The Cost of Calibration, Part 2: the West

In part 2 of our five-part series on the cost of calibration across the U.S., we look at the perspective of shops out west.

Rick Valentine owns Intermountain Auto Glass in Boise, Idaho, where set pricing is in place for calibration. “Though sometimes, regardless of the insurance company, we have to lower the price,” Valentine says, his company does not lose money on a job. He says that if insurance will not pay enough for a calibration, his shop will collect from the insured or not take the job.

“There is a broad range in pricing,” Valentine says. His shop has been performing calibrations for more than four years and has three calibration machines to ensure work does not have to be sent to a dealership. Only 2% of Intermountain’s calibration work goes to a dealership. “We try not to let any of our jobs with calibration go to the dealership if we can,” he says.

If an auto glass shop wants to work with insurance companies, Valentine says “it just goes with the territory” that the cost of calibration will be a challenge. “It’s difficult and time-consuming,” he says. But his shop will not release a vehicle that has not been calibrated. He says if a customer does not want calibration, his shop does not take the job. “You cannot not perform a calibration if it’s required.” “We do a lot of calibration,” says Lee Swindell, who owns JJB Auto Glass in Atascadero, Calif., with his wife, Tiffany Swindell. After four years in business, the Swindells hope to open a second location this year in San Luis Obispo, focusing on providing calibration services and ADAS training. Lee Swindell says that the cost of calibration fluctuates depending on auto insurance and if a customer is paying with cash. “It’s not really about the cost. I think it’s about the lack of education,” he says.

Swindell says that a year ago some dealerships in his area were still saying calibration was not necessary. The biggest battle he faces each day is explaining to customers why their vehicle needs this after a windshield replacement. “Who are you going to believe? The insurance company or the auto shop? The pricing through the insurance does not make much sense.”

“I think the frustrating thing too is it’s not based on the difficulty to calibrate,” Tiffany Swindell says of labor costs affected by the amount of time required to properly perform calibration. Lee Swindell adds that the NAGS pricing has not increased to reflect increased costs of auto glass or for calibration services.

He says auto glass shops will make money back after the initial investment. “I think the biggest thing is fear, and they shouldn’t fear. [Calibration] isn’t going anywhere.” Now on its third calibration system, Swindell says JJB Auto performs at least 20 calibrations per week.

“There truly is no rhyme or reason to the cost,” Tiffany Swindell says. And for auto glass shops doing insurance work, the cost is “out of our hands.” She says windshield replacement and calibration “go hand-in-hand.” “I don’t think you should be sending a customer out of your shop without calibration. I think it’s unsafe.”

Lee Swindell says that if a customer will not allow his shop to perform calibration, the company does not replace the windshield in that customer’s vehicle. “If they’re not getting their windshield calibrated, we’re not doing the job.”

This article is from glassBYTEs™, the free e-newsletter that covers the latest auto glass industry news. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to Auto Glass Repair and Replacement (AGRR) magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

This entry was posted in glassBYTEs Original Story and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.