Posts Tagged Certified Technicians
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?
Welcome John King, Vice President – Aftermarket at Sika Corporation. Sika celebrated its 100 year anniversary in 2010, a true testament to the quality of their products and dedication to their customers. Sika has developed product systems in the automotive, construction, and industrial markets with a continuing focus on safety and sustainability. In the AGRR world, Sika produces adhesives for sealing and bonding windshields in the aftermarket auto glass industry that meet and/or exceed OEM (original equipment manufacturer) requirements.
What changes have you seen in the auto glass world since you first joined Sika and began working in this industry?
John King: My first exposure to an Auto Glass Installation, was in 1997, in Zurich Switzerland, where I saw the Technician wearing a shirt and tie, and a smock. This was how this tech dressed every day. To him, his job was his profession. While I certainly do not think that USA Installers need a dress code, I do see that many glass shop companies want to “raise the bar” of customer perception, installer performance and the glass shops’ commitment to safety, within our industry. I firmly believe that this country has many technicians who are committed to this cause, and take pride in their work. Unfortunately, over time, I have seen far too many technicians that care little about quality work, and even less about safety. We have an Industry with an extremely low “barrier of entry”, meaning that anyone can put a phone number on the side of their truck and advertise auto glass repair and/or replacement. However, that does not mean that they know what they are doing, and both the Public and Insurance Industry, know little about how to discern the difference between those who care and those who do not. As our country’s economic conditions have worsened, our industry has become a haven for persons looking to find some type of income. While it does not mean that those techs necessarily perform improper installations and repairs, we have to ask ourselves, have these new industry participants been trained? How are they kept abreast of the ever changing details of vehicle glass replacement? How many of them even care to know anything about “doing it right”?
What changes would you like to see in the future?
John King: Some States have talked about “Licensing” of auto glass technicians. While I do not want glass shops to have to spend any more money then necessary, we have to ask ourselves, “How can we raise the barrier-of-entry into this industry?” Licensing may be one avenue of doing this, while at the same time, providing a means of “raising the bar of safety” within AGR. In any industry where the safety of the public is at stake, there are usually steps that those industry participants must take to first, truly understand what their work is to accomplish, and then secondly, prove they are worthy of doing the work. In essence, become Industry Certified. In AGR, the goal should be to provide correct and safe auto glass installations, meaning the vehicle’s passengers should not be placed at risk after their vehicle is returned to them. Today, responsible Glass Shop Companies take this task upon themselves. They see to it that any new technician receives adequate training, and spends time observing experienced and qualified technicians, before turning the new techs loose, to do jobs on their own. The question to all of us should be, “How does the Public and or the Insurance Industry know that adequate training has taken place?” In today’s AGR market, Glass Shop Companies spend their CSR’s time or their Outside Sales Rep’s time trying to convince prospective customers that “their installations are safer than their competitors”. Unfortunately, there are many Glass Replacement Companies that are either ignorant of a truly safe and quality installation, or they are outright lying. Licensing, which would include testing and certification, may be one of the ways to accomplish industry wide compliance of correct installation standards
How long have you worked at Sika, and what do you find most rewarding about your job?
John King: January 1997 is when my career at Sika began, and I must admit it took me a while to have an understanding of how this industry works. However, without a doubt, the most rewarding part of the business is getting to know people. There are always business issues, business problems to solve, and strategies to implement, but at the heartbeat of this industry, is its’ people. For me, there is nothing I like to hear more, than an unsolicited positive comment about how our Sika people are perceived by customers. Whether Distributors or End Users, if our salespeople, or our customer service department are liked and appreciated by customers, that means that more than half the battle is already won. The bottom line, is that most people, want to do business with good people. Therefore, if we can hire honest people with good interpersonal skills, and then adequately train them, and provide our customers with quality products, in the end, our sales people will provide excellent service and support to those customers, which would be ultimately rewarded with an ongoing business relationship.
Sika recently created a great animated cartoon called, “No Shortcut to Safety.” It’s a wonderful tool for glass installers and consumer alike, and describes the process of safe windshield installation without using laymen’s terms that can sometimes feel unfamiliar to people who don’t speak AGRR garble.
John, why did Sika Corporation feel it was important to develop this animation video?
John King: The AGR Industry is a cross section of groups. We have the makers of product, the distributors of products, and the users of products, and those who need those products and services, who are collectively the Consumers, or Fleet Customers, or Insurers. Communicating to a wide array of groups, with a single message, is always a challenge. Our message needed to be part technical, part educational, part logical and if possible, part entertaining. Most groups can understand all 4 parts of the message, if the message is short, and studies indicate, even with very intelligent persons, that 4 minutes is tops, to maintain someone’s attention. We investigated a number of ways to develop and communicate our No Shortcut to Safety message, and when we came across the animated concept, it made sense to use the video’s simplicity. We also found from experts in video communication that presenting a new message with an entertaining format, also maximizes the listeners retention of the subject matter; hence a cartoon format.
What were your goals and target audience for this important message, “No Shortcut to Safety?”
John King: The message was still the key objective, and a message of a Safe and Reliable auto glass installation needed to be created and delivered to the Shop Owner, the Technician, and their Customers. .
How would you like to see this video utilized? In other words, what do you feel is the most effective way to reach out to drivers to educate them about safe windshield installations?
John King: Ideally, it is a combination of utilization of the video. First of all, we know safety is important to most consumers. This video has been shown in glass shop waiting areas to hundreds and hundreds of vehicle owners, and feedback from them has been exactly what we desired. They have told those glass shops that they understand what they are doing for them. Nothing has been more rewarding than reaching the Public with this message of No Shortcut to Safety. Currently, glass shop waiting rooms are still the most common place where the message is shown. However, with smart phones and the internet, we would hope to experiment with some glass shops being able to forward this video, to their customer, once they have scheduled a job. The video then acts as an explanation to that customer as to what they should expect, when the job gets done. This approach could then create a real value added marketing piece for shops to make the whole glass replacement experience, an even better one for their customers.
Thank you for joining us John.