Archive for category AGRSS
Lauren Fix is The Car Coach® With her extensive and impressive background in the world of automotive safety, Lauren is seen and heard coast-to-coast on major TV shows, print, web and radio. She is a winning professional race car driver and self-described alpha mom. As an award winning “automotive and lifestyle expert” Lauren has an educational background in business, engineering and marketing; and is a renowned expert in the many aspects of the automotive industry. I’m honored to have her answer some questions today.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions. After listening to a talk you gave recently it was very apparent to all in attendance that you are very passionate about educating consumers to help make them become more aware of the importance of keeping their cars in good mechanical condition, as well as making sure they know the ins and outs of how to deal with the automotive service industry when they need their cars repaired. You also are interested in helping those that want to provide the highest level of service to car owners understand the importance of having more knowledgeable customers. It seems like you were born for mission.
How and why did you become The Car Coach®?
Lauren Fix: I always loved cars and helped my father in the garage when I was just a kid. By the age of 10 I was able to help him turn wrenches and get the tools he asked for. I was a “tomboy” for sure. When I graduated high school my goal was to be an actress, but after long conversations with my father, he convinced me to look elsewhere. I went to school for business, communications and engineering classes. I started racing cars at the age of 16 and being on national TV has been just as much of an adrenaline rush. After restoring cars, racing, designed brake systems and writing articles for years about cars, a friend approached me to be a guest on Motorweek, a PBS show. After the show he suggested that I be a dealer trainer as the money was great. I was working for my father’s brake rebuilding company and I had done everything from tearing down old brakes to designing the first drum-to-disc-brake conversion kit. I did ad design, marketing and placement then became a National Sales Manager. You name it and I did it.
This opportunity was great for me as I had been working in the aftermarket side and this opened doors to the manufacturing side of autos. I started in the parking lot and chased cones; this was crazy I had all this experience and a college degree. So I contacted the training company and explained my background, they gave me a chance with a marketing session and thought I was a perfect fit. I worked hard and in a few months and I was asked to be a lead trainer and was lucky enough to get that slot. I trained dealers and dealer principles for many years until 9/11 when we were near NYC and I knew it was time to end this chapter.
In the meantime, I started writing for magazines, websites, regional and national TV appearances educating and informing people about cars and the industry. In January of 1996, there was a blizzard in Chicago and many people were stranded and didn’t know what to do. That led to a phone call from Oprah. Her staff asked me to be a guest on the show and help viewers see how they should be prepared. That led to being a guest 6 times and many reruns. That led to multiple national TV appearance on news and morning shows. Then hosting a show on DIY for 4 years and now a regular segment on Time Warner Cable News.
I also had a performance driving school to top it all off, called Driving Ambitions; it was held exclusively at Watkins Glen International Raceway. We taught 100’s of drivers three weekends a year from 1981 to 2001. It was a great way to learn about people and their cars.
In addition, my husband Paul, and I started a company in 1989 called Classic Tube and we manufacture automotive and industrial tubing products in short runs. I no longer have a desk there but I am still Vice President. Paul also operates Fix Motorsports where we restore collector cars and vintage race cars.
I’m an ASE certified technician, although I only work on my cars and I’m also a long-standing member of SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers). As the spokesperson for the Car Care Council I’ve been honored to help educate consumers for over 10 years and help drivers “Be Car Care Aware”.
You were recently a featured speaker at Auto Glass Week™ 2011 that was held in Memphis. What was the message you took away from your time there?
Lauren Fix: Auto Glass Week was a great idea to merge multiple groups for a common cause, meet budget demands and allow your industry networking and educational opportunities. I learned quite a bit about the industry and look forward to educating consumers on the importance of auto glass and how it integrates with safety. AGRSS® is critical to consumer’s safety and drivers really need to be informed about an area that is never discussed in public.
Where do you see the auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry going? Do you see any problems that need to be fixed?
Lauren Fix: I believe that the auto glass industry can learn from the successes in the automotive aftermarket with educating consumers to be smarter customers. Very little is ever mentioned and insurance companies control the outcome, and as tightly as the drug companies control doctors. This needs to change for all drivers’ safety and consumer’s pocket books.
What do you think about the importance of AGRSS®, the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard® Council’s mission relating to consumer safety?
Lauren Fix: I think the mission makes sense and they are on the right track – getting more eyes to the website and a consumer education campaign will raise the awareness for all auto glass installers. There are many ways to do this without spending millions on television commercial campaigns.
In your experience, what do drivers and consumers understand about auto glass?
Lauren Fix: They never even think about it until there is a crack or chip. Then it’s left in the hands of their insurance company and who they push them toward. Consumers are not making the choices for themselves because they are sheltered from the fact and insurance companies are very aware of it so they handle it for them and control the industry for the most part. Consumers need to make their own choices.
Do you think that drivers are aware that their windshield is an important safety device in their vehicle?
Lauren Fix: I don’t think they have a clue. They think seatbelts and airbags work together as a team, not realizing that the windshield is a critical component.
What is the most important safety tip that you personally wish that all drivers knew about?
Lauren Fix: I wish that driver’s realized that they need to learn more than what is taught in driver’s education when they were 16. Safety is more than driving skills and being aware, it’s about making their cars safer on the road for themselves, their families and other around them on the road. Our culture of cars being just transportation is a fallacy because they are an integral part of our everyday lives. Drivers should take the automobile and the industry more seriously; and with respect. If you look at how drivers in Europe see their vehicles and their training it could be a good starting point for the US and Canada to start including some of their programs here.
What does it mean to you to be selected by the Car Care Council Women’s Board (WB) and the Automotive Communication Council (ACC) 2011 winner of the Automotive Communication Award for “B to C Public Relations Efforts” and also the “B to C– TV Segment for the The Car Coach® Show”?
Lauren Fix: This is a great honor, I take being The Car Coach® very seriously, but with some fun involved too. To be recognized for my efforts just confirms the fact the we are doing all we can to help all drivers everywhere to be more informed, be safer on the road, maintain the value of their cars and learn to love them at the same time.
And finally, tell me about your mission and goals for the next year.
Lauren Fix: I just started working with The Weather Channel, and this will offer me the opportunity to reach more drivers. This is all in my monthly newsletter, blog, twitter and RSS feeds. My daughter, Shelby, and I are finishing my 4th book and her first; she is the Teen Car Coach™ helping teens and younger millennial drivers be informed as this generation looks at autos in such a different perspective. My mission is constantly evolving as new opportunities arise from speaking to writing to television opportunities. Also watch for me on QVC and Fox Business Channel. The Weather Channel has added automotive to their lifestyle programming. I’m always listening and learning; so feel free to contact me at www.laurenfix.com.
Thank you again for taking the time to reach out to those of us in the AGRR industry with your message. Those of us who are part of AGRSS® certainly appreciated your appearing at Auto Glass Week in Memphis last month.
Lauren has a strong voice in the automotive industry customer service space. Through her brand and her high visibility in the automotive industry, she can help bring needed attention to the importance of safe windshield installations to the driving public. That’s what I believe. What do you think?
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……..
What do you think?
Jon Fransway is an insurance agent who learned early on in his career that auto glass replacement meant filing a claim and arranging service in order to take care of his clients. He enjoyed the usual vendor relationships and understood that good service and happy clients went hand in hand. Auto glass replacement became a much more personal subject for Jon when in 1999 his sister Jeanne died due to an incorrectly installed windshield. From that point forward, Jon devoted himself to spreading the word about a topic that most people never gave a second thought to – safe auto glass installation. Jon joins us today to share his perspective.
Q&A with Jon Fransway:
You are an insurance agent, how long have you been doing that and how did you get started?
Jon: I have been an agent for 25 years and was approached by a manager of the company I represent as a good candidate for what they were looking for in an agent.
As an agent how did you view the auto glass companies that called on you?
Jon: In the beginning of my career it seemed more like a good ole boy network. Glass companies would wine and dine as a way to get business. With no words of what they can do for my client as relates to safety.
How is it that you became an advocate for auto glass safety?
Jon: I have always been concerned about safety over time by attending continuing education by classes put on by glass shops. Since then I had become more and more interested based on what goes into a safe window installation in the aftermarket. With the past events related to my sister’s case, it was obvious I had to continue to try and make a difference.
Explain what you have done to spread the message about want happened to your sister Jeanne?
Jon: Since my sister’s death I felt compelled to tell the story as many times as I can, and companies started to listen and feed off that as a way to change the way they do business. The story has stayed in the headlines and in the newscast throughout the country. We’re starting to win! Being an insurance agent that deals with windshield claims on a daily basis, I understand the importance of a good installation. Again, holding her when she died knowing there was nothing I could do was unacceptable. I had to give her life meaning and if meant to take the time to spread the word to others as a way of saving lives in my sisters name. Also, since the stories about her that have been told on ABC’s 20/20, Eye on America as well as numerous other small market shows and training videos it is going to be with us to the end.
Some people would have taken an adversarial view of an industry that had caused the loss of a loved one, you didn’t, why?
Jon: Taking some sort of legal action was not going to bring my sister back. I felt making a difference through getting the word out on safe installations of auto glass meant more to others as it will protect them from this happening to their family. This gives Jeanne’s life meaning.
You have been an avid supporter of AGRSS® and have appeared at their annual conferences and narrate a video explaining the Validation process. How did that come about?
Jon: The industry needs help, hence AGRSS®. Known as the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard, it has been established to manage procedures in auto glass replacement. I have been happy to help them introduce the standard and the validation process through a video presentation. Our goal is for AGRSS® to be adopted by all insurance carriers and glass shops around the nation.
You recently attended Auto Glass Week in Memphis, what did you take away from that conference?
Jon: Auto Glass Week was an incredible experience and advancement in the future of Auto Glass. I am always well received and welcomed by the industry as a whole. I am so glad that all for the organizations came together to educate themselves as a group. Each company needs to understand the importance of auto glass replacement in the aftermarket, from whatever part they are. Insurance companies, installers, glass shop owners and the products companies that supply the various tools and techniques to perform their jobs well.
What changes do you hope to see in the auto glass industry?
Jon: I hope to see the groups together again at Auto Glass Week. Competition is good, it forces us to keep in shape with our business. The cars are changing and so are the products. It is all meant to do a better job for the consumer and keep them safe since the glass is a structural component of the car in a crash. The changes need to be more education and validation of the practices of the companies. Also, changes to promote safety vs. price or what we can give away as incentives rather than doing the job right.
What advice do you have for glass shop owners and technicians?
Jon: As previously stated, stay in shape in your business, not only on the bottom line but in safety. It is the right thing to do. Support the AGRSS® standard as a way of doing business.
What advice do you have for other insurance professionals and consumers who need auto glass replacement?
Jon: Do research on the glass shops that you use, make sure you choose the glass shop that stresses safety and not just price or you may pay the ultimate price like my sister Jeanne.
To me “Glass is Life.” Help me in my “Glass is Life” Campaign to promote the proper installation of auto glass in the aftermarket.
Thank you for sharing your story and passion Jon.
I’m going to turn the blog over to Deb Levy today. I asked her if she would mind answering a few questions that I think many of you would like to ask and she graciously agreed. Deb wears countless hats in the glass industry she’s been a part of for the past 20+ years. Since 1991 Deb has been the President and CEO of Key Communications, Inc. which publishes 8 industry related publications for the glass industry; she is the President of the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards (AGRSS®) Council and sits on the board of the non-profit organization and a number of ANSI committees related to glass safety issues.
Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions in my blog Deb. I know that you hold a special place in our industry and I think that there are many who are interested in you and your views on a number of topics.
If I asked you who you are both personally and professionally, how would your answer that?
Deb Levy: They say you should go with your first thought and mine was an extremely busy, overweight, middle-aged woman… [laughs] but I don’t think that’s what you were looking for in an answer …
As a very successful and influential woman in an industry dominated by men, what do you see as opportunities today for women in the AGRR industry?
Deb Levy: The proverbial “glass ceiling” if you will, is beginning to break in the architectural glass industry and in the collision repair industry, I see pretty much the same opportunities for women as I see for men. One of the raps the auto glass industry has always gotten is that is can’t hang on to its talented people—they leave for other industries. And a lot of the talented people are women, so maybe they’ve moved on [another laugh]. I think I can recall all the women who have held top management positions at large auto glass companies in the past twenty years. One, sadly, is deceased, one has sold her business and the others have all moved on to other industries.
Do you think there are more opportunities for women in the industry today than when you first entered in 1981?
Deb Levy: Hard to say. When I first entered the industry, women had plenty of opportunity; what they didn’t have was visibility. Many of the best companies were actually run by women—husbands ran the installs, wives ran everything else. There are many successful companies that still use that model today. I believe there is a bit more opportunity for female technicians now, you see a few here and there while there were none in 1981, that’s a difference.
This is a hard question to answer I’m sure, but of all the things that you do in your professional life, what do you find most rewarding?
Deb Levy: Helping people for sure. If our company can help people get info to run their businesses better, or sell more products or increase the use of glass, that is extremely satisfying to me. Helping to make the industry safer also feels good. I’ve been involved with a number of glass safety issues over the years, including wired glass, glass furniture and safe auto glass issues, and knowing that improving glass safety can help save lives and avoid injury is very rewarding.
When you started glassBYTEs® did you anticipate it to be the main source of news in the glass industry so quickly?
Deb Levy: Honestly, no. We bought glassbytes.com® a number of years ago right as the Internet was exploding. Of all the industry segments we cover, the auto glass industry makes the most news and people really need a daily news vehicle to keep track of it all—and that’s what glassbytes® became—a daily electronic news service. We’ve worked hard to be the source of accurate, credible information whether through analysis in AGRR® magazine or daily on glassbytes©. People often tell me that glassbytes® is the most valuable business tool they have and that makes our staff feel great.
I have the honor of serving with you on the Board of AGRSS®. We often hear comments from some in our industry that are wary of AGRSS® and there are others who seem to work to undermine AGRSS®. Why do you think people are wary or try to undermine the goals of AGRSS®?
Deb Levy: Some of it is ignorance, in that they don’t really understand what AGRSS® is all about, that’s first. And some of it comes from the “bottom feeders”–those who work to undermine it and don’t have any intention of following a Standard or doing the job right. They are the equivalent of the school kid who is failing and wants everyone to fail with him. And some of it, frankly, is fear. Some companies fear what AGRSS® is and has become. They fear it may undermine their own business models. They are the equivalent of the school kid who tells you he’s a straight A student, but will never show you his own marks … and along comes this group of students who says “hey we are straight A students and we have independent verification of it.” How does the other school kid respond to them? He can’t so he tries to undermine them instead.
Is there anything that those who are supporters of AGRSS® can do to further the organization?
Deb Levy: Get involved. Ask questions. Participate. Contribute. Become a member. Come to Auto Glass Week in September to learn more about AGRSS and how to be part of it. There’s tons of things available for all levels of involvement.
What do you see as the biggest challenge for both flat and/or auto glass companies today?
Deb Levy: For both segments, the economy for sure is the major issue. Many companies in both segments continue to fight for survival. Eroding margins and loss of market share, especially in the auto glass arena, are very big challenges
Your publications are usually the ones asking the questions of the industries movers and shakers, how does it feel to be on the other side?
Deb Levy: It has given me a newfound appreciation for what they go through. I am looking forward to heading back to my side of the table.
Thank you very much for being willing and take the time to be the one answering the questions today.
Deb Levy: Thanks David.
I hope you enjoyed this blog. I would appreciate any comments or thoughts you might like to share. Until next time….