Archive for October, 2011

It’s Halloween. Do you trick or treat?

The reality of many service industries, and it’s certainly true in the auto repair and replacement (AGRR) industry, is that you see companies of all different shapes and sizes offering Halloween “trick-or-treats” each and every day of the year.  Can you think of some examples in the AGRR industry?  Let’s try.

  • One example could be when a third party administrator (TPA) pretends to be an insurance company claims department representative.  You know the one.  While answering the phone call from an insured, who is required to report the auto glass loss by calling the insurance companies “auto glass claims number”, the TPA (pretending to be the insurance company) might tell the insured that they may have to “pay the difference” if the auto glass company that the insured wants to use isn’t the right one. Of course, the TPA knows that the auto glass company probably would accept the price that the insurance company already has agreed to pay, but the notion that the insured may have to pay a higher cost raises doubts about who he should choose to replace his glass.  And since the TPA may actually be an auto glass company that can certainly do the replacement for the agreed upon price why not use the company that the insurance company has already “approved”?  Of course the auto glass shop that the insured wants to use is on the entire call listening to what’s being said by the insurance company claims representative (who remember is really an auto glass company employee) and the auto glass shop can do little to stop what’s being told to the insured.  Trick-or-treat?  What costume do you think the TPA is wearing for Halloween?
  • Another version is when the insurance company requires an “inspector” to come out and “inspect” the repair or replacement prior to an insured having the company they’ve chosen actually fix their glass. Surprisingly the “unbiased” inspector sometimes completes the inspection and then does the repair or replacement for the convenience of the insured. Trick-or-treat?  What costume do you think that the inspector is wearing for Halloween?
  • Then there are consumers who have their windshields replaced by companies that don’t actually install them properly. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) has in place regulations to ensure that replacements parts that are directly involved with passenger safety require that those parts are installed properly. The windshield is a safety device and is critical to the structural integrity of the vehicle as well as proper deployment of the passenger side airbag.  Problems can start for consumers if the auto glass company and/or the installer doing the replacement don’t follow the AGRSS® (Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard).  What kind of problems?
    • If the installer doesn’t take the proper care while removing the windshield that can be the start of problems,
    • If the installer uses a poor fitting replacement windshield that can also be a problem,
    • If the installer doesn’t wear the proper gloves to keep from contaminating surfaces during the installation that can be yet another problem,
    • If the installer doesn’t use the proper combination of primers or urethane while doing the installation then there’s another problem,
    • Hopefully the installer used a urethane that provides a safe drive away time of 1 or 2 hours, but
    • Regardless the installer should tell the consumer when their vehicle is safe to drive and not release the car until that time.
    • If one or more of these things aren’t done then…… Trick-or-treat?  Definitely a TRICK!

Without question the vast majority of companies and people in the AGRR industry believe in and actually do the right things that they should be doing to provide the services they offer to their our customers. There are certainly TPA’s that do a great job providing services to insurance companies they represent and glass companies or installers that do proper auto glass installations. All who do the right thing should be praised for providing great services to those who need auto glass repair and replacements.

That being said, we all certainly know examples of bad behavior that exists every day in the AGRR industry.  Whether they may:

  • dress up in a Halloween costume and pretend to be someone they’re not when answering the phone, then possibly attempt to influence the caller to take a job away from the company the insured initially called and wanted to use,
  • dress up as an inspector to make sure that no fraud is being perpetrated on the insurance company and then go ahead and repair or replace the glass while there or
  • not care about quality. If the windshield used isn’t truly O.E.M. quality and the installation isn’t done properly by following the requirements of the FMVSS using the AGRSS® standard and by providing a safe drive away time of 1 to 2 hours by using the best urethane available there could be problems.

So do you and your company use tricks or do you only offer treats for the service or services that you provide?  I know it is Halloween, but you should be only offering the best in treats!  There really is no reason for anyone having to use tricks is there?

Just sayin’……

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21 Comments

Q & A with Bill George, Director of Marketing for Pilkington NSG

Today we’re going to be talking with Bill George who is the Director of Marketing for Pilkington NGS.  In that role Bill has many responsibilities including his participation in the developing the North American AGR product range, new model introduction, along with working on product life cycle, part acquisition and Key customer development.  Bill has been with Pilkington NSG since 1997.

First let me thank you for participating in my blog Bill.  I had the pleasure to introduce your session on “Glass Quality” that you participated in at Auto Glass Week 2011 in Memphis last month.  I know that it was one of the best attended sessions and had a lot of very positive feedback on the information that you presented, which is one of the reasons I thought that there would be interest in hearing from you by those who were unable to attend Auto Glass Week.

With your extensive background working at one of the premier O.E.M. auto glass manufacturers in the World, I was wondering how you see the state of auto glass manufacturing in the United States?

Bill George:  I see the state of auto glass manufacturing getting more and more complex in theU.S. marketplace.  All the way from asymmetrical construction to intricate sensor clusters on and in the glass. Just a few years ago the primary value add component on a windshield was a molding.

Are there differences in the manufacturing processes for O.E.M. glass versus aftermarket manufacturers?  Can you help us understand what those differences are?

Bill George:  There are differences not only in the process of how the glass is made, but there are differences in the glass itself, as well as the quality of the value add and how it is applied.  The primary differences manifest themselves in the areas of optical distortion, solar & acoustic specifications, sensor clusters, edge work, and surface control.

How do the different manufacturing processes affect the quality of auto glass?

Bill George:  In many ways, here are two:

  • Glass batch “ingredients”
    • What you add to the glass itself has a great deal to do with its quality and performance.  For example, there is no law requiring generic glass manufacturers to return a consumers windshield back to (or better than) its original solar performance specification, so they tend to leave out these components (less expensive to produce). This can lead to large temperature differences in a vehicle, requiring added air conditioning to keep the vehicle cool and increased Ultra Violet light exposure.
  • Optical distortion
    • In general it is more efficient (and less costly) to increase the flow rate of a furnace. This reduces the cost to manufacture glass and also can reduce the optical quality of the glass. Not meeting an O.E. optical performance specification means greater distortion to a manufacturer and potential eye fatigue, eye strain, and headaches to a consumer.

Pilkington NSG is an O.E.M. manufacturer with plants throughout the World.  In how many countries do you currently manufacture auto glass?

Bill George:  We have primary fabrication facilities at 32 sites in 16 countries around the world with a major presence in Europe,Japan, North America, andSouth America.

In how many of those countries do you manufacture O.E.M. auto glass parts?

Bill George:  All of them.

What O.E.M. car makers does Pilkington manufacture O.E.M auto glass for?

Bill George:  We supply every major vehicle manufacturer in the world.

Is your primary source of auto glass parts that you sell in the United States from Pilkington NSG O.E.M. plants?

Bill George: Yes, for example 97% of our windshields distributed in theU.S. come from a Pilkington plant.

Can you explain the advantages of O.E.M. auto glass versus others available in the marketplace?

Bill George:  Getting this message to the consumer is important, it’s the reason we created the Pilkington Clear Advantage™ program. The advantages in getting glass manufactured to an original specification are many. A few key advantages are:

  • Acoustic attenuation (think – my car is quiet when I drive)
  • Solar Optimized (think – UV blocking & heat reducing)
  • Premium Optics (think – undistorted line of sight across all glass parts)
  • Precise surface control (think – wiper blades removing rain)

Versus

  • Reduced or no acoustic properties (think – now I hear a lot more road, wind, and tire noise)
  • Non-Solar Optimized properties (think – increased heat buildup in your car & needing to use the air conditioner a lot more which leads to added CO2, and reduced gas mileage)
  • Poor optics (think – distortion leading to fatigue, eye strain & headaches)
  • Poor surface control (think – wind noise & wiper blade missing spots)

Do all aftermarket windshields go through the same safety testing and quality control as O.E.M. windshields?

Bill George:  All aftermarket windshields sold in the U.S. are required by law to meet minimum safety standards, but not quality controls.  O.E. quality / performance specifications are much higher than generic glass.

Why should the driving public seek out glass shops that prefer to use O.E.M. glass as their replacement choice for their customers?

Bill George:  With my technical hat on I would iterate the below points.

  • Acoustic attenuation, Solar Optimization (UV & IR), Premium Optics, Precise surface control, Antennas with the same range, Sensors with the same range / effectiveness (critical in vehicles with collision avoidance & brake assist systems), and construction that is built to last.

With my consumer advocate hat on I would say, because it is what they deserve, what they are paying for, and what they believe they are getting.

When shopping for a new windshield, what questions should a consumer ask a glass shop regarding what glass will be installed in their vehicle?

Bill George:  Here is what I would ask:

  • Am I using a reputable installation facility?
  • Am I getting replacement glass with equivalent performance specifications to my original equipment?
    • Will my vehicle perform the same?
    • Am I choosing replacement glass that meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards?
    • Am I getting a value by choosing a less expensive glass?

Thank you Bill for answering the questions I asked today.  You’ve provided some excellent information and advice in understanding what the differences are between O.E.M. manufactured auto glass products versus the non-O.E.M. manufacturers.

Bill George:  Thanks David, it’s always a pleasure to speak to auto glass specifications.

It’s pretty obvious that replacement auto glass that is manufactured by O.E.M. auto glass manufacturers provides consumers products with higher quality components and the most up-to-date engineering techniques that are required by the O.E.M. car manufacturers they make auto glass for today.  Reverse engineering of auto glass used by non-O.E.M. manufacturers adds variables into the manufacturing process that can effect fit and quality to those seeking replacements; and with vehicles manufactured today versus cars of the past, fit and quality is a key to safety.

I hope you enjoyed this blog.  I would appreciate any comments or thoughts you might like to share or ideas that you may have for topics.

Just sayin’…..

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24 Comments

Blog to the Insurance Industry: What is it AGR retailers are entrusted to do?

If you’re an auto glass replacement (AGR) retailer, what is it you are entrusted to do when you replace a policyholder’s windshield?

I believe that any AGR retailer who replaces auto glass wants to do a good job, wants to do it right, wants to use the right urethane and primers.  But does every retailer do that always?

If you work at an insurance company or an insurance agency, how do you advise your clients about who they should choose to replace their auto glass? What are the questions that should go through your customer’s mind when making this decision?  What criteria could you suggest to help them make an informed choice?

  • Is your decision based solely on price?
  • If it is price, is that how you want your policyholders to make their decision when they’re buying their auto insurance?
  • Is it a decision that you are leaving up to the network administrator (TPA) who probably doesn’t know nor checked the expertise of the auto glass company that you’ve entrusted through them to replace your policyholder’s glass?
  • Does the TPA use the lowest priced company so that they can either “save” your insurance company money or make more money themselves?
  • Are you actually using those auto glass companies that you believe in or that you’d like to have replace auto glass for your policyholders providing them the safest installation available?
  • Are they following the AGRSS® standards?
  • Are they following your guidelines?

Just as all insurance companies are not the same, neither are all auto glass companies the same.  Normally every auto glass company has to follow pricing guidelines that insurance companies require the networks to follow.  Those guidelines can cause bad behavior on the part of the auto glass company by their choosing to cut corners.

It seems to me that those companies that provide customers a 1 to 4 Hour Safe Drive Away Time, those companies who follow the AGRSS® standard, those companies who register with AGRSS® and open their shops to a third-party outside validation to the AGRSS® Standard should be the companies insurers seek out to replace their policyholders auto glass needs, especially since the price being charged is the same……..

Just sayin’.

What do you think?

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5 Comments