Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Selling Safety

I came across this post on one of the auto glass industry web sites and I want to pass it along. Since the identity of the person who posted this is for all intents and purposes unknown, I cannot give credit to the person who wrote this piece. The post deals with many of the relevant issues in the auto glass industry.

Safety a Gimmick?
Someone said that safety is apparently of greater concern currently only because pricing has eroded. It does seem that way! But I would argue it is of greater concern precisely BECAUSE pricing has eroded and partly because modern windshields are becoming more and more integral to the vehicle and the safety systems in the vehicle today, increasing liability for the service providers.Some take it that "safety concerns" are simply a ploy by some in the industry to argue for higher prices? It may be to some degree, but I would argue it has more to do with RETURNING to the profitability of days gone by. I have been installing windshields for nearly 20 years now and each and every year insurance reimbursement rates have gone DOWN since at least 1995 with very few exceptions. At the same time I have seen worse work each year, greater volumes of it each year, and lately just down right "hacking" of windshields. The two are linked, safety and profitability.

LESS PROFIT PER JOB = FASTER/SLOPPIER WORK TO INCREASE VOLUME IN AN EFFORT TO REMAIN PROFITABLE. This is what many in this industry have chosen to do, fast, sloppy, and potentially dangerous work. Yet, others have fought for every penny to do the job correctly, safely, and profitably. The insurers have attempted to control reimbursement rates in all facets of insurance NOT JUST AUTO GLASS! And they have done a very good job of it! They have also cleverly pushed the liability burden onto others while they eroded reimbursement rates! However, service providers (not just auto glass) all across this great country have had enough! We have tried to play their game for over 10 years now. Played largely by the insurer's rules. But we now understand just how deeply their rules were in their favor, not ours, and certainly not the policyholder's. We also now understand just how deeply we have been snookered into this dangerous game some call fraud or in the least not giving policyholders the same value for their dollar. And sadly, most of us are knee deep in it right along with the insurers. Pricing, specifically the NAGS re balance, may oddly enough have been one of the greatest things to ever happen in this industry. It created the reason for glass manufacturers to create their own list prices. It created the need for many of us to check and price each and every job to make sure we are remaining profitable, and by doing so, many of us have realized much much more than we could have ever imagined. From pricing, to laws, to insurer's "rules", to TPA's and their practices. It has created the reason to OPEN OUR EYES and those of us that have are quickly becoming VERY WISE and fighting for our real customers again. That is why safety is a greater issue than ever before, because we know now that the only concern we should have is for the safety of our customers. NO ONE else does or will. Not the insurers, not the TPA, and certainly not the government!
IT IS UP TO US, the auto glass professionals, to keep our customers and their families as safe as possible with quality, integrity, honesty, and safety.
As you have read, the person who posted this is concerned about the quality of work being performed and also that the lack of quality is linked to what the insurance companies and or the TPA (Third Party Administrators) are willing to pay. (By the way, a third party administrator is a company who sublets glass replacements and then bills the insurance company for the work that is performed as well as a fee for processing the claim.) A really sweet deal!
So as a TPA, you control the work given out to your glass shops who are on a list, you set the price, and you make some money on the back end as a claims processor.
As a local small business owner with a very good reputation for doing high quality work, I am in the position of having to "take it or leave it"so to speak. There have been instances where the TPA rates are paying me less than what it costs me to buy the glass! We have had to hold our ground in these cases because we feel that we are entitled to make a profit!
How does this make sense?
Business 101: You should be entitled to make a profit on the goods you sell....right?
In today's automotive glass replacement industry your reputation for quality is not the highest priority to the TPA's or even the consumer: It's the price! The price is what you agree to in order to be on the "list". What a regrettable situation. Even though we are listed as an approved shop, we continue to fight the issue of price daily. Needless to say the "big players" in the industry have a huge advantage because they can buy much better than the local independent. They also subscribe to the Wal-Mart / Home Depot business model that has eliminated so many other small businesses because they can't compete with the chains. The bigger question is: "What is your reputation worth?" Quite simply when it comes to safety and quality, the big boys don't even come close! So, you do get what you pay for...and yes, we do sleep well at night!

Friday, July 13, 2007


Life is full of compromises. The big question is what are you willing to compromise? Will the compromise involve lowering your standards? Will the compromise involve "settling" for less than what you expected? In the case of your vehicle, will you unknowingly compromise? I'm sure the average Joe or Josephine out there has very little information about auto glass installation. The same can be said for the safety components designed in all of today's vehicles. So as not to create another item on the "list of chores" it's safe to say that the consumer will have to "trust" the company and certainly the glass technician to do the right thing. It's pretty much the case that auto glass installations are not recommended for the novice. OK so here's where it gets interesting: as a glass technician you work for one of the high volume "industry leaders" and you load up your day with 8 jobs to do. A very good tech can probably put out a job in roughly 1 hour.

Now, we're assuming that the "industry leader" has instructed and trained their glass techs on the AGRSS practices or some kind of self derived facsimile how so ever named. (Please feel free to take a look at the AGRSS standards before you have your windshield replaced.) You then put the tech in a truck, add travel time and other mitigating circumstances and what do you get?

Perhaps there is a compromise! Very simple steps such as using primer to coat metal surfaces where the adhesive holds the glass in place become an after thought. Of course this is in the of interest saving time. So, as you probably looked at the photos in this post, guess what didn't get done??? Whomever replaced the windshield in the Chevy Express van we did the other day didn't use primer!

WOW you say...what a mess! That's right!

Here's a little safety tid-bit for you: The glass in your vehicle is part of the safety design feature of your vehicle. No kidding folks.

Now we all know about gambling. We all know why it is the casinos stay in business too. The odds favor the house. What do you think the odds are that if the vehicle pictured above rolled over: Would the glass have been able to support the roof structure as it was intended to do?

You're probably asking the question: "What are the odds that this vehicle would be in an accident?"

Any one care to roll the dice?

By the way....before you roll.... we have already encountered 12 or more vehicles since Januuary whose glass was replaced prior to visiting Excel Auto Glass in Middletown that were flat out rusted due to shoddy workmanship. We have a book full of pictures too!

So go ahead...roll the dice!

Monday, July 9, 2007


It is very hot today...
really hot....
Just a short while ago we got a visit from
a customer who had some
"scratches" on his windshield.
He had been to another shop a few towns over from our store in Middletown. No big deal...right?? The CSR there looked at the customer's windshield and proceeded to give him the low down on why they wouldn't polish the scratches out due to some issues with distorting the's going to take all day to do your car so leave it.... and the price is $300.00 plus tax. Blah blah blah.....
The customer is driving a late model Chevy Impala, not a bad ride...looks to be in good shape. He seems to be a nice guy too... "Can you take a look at my windshield?" he askes...
Sure, No problem! Upon inspection...the scratches appear to look more like some type of tape remnent but to be sure, we pull the car into the shop and with the guy looking, take some window cleaner and a fresh razor blade and whadda ya know..... the "scratches" are gone! WOW just like MAGIC! So we proceed to clean the rest of the guy's windshield and he is truely amazed! Not only did we solve his problem but we were HONEST!
Now, it's fair to say that maybe the person he saw at the other shop was a novice...a tad bit on the inexperienced side you might say... or was this something more sinister???
The moral of this story is: Don't be afraid to get a second opinion. Ask some questions and make sure you're comfortable with the knowledge and level of quality of whomever is going to replace your windshield.
Just remember:
While most people can make a hot dog and it'll taste OK.....
Not every person can install a windshield the correct way.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Why choose EXCEL Auto Glass?

As you can see this truck was the "victim" of an improper installation. After a year and a half, the vehicle started to rust. The damage was underneath the vehicle windshield so the owner and the glass installer had no idea what was lurking beneath the windshield. Sad to say, this is an all too common problem in our area and in this industry. The good news for the owner was that we were able to restore the metal surface and safely install the windshield. The process of installing automotive glass at Excel Auto Glass involves following the AGRSS (Automotive Glass Replacement Safety Standards). Although to the customer, this is an area that they understand very little about. So we try to educate the customers and give them the idea that this is a real safety issue and not like a trip through the drive through for a quick meal. Even so, a lot remains hidden underneath the surface where the safety features of their vehicle can ultimately affect their own safety as well as the safety of their families. We don't compromise. Neither should you. How many times have we heard: "Just put it in any way...I'm selling the car." "Let the next guy worry about it." What's wrong here? I suppose it's up to us to be the conscience for the customers. Or, they'll find someone who is willing to compromise the vehicle integrity and just put the glass in anyway. How unfortunate it is that this goes on. Ignorance is negligence.