Less than a year after its inception, Houston-based Safe Tech Auto Glass implemented a proprietary software system that streamlined every aspect of the business, allowing its technicians to service more vehicles in a day. The company’s six locations, all in Texas, complete 50 to 100 repairs a day, according to Austin Kilber, the company’s operations manager. However, due to the high volume of repairs the company is able to output, he says they’ve caught the attention of insurers Geico and Progressive, which has had a negative impact on the business.
“It started off with just a few inspections here and there,” says Kilber. “It’s very inconvenient for the customer. [The insurance company] would send out one of its claims adjusters; they’d call the customer and say, ‘Hey, they’re not a preferred shop,’ and then try to push them over to Safelite. Basically, these Geico and Progressive reps would tell the customer that they needed to go to Safelite if they didn’t want to go through the inspection process.”
Kilber says these inspections are strangling the company, and now, nearly 100 percent of the jobs they’ve been getting are flagged by these two insurers, even after becoming a preferred shop.
“These investigations have affected our approval ratings,” Kilber explains. “We feel picked on because we found a way to automate everything, do things faster and be more efficient with our time. Since we’ve become a preferred shop, we’ve been black-balled by these insurance companies. It’s very evident—customers can tell you that, at some point, these insurers are steering them to Safelite. It’s just been a big problem for us.”
In August, Kilber says out of the 2,012 repairs performed for Geico or Progressive, only one failed, which he says is due to the amount of time it took the company to come out and complete the inspection.
“ … We have had only one repair not pass inspection due to the damage growing larger in the seven days it took for Geico to come out and perform the inspection. This inspection process is a huge strain on my company and the company’s bank account due to a large number of customers not returning for repair after inspection or not completing the inspection at all,” he explains. “Customers are sometimes very annoyed and angry that they have to go through an inspection process, mostly because they’ve had chips repaired in the past and didn’t have to jump through hoops to get the work completed.”
Only 37 percent of Geico insureds came back to the company for the repair following the inspection, Kilber says, costing them $36,779 in lost revenue in a one-year span just from those not returning.
“Between August 1, 2016 and August 9, 2017, my company completed 1,776 Geico invoices for repair, and 973 were flagged for inspection,” he says. “That means that almost 55 percent of our invoices went to inspection. Out of those 973 inspections, only 361 customers returned for the repair.
“We’re a by-the-books company; we’re not pushing anything through,” Kilber says. “All of our techs are NWRA certified, we’ve won multiple awards and we’re BBB certified. We’re a start-up business, and we need revenue coming in.”
Safe Tech Auto Glass used to have 12 locations, but, due to these inspections, has dwindled down to six. Kilber says the company can’t afford to grow, let alone retain quality technicians since their pay is based off of commission.
“If we have a technician that has a repair that actually goes through, it’s so hard to believe,” he explains. “We have six technicians, but it’s difficult for us to keep them because they’re on a commission structure, and 30 percent of your production goes to inspection. It’s affected us in more ways than just business. It’s affecting people’s livelihood and their ability to put food on the table.”
Kilber says the company has reached out to the insurers, but have yet to be given an explanation for the inspections. However, he says Geico has forgone physical inspections altogether and now calls the customer for an over-the-phone inspection.
“I don’t understand why the phone inspection couldn’t be completed when we first get them on the phone to complete the claim,” he says.