Works to Dispel Myths about Safelite Solutions
Tom Feeney, executive vice president of Belron US, spent more than
an hour on Friday, May 2, attempting to dispel many misconceptions
he feels independent shop owners have about Safelite Solutions,
the third-party administrator branch of the company.
|Feeney spoke for more than an hour on Friday,
May 2, about issues of importance to independents.
"I thought hard about why I was coming to an audience called
'unfriendly,'" he said. "In the end, I believe all our
constituents will be served better by working together on things
about which we do agree."
After giving a bit of history on how Safelite came to develop its
own network-in response to a need for shops in locations where there
previously weren't anyhe took on the myths surrounding the
Among these was one issue he called "the elephant in the room"steering
(or deceptive referrals) (CLICK
HERE for related story.)
"You give us way too much credit," he said. "We're
not as good as you think we are. Why would we risk a major multi-million
contract to give an extra replacement to one of our auto glass shops?
We'd never risk our business by doing something illegal."
He added, "We are a very competitive organization, but you
are not my competition."
Feeney also reminded audience members who Safelite Solutions' customers
"We take very seriously that those calls are not our customersthey're
the insurance companies' customers," he said.
|Feeney's session was one of the most popularly
attended of the three-day event.
And pricing? "When you get the price from Safelite Solutions,
I assure you it's the same price insurers give us," he said.
Feeney also talked about timing on pricing, noting that the company
pays shops in 12 days or less from the time the invoice is received,
and that the money is released from Safelite within one day of its
receiving payment from the insurance companies. In instances when
this doesn't happen, Feeney said it's likely either an invoice wasn't
received quickly at Safelite, or there was something wrong with
the invoice. He encouraged attendees who had examples of late payments
to contact the company to figure out what the issue might be.
"If you haven't been paid, there's something wrong with the
invoices," said Feeney.
Later in the presentation, when asked about this again, he added,
"Many shops are not fast billers-but that's your business,
He also spoke to concerns that shops' proprietary information is
distributed throughout the company's other divisions, including
its retail portion.
"Information we get from you is not disclosed to Safelite
Auto Glass field management," Feeney said.
And how does the company feel about anti-steering legislation?
"We support anti-steering legislation," he said. "We
do not support the gag order where we cannot tell consumers about
their policyholder rights or legislation that says you cannot answer
phones (i.e., administer claims) and install glass."
Many in the audience also commented that they had jobs "stolen"
from Safelite-for example, a technician showing up to do a job and
finding that a Safelite technician was in the process of completing
the job already.
"We do not steal jobs," he said. "Safelite field
management complains about this too. They think we steal jobs from
"I thought that might give you a little tug at the heart,"
He stressed openness throughout the presentation.
"Anytime you're in Columbus, Ohio, the hot spot of America,
we'd be happy to host you in our offices," Feeney offered.
GlasWeld president Mike Boyle asked Feeney if all the myths are
untrue, why he believes Safelite has the reputation among independents
that it does.
"The fact that we have shops that replace auto glass and that
we answer the phones," he replied.
Feeney took questions from numerous audience members, including
Donna Braden of Jack's Glass, who advised she's encountered not
only steering efforts, but also "hostility" from Safelite
Solutions' customer service representatives when assisting customers
with setting up glass claims.
Feeney encouraged Braden to provide information on the particular
calls to him so that he might pull the tapes of the calls and can
look into the circumstances surrounding the calls.
"Hostility and rudenessthere's no place for it,"
he said, adding that to pull a call, he'd need information such
as the date of loss, reference number and/or the customer's name.
Another audience member commented on Feeney's observation that
Safelite doesn't "steal work" from independentsnoting
that he's shown up for jobs before and found Safelite techs there.
"We're as curious about those instances as you are,"
Another wondered why glass shops must provided their "proprietary
information," such as how much they pay for glass, to Safelite
Solutions when it processes claims in which the shop is involved.
"It depends on the requirements of the insurance companies,"
Feeney advised, "but that information doesn't go any further
Those in attendance seemed to appreciate Feeney's presentation
at the conference, despite their many questions and concerns.
"I give [Safelite] a lot of credit to show that they're extending
the olive branch, as they know there's a lot of negativity out there
toward their corporation," said IGA board member Mike Russo
of Thru-Way Glass in Syracuse, N.Y.
Russo added, "I also credit [Feeney] with taking questions
that were not pre-selected or pre-screened."
Stay tuned to glassBYTEs.com for more coverage of the IGA
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