AGRSS Validation Workshop Answers Questions for AGRSS-Registered Shops
November 10, 2009

"We stand and we watch." Those were the words spoken by Penny Oulette, program developer for Orion Registrar Corp., the company administering the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS) Council Inc.'s third-party validation review program. Oulette made her comments during a validation program workshop held during last week's International Auto Glass Safety (AGRSS) Conference in Las Vegas.

The seminar, led by both Oulette and accreditation committee chair Cindy Ketcherside of IGD Industries, was designed to provide information about the ins and outs of the program with AGRSS-registered shop owners and representatives who might face random third-party validation reviews.

Oulette provided a validation checklist to those in attendance, and explained that every step of the process is designed to be "fair and consistent."

"We also have to make sure we're answering certain questions," she said.

And what happens when a technician or owner spots a validator taking copious notes?

"You don't need to be worried that everything we write down is something negative," Oulette warned. "We're friendly-we're nice guys, honestly."

She also again explained the clustering program and the way the audited locations are chosen. All the registered shop locations have been placed into geographical clusters of 10 locations each. Ten of these fourteen clusters will be validated during the first year, and they are chosen through random sampling. (The number of clusters to be audited annually will be determined by the number of registered locations each year.)

"All clusters have the exact same chance of being selected," she said. "The key to keeping our sample sound is basically keeping our fingers out of it."

The first cluster was scheduled to begin validations this week, and the second cluster will be validated next week. After that, a short lapse will follow because of the holidays, and in January, the validators will visit the third cluster, and so on.

Though the first round of shops received 30 days' notice, this has been upped to 70, and the accreditation committee agreed to precede the letters sent out with a phone call for future notifications.

Once shops receive notification, they will be asked to submit several items, including their deliverables packet, names of all their technicians and any special circumstances (such as language issues).

"It allows us to do some of the work offsite," Oulette explained.

The validation itself will consist of an opening meeting with the business owner, a records review (making sure that the appropriate records have been kept since the shop became AGRSS-registered), a discussion with the person who orders glass for the company, a review of adhesive storage conditions, and a review of each technician completing a windshield installation. It will end with a closing meeting, during which the shop owner will learn of any non-compliance issues.

Along the way, the validator will time any necessary steps (such as how long primer is shaken prior to application) and measure items such as temperature and humidity, according to the shop's adhesive manufacturer's instructions.

The length of time the validation will take will depend on the number of technicians and jobs completed.

"As much as we can, we'll be watching," added Oulette.

Nik Frye, vice president of sales and marketing for Glass America, followed Oulette with some tips for preparing as an AGRSS-registered business. Frye stressed that training is one of the most important aspects of preparation.

"Scheduling regular reviews of your training manual and making sure all your training materials are up to date is key," he said.

He also suggested appointing an AGRSS coordinator if possible.

"It would make sense for it to be the person with the most knowledge of the AGRSS Standard," Frye said.

He stressed communication, and advised that in his experience at his company, working closely with technicians on validation preparation actually has raised morale.

"The fact that [technicians] saw validation as a way to really prove [they were doing things correctly] was a positive," he said.

Frye offered the following steps as suggestions.

1. Make a plan with goals.
2. Show proper leadership. "[Employees] will get it and they'll understand if you help them," he said. "The best promise you've got is through those technicans."

One attendee asked if the AGRSS Council or accreditation committee had considered levying fines against those who are found to be non-compliant.

Ketcherside advised that though she never says "never," right now, this isn't likely.
"We're not trying to be punitive," she said.

She added, "The whole purpose is to create professionalism and continuous improvement."

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
CLICK HERE to subscribe to AGRR magazine.