Put Yourself in Customers' Shoes

Make changes now
By Dave Taylor
July 1, 2004

Independent windshield repairers claim to be professionals, but do potential customers��insurers or fleet operators, for example��see them as professionals? Perhaps not, since they continue to develop programs that make it more difficult for independent repairers to provide services.


Does a professional image matter? Clearly, it does. Insurers, networks and fleet operators make decisions every day that influence who makes their repairs. They want their clients serviced by providers they see as honest, reliable professionals.


How do they decide? They don�t attend our churches, they don�t belong to our Rotary Clubs, they don�t personally use our services, their children don�t attend school with ours, they don�t drive by our locations, they don�t see our advertising and they don�t see our mobile units. Yet they sit in offices in distant cities and make crucial decisions that affect our businesses.


When they look at the community of independent repair-shop owners, what do they see? They could see people dressed in clown suits holding �$9 Windshield Repair� signs, waving customers into parking lots. They could see technicians dressed in blue jeans and T-shirts, driving mobile units that are little more than rolling junkyards. They could see a history of questionable billing.

They could see lawsuits aimed at customers. They could see attempts to use state legislatures and regulatory systems to create competitive advantages.


Or, could they see a group with nationally recognized standards of practice? A group that has invested in certifying the competency of its members? A group of certified, honest, competent, properly attired and independent business people?


We don�t have the luxury of sitting down one-on-one with the decision- makers, but we have the ability to create an image of competency, legitimacy and honesty�that is, professionalism. It isn�t that difficult to demonstrate that our business practices are very different from the people in the clown suits, the rolling junkyard technicians and the legal manipulators.


Professional Agenda

Let us look to professional organizations, trade associations and state associations to provide the leadership and framework to develop industrywide programs that speak to concerns of insurers and fleet-industry officials.


Technician certification can become one of the most important signs of professionalism. Certification demonstrates willingness to invest in our technicians and ourselves to deliver professional services.


Accepted standards of practice constitutes another concern. When an industry such as windshield repair offers fewer than two certified technicians per state, no wonder customers question our professionalism.


The National Glass Association-National Windshield Repair Association Auto Glass Repair Technician Certification Program offers auto-glass repair technicians the opportunity for professional recognition in their field. The program is nationally recognized, enhances professional standards and was developed in part by NWRA for auto-glass repair professionals. A technician�s knowledge is measured by computerized exams administered at testing centers around the country and in Canada.


To register for the exam or to order a copy of the Auto Glass Repair Technician Reference Manual, call 703/442-4890, ext. 134. You can also register online at www.glass.org.


Members of the NWRA regularly hear: �How much and when will I get more business if I certify?� I answer with a question: �Will we need insurance, network and fleet repairs five years from now to survive?� If the answer is �yes,� do everything you can to project an image of honesty, reliability and professionalism. This means certify. It means reviewing your appearance and business practices. Make changes now.

Dave Taylor is secretary-treasurer of Cindy Rowe Auto Glass in Harrisburg, PA.