Industry Focus on Las Vegas Meetings
Las Vegas was the epicenter of the auto glass replacement and repair educational effort last week, with the Independent Glass Association (IGA) and National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) both holding their annual meetings.
The educational program in Las Vegas got underway on Thursday, March
2, with a joint session of the IGA and NWRA on two of the most important
developments affecting the industry, the Auto Glass Replacement Safety
Standard (AGRSS) and Repair of Laminated Auto Glass (ROLAGS).
Carl Tompkins, chairperson of the AGRSS credentialing committee, explained
how the AGRSS program works. "Our future depends on AGRSS,"
he told the crowd.
While companies register with the AGRSS program, Tompkins explained that
all AGRR businesses have access to AGRSS and gave the example of the body
shop which asked the AGRSS Council what its stand was on used glass. The
result was a ruling by AGRSS that used glass can be used but is only acceptable
under several very specific circumstances.
"We have corrected and continue to correct the ills which our industry
has been subjected to historically," he said. "We have improved
technician performance and professionalism, provided procedures to meet
pertinent FMVSS standards, set guidelines and objectives for suppliers,
promoted awareness for safe auto glass installation, provided a code of
bet practices, achieved consistency among installation practices, and
created a common benchmark," he explained.
He pointed out that the registration program was created so that businesses
could promote themselves as complying with the AGRSS standard. "You
must take the initiative in your local community to brand AGRSS with your
company. No association can do that, the AGRSS Council can't do that,
you have to do it," he told attendees.
Tompkins explained how AGRSS has now moved to a phase two stage in which
companies have to do a self-assessment to show that they do comply with
the AGRSS standard. "We're saying you don't just walk the walk, but
talk the talk," he said.
The Windshield Draft
Dave Taylor, vice chair of the ROLAGS committee, described the draft
standard for windshield repair. "This effort is to make the windshield
repair industry more professional," he stated.
He explained that the genesis for this effort is that repair is entirely
different from replacement. It requires different skills, equipment, and
training. "The fact that you can replace a windshield does not mean
you can do a repair. Just because you can eat gourmet food does not make
you a chef," he said.
The draft standard has a glossary of repair and related terminology,
damage types and reparable dimensions and repair limitations, among other
Taylor said that a subcommittee is currently working on the comments which have been received to the proposed standard.
Once these have been addressed, they will go to the committee and it will address them. "This will take some time," he said.
There is not a specific timetable, but Taylor said that the effort would
almost certainly go into next year. He pointed out that states which have
periodic motor vehicle inspections will be most affected by the standard
once it is completed.
Click, Click a Lead
A lot of companies are going to be under a lot of pressure during the
next year. There is a lot of price pressure and a lot of consolidation
by the suppliers, Marc Anderson, IGA executive director, told attendees
in opening the association's individual program. "There are two places
that we are being hurt. By steering and by the Internet," he stated.
"As a stand-alone shop in an individual market, it is hard to harness
the potential of the international Internet," he explained. Anderson
said that insurance companies are in a state of conflict of interest by
using companies to process their claims as well as do the work involved
in the claim. He then introduced Dave Zoldowski, IGA president, who explained
a program under consideration to level the Internet playing field by having
an IGA Web presence for consumers who need auto glass work.
He pointed out that customers looking for glass repair shops on-line
have grown 800 percent in the last five years, with a 240 percent growth
in 2005. On the Yahoo search network alone, in January of this year there
were almost 170,000 people looking for auto glass on-line.
"The pay per click market is very expensive, and as an individual
shop, you can't do it," he said. "But as a group it becomes
possible." Zoldowski said that his company's referrals from yellow
pages has dropped from 16 percent to 8 percent, and he is finding that
more of his referrals are coming from people who found the company on
The goal, he said, is to be fully active by April 15 with a high-profile
Web site that comes up when consumers do an Internet search for auto glass
and AGR. It will have over 33,000 pages and is designed to capture any
Web searcher looking for auto glass repair or windshield repair within
their local hometown. On-line customers can choose their state and city
and be able to see what glass shops are listed in their local area who
are IGA members. "It will operate on the same principle as other
Internet operators such as 89glass, which captures the job and then puts
it out for bid and pays the local shop which does the work," he explained.
IGA has contracted with a lead optimizer, Jay Bale, to operate the e-commerce
operation. "Contracting these skills will give the IGA the ability
to place our Web site in a market position that will ensure our survival
as the leads system turns toward electronic media," Zoldowski told
attendees. "We feel that we can get an advantage quickly," he
Steering-The Not-so-silent Killer
"Steering and pricing are interconnected issues," said Anderson,
in introducing a session on that subject. He said that, although it is
controversial, litigation is the way to go to control this practice because
it is a legal issue. "We say to the court that we think this is an
illegal practice and we want you to rule on it," he explained. "We
think that if we can change their scripting practices such as telling
consumers that they may have out-of-pocket expenses, that will go a long
way." Anderson said that there are laws in dozens of states which
give consumer choice and when that is being ignored, the law is being
flaunted. "The IGA is about making a level playing field and using
the law to do that," he said.
Tom Goodman, IGA attorney, gave a status report on the IGA anti-steering
He said that on none of the grounds on which IGA sued did it lose on
the merits. The claims were dismissed on procedural grounds, he stated.
For example, he said the fraud charges were dismissed because the judge
ruled that IGA did not have standing to bring the suit because all its
members had not been affected. "This is the same thing as saying
the NAACP could not sue for discrimination because not all black people
are discriminated against," he said.
"In round two," he continued, "we will start a new list
and take shops on the list which have asked us to become plaintiffs, and
a list of the consumer statutes which apply and we're going to sue. We
are not going to sue as an association. We will not make that mistake
again. The use of unlicensed insurance adjustors will be approached in
a different way. We're going to claim that it is a fraudulent practice
on Safelite's part."
Anderson said that he didn't know what the timeframe is for round two, but the expectation is that it will be soon.
After a lunch break, Chris Umble, vice president of strategic operations,
LYNX Services, discussed the METRYX industry services registry.
He spoke about value creation and its importance to the industry. He
said the question has been, "How do you take that value creation
and allow customers to understand and use the differentiating qualities
of your company for them to make a decision?"
He explained that the stages of buyer readiness/loyalty are: awareness
(which means getting them to call you first, perhaps through a yellow
pages ad), knowledge (comprehension by the consumer of what is important
and what your company offers) to preference (which is taking the action
of giving you the job).
Over 9,500 companies have registered with METRYX. They have over 25,000
service areas, with less than 100 zip codes which are not covered. There
are almost 30,000 registered technicians. "That is a lot of data
to validate," he said. He gave the example of AGRSS registration.
Approximately 1,800 companies reported they were AGRSS registered, and
in reality there were only 500 which were. So they had to contact the
companies which said they were and tell them they weren't. Some, he reported,
thought that they were AGRSS registered and were surprised to find out
He referenced Dave Casey's article in the January/February issue of AGRR
in which he says that if METRYX does not result in value creation for
the consumers, companies and insurers, then it is a waste of time. "We
agree with that completely. We don't have any more time and money than
you do, so we want to go on from validation to value creation," he
Marc Anderson presented two awards. The Glass Man of the Year award went
to Mark Rizzi, ACR Glass, Alliance, Neb. Rick Rosard, president of the
Minnesota Glass Association and an IGA board member, received the President's
Chuck Lloyd, an attorney who has been prominent in the auto glass industry,
gave the keynote address.
"I'm tired of presiding over business funerals," he said at
the outset. "I've had it with an industry that has been trampled
on and has turned its fate over to others and waits for a knight in shining
armor to come to the rescue."
He said that the IGA undertook what he called a very ambitious project two years ago when it filed the lawsuit. He said that he didn't sign on with that effort because he did not think that the industry had the resolve to do what needed to be done to win it.
"Unfortunately, I was right." However, he said that he thinks
enough has happened since then, he the industry's ire has been raised
enough to tackle the issue now. That's why he has signed on as co-counsel
with the new IGA lawsuit.
He said the three most important things facing the industry are: access
to jobs (the number one issue), price erosion, and lack of vision. "No
one wants to look beyond their own misery," he said. "You've
got to. That's the only way problems like steering and short pays are
going to be dealt with. It's not a fair fight and you can't win on your
own," he said.
He also spent considerable time talking about the lack of marketing.
He called current industry marketing efforts, overall, pathetic. He said
that being on a rotation basis with the networks makes marketing more
important than ever. "You have to promote your services, your quality,"
he told attendees.
His advice was to talk to people about the things which matter to them.
They want convenience, they want security, they want safety. "You
can't assume that consumers know that mobile service is available. Some
one is telling them, but they may not know that you can do it," he
said. "You've got to let them know." Find out why consumers
are canceling their jobs. "If it's because they are being told that
they may have out of pocket costs if they use your shop, you have to let
IGA know. That's what we're here for," he said.
Following the close of the educational program, the Spring Glass Show
opened in the Cashman Center exhibition area.
Following Chuck Lloyd's presentation, Marc Anderson called for contributions
for the IGA Legal Fund. Many attendees pledged from $500 to $1,500. A
total of $23,000 was pledged in 10 minutes.
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