” customer.
The average customer is uninformed about safety issues and is motivated primarily by price. These people are being intimidated by their insurance companies to not make claims because they could cause their premiums to go up. They are told to shop around and get a good cash price. The average customer, like Beverage, is also pressed for time and quite often waits till the last minute to have the work done.
The three biggest risks to a customer’s safety are: the ignorance of the safety risks, selecting a shop based solely on price and demanding speed rather than quality in the installation.
What has me puzzled is why Beverage bothers to encourage shops to spread the word about the AGRSS standards. More shops than she knows of are aware of safety standards. Most understand urethane cure times and safe drive-away.
I don’t know of any shop that isn’t aware of the safety risks that unsafe installations pose. Yet they don’t adhere to them. Why? One reason is that there are so many typical customers, just like Beverage, who really don’t care.
As she so eloquently put it, “I knew the safety was iffy, but, hey, it saved a buck, right?” Too many shops have figured out that while some are making the costly moves to better train installers, use more expensive, fast-cure urethanes and primers and spend the extra time necessary to provide a safe installation, they can cut corners and give the typical customer what he wants and still make a buck. After all, free enterprise is about giving the consumer what he wants. And you just confirmed that price and convenience is what they want most.
Don’t get me wrong. I am an AGRSS registrant and am proud to be meeting every requirement in the standard. I install only OEM products, use fast-cure urethanes and continually provide education for my installers. I’ve built my business from day one on providing a safe, quality product. I also agree that we need to continually spread the word about AGRSS. What’s disturbing to me, however, is that by taking the high road we are slowly putting ourselves out of business. Not only are we being killed by cost-cutting insurance companies and job-steering networks, we’re losing business from informed customers like Beverage.
I was reading the May-June 2003 issue of AGRR, and from cover to cover it’s all about the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards (AGRSS). I applaud AGRSS for all that it is doing to promote safety in this industry, but isn’t it re-inventing the wheel? It looks to me that anyone who can write his own name and sign a $100 check every year can register with AGRSS. For those of us who are doing the job properly to begin with, this just adds to our expenses and makes it more difficult to compete.
What we need in this industry is:
1) An insurance company that is willing to pay the price for a job that is done by AGRSS standards;
2) A customer that is educated and willing to pay the price for a job that is done by AGRSS standards; and
3) Suppliers that refuse to sell auto glass installation tools and supplies to individuals off the street who are not educated, certified or insured, or can supply proof they know what they are doing.
Atlas Windshield Repair
Editor’s Note: Following is a reply to Mr. Dietz from AGRSS marketing chair Debra Levy, who also happens to be the publisher of AGRR magazine.
Thanks for your letter. I appreciate your willingness to voice your concerns. On the face of things, I can see how you might misperceive that “that anyone who can write his own name and sign a $100 check every year can register with AGRSS.” This is not the case.
Let me take these issues one by one.
First, let me say that AGRSS is in the process of developing a validation process (which I guess you could call an audit process in shorthand) to enable it to check registered shops’ compliance to the standard. We are just in the beginning stages of deciding what form or process this will take. Bob Beranek is chairing this important committee, and I expect there to be a checks-and-balances method put in place once the council figures out the best way to do it.
Also, please remember that AGRSS registration is the only type of registration that covers the entire auto glass replacement company—all employees, all technicians and all locations. It is not portable; it stays with the company and does not move with installers. It involves more than the actual installation of auto glass—it involves business practices, record-keeping, employee training and more.
To your other points:
1. We have just begun our outreach to insurance companies. While no one can tell insurers what to pay or what to offer for work, we can alert them to what the proper procedures for installation are, and we can alert them when their practices do not allow those standards to be followed. We fully expect major insurers to require AGRSS registration within the next three years. This is not something that can be done overnight; the standard has been complete for just about a year.
2. We all agree that consumers need to be educated. That’s why we have developed consumer-focused presentations that registered companies can use at the Rotary Club, etc.; the website for consumers is called www.safewindshields.com. Take a look at it. We will also be producing pamphlets and public service announcements. A registered company locator is also be included.
3. You have raised an interesting point here. I suggest you look at the members of the AGRSS Council. You’ll see they include representatives from just about every major supplier, and, over time, I would expect those suppliers to look long and hard at their warranties and other issues and want to work with AGRSS-registered companies.
I disagree with your one point that AGRSS will make it “more difficult to compete.” I think it’s going to make it much easier to differentiate those companies that are willing to do the job right from those who don’t.
I hope, too, that you choose to see the AGRSS Council in action and get involved. It’s a great group of people who have put their individual agendas and company politics aside for the good of the industry. We could use your help and ideas. Thanks for writing.
AGRSS Marketing Committee Chair/AGRR Publisher
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