an Iga viewpoint
Tough Times Require Tough Measures
by Donovan Trana
How many times have you heard we are in critical times in the auto glass industry? If you are like me, it seems almost every conversation you have had involves slim margins for auto glass retailers or problems dealing with networks. Many of these conversations center on the problems. We know the problems all to wellwe need solutions. Almost 90 percent of our members at the St. Louis convention this past spring told us the solutions are an insurance billing program and a group-buying program.
We started out more than four years ago with a vision to facilitate access for independent glass shops to insurance billing programs, and to provide a forum to help educate independents on various marketing, business and technical issues. We realize we may have been perceived by some in the industry as the barking dog with no teeth, but a core group of more than 800 independents have stood behind our mission.
Most recently, our mission has been refined. We have hired a consultant, Tim Smale, who worked with Pilkington LOF. Tim is helping our board of directors and is developing new programs for members.
One of the most important considerations at this stage of the game is to consider all possible solutions. We began with a benchmarking study to find out what other industries have done in similar circumstances and apply an auto glass twist to our solutions. We found that consolidation is happening in most industries. Many independents are losing ground fast and will continue to do so unless they band together for better buying power and participate in marketing programs to increase market share and margins. We are developing a blueprint for the system that will deliver services to help independents compete with the chains. This involves meeting with glass shops, suppliers, and insurance companies. Finally, we will develop a prototype that will be used to test the system with members, suppliers and insurance companies and make any necessary changes, said Smale.
We have hired Jenna Smale, who has worked as a marketing director and graphic designer, as our administrator and we have moved the office from the Minneapolis area to southern California. Also, our bi-monthly newsletter, The Beacon, has feature articles by experts in the industry.
The IGA continues its evolution into an effective organization using 12 newly-formed committees. We welcome volunteers to serve on the committees.
Donovan Trana owns Express! Auto Glass and Express! Auto Wash and Detail in Muscatine, IA.
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