Posts Tagged National Windshield Repair Association
Two of the most respected people in the auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry are Dave Taylor and Cindy Rowe-Taylor who together built Cindy Rowe Auto Glass into the dominant AGRR company in much of Pennsylvania and Maryland. They retired to Florida a few years ago and spend much of their time cycling the world and enjoying their lives.
At Auto Glass Week™ 2013 that was held in Tampa, Florida last month Rich Campfield, president of the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA), presented Dave Taylor with a new industry award named in his honor. As a founding member of the NWRA, Dave was a force in helping to mold the organization. Cindy was in the audience during the opening ceremony where Dave was presented with the inaugural award.
While at the Auto Glass Week™ Conference I had the chance to talk with both Dave and Cindy and they agreed to an interview.
DR First, thanks to you Cindy and Dave for taking the time to talk with me today. Special congratulations to you Dave for receiving the NWRA award that was named in your honor. I can’t think of anyone more deserving to be recognized for the work you have done to bring windshield repairs to consumers.
My first question is how do you both like retirement versus the daily challenge of being in the AGRR business?
DT Retirement is terrific. As many folks know, we are avid bicyclists and living in The Villages in Florida is a bicyclists dream come true. We would have retired sooner if we had known had much fun and satisfaction retirement life had to offer.
CR-T Retirement has been an easy transition and so enjoyable. It is not sitting on the couch eating bon-bons, but having a very busy schedule and having such fun being busy.
DR It sounds like you’re both making the most out of retirement. Cindy, what year was it and what was it that drew you to the AGRR industry that caused you to open the first Cindy Rowe Auto Glass store?
CR-T I was a registered nurse for 13 years and decided I wanted to be my own boss. That was when I became aware of the windshield repair (WSR) possibility in my area. In 1979 I started out with my repair kit in the trunk of my Vega, seeing dealers and fleets, where the volume was. No sales experience ever. I loved it from the start. I am the WSR pioneer in the Harrisburg, PA, and surrounding areas. Dave joined me in 1986, working mobile WSR for one year; it was after that year that we bought our first glass shop. We kept on both technicians and learned about replacement.
DR Dave, what was it that you found attractive (besides Cindy) to the industry?
DT Self employment is the short answer. After a 25 year career in department store retailing I wanted to be independent of the corporate world. Joining Cindy’s business was the logical next step. Being able to work together added icing to the cake.
DR What was it Dave that made you such an early and strong supporter of repairs versus replacements?
DT Cindy founded the business as a windshield repair-only business before we had even met. Eventually we expanded from repair to full service. Unfortunately for the consumer, and perhaps fortunately for us, 25 years ago most glass companies were focused on replacement. They probably felt it was best for their glass company. Solid business management practices made repair profitable for us and a well executed repair program gave us a significant and profitable competitive advantage. Providing customers with their best solution to an auto glass problem, be it repair or replacement, was our primary business strategy.
DR This question is for both of you. What can you tell the readers of this blog made the biggest difference in the growth and sustainability of Cindy Rowe Auto Glass over the years?
CR-T Staying ahead of the industry with their many changes, starting with the early 90’s and on. Customer service was not to be compromised and keeping valued employees. Early on, Dave and I decided that advertising heavily and educating the public would do well.
DT Consistently providing the best quality service to customers and aggressive brand building through media and public relations.
DR I know that in my own career finding the right mix of people made all the difference in my finding success that I’ve enjoyed. At Cindy Rowe how were you both able to always ensure that you surrounded yourself with the best people, that you got the best from them and what advice can you offer those in business today as to that importance?
DT Choose wisely, treat kindly.
CR-T Fairly early on, we decided to hire people “green” and train them, offer good benefits, keep them abreast of the industry and give some autonomy.
DR At Cindy Rowe you provided consumers in the Pennsylvania and Maryland markets you served with AGRR services, but you also offered paint-less dent repair. Would you suggest paint-less dent repair (PDR) as an additional product line that for those in business looking for additional revenue streams? And if not paint-less dent repair are there other products you think work well in today’s AGRR business?
DT PDR is a profitable but technically challenging service. While it worked for us, it has proved difficult for many AGR companies to integrate into their businesses. I like what I saw during Auto Glass Week’s joint event with the window film industry. We would have given window film a thorough evaluation.
DR Something that some may not have known about you Cindy is that you are a registered nurse and that you’ve donated your time and expertise to those in need while in business at Cindy Rowe Auto Glass and still to this day being retired in Florida. Were you a registered nurse when you first started Cindy Rowe Auto Glass?
CR-T Yes, for 13 years. In 2002 I took the “Refresher Course” for RN’s and have been volunteering since in an area where uninsured patients are treated. It is gratifying to be able to give back in some capacity.
DR What traits or experiences in your background Cindy gave you the ability to find such success in business?
CR-T I would guess perseverance, honesty, not afraid of working extra (lots of that for years), organization and time management skills.
DR Here is a question for you both. Using radio and/or television advertising was a way that you got your name out into the marketplace and helped establish and differentiate Cindy Rowe Auto Glass. It is expensive to advertise on radio and television. When you look back at the genesis of Cindy Rowe through the day you departed the business, what was it that caused you to make that decision to spend money on that form of advertising?
DT When we expanded from being a car dealer driven windshield repair only business to full service auto glass, we were the new kids on an already crowded block. Capturing the customer through the traditional referral routes would have taken a decade or more. So we went directly to the customer with Radio/TV and created an awareness and demand for our brand. When TPA’s began to capture significant market share, our brand building paid off handsomely. We were the only AGR company anyone in our markets had ever heard of and they asked for us. We never anticipated TPA’s when we began our brand building but brand building saved our skin when TPA’s took over most of the insurance business.
Radio/TV and now internet are the effective media tools to build your brand with the general public. To influence “choice” at TPAs we wanted to be top-of-the-mind before the customer calls the TPA. Branding is a prerequisite to being “chosen”. While media is expensive, aggressive purchasing strategies can help control the costs.
DR Here’s a non-industry question. You mentioned that you are avid cyclers. Can you tell me what countries you’ve cycled and as a follow-up what you’ve learned about yourselves in your cycling adventures?
CR-T Cycling helps keep one in good physical condition and it really is a focus issue while on the bike – lots of issues to watch out; cannot daydream.
DT United States, Canada, Bermuda, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Hungary, Lichtenstein, South Africa and Switzerland.
DR One thing I’ve noticed is that you both smile quite a bit. Can you say you’re both happier now that you’ve left the industry? What is it you miss being in business?
DT Happier? YES! What I miss about the business is the daily challenge to effectively manage the unending stream of issues. In retirement I can choose easier and less stressful challenges.
CR-T I look at it as another chapter in life. I have always loved my work, but times change and I am now thoroughly enjoying retirement with Dave. One of the things I missed when we first left was seeing the people in the office. My people spoiled me and it did not go unnoticed by me!
DR My thanks to you both for taking the time to answer my all of my questions.
For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to meet Dave and Cindy I can tell you from personal experience with them that they are good people. Truly fine people; who have effected and changed the lives of those that have come into contact with them over the years. Whether that interaction was in the business they operated together, the AGRR industry they both left their mark on or in their active community service over the years, both Cindy and Dave have given their time to those who sought them out or they felt needed their help.
The industry has been made better by their being a part of it and I hope that they continue to be active in helping to improve it in the future.
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?
When you own or operate an auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) business, you find yourself wearing a lot of hats. I know that was the case when I was operating a small business in Florida back in the late 70’s and 80’s. I worked hard to make it successful, and luckily I had the help of a lot of great people. If you work in a small to mid-sized shop, there are a number of tasks to handle after the phone rings:
- Answer customer questions
- Offer quotes and (hopefully) take orders
- Input customer data into the point-of-sale program
- Participate in one of those never ending conference calls with TPA’s (Third Party Administrators) and get all of the required approvals (and probably put other customers on hold in the meantime)
- Contact your supplier for required parts via phone or online order
- Coordinate and schedule an appointment for the installation of the glass
- Invoice the person paying for the replacement
- Make collection calls for slow payers
And these are only some of the things that you have to do to properly take care of a customer. Just think of all the different tasks that you do every day to run your business.
Then there’s the challenge of figuring out how to make the phone ring vianewspaper and Yellow Pages ads, internet advertising, social networking sites, and face-to-face sales calls to potential customers who you hope will send you referrals. There are countless other sales and marketing tactics that you can use to help customers to find your business, and you have to spend a lot of the time and money to make that happen.
Then there is the time that you spend managing the people who work for you, scheduling jobs, ordering parts, making sure that you’ve got the right materials to do a proper installation, and maintaining a clean and safe shop. You have to purchase trucks for mobile installations, and buy all of the different types of insurance for your business to operate. You have to keep records for your business, pay bills, hopefully pay yourself, and of course account for and pay taxes to the federal, state and sometimes local governments. When you start to write down the list of things that you do, the tasks are endless. The various skills that you need to be successful are truly impressive.
If you’re lucky enough to have a larger scale business, then you must find a number of dedicated people with similar skills who can help you to run the business as it continues to grow. It’s an exciting and somewhat daunting task, isn’t it?
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines FACTOTUM as, “a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities.” The origin of FACTOTUM is Latin and the word literally means to “do everything.” When you own a small business you have to wear a lot of hats. You need a lot of knowledge about everything in your business. There are many resources in our industry that can help you to run your business. For example, there are a number of AGRR associations that can provide helpful inside information about our trade – the Independent Glass Association, the National Glass Association, NWRA and AGRSS® to name a few.
Running a business is hard to do. Wearing all of those hats keeps you very busy and you’ve got to truly master countless parts of your business to keep a step ahead of suppliers, TPA’s, insurance companies, competitors and many others who often make running your business even more challenging. It’s tiring to constantly focus on controlling costs. It takes a lot of work to find the right recipe for success that ensures that your business is profitable and viable.
But in the face of all of this, it’s worth the effort. Just know that you are indeed a FACTOTUM, so hold your head up high.