Repair standard now a reality
I have seen more references to industry standards and best practices in our trade press in the last year than in the previous 20 years combined. I believe that to be a positive sign. Our media, like the national media, reflects its readers’ greatest interests.
It’s no coincidence that interest in national standards has increased alongside reports of a fundamental market shift to more cash jobs. As the cash market grows, the need to distinguish your auto glass business increases. One way to differentiate your business is to create customer satisfaction through adherence to a nationally recognized standard of excellence.
National standards reassure consumers in much the same way the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” did for many years, and as “Consumer Reports” does today. It is human nature to rely on unbiased standards when you don’t have the experience or technical expertise necessary to make an educated buying decision.
In regard to auto glass repair and replacement, we are the impartial experts who consumers look to for guidance. It is up to the auto glass industry to define industry best practices, and that is unfamiliar territory.
Faced with a seemingly endless list of acronyms relating to industry standards—ANSI, ROLAGS, AGRSS—we should not be surprised if the average auto glass business owner or employee is confused. What are these standards? How are they created? How do they affect my business? These are all reasonable questions.
The ANSI process
The American National Standards Institute, New York, coordinates the development and use of voluntary consensus standards in the United States. It provides standards developers who want their work recognized as an American national standard with the system and structure to use. ANSI does not dictate what information is contained in a standard.
I’m not a standards expert, but I can walk you through the process of creating an ANSI standard based on my experience with the National Glass Association.
To gain ANSI recognition, the NGA had to first become an accredited standards writing body. Next, the association established a secretariat, or governing body, to administer all NGA standards activities. That process included writing and submitting NGA’s “Procedures for Standards Development Committees to Develop & Maintain Standards” for ANSI approval.
The job of pulling together all of the relevant information included in a national standard falls to a standards development committee. A good example of this type of committee is the Repair of Laminated Automotive Glass SDC.
Following ANSI guidelines, the NGA secretariat announced in 2005 its plans to form a ROLAG SDC. The invitation to participate on the committee appeared in industry publications and on related Web sites. The secretariat even extended letters of invitation to federal agencies and insurance entities that might have missed the industry announcements. Predictably, government and insurance officials expressed a preference to leave the creation of windshield repair best practices to the experts.
The ROLAG SDC recruited a highly representative group composed of equipment manufacturers; resin suppliers; large and small retail repair practitioners; franchisors; third-party claims administrators; trade associations like the NGA, National Windshield Repair Association of Garrisonville, Va., and Independent Glass Association of Stafford, Va.; and even representatives with a “general interest” in the proceedings.
After two and a half years of meetings, the ROLAG draft standard is now available for review at www.rolags.com. Between December 2005 and April 2007, the ROLAGS Committee conducted two public comment reviews. The committee completed an exhaustive evaluation of suggested changes to the draft standard after each review. Its work continues today.
Unless you have worked on an SDC, you cannot appreciate the mental and physical exhaustion SDC members experience after a day of analyzing every word in a proposed standard. These committees spend endless hours building agreement and consensus. The process is incredibly stressful.
Our goal is to serve and protect our customers to the best of our ability. If you agree, visit ANSI’s Web site, www. ansi.org, and see what good company ROLAGS and the Automotive Glass Replacement Safety Standard keep.
ANSI encompasses thousands of standards developed by volunteers dedicated to advancing their industries, most of whom are motivated by a genuine desire to use their knowledge to make life better for all of us. That is what it’s all about.