Volume 12, Issue 4 - July/August 2010

feature

Two’s a Party
Industry Associations Meet in Fort Myers, Fla., for Annual Conferences
by Penny Stacey

Several auto glass industry groups came together this May in Fort Myers, Fla., for conferences, meetings and more. Both the Independent Glass Association (IGA) and the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) held their annual conferences in conjunction with the Spring Auto Glass Show™ and the National Glass Association’s auto glass certification committee held meetings as well.

Inside LYNX Services
The events started with a tour of LYNX Services’ call center. The tour was led by Chris Umble, vice president of strategic development, who spoke with attendees about the company’s tiered service model released late last year in conjunction with Allstate.

“It creates value at different levels of the value chain,” he said. “For policyholders, the goal is to provide a better experience.”

He explained that the idea of the program is to differentiate among shops “favorably on items other than price.”

Umble added, “We all know shops are not equal. Some are better than others.”

He explained that items on which shops are judged are customer satisfaction, warranty performance and “NAGS part utility versus market/peers.” The customer satisfaction index looks at items such as shop efficiency, general satisfaction with the company and technician, professionalism, workmanship and whether the customer would refer someone else to utilize that shop.

Others on the tour talked about the company’s move toward electronic processing, at the request of their insurance clients, and the fact that shops can now enable electronic scheduling. This enables customers to schedule work with a shop from the LYNX portion of certain insurers’ websites.

“You’re going to have the opportunity not only to receive the work assignment by e-mail, but also for the policyholder to re-schedule the work,” explained Paul McFarland, who oversees the company’s participant services. “More and more of our clients have deployed services where their policyholders can go online and service a loss.”

Insurance Insight
Umble, along with Tony Douglas, affiliate manager for HSG, also answered a number of questions related to glass claims during a panel held as part of the NWRA conference. Topics included falling deductibles, promoting windshield repair and how glass shops can make the claims process run more smoothly.

On the topic of promoting windshield repairs and a growing awareness, Umble said, “Repair is always good. That has been our mantra.”

He also pointed out that he sees a growing awareness regarding repair.

“I see change and it may be for the better,” he said. “Repairs are no longer the silent side [of the industry].”

Anti-Steering Efforts and Online Basics
“Finding out what the industry thinks are legitimate practices can be a harsh reality,” advised Wade Ebert, owner of American Auto Body in Springfield, Ill., during his seminar.

Ebert spoke about insurer steering efforts and combating them, but warned it requires an investment of time.

“You have to have people in place to do your job while you do your second job of taking back your business,” said Ebert.

He also encouraged cooperation between the auto glass and auto body industries in exploring issues that impact both.

“Realistically, we have some real parallel industries,” he said. “ … I think we need to come together or fall hard.”

Internet expert Scott Orth offered attendees of both the IGA and NWRA annual conferences a look at the online world and items they should watch when setting up or re-designing their websites.

“Does design matter?” asked Orth. “It’s more about layout and ease of use.”

And clarity is key. “The real goal is to show customers what you do when they get to the site.”

He also suggested that auto glass business owners watch their rankings in various search engines in an effort to compete with industry giants in this area. For example, he advised attendees to search for both “auto glass” and “auto glass repair” in various search engines.

Insurance Contracts
IGA?counsel Chuck Lloyd of Livgard and Lloyd offered a session designed to help auto glass businesses learn tips for working with insurers and getting paid what they feel they should be in an insurance transaction.

“The policy is what dictates what the insurance company is going to pay,” said Lloyd.

He stressed that obtaining an assignment of proceeds from a policyholder—a form saying they sign their insurance benefits for a particular claim over to your business—is key.

“The policyholder can take what is owed and assign that to you,” he said.

Lloyd called the assignment of proceeds a “foundational document.”

“It’s as important as your invoice,” he said.

He suggests obtaining this nearly as soon as you make contact with the customer.

“If you have an assignment, you have the ability to deal with [the insurer],” he said. “In fact, I think they have an obligation to deal with you.”

Attendee Reviews
Attendees left both conferences armed with new knowledge, they say.

“I’m really glad I sat through all of [the sessions],” says Jim Short of Klein-Dickert in Madison, Wis. “Scott Orth was good … Every session was good. I can’t think of one that was better than the others.”

John Tutt, vice president of auto glass for Club Assist, traveled all the way from New Zealand to attend.

“[I came] primarily to have a look at some of the tools, network with some of the people, understand some of the issues [U.S. businesses are] facing,” he said. “We can see how those compare with what we’re facing in Australia and New Zealand.”

Penny Stacey is the editor of AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com™.

To view an expanded version of this
article, visit www.agrrmag.com/sas2010/event.htm.



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