Volume 10, Issue 2 - March/April 2008
Anti-Steering Wheels Turn
There is no question that possible steering by competitor-administrators (CA) has a major impact on our bottom lines. As independents, the frustration that we face with the tactics used by the customer service representatives of CAs has taken a toll on us personally and on our businesses professionally. It is getting tougher everyday for even the most resourceful independents to remain in business. When we take into consideration all the money we spend on advertising to initiate that first point of contact with the customer only to have it displaced by the tactics of CAs it makes our daily headaches even worse.
Heading to the Capital
One critical point to remember in waging this fight is that it is not about pricing. Pricing must not be the thrust of your argument. Our fight is about fair access to the marketplace or a level playing field. You need to explain that, unfortunately, under the current state of affairs, we have to fight to earn business that is already ours. You’ve worked years—if not decades—to earn your reputation. You have created the necessary advertising budget to promote your business. Through all your efforts and hard work you have convinced the customer to call your shop. And then, bingo, a call to a customer’s insurance company’s glass claims call center and that customer is gone forever. Real fair, isn’t it? You pay to advertise. You work hard to earn your clients; they have a contract to run a call center. In the end, they influence where the customer goes, because they control the point of contact to the insurance company.
Across the States
Use your membership in the IGA as a source to help you get started and if you are not a member, do yourself a favor and join. Many of your fellow independents already have. In 2007, IGA saw its membership rise 30 percent. Your IGA is a very important ally in this process and the primary association confronting issues that impact independents on a daily basis. It is a very worthwhile first step and may be the only way to ensure the survival of your business.
Mike Russo is currently the controller for Thru-Way Autoglass Distributors Inc. in Syracuse, N.Y. Russo currently is a member of the board of the Independent Glass Association and is a past bookkeeper for the New York State Glass Association. Mr. Russo’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.