AGRSS audits to begin April 2009

By Jenni Chase, Glass Magazine
November 6, 2008
AUTO : BUSINESS, CODES & STANDARDS, SAFETY, TRAINING

Dot your “i"s and cross your “t”s. In April 2009, the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards Council will begin auditing AGRSS-registered companies to ensure they are in compliance with the standard, officials announced at the group’s International Auto Glass Safety Conference Nov. 5 in Las Vegas.

“The only companies that should be eligible to do work and serve the public are those that follow the AGRSS standard,” said Carl Tompkins, chair of the AGRSS Accreditation Committee, to a group of about 60 attendees. “Our customers don’t deny that. The frustration that we’ve had in our industry is that everyone says they follow the standard. We know that’s not true. The only people you should have to compete with are those who follow the rules. How can we tell who follows the rules? That’s the purpose of this program. When we go to any interested customer and say we have hired an accredited, internationally recognized validator that has the ability to say [AGRSS-registered] shops are walking the walk, only then will we have the right to ask for their business.”

To that end, AGRSS hired Orion Registrar Corp. of Arvada, Colo., to serve as an independent third-party auditor of AGRSS-registered shops. The company will begin auditing, or validating, companies in April of next year, following field trials in January and February, Tompkins explained.

How it will work
Although some details of the validation program have yet to be determined, AGRSS officials were able to provide attendees with a general overview of how it will work. Of the 1,600 AGRSS-registered store locations, 104 will be audited in 2009. “You have about a 1 in 16 chance of being audited,” explained Penny Ouellette, program development director for Orion Registrar. “Companies with more than one store location have higher odds.”

A computer system will randomly select the stores, which will be organized into “clusters” of 10 based on geographic location. All locations within that cluster will go through the validation process.

AGRSS will notify the randomly selected locations 30 days prior to the audit. “The store locations will receive a notification letter and preparation checklist of sorts to help prepare for the audit,” said Ouellette. “There won’t be any surprises,” she assured attendees. “You’ll know what we’re looking at, who we’ll talk to and what questions we’ll ask. It’s not a test. We’re not trying to put you on the spot.” To assist AGRSS-registered shops in preparing for the audits, AGRSS has made a number of explanatory documents available on it’s Web site, www.agrss.com.

Why you shouldn’t be nervous
“We all have fears about being validated and what could go wrong,” said Paul Burck, president of Orion Registrar. “The fears, if not dealt with, can cause undue stress and possible failure of the AGRSS validation process.” Discussing those fears can help, he explained. Burck then went on to identify some common fears, along with Orion's strategy to address them:

• ‘I have not been validated before.’ Orion validators are trained to observe and question people so that they do not need experience in being validated. The validation will focus on work performance and documentation.

• ‘The validator will not understand what I’m doing.’ We [Orion] have very experienced validators, who will be trained to have an understanding of the auto glass industry and what’s important. They will also have specific checklists to provide the validators guidance during the validation.

• ‘The validator will take something out of context.’ Orion validators are trained to listen and analyze so that they do not take issues out of context. If something is taken out of context, you can explain the situation to the validator.

• ‘The validator may try to trick me into making a mistake.’ We [Orion] do not pay our validators based on the number of mistakes they find.

• ‘I am nervous and may make a mistake.’ If a mistake is made, you can tell the validator that you’ve made a mistake, and he or she will factor the statement into their [analysis]. What happens in the audit, stays in the audit. We have confidentiality agreements between AGRSS and Orion. So, we [Orion] do not release information."

"Our belief is 100 percent of registered companies are AGRSS compliant," said Tompkins in closing. "We hope to be 100 percent complaint, but noncompliance in a major way will not hinder the performance of this standard. It will provide a revelation of who we really are.”