Volume 9, Issue 3 - June/July 2007
When Larry Diesbach of Bachman Auto Glass in Phoenix first heard about the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS), he knew it was what he had been waiting for.
“AGRSS was the answer to my prayers. I wanted to belong to an organization that promoted safe installations,” he says.
Two years before the AGRSS standard became recognized by ANSI, Diesbach had had a wake-up call, so to speak.
“I had a customer get in her car and drive it immediately after the completion of the job, and she wrecked her car five minutes later,” he says. “When I found this out, it really gave me a reality check.”
Once AGRSS came on the scene it seemed like the obvious next step to Jane Hastig, who handles public relations and marketing for the Glass Doctor franchise in Duluth, Minn.
“We thought it was a step in the right direction,” she says. “It’s the way we had always done business. I was really happy to see that this organization was founded and we wanted to put our money where our mouth was.”
Troy Walker, owner of Orion Auto Glass in Grand Rapids, Mich., echoes Hastig.
Standard for Quality
Ten years after its inception and five years after its first registrant, the number of AGRSS-registered company locations has grown to more than 1,500. In fact, the AGRSS Council recently announced that it is launching a Consumer Awareness Program (CAP). The new program was designed to bring AGRSS-registered shops together “with the goal of educating the general public about the importance of the safety elements in proper windshield replacement,” according to a release issued by the council.
Hastig says she takes it upon herself to talk to insurance agents about AGRSS every chance she gets in her hometown of Duluth. Likewise, she speaks at a number of local business events and wears an AGRSS pin each time, to give her an opportunity to tell other local businesses about AGRSS, its website and the story behind it.
While talking to customers and insurance agents about the AGRSS standard is important, many note that just using the AGRSS logo has been a benefit to them. “We use it [AGRSS] as an advertising tool on our mobile units and in our shops, to let people know we care about their safety and when they see the AGRSS symbol, it just enforces that,” says Eric Cox, shop manager for Patriot Auto Glass LLC in Hermiston, Ore.
Rebecca Role, co-owner of NACCO Windshield in Kernersville, N.C., also finds that including the logo in its yellow-page ads has been successful. “It’s just another selling point,” she says.
But, there’s more to it than marketing. For Dave Zoldowski, owner of Auto Glass One in Brighton, Mich., the record-keeping required by the AGRSS standard recently saved his company from a situation that could have led to a great deal of angst. “We had a backhoe window that we had replaced less than two weeks before that became loose,” Zoldowski says. “In going back to our records, we were able to trace the primer [used] to four glass jobs and bring those vehicles back. Had we not been keeping records prior to that, I’m not sure we would have been able to find that lot number of the defective primer, so there in itself is a testimony.”
So, why aren’t more shops becoming AGRSS-registered? According to many of those who are AGRSS-registered, it seems that the very record-keeping that saved Auto One is what scares away some AGRSS potentials.
“A lot of people are worried about accountability,” Hastig says. “It’s easy to sign up at first, but I think some people are afraid to prove that they’re actually doing it and that it will be too big of a hassle. I think people are just afraid.”
On this note, Carl Tompkins, chair of the AGRSS credentialing committee, and Cindy Ketcherside, chair of the AGRSS Council, did a presentation at the recent Independents’ Days’ Conference in which they discussed the possibility of third-party validation in the future for the group.
What’s in Store
Tompkins has already had contact with State Farm, which mandates AGRSS compliance (but not registration) within its current Offer & Acceptance document.Tompkins says contact with more insurers is in the works.
“Multiple options [are planned], including personal visits, group presentations through the invite of various associations and direct mail,” Tompkins says.
Diesbach says he thinks that the AGRSS Council has unlimited potential. “It is the best decision we could have made to invest our money in AGRSS,” he says, “as they will get the word out to consumers … AGRSS is not a group of whiners. It is a tight-knit group of shops that care enough to invest their time and money in putting safety first.”
At press time, the Council had just received a donation from Glass America in Chicago to help it in these efforts. In addition to a myriad of small shops, both Glass America and Diamond-Triumph are AGRSS-registered companies.
“We look forward to a time when AGRSS is fully embraced across the AGR industry, the insurance industry and all customer segments to raise the standards of our industry and to increase the safety of the driving public,” says David Rohlfing, president of Glass America.
‘Trunkslammers’: How Do They Fit into the Safety
But how do these companies get into the business so easily?
“Currently, there are no requirements other than a business license, so access has been too easy in an industry that provides services that could cost someone their life, and has, when work isn’t done properly,” says Carl Tompkins, chair of the AGRSS credentialing committee and Western sales manager for the Madison Heights, Mich.-based Sika Corp.
Many in the industry feel that the so-called trunkslammers are ruining the industry’s reputation—despite the growing number of AGRSS-registered shops.
“The market is saturated with fly-by-night companies who ruin the little respect our industry has by outsiders,” says one AGRR message board poster.
But what is the motivation for getting into the business in this manner?
“It takes very little to get into the business and for the little to no overhead they carry, they can make a good living,” Tompkins says, “as long as they have a phone number, can sit in the parking lot of an AGR distributor, wait for their phone to ring, quote a cash job for $20 over cost, determine cost by walking into the distributor and paying cash for the windshield and tube of urethane and come away with enough to cover their financial needs for the day.”
Penny Stacey is the editor of AGRR magazine.