Training the Shop
by Dale Malcolm
This is the final installment in a three-part discussion of corrosion. In the first article (September/October 2006) I wrote about looking at corrosion in a new way and why it needs to be treated properly in order to complete a safe installation. In the second article (November/December 2006) I wrote about training your office staff on ways to handle dealing with corrosion treatment with customers. In this last article, I want to cover training your installers on not only doing the actual corrosion treatment but also how to present this to them in a positive light.
Almost every installer I have trained or with whom I have worked wants to do a good job, but sometimes the company sends mixed messages and the installer is caught in the middle. The owner, manager, customer service person and installer must all be on the same page about corrosion and working towards the same goal.
Many times your installer will be the only person your customer sees and it is key that he be able to discuss and “sell” the corrosion treatment if need be. Every time your technician leaves the shop to go install a piece of glass, the odds are about 1 in 4 that he will encounter corrosion. There is a 90 percent chance this corrosion will be from a previous installation. In the second article I recommended that the topic of corrosion be discussed with every customer, from the first contact. This lays a solid foundation so that the customer is already aware of the possibility the technician may find corrosion. It will make the technician’s job easier when he has to discuss the path forward with the customer. The technician’s job is never easy, and telling a customer there is corrosion that needs treatment for an additional charge is never pleasant news to deliver.
Your installers probably already are conducting pre-inspections for previous damage and potential problems. They also need to look for the signs of a previous installation and/or visible signs of corrosion. When the signs that corrosion may be present are observed, the technician should look closer to see if there is a corrosion problem before removing the old glass. It puts the technician and the customer in a difficult position if the corrosion is not uncovered until the glass is removed and the vehicle has been made unsafe to drive. Serious corrosion is usually easily spotted by an experienced installer It is best to discuss the treatment of the problem with the customer while the vehicle is still drivable. This leaves open options like bringing the vehicle into the shop or being taken to a body shop for treatment.
The creation of a corrosion treatment policy lets everyone involved know what the company policy is on treatment and how it should be handled. Many shops currently doing corrosion treatment have worked up pricing sheets to simplify pricing and speed up the estimating process. This is something a technician could carry on a mobile job and price out without getting the office involved. If the office is best suited to do the pricing, a simple worksheet will enable the technician to describe the existing condition quickly and accurately over the phone. This ensures an accurate and fair price to the customer. Don’t forget to build in an incentive to all employees encouraging the sale of corrosion treatment where needed. A production-based incentive for glass installation may encourage an installer to “overlook” existing corrosion in order to make the day’s required number of jobs.
By following the “3Ts” an experienced technician can do a quality corrosion treatment on all but the fourth level of corrosion—metal perforations requiring metal replacement.
The first T is tools. The expense of acquiring the proper tools and materials to remove corrosion is minimal. While Dremel-type tools work for small areas, they do not have the durability to stand up to large areas of corrosion removal. A better choice is either an electric or air-powered die grinder that uses abrasive stones or disposable abrasive pads. Wire brushes or wheels have proven ineffective on anything beyond light surface rust. Small abrasive media blasters are available for small odd shaped areas.
The downside of these tools is the potential to get the sand or abrasive media all over the vehicle. Tools that use metal or carbide burrs will remove too much of the “good” metal in the process of clearing off the corrosion. With one of these tools, it is very easy to grind past the corrosion and then through the unaffected steel creating perforations and making the problem worse. Large abrasive wheels used in hand-held drills will do a good job removing surface corrosion, but can get out of control easily and damage the paint on fenders, pillars and roofs.
The second T is training. Explain the differences between tools including the safety protection required when using them. Give your technicians time to practice removing corrosion on sections of rusted vehicles acquired from salvage yards or body shop scrap piles. I have even practiced on the rusted areas of a shop dumpster. Make sure your technicians have the information and supporting literature to assist them in selling corrosion treatment to their customers. Be sure your installers are familiar with company goals, policies, industry standards and practices. Be sure they back them up in the field when problems arise.
The third T is time. When a technician has a full day of work orders in his hand, make sure the support system in the office is prepared to help with changes in the schedule that may come from adding several corrosion treatments into the day’s expected workload. Your technician may be able to sell a customer on a corrosion treatment knowing that the team effort will work to juggle the already busy schedule to accommodate the extra time needed to do the corrosion treatment.
The AGRSS Standard states that a proper and safe installation cannot be done over a comprised bonding surface. The first step to dealing with corrosion is not to cause it in the first place. One shop I have spoken with even sells its preventative measures (don’t scratch it in the first place) on every installation as a quality selling point to their customers. This approach also helps prepare the customer for corrosion discovered after the glass is removed. Existing rust or corrosion must be treated before the installation of a glass part can be completed. Corrosion treatment has become a normal part of auto glass replacement work. While there are still issues with who ultimately pays for it, it must be done.
Start with the owners of the vehicle being repaired and sell them on the treatment. If they came to your shop because your business is based on service and quality, they depend on you to provide exactly that, even if it means an additional charge. While visiting a shop recently, the shop manager mentioned to me that his technicians had attended a corrosion treatment seminar I had given in their area over two years ago. He told me that corrosion treatment is an every day part of their business.
I asked him what the most difficult part of implementing a corrosion treatment program in his business was. He told me that getting used to asking for the extra charge for the work was the hardest thing to get past. They knew it was the right thing to do on several levels and once past the “asking” it was smooth sailing. It is now something they “just do” like windshield repair and selling wiper blades, only a lot more important.
Note: I could not have written this series of articles without the help of Mark Rizzi, owner of ACR Glass in Alliance, Neb. His knowledge is the foundation of a lot of what I have presented over the years on corrosion. He is responsible for many currently-accepted corrosion procedures, and has been given awards for his work in the auto glass replacement field especially in corrosion treatment. Mark continues to give seminars around the country on corrosion treatment. I would like to thank Mark for all his help in writing these articles and being a great source of real world experience.
Dale Malcolm is technical manager with Dow Automotive/Essex ARG in Dayton, Ohio.
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