Posts Tagged David Rohlfing
Last Tuesday, February 4, 2014 there were two items in glassBYTEs.com™ e-Newsletter that I read with great interest. The two articles got me to wondering about how technology could be developed to increase passenger safety in the auto glass replacement (AGR) industry by alerting passengers of potential problems.
The first article I enjoyed reading was the “View From The Trenches” blog post by Neil Duffy. His blog post titled “Nightmare on Stevens Creek” pointed out those in the auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry who are portrayed as “hacks” in the article; those who lower the quality of installations and how our industry is viewed. Many of these “hacks” don’t follow or worse are even aware (an even scarier nightmare) of the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard® and what is required, on their part, to ensure that those they install auto glass for are safe in an accident. The second article was an Associated Press article that appeared on TribLive.com titled “Feds want cars to be able to talk to each other“. Seems like a great way for the cars we drive not to run into cars that others drive. This technology will have to be in full use when we move to driverless cars, but in the meantime it could greatly reduce collisions today if rolled out in new cars.
Everyone in the auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry across the country has seen someone who isn’t following proper installation standards and put drivers at risk when auto glass is replaced. There are those in the industry who think the drums are beat too loud about this topic, but it is an issue and Neil rightly points to the concern that he sees with the acts of some lowering the standards which could bring us all down at some point in the future. As Neil wrote,
“This drains the resources and profitability of shops who value quality. By allowing hacks to contaminate our industry we are putting both the public at risk and our own livelihoods. The sad fact is that there is an unwillingness to seek regulatory constraints or to somehow cull the worst offenders in the AGRR industry. Why would a glass manufacturer or wholesaler try to cut the number of sales they could make by calling for the removal of incompetent or illegal customers? Why would a third-party administrator (TPA) demand stringent certification and high-limit liability insurance over negotiating deeper discounts from the same vendors? Furthermore, we, in AGR, play into the hands of our largest competitor who promotes its technician’s training and employee character via the media over smaller companies – the local unknown local glass purveyors – that may prey upon potential clients. That alone can create a bad dream or two.”
Are there auto glass suppliers or urethane suppliers that would walk away from a sale if the supplier is aware of bad behavior on the part of a customer? I for one would like to believe that there are. But would some suppliers step in and provide the products versus losing a sale? Sadly probably yes.
I appreciate Neil Duffy pointing out that there are those in the industry who shouldn’t be installing auto glass in any vehicle because they either don’t know how to properly do a replacement or they don’t care that they are installing a part in an unsafe manner. Bad apples that exist in our industry can lower the value that the vast majority of us in the industry who are doing it right receive as Neil suggests. Consumers believe they are getting a quality product regardless of what company they use. When a company that is doing everything right competes against those who don’t, how could a consumer know that they could be choosing a company that delivers the service and/or products in an unsafe manner which could ultimately cause serious safety issues? They don’t.
The second article that I referenced that appeared on the glassBYTEs.com™ web site on February 4th dealt with the United States government push to require automakers to equip vehicles with technology that will reduce accidents by having vehicles “talk with each other”.
The Associated Press article details the work that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been doing in cooperation with automobile and truck manufacturers since the early 2000’s to prevent accidents via new technology.
The article quotes David Friedman, the head of the safety administration saying that NHTSA “estimates vehicle-to-vehicle communications could prevent up to 80 percent of accidents that don’t involve drunken drivers or mechanical failure”. Imagine the lives that will be saved with the implementation of new technology. Mr. Friedman goes on to say the goal is “to prevent crashes in the first place”. Historically the government’s focus has been on passengers surviving accidents. On the NHTSA web site the department’s mission reads:
“NHTSA was established by the Highway Safety Act of 1970 and is dedicated to achieving the highest standards of excellence in motor vehicle and highway safety. It works daily to help prevent crashes and their attendant costs, both human and financial.”
The technology that is being developed and installed on vehicles today across the globe is pretty amazing and has been a dream going back over 50 years.
In 1956 General Motors showcased their cars with a traveling show featuring the company’s fleet at events in major cities across the country. The first “Motorama Show” was held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. This “Key to the Future” video was a “featured film at the exhibit that looked into the far distant future of 1976 which predicted a jet age future with electronic digital displays and an On Star like central command that would guide us along our uncrowded path to adventures.”
The view of the cars of the future from 1956 obviously wasn’t reality in 1976, but we will be seeing more and more technology installed in all types of vehicles. This CarScoops.com article talks about an “Augmented Reality System (that) Allows Drivers to See Through Large Vehicles”. The ‘See-Through’ developed by a team from the University of Porto, in Portugal, is directed by Professor Michel Ferreira. The technology is a great advancement in driving safety and will undoubtedly save life’s’. Imagine being able to “see-through” a large vehicle such as a bus in front of you in order to safely pass on a two lane highway.
Virtually every car on the road today has on-board technology that informs drivers of mechanical issues that have been detected. Additionally, mobile telephone hands free devices and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technologies are available for most vehicles further helping to improve driver safety. Government authorities, driving safety advocates and organizations in cooperation with automobile manufacturers continue to build on technology that improves passenger safety. The ever changing availability of new safety technologies being developed for vehicles is rapidly changing how we interact with vehicles, how the vehicles we drive interact with us and even how the vehicle interacts with everything near the vehicle. A Bloomberg.com article titled “Talking-Car Systems to Be Required as U.S. Weighs Rules” briefly discussed future technologies being developed by CISCO Systems and others for connected cars, along with companies such as Google and Telsa Motors working to employ that technology in driverless vehicles.
So, after reading both of the articles that appeared on the same glassBYTEs.com™ e-Newsletter I began wondering if future technology could be developed to let auto and truck drivers know if the auto glass in the car they are driving or are passengers has been properly replaced. Perhaps a farfetched idea you’d say, but since we all know that a windshield that is being replaced has to be properly installed to ensure that the passenger side air bag deploys correctly to protect occupants and to also maintain structural integrity of the roof; maybe not. As I’ve heard a number of people say over the years, “It’s going to take some politician’s family member or someone important to be killed for something to be done to ensure the safe installation of auto glass.” Certainly no one wants that to happen. As Neil so aptly wrote:
“This writer is truly tired of having nightmares that “Freddy the hack” is becoming the ugly face of today’s automotive glass industry. I see it more and more each day and most worrisome is the complete lack of concern by many within our industry. How can we police ourselves or be policed is the $ 64,000 question that has to be addressed and answered some day, hopefully sooner rather than later. If we continue to bury our collective heads in the sand, it will be our own necks that get hacked, as well as more unfortunate windshields.”
I know of countless AGRR professionals who strive to ensure that auto glass is installed properly and spare no expense to do so. But without either the industry as a whole taking a more active interest or governmental authorities taking a regulatory role in the AGRR industry maybe someone can develop a technology to alerts drivers and passengers alike that the car they are riding in is indeed safe to drive, or not.
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Recently I was forwarded a letter that Safelite Solutions (“Safelite” “SGC Network”) sent to an auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) company. The letter related to work that the company had done for a consumer that happened to be insured with a company for which Safelite manages glass losses. The AGRR company had done a replacement and was required to send the bill for the work that was done for the consumer through Safelite in order to receive payment. The letter that was received started out stating:
“The SGC Network is currently in the process of performing a random fast cure kit Audit.”
The letter went on to state:
“Please fax copies of the work orders/invoices that include the urethane lot stickers. Do not send proof of purchase or receipts. The only acceptable documentation is the urethane lot sticker attached to the invoice or work order. Please forward to ATTN: SGCNetwork at 614-210-9941 within the next three business days.”
Have you seen or received one of these letters? I hadn’t seen one before. What was requested certainly seemed reasonable to me and the company also thought the request was reasonable. The company had the information readily available since the information is required under various sections of the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard that is administered by the Auto Glass Safety Council™. What was interesting about the request was that Safelite was taking on the role as an independent 3rd party auditor in asking for the information. Who do you think performs that function when and if Safelite audits its own use of a “fast cure kit”?
Take a minute and look up the word “fairness” on dictionary.com and you’ll find the following:
“the state, condition, or quality of being fair, or free from bias or injustice;
“free from discrimination, dishonesty, etc; just; impartial”
“in a fair way; correctly: act fair, now!”
It’s also interesting to see the word fairness shown via TH!NIKMAP’s Visual Thesaurus®.
So does it smack of “fairness” that a retail auto glass company that competes for auto glass repairs and replacements in the United States is also given responsibility for performing audits of competing AGRR companies to determine if they are using a “fast cure kit”? It doesn’t seem that Safelite would be the appropriate entity to audit others if you applied the definitions of fairness:
“the state, condition, or quality of being fair, or free from bias or
“free from discrimination, dishonesty, etc; just; impartial”
“in a fair way; correctly: act fair, now!”
They certainly aren’t “free from bias” and it doesn’t seem as though they would have a strong desire to adhere to the idea of “evenhandedness”. I don’t see how they could be “impartial”. And it would seem impossible that the act of their being the auditor would be accomplished “in a fair way”.
To me it seems to defy logic when the corporate mission of any company must be to grow market share and produce increased value to its shareholders for it to be possible for them to be an independent auditor of others in the industry in which they compete.
Safelite’s company web site states:
“We must do what’s right, even when no one’s watching
This means living by our values and being accountable. It is about how we treat our staff, our customers and members of our local community. We reinforce this throughout our corporate structure with legal compliances and ethics training, an employee ethics hotline and numerous channels for feedback and concerns.”
Certainly words any company would be proud to adhere. It seem appropriate to ask “who’s watching” those that are watching us? Do you think that there’s a 3rd party auditor that’s auditing the auditor?
I think you can ask the same question relating to the “pre-inspections of auto glass claims” that was discussed in a glassBYTEs article titled “Safelite Solutions Accepts Recognition for Pre-Inspection of Auto Glass Claims” in May of last year. Does that practice seem to smack of “fairness” to you?
As most everyone on the planet knows, Super Bowl XLVIII is coming this Sunday, February 2, 2014 between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. The officiating crew this year is led by veteran referee Terry McAulay. What if for the game this year a crew of Denver Bronco fans is allowed to officiate the game instead of the impartial officials that have been selected by the NFL? If that was allowed to happen how many calls do you think would go Denver’s way? Even the most ardent Bronco fan hoping for a win for their team would see that as both blatantly “unfair” and “unjust” to the Seattle Seahawks team.
So as “A Matter of Fairness”, who thinks that how Safelite operates as an auditor and/or inspector is:
“the state, condition, or quality of being fair, or free from bias or
“free from discrimination, dishonesty, etc; just; impartial”
“in a fair way; correctly: act fair, now!”
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A little over a year ago I wrote a blog asking the question “What’s Your Line-up?” The genesis of that blog was a question I had been asked about who was on my fantasy football team. The question I asked in this blog though actually referred to who did I want to work with.
At the end of the National Football League’s (NFL) recent regular season, 5 teams switched out head coaches in hopes of finding new direction and sought after success. This annual event is known as Black Monday. With the NFL football play-offs in full swing and the field narrowing, all the teams that didn’t make it into the postseason had players cleaning out lockers and heading home to think about next season. For a variety of reasons, some of those players won’t be returning to their lockers next summer, but some NFL General Managers are quickly locking up the talent they feel is needed to find success for owners dreaming of holding up the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the end of next season.
We’ve seen a similar pattern taking place in the auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry haven’t we? There have obviously been a number of companies changing ownership during the past several years. Whenever there is a change in ownership that change often comes with different values and vision, along with a whole new way of doing business.
As with professional teams, every glass company wants to “put together the best team possible to ensure success”. If you have the right mix of team members in your business, achieving goals and finding success is much easier when you’re working hard to find that “special sauce” or recipe for success against others in your market.
Getting back to the original question, “What’s your line-up?” The real question is, ”Who’s on your team?” People are what make a business successful or not. It doesn’t matter what it is you’re trying to accomplish, its people that make any endeavor a successful one. You’ve got to show differentiation in what it is you deliver of course by using superior products and services versus those you compete, but its people that ultimately separate you from the herd and consistently drive above market results for your business.
If you’re running the New England Patriots, the Denver Broncos, the San Francisco 49ers or the Seattle Seahawks; you’ve assembled a team that is comprised of the best you can find. The NFL team owners, general managers and coaches that put together that “special sauce” and get through the regular season and playoff games intact get the chance to get to Super Bowl XLVIII and hoist the Lombardi Trophy at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014.
Those teams that didn’t get into the playoffs are working hard to find team members to add to their rosters during the NFL Draft May 8th – 10th 2014.
As I wrote in the original blog asking “What’s your line-up?”…as “an auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) store or company you had better make sure that your team is comprised of the best”. With all that’s happening in the AGRR industry perhaps there is someone you know that’s a perfect fit for your team.
Every player in the NFL wants to go to the Super Bowl, but few really ever get the chance. The best teams with the most Lombardi Trophy’s over the years: The Pittsburgh Steelers hold the most Vince Lombardi Trophies, with six. The San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys are tied for second with five each. The Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants are in third with four; and the New England Patriots, Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders are all in fourth with three.The best in any industry want to be members of winning teams. You always try to associate yourself with the best. And you know when you’re not.
So I ask again the questions I asked in December 2012:
What’s your line-up?
Who’s on your team?
Who can make a difference for your company?
Who is it that can help you make your company better than anyone else in the market(s) you compete?
Do you surround yourself with the best you can find?
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Each of us knows exactly where we were and what we were doing on and we will remember that day of infamy for as long as we live. 343 fire firefighters and paramedics, along with over 2,400 civilians were killed by terrorists on the day that brought down the . While the of terror wrought was so shocking on 9/11, the day also brought out the best of what America is, means and stands for. A few of the antonyms of infamy are esteem, honor and respect. On that day and the days that have followed showed the world the greatness of America.
One of the featured speakers at Auto Glass Week 2013 was Richard “Pitch” Picciotto. Pitch is a former New York City Police Officer, who for 28 years served with the Fire Department of New York () as a fire marshal, an arson investigator, then as a lieutenant and as a captain before becoming a chief in 1992. When the North Tower of the World Trade Center was bombed by terrorists on , Pitch was given responsibility for ensuring that the entire building was completely evacuated. He was on duty in New York the morning of 9/11 and he knew immediately that the attack was done by the hands of terrorists. His experience told him that the first tower hit on 9/11 was a terrorist attack and not a small plane hitting the building on a beautiful sunny day.
When Pitch arrived at the World Trade Center on 9/11 he was assigned responsibility for leading the evacuation of a number of floors of the North tower. The 110 story tower had 99 elevators which were rendered useless when the plane struck the building. Everyone who escaped from the North Tower that day came down one of three stairways, one each on opposite corners of the building and one in the middle of the building. On opposite sides of the building were stairways (Stairway A and C) which were 44” wide. The inside stairway (Stairway B) was 56” wide. You can imagine how difficult it was for fire fighters to go up those stairways to help evacuate the building when the stairways were already filled with panicked people trying to leave.
Although the North Tower was hit first, the South Tower was the first to collapse at 9:59 a.m. Inside the North Tower at the time of the collapse of the South Tower Pitch knew the tower he was in was going to also come down and he ordered the immediate evacuation of the building which meant every fire fighter dropped their equipment where they were standing when they heard the order and they started down the stairways.
Pitch was in between the 6th and 7th floor stairwell at 10:38 a.m. when the North Tower collapsed. He and 12 others in the stairway near him at the time of the collapse survived as the building fell in around them. Five hours later they were able to find their way out of the building and walked over the rubble of the Twin Towers to safety. Pitch tells the entire story of his experiences that day in a book he wrote titled “”. Since 2004 Pitch has been a Battalion Commander responsible for Battalion 11 which covers the Upper West Side of New York.
I had the extreme honor to introduce Battalion Commander Richard “Pitch” Picciotto to the audience attending. Those listening to his talk that day heard him tell in vivid detail his experiences that day in the North Tower. He spoke of the heroism of the countless fire fighters who put their lives at risk to save the vast majority of those in the Twin Towers on 9/11.
Pitch also talked about five points that he feels are important for all to focus on in the post 9/11 world we live:
1. Priorities in your life are what’s important
2. Get focused on family and friends – don’t give up on relationships
3. Be kinder and gentler
4. How do you get through life? With the help of generous support of people
DR First let me thank you for taking the time to talk Pitch.
RP My pleasure.
DR When you spoke at our recent conference I know that everyone was mesmerized by the story you told; one of leadership, perseverance and faith. What are the key traits that you feel are important to being a leader?
RP First and foremost you have to be competent. You have to know what your job is and how to accomplish it. Unfortunately we have too many incompetent leaders. They may be nice people, but they are not competent in their field.
DR In your experience do you believe that people are born with the traits required to be a leader or can someone learn to become a leader?
RP I think it is a mixture of both. There are people born with traits to be a leader, but these traits also have to be developed. And you can develop many (probably not all) by studying and learning from other leaders.
DR You first became a police officer for the City of New York and then made a career change to become a fire fighter in New York. What drew you to becoming a fire fighter?
RP I just loved the camaraderie and also the tremendous amount of gratification of doing the job. There is no greater feeling in the world than knowing that you and your team saved a life.
DR I understand that there is a term used by fire fighters – accountability – that has a different meaning to the one most are familiar. Can you explain the meaning of accountability as it relates to fire fighters?
RP As a firefighter you’re accountable for your actions, as a leader you are not only accountable for your actions, but also for all actions taken by those who you have trained and lead.
DR Like many in the room listening to your talk I was mesmerized by the story you told. The experience you recounted seemed more of serendipity. The takeaway I got from your talk was that all of us need to celebrate and embrace those around us in our lives. As harrowing the experience of 9/11 had to have been for you, you seemed to have emerged from the events of the day with an amazing outlook on life. How were you able to achieve that?
RP I really don’t think I had a choice. It seems that if you dwell on the tragic events and repercussions of any tragedy it will consume you. I know myself and many of the firefighters did dwell and were consumed by the events of 911 to the point of depression, but for me I am now able to compartmentalize that part of my life (even though I reflect on the events of 911 every day) I try to enjoy life.
DR You ended your talk telling us five points that you feel are important for everyone to focus on. What was the genesis of those five points?
RP You listed the points. I truly believe this is what helped me, and hope it can help others. I came to this realization after a long time reflecting on the events of 911 and life and what is necessary to be happy.
DR Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions today Pitch. After you finished your talk you spent a great deal of time talking with those who attended one-on-one. I also saw you walking around the show floor and the hotel lobby. You were and are very approachable. I had a number of people tell me that you were someone that they’d enjoy having a beer with in their local bar. A man who would be comfortable anywhere, talking with anyone about anything. I have to concur with that as you and I talked several times and you were very kind and gracious to everyone you came in contact with. With what you went through on 9/11 you must have one huge heart.
Battalion Commander Richard “Pitch” Picciotto is an American hero. One of countless heroes, not seeking that badge that emerged from the events of 9/11. What makes people like Pitch so remarkable is that in his view he didn’t do anything more than his job on that day. Although he was only doing his job as Pitch says, he and other fire fighters saved the lives of over 27,000 people by getting them safely out of the Twin Towers on 9/11. I know that as a nation we remember the loss of lives that day, but in his eyes we should also celebrate life.
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As we near the end of the first three quarters of 2013, it appears that we may have some wind at our back. There has been some slight improvement in a couple of the key drivers of the automotive glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry. The key drivers of the AGRR industry are weather, the economy and miles driven.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac has been published since 1792 and is “North America’s most popular reference guide and oldest continuously published periodical”. Forecasting the weather is a specialty of the Almanac and the publication touts an 80% success rate at correctly forecasting winter weather. The Almanac recently published the weather maps for 2013 – 2014. The Almanac is forecasting the following weather for regions they report for this coming winter:
- The Northeast a winter milder in the North and colder in the South with slightly above average snow in the region;
- In the Atlantic Corridor a colder winter with snowfall above normal;
- The Appalachians will see a colder winter with snowfall near normal;
- The Southeastern United States will see colder weather and above normal snowfall;
- In the Lower Lakes temperatures will be slightly milder with below normal snowfall;
- In the Ohio Valley area winter will be colder, along with below normal snowfalls;
- The Upper Mid-West will be a mixed bag with a warmer winter in the eastern part and below normal in the western part of the area. Snowfall will be above normal;
- The Heartland will be colder than normal this winter and snowfall near normal;
- The rest of the country is expected to be colder than normal with average to above average snowfall;
All-in-all a mixed bag with the weather and I hope that wherever your business is located you’re benefited by a colder and snowier winter.
The economy is also a bit of a mixed bag. Positive news came from new car sales which can be an important factor in an improving AGRR industry. J.D. Powers detailed year-on-year improvement in new-vehicle sales in the United States by reporting in their August 2013: Monthly Automotive Sales Forecast that “August new-vehicle sales reached the highest level in seven years.” The report went on to state, “New-vehicle retail sales in August 2013 are projected to come in at 1,270,400 units, 12 percent increase from 2012”. That’s great news for the AGRR industry. J.D. Powers is predicting growing new-vehicle sales for the remainder of 2013 and well into 2014. Really great news for the AGRR industry!
CNNMoney reported this past week in an article titled, “Jobless claims fall to 7-year low, but…” the rate of unemployment showed signs of dropping which is great news, but is tempered with the suggestion that it’s a result of people continuing to drop out of the work force. There are “11.3 million Americans who remain unemployed” the article reported with “three unemployed people for every job opening”. As with the weather, unemployment figures vary by region so its how your local economy is doing is what could affect how good your business will be in the next year.
The price of oil and how oil prices effect gasoline prices is another key part of the equation for the AGRR industry. As reported by the United States Energy Information Administration in the “Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update”, prices year-on-year through September 9, 2013 on regular gasoline show that prices are down $ 0.26. Lower gasoline prices are great for both the consumers we rely on for business and for all of those company vehicles providing mobile service. Hopefully the price of gasoline will stay low.
You can look at reports from the U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration (FHA) as positive or negative depending where you reside. The FHA showed in its June 2013 Travel Monitoring and Traffic Volume Report that year-on-year miles driven were relatively unchanged with a slight decline of 0.1% from June 2012. The news that miles driven is not showing growth wasn’t great news for the AGRR industry that thrives on vehicles out driving on roads, but staying level was better news than a drop.
So how are these three key drivers affecting your business and do you think the wind is at your back? Regardless of whether the wind is at your back or not, I think there is a fourth key driver to your business and it is the most important one for finding success in your business. That key driver is you. So how are you going to take advantage of the marketplace you compete? What is it you’re doing to make your business stand out among all those with whom you compete?
I’ve written in previous blogs “The Times They Are (Always) A-Changing” and “The Times They Are (Always) A-Changing – Part II” about the opportunities in the marketplace for AGRR companies. I strongly believe that there are opportunities for independents in our industry, but you’ve got to surround yourself with the best people and make sure that they are all committed to the goals and aspirations that you have for your business. If you haven’t got that you’re going to be struggling.
What else are you doing to separate yourself from your competitors? Look for ways to be successful and be relevant in your market so that you stand out. There is a recipe for success in your market and you’ve got to figure out what it’s going to take to make sure you find and keep being successful. It starts with you as you’re the key driver of your business.
If the three key drivers are beginning to turn to your favor and with the possibility of the wind at our backs, what is it you’re going to do in the next year to see that you not only survive, but thrive in the AGRR industry? It’s really up to you.
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This past Monday, August 26, 2013 at The White House, United States Army Staff Sergeant and Calvary Scout Ty M. Carter received the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. The medal is generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress. There have been 3,462 medals awarded over the years and there are 79 recipients still living today. Ty Carter is being honored for his gallantry in helping to defend Combat Outpost Keating, located in a remote section of Afghanistan, from an unwavering attack by a Taliban force. He and his fellow Americans were severely outnumbered.
When talking about the actions he took at the outpost that day on October 3, 2009 Ty was quoted as saying:
“When good men are dying all around you, you have to decide what your last moments are going to be like. Are you going to die behind something, or are to going to die standing and firing. Are you going to die pushing forward or falling back?”
What a great quote and an amazing mindset to have when you are in battle and facing terrible odds. It is impossible for me to imagine the horrific setting and events that took place that fateful October day.
When reading about Ty’s receiving this amazing honor for his valor and acts of selflessness, I started thinking about the character traits required to possess his mindset. I then thought about traits required to be so determined, driven and/or committed to achieve a specific goal. How those traits determine or define success. That led me to wonder about the traits required to be successful in the auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry today. Now before you say “what the &$%#”, I’m not in any way attempting to liken the American heroes who are brave enough to take up arms and defend our nation to the issues faced by retailers in the AGRR industry. There is obviously no real comparison. What I am suggesting is Ty Carter’s quote makes you consider that if you are going to be successful as an AGRR retailer or in any endeavor you had better have that determination, that drive and commitment to fight the good fight or you won’t be successful in the task at hand. You must discover the ways to find success as you are confronted with new obstacles; and you had better never take that success for granted because someone is always coming after you and yours.
There was once a time finding success being an AGRR retailer was a fairly easy task. A time when networks or third party administrators didn’t exist and when you didn’t have to deal with steering or any of the other tactics seen today. The landscape has changed and continues to change. In all likelihood it’s not going to be changing in any positive way and certainly not to your advantage, so you’d better be working hard to find ways to ensure your continued success.
In previous blogs (“It’s all a matter of perspective”; “Auto Glass Networks – Part 1” and “Auto Glass Networks – Part 2”) I’ve written about various tactics used and what actions you might consider in maintaining and growing your business. You have to focus and fight for your customer(s) and you can’t let anybody keep you from doing so. You can’t stop pushing forward. You can’t stop trying out new ideas or strategy’s to grow your business. You need to find that special something that makes you and your company stand apart from the others. You can’t ever give up trying. Don’t suffer from what Brad Stevens; former head men’s NCAA basketball coach for the Butler Bulldogs and new head coach for the Boston Celtics said after an NCAA game earlier this year, “The pain of losing isn’t as great as the pain of regret. You have to give it your best.”
Ty Carter didn’t stop fighting at Combat Post Keating on that fateful day in Afghanistan almost four years ago. He didn’t give up and he didn’t let the circumstances keep him from continuing his “pushing forward”. He never allowed himself to “fall(ing) back” as in doing so the outcome of that day would have been very different for both himself and the men he served with at Combat Outpost Keating.
In my last blog post I wrote about “Battles Won and Waged”. Nothing that I have ever done in my life or in my career in the AGRR industry are on the level or scale of the horrific battles that Ty Carter has faced in his chosen field. As a country we honored Ty Carter for his service to our nation and the many sacrifices he has made and continues to make on our behalf. Just as he never gave up on the day that he faced unimaginable challenges neither should we in the much lesser challenges that we face in being AGRR retailers. In my last blog I wrote,
“You’ve got to try to never let anyone, any company or thing get the better of you. Work hard to figure out a work-a-round to your challenge. Always remember that when you face a challenge it’s not always the battle won, the battle waged is just as important. It defines who you are.”
Ty Carter defined himself on October 3, 2009 and he continues to do so today as he continues to push forward, not falling back in ongoing struggles he faces in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. He is a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and is one of only 3,462 so honored in the history of the United States Military. Ty is an American hero.
How are you going to define yourself?
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I was listening to someone giving a talk recently about the challenges that you experience over a lifetime and that “how” you deal with those challenges says everything about who you are. How you face and deal with the challenges in your life defines you.
Give some thought to the different challenges you’ve had to deal with in business the ones that you won and ones that you didn’t. How did these challenges shape you? Did you learn lessons from the ones you lost? I did. You have to believe that you are up to any challenge that comes your way in business, regardless of the outcome.
When I started to think about some of the challenges that I’ve faced over my 40+ years in business I began to recognize what the speaker had meant. Looking back at those challenges may have seemed more like battles at the time. Some of them I won, some I lost. In business you obviously need to be up for every challenge you face or you’re not going to be successful. You have to work continuously to find solutions to every challenge.
In the late 1970’s I faced a challenge that, at the time, I thought was insurmountable. But I figured out a way to balance out the needs of a supplier to whom I owed money when there wasn’t money immediately available to settle accounts. We worked together to find a solution that worked for us both. A battle won. My company thrived and was sold to the largest industry player seven years later.
In 1990, I went to work for a company that was losing millions of dollars per year and the challenges were countless. Over a six year period at this new company, and with the help of countless number of great people with whom I was very fortunate to have been associated, we worked through each of the challenges and found a solution. We moved the company to profitability in two years and became the second largest auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) company in the mid 1990’s. As a team, we grew the company from a 50+ store multi-regional player to 270+ stores in 40+ states and a force to be reckoned with.
I’ve also faced challenges that I couldn’t find a solution. As an auto glass installer trainee a long time ago, a gentleman with whom I worked by the name of J.C. Hand told me that if you’re going to be in this business you’re going to make mistakes. Although his commentary on life in the AGRR industry wasn’t necessarily sage, his words have always stuck with me.
When you face difficult challenges, you always seek out those whom you trust and admire to bounce your ideas off of on how to best deal with them. Listen closely to their advice. They may not always be right, but you’ll see what others would do if they were facing the challenges you are. The reality is that there are some challenges that you face that may be insurmountable. But you have to try.
You’ve got to try to never let anyone, any company or thing get the better of you. Work hard to figure out a work-a-round to your challenge. Always remember that when you face a challenge it’s not always the battle won, the battle waged is just as important. It defines who you are.
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In these cold days of winter my sports focus starts shifting away from the NFL, even though the ultimate game is taking place this coming Sunday night. The so called “HarBowl” pits the San Francisco 49ers coached by Jim Harbaugh versus the Baltimore Ravens coached by John Harbaugh. I wrote a blog last year titled “Meaningful Quotes – Harbaugh, Hogan and Einstein”. In that blog I used a quote from their father Jack Harbaugh
“Attack this day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.”
While watching this NFL season we’ve witnessed how both of these coaches have guided their teams this season and on to win their divisional playoffs games. The two teams and coaches will meet in New Orleans on February 3, 2013 at Super Bowl XLVII. The Harbaugh brothers’ enthusiasm for the game and life is quite evident.
How about you? Do you have a similar level of commitment and enthusiasm for what drives you in your life? Are you committed to doing the best that you can each and every day? Be that in business or in sport, there are times when you face difficult challenges that require you to make that extra effort that separates your company from another, one sports team from another.
The ability of you and your company to excel in business today demands that you have that enthusiasm and that you must surround yourself with those who you know have it too. Enthusiasm and the ability to give it your all, to use every play in the book and design your own new plays to beat your competition are keys to your success. This doesn’t mean that you’re always going to win just because you gave it your all,but you have to put yourself in the position to win. That’s certainly what I’m attempting to do and I want to associate myself with team members with similar enthusiasm who will help us to win.
As I mentioned earlier, this is the time of year that my sport focus moves away from the NFL and moves to NCAA Men’s Basketball. It ends quickly with March Madness, but right now, as a fan, I enjoy watching big games between NCAA powerhouse names. Whether you’re a fan of the Big 10, 8 or 12; the ACC; the SEC; the Big East; the Pac 12 or other conferences, you know what those big games are. In any game a top team can be defeated by another team not as highly ranked and seemingly with less talent. How? With enthusiasm and the desire to win underdogs can prevail. Upsets happen and, as long as your team is not the loser, it’s always fun to watch. In recent games you could see:
13th ranked Butler Bulldogs (now 9th)
over the then 8th Gonzaga Bulldogs (now 7th)
25th ranked Miami (Florida) Hurricanes (now 14th)
over the number 1 ranked Duke Blue Devils (now 5th)
unranked Villanova Wildcats (still unranked)
over the 3rd ranked Syracuse Orange (now 6th)
unranked Georgetown Hoya’s (still unranked)
over the 5th ranked Louisville Cardinals (now 12th)
Just to name a few.
The Gonzaga versus Butler game on Saturday, January 19, 2013 played at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis was especially exciting and turned into an instant classic. After a hard fought game, Butler won the game on a last second shot by sophomore forward Roosevelt Jones. After the game Butler Bulldogs men’s head basketball coach Brad Stevens in an interview with ESPN suggested that,
“The pain of losing isn’t as great as the pain of regret.
You have to give it your best.”
The message is do everything you can to win your game even if you sometimes come up short. Don’t let anyone or any company determine the path you take and then find that you regret it later.
Win or lose in business or sport you must have what Jack Harbaugh exhorted his sons to always do and give it your all.
“Attack this day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.”
Great advice. And as Jack Harbaugh has also told his family for a longtime,
“Who’s got it better than us? Nobody!”
With his sons battling each other as head coaches in Super Bowl XLVII it appears a fitting motto for his family.
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I was talking with someone the other day and she asked, “What’s your line-up?” We were talking about business, but the question threw me for a second. Was she asking about my fantasy football team? I wasn’t quite sure so I asked, “My line-up for what?”
I live in Chicago and like many big cities we enjoy a number of professional teams. The Chicagoland area has an:
NFL football team – The Chicago Bears,
NBA basketball team – The Chicago Bulls,
NHL hockey team – The Chicago Blackhawks,
AHL hockey team – The Chicago Wolves and an
MLS soccer team – The Chicago Fire.
Each of these professional teams have enjoyed well known successes and equally well known failures over the years. Champions in one way or another, but for some it’s been a while (i.e. Bartman…just an excuse). One common element of each is that it’s the job of ownership and/or management to put together the best team possible to ensure success week in and week out which will drive increased fan interest and that equals increased revenues and profits. That right mix of team members should determine how the goals that are set for the team are accomplished.
For me, this time of year my focus moves from football to NCAA basketball. In an article in the USAToday from December 10, 2012 the University of Illinois men’s basketball coach John Groce calls the bond between team members “T-n-T” (toughness and togetherness). That seems appropriate for getting the team through a season of home and away games working their way to the ultimate prize of getting an invite to the dance – March Madness. March Madness is one of the greatest sporting events and to get there Coach Groce is right that it takes “T-n-T”. I think he’s onto something.
Getting back to the question, “What’s your line-up?” When I asked what she was referring to she said, “Oh. I meant who’s on your team?”
Over the past year or so in blogs I’ve posted I’ve talked about what I feel is the most important thing in business – people. In a blog titled Inconvenient Truth(s) I wrote,
“You can’t really find the greatest success in your business without surrounding yourself with the best people you can find. Basketball legend John Wooden was quoted as saying,
“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.”
Sound advice from a true winner.”
You obviously need to have a good product and service offering that differentiates you from others in the market, but if you look at other past blog posts you can see a reoccurring theme of what I think is important and that’s the people. In order to find real success in business you have to be able to assemble a great team that can deliver on the promise you make to your customers for your product and service.
It really doesn’t matter what kind of business you have, you have to surround yourself with the best. So whether the business you’re responsible for running is a sports team, a body shop, a donut shop, a retail clothing store, an auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) store or company you had better make sure that your team is comprised of the best and you better find a way to keep them.
Let’s face it, businesses thrive, languish or ultimately fail depending on how their team performs. You can’t take your team for granted. The best people want to be a part of a winning team and they don’t want to settle for second best. Great team members embrace the vision you have for your business and for your team. They are your team as long as you keep them motivated and focused on delivering on your customer promise, while providing them an environment for them to excel. They are after all stars and they want to perform and be a part of the best.
So if someone asks you “What’s your line-up?” Think about who makes up your team. Do you have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, a basketball player like LeBron James, a hockey great like Wayne Gretzky?
Who’s on your team? Who can make a difference for your company? Who is it that helps make your product better than anyone else in the market(s) you compete? Do you surround yourself with the best you can find? You should.
“What’s your line-up?”
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The ability to accept and adapt to change is a critical component to finding success in business. As much as we find comfort in the places we know best, we must continually push ourselves and our company toward a place that no one else has found yet or will never figure out.
How do you set the bar higher than your competitors so that you can outperform them? That’s a question that you need to answer for your market and business.
In 1964 the singer songwriter Bobby Dylan released a song “The Times They Are A-Changin’” which portrayed a time of great change in the United States. Every new generation looks back at the preceding generation as one being unwilling or unable to change and stuck in the past unable to move forward. The 60’s were a time of great change in social norms, fashion and music, as well as in the political landscape. We’ve been experiencing a great deal of change in retailing for quite some time, but especially so in this new Millennium and it doesn’t seem to be abating.
Right now there is a ferocious retail battle royal in the retail consumer market with two of the largest retailers, Walmart and Amazon.com (big box versus internet retailer), fighting to determine how consumers will buy countless products in the years to come. In 2009 Amazon.com began rolling out a program offering same day shipping in a number of cities. It has since developed a large network of warehouse distribution centers to service its customers across a large part of the United States. To counter Amazon.com, Walmart started a Walmart To Go offering online shopping of a select number of products shipped directly from their store locations to customers. And in a few markets Walmart is offering same day delivery of products. The strategy that Walmart is attempting is difficult and a potentially dangerous one as it already has 4,000 big box stores (including Sam’s Club) which have a very high cost to operate. The margins that Walmart operates under are also very small, so the gambit is one that is sacrificing current profits to maintain and hopefully gain market share against Amazon.com and other retailers unable to compete. When your sales are $ 444 billion a year versus Amazon.com’s $ 48 billion it would seem that you’d have an edge, but last year Amazon.com saw a 41% increase in sales versus Walmart’s 6% overall increase in sales.
Which company is following a strategy that will allow it to be the most successful retailer in the future? Time will tell, but even when you’re Walmart you’ve got to consider that your strategy for taking market share from the mom & pop businesses, which has proven to be such a successful model for years, could ultimately be at risk from other companies with strategies that don’t require big box brick-and- mortar stores. Each is trying to find a unique selling proposition (USP) that will attract consumers to ensure long-term success and neither will stop until it is found.
Who remembers A & P (The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company)?A company that once was considered the Walmart of its time, A&P held the title of the world’s biggest retailer in the 1930′s when it had 16,000 stores in the United States. In the late 1930′s A & P began the self-serve grocery store concept, but by the 1950’s it failed to recognize the changing marketplace and failed to listen to the demands of the ever-changing consumers. It eventually became an irrelevant retailer. By not adapting to the changes that were taking place in the marketplace, A & P began a decline in sales that ultimately caused it to file for bankruptcy. The company did emerge from bankruptcy, but A & P probably never again will capture the greatness it had once achieved.
There are many ways for your business to remain relevant and continue to survive in the retail world. Whatever you believe it is that you must do to remain relevant you need to make sure that your customers believe it too. For some businesses remaining relevant may mean selling or merging with a competitor. In recent weeks several businesses have announce that they are doing just that. You’ve probably read about recent acquisitions announced or completed by Gerber Collision & Glass (in Florida), ABRA Auto Body & Glass (in Minnesota), Guardian Auto Glass LLC (in Maryland) and Safelite Auto Glass (in Wisconsin and South Carolina). Of course buying and selling companies in the auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry isn’t new, it’s been going off and on in spurts since the mid 1980s. During the past 30 years, a number of companies have acquired others in the AGRR industry to increase their own market share and separate themselves from or take out competitors. It certainly seems that there has been an uptick in acquisitions of companies of all sizes and I’m sure you’ll be hearing of others very soon.
Other ways you can remain relevant are by finding that USP that separates you from your competitors. So what is that something that only you can do in your market, something that raises the bar so high that your competitors either can’t or won’t try to achieve it therefore distinguishing you from others in the eyes of consumers? If you find that USP, you will survive against other retailers in the battle royal that exists in your market. Of course the need to find that extra something has always existed in business, but maybe more so today with the pace of change that you see across the retail industry. When you see the mega-retailers like Amazon.com and Walmart fighting over current customers to determine which will find the USP that will secure future customers and separate it from others, you know that the same battles that have been going on for years aren’t subsiding anytime soon. It is the same in the AGRR industry and you can be sure that things that you’re doing today in your business will change tomorrow and you need to change with it.
So when Bobby Dylan wrote in the last stanza of his hit tune in 1964,
“The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.”
I think that he could have added another word to the last lyric, “For the times they are always a-changin”.
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