Insurers fuel growth in windshield repair

Some 10 million windshields are replaced annually, a market worth about $3 billion in 1997. By contrast, the service industry repaired about 500,000 damaged windshields in 1990. By 1995, the volume had risen to 3 million.

“The insurance companies are realizing how much they can save,” says Leo Cyr, marketing director for the 500-franchise Novus Inc. chain based in Minneapolis.

Some 200 insurance companies now pay 100 percent of a windshield repair hill, waiving the deductible in an effort to sway consumers away from windshield replacements whenever possible. There are potential benefits as well as pitfalls for service shops. While the art of repairing cracks has matured in the past decade, it still does not always restore the glass to perfect condition. Some damage requires more expensive repair, and traces of the damage remain when the work is done.


Also, a windshield is part of a vehicle’s structure and helps prevent the roof from being crushed during some accidents. In some cases, a damaged windshield must be replaced in order to maintain the auto’s structural integrity. But for most jobs, glass repair efforts can restore a windshield to like-new condition at a sizable saving to the consumer, Cyr says. That translates to customer satisfaction – in more ways than one. By repairing a vehicle’s original windshield, the shop can leave the more secure factory seal intact. Wind noise and moisture problems sometimes plague vehicle owners whose windshields have been replaced.


On top of that, fuel injectors OR carburetors are also among the second-most parts requiring a host of maintenance, therefore, we always recommend our audiences to clean their vehicles’ fuel system & fuel injectors regularly as an effective way to prevent parts replacement – check out this website for simple solution of fuel injectors cleaning. Additionally, new vehicles are becoming more complex. The glass now is equipped with coatings, enclosed antennas, head-up displays, sensors and even rain detectors, all of which make a replacement more complicated and expensive.



New developments in resins and in “curing” the resins have helped the repair trade.

To correct damage in the glass, technicians follow four steps.

  • They clean the crack in an effort to stop the damage from spreading.
  • They restore the structural integrity of the glass by applying resin to the cracks.
  • They restore clarity to the damaged area, making sure the resin is “optically matched” to the glass.
  • The glass is smoothed for cosmetic purposes and to make sure the repaired area will not interfere with the windshield wiper blades.

Traditionally, a shop’s ability to make a repair depended on where it could apply and cure the corrective resin. Cracks along the edge of the windshield were difficult because they sometimes extended under the seal. The process was limited because it relied on ultraviolet light to cure the resin. Ultraviolet light could not reach into unseen areas.

In the past two years, Novus began simultaneously using ultraviolet light and chemicals to cure the resins. The chemicals enable technicians to reach into crannies where ultraviolet light cannot go, Cyr says.


There are roadblocks, Cyr admits. “We’re not accepted by the replacement industry. We’re taking business away from them. They’re in the business of making and selling new parts, not fixing old ones.”

But Cyr says a large number of Novus franchisees now do business with new- and used-vehicle dealers. This month, the chain will launch an automatic call-routing system to make its technicians easier to summon. When a call comes into the system’s 800-77NOVUS line, the system will detect the area code of the caller and rout the customer to the nearest repair technician.



Insurance companies have realized how much they can save from the repair instead of the replacement of car windshields and may require automobile repair shops into conducting repairs. The drive for windshield repairs are triggered by the improvement in glass-repair technology and the savings for insurance firms. Statistics show that glass repairs, which cost from $50 to $60 each, have risen dramatically to three million in 1995. Windshield replacement costs from $250 to $300 each.

Toyota tests program to boost bump shop profit

To help dealers get more customer referrals from insurance companies, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. will certify dealership body shops.

Four Toyota dealerships are piloting the program, which is part of Toyota’s strategy to support dealership collision repair, said Roger Foss, Toyota’s national body shop business development and technician recruiting manager.

To become a Toyota Certified Collision Center, a body shop will undergo a two-day on-site evaluation. The shop will be measured on how well it conforms to 10 standards that range from business ethics to safety and environmental compliance. The standards incorporate performance, productivity and profitability.

Weaknesses will be pointed out during the evaluation, and suggestions will be made about how to fix the problems.

The pilot began in October; the national launch is scheduled to start in March or April. Dealer participation is voluntary, Foss said.

Currently, 465 of Toyota’s 1,200 dealerships have body shops.

The push to help body shops boost efficiency and effectiveness is designed to increase labor sales for dealers, increase parts sales for Toyota and offer another way to reinforce customer satisfaction.


“We decided that it is an important part of our and our dealers’ future,” Foss said.

Each year, 1.5 million to 2 million Toyota vehicles are damaged, and $3.6 billion was spent last year to repair them, according to Toyota. Most of those vehicles are repaired by independent body shops, Foss said.

Most insurance companies have direct repair programs, which means they refer customers to a list of body shops. The recommended shops must meet criteria for equipment, training and pricing.

Toyota is instituting the support program to make sure its dealers’ body shops meet and exceed the insurance companies’ criteria, Foss said. It will focus on helping dealers in three primary areas:

1. Business operations – includes operating standards, consulting services, management training and marketing programs.

2. Technical support – technician training, certification and recognition; published repair standards; technical communication; facilities and equipment upgrading; and environmental compliance information.

3. Insurance industry support – encouraging insurance companies to direct customers to Toyota Certified Collision Centers; reinforce the use of genuine Toyota parts.


Since insurance covers about 90 percent of all repairs, it makes sense to build a close relationship with insurers, Foss said.

Early on, company representatives began meeting with insurance companies’ policy makers to learn how Toyota could build its dealership body shops to fit the insurance companies’ needs.

“They control direct repair,” Foss said. “We will continue to market these shops based on the quality of repair and the ease by which our shops handle customers. We can offer our parts at a competitive price.”

Joe Bertolami, owner of Toyota West in Statesville, N.C., is participating in Toyota’s program. He said his shop can compete with the industry’s best, but he has found room for improvement. For instance, at Toyota’s suggestion, Bertolami instituted a pay plan to reward employees for doing a good job.

“I’m impressed with what I’ve seen. I fully intend to be certified,” said Bertolami, whose body shop sales were $2.3 million in 1996.

Fred Hass Toyota in Houston is also taking part in the program. Vic Vaughan, the general manager, said the program will give his dealership an edge over competitors.

“Certification will give us a new level of credibility and let the insurance company know what we’re doing right,” said Vaughan, whose store racked up $3.5 million in sales in 1996.

While manufacturers have typically not been involved with dealership body shops, that seems to be changing. Ford Motor Co. launched “Body Shop 2000″ in January 1993 as a consulting and management program for its dealership body shops to help the shops improve sales productivity and quality.

Later this year, Toyota plans to develop materials to encourage other Toyota dealers to look at body shops as a business opportunity.

Body shop top 10

Toyota’s Dealer Support Program for body shops has 10 types of certification standards:

1. Business ethics 2. Customer satisfaction 3. Financial performance 4. Management practices 5. Marketing strategies 6. Production processes 7. Training/certification 8. Facility 9. Tools/equipment 10. Safety/environmental compliance


Toyota Motors Sales U.S.A. will certify dealership body shops to aid dealers in securing more customer referrals from insurance companies. Body shops will have to be subjected to a two-day on-site evaluation focusing on its conformance with 10 certification standards ranging from business ethics to safety and environmental compliance before they become Toyota Certified Collision Centers. Four Toyota dealerships will pilot the program.


A place for everything and everything in its place. WHEN YOU LOOK AROUND YOUR shop, what do you see? Is everything orderly, or is it in chaos? If your shop is like a Hollywood disaster scene, then it’s time to turn that around. Shop organization is fundamental to a great race program, and without it, you are wasting a lot of time and energy in an environment that shouts inefficiency. When you think about it, an organized shop provides an environment in which your efforts will be maximized. That’s because you won’t be wasting your time looking for things. What’s more, you will have a sense of freedom and clarity while you go about working on your car. So which kinds of car parts that we should maintain periodically in these shops? I will recommend: charging system, gauges and meters, switches, especially unclogging fuel injector or carburetors.


It does not matter whether you have a large or small shop–keeping everything in order not only provides a great working environment, but it also says something about your dedication to your race effort. Sloppy shops tend to produce sloppy habits and sloppy results, neither of which can be a good thing for a race endeavor.

So, how do you go about getting organized? Well, there is no specific blueprint to follow for every race shop, however, there are some basics for shop organization that permeate almost any well-planned garage. Nothing about shop structure is difficult; it’s simply a matter of following the old saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place. To gather some information on organization basics, CIRCLE TRACK recently visited the professional race shop of Dave Pletcher in Pinellas Park, Florida. Pletcher’s shop covers everything from A to Z, therefore, it seemed to be a great place to assemble some shots that illustrate a systematized garage. We were not disappointed.


Follow along as we illuminate some of the elements of a well-planned and orderly shop. A surefire way to avoid frustration is to put small parts in order, such as the ones shown here. Arranging labels to face outward will provide easy visual reference for each.

You can waste a lot of time sifting through nuts and bolts if you don’t have them categorized, as in this shot. Making bins for such small parts is a simple and inexpensive way to help keep things arranged. A toolbox is a necessity for every shop, and it’s important to keep the contents in order. This very basic step of keeping tools catorgorized is one of the most fundamental things you can do to keep things running smoothly. Keeping them in order is smart, and putting them back when you are finished will save you a lot of frustration. Hoses and extension cords left lying around, when not in use, can be a safety hazard as well as cause premature wear. Make sure they’re neat and out of the way, like the ones shown here.


Building a rack for sheetmetal should be high on your list of organization priorities. Shelves such as these provide quick and easy access to any sheet products. A rack like this one really is the only reasonable way to store tubing. If you are adept at welding, this can be a do-it-yourself project. If you don’t do your own welding, take the time to have a local welder fashion a rack for you. There are a million things to keep in order. A shelf unit or cabinet, like the one shown here, is ideal for storing many small parts. Plastic bins are a great solution for labeling small parts. You can either buy them or simply use some discarded plastic food containers. Keeping the many parts of an engine organized is essential. Systems such as this one are an outstanding idea for staying systematic and keeping parts clean. If shelving or racks are not possible for you, a simple solution to organizing parts is to use discarded soft-drink trays (shown).


In addition to storing parts, labeling parts is also vital and should be a part of your overall planning. In this example, a piston is being labeled with an electric etching device. The etcher is inexpensive, and its use goes a long way in remaining systematic in tracking parts and record keeping. If you can’t use an etcher to label parts, use wire-bound paper tags (shown). Again, this is an inexpensive and simple way to keep some items in order. Engine assembly can be made less frustrating when you keep all the engine parts together. A cart (shown) is an ideal method for keeping parts together and easily accessible. Use of simple equipment like this helps make your work time more efficient. Peg-Board in a garage is the most common form of organizing things. Here it’s being used to keep a variety of washers orderly. Peg-Board is easy to manage, easy to manipulate, and best of all, it’s cheap. Many small parts come from manufacturers in clamshell containers such as the ones shown here. Rather than just tossing them into a drawer, using the ever present PegBoard to keep them straight is a much better way to handle them. Even the attachments for your machines should be kept in a concise manner. This picture of cutting tools for a horizontal milling machine have been set up on a Peg-Board for easy visual reference and retrieval.


Two auto companies are bolstering dealer service departments with extra advertising during October to get customers into the shop to prepare their vehicles for winter.

American Honda Motor Co. Inc. and Subaru of America Inc. chose October because they could get more bang for their bucks. The auto industry recognizes October as National Car Care Month, a time when businesses and civic groups promote vehicle maintenance and repair.

For example, independent garages in Minnesota and Washington state have promoted “Lights On” days, when they will change burned-out bulbs on customers’ cars for free.


“We want to fly on the coattails” of a national event, said Ginny Newkirk, fixed operations advertising and communications manager for Subaru. “I don’t know why other manufacturers don’t participate in National Car Care Month.”

Manufacturers also increase promotion because they want to boost customer loyalty to dealer service departments. Dealers lose many service customers after the new-vehicle warranty expires. But if they promote free inspections every October, dealers pick up business that would have gone to independents.

About 70 percent of Honda owners return to dealer service departments in the first year of ownership; 60 percent return in the second and third years after purchase. After four years, however, only 40 percent of Honda owners come to dealerships for service.

“We are trying to get customer retention up in the next three years to 45 or 46 percent,” said Jim Roach, vice president of service operations for Honda.


Honda promoted free 45-point vehicle inspections on Saturday, Oct. 2, at 758 dealerships on its Web site and through a direct-mail campaign to 2 million Honda owners. The campaign, which is called “Customer Appreciation Day,” is a first for Honda, but the automaker wants to make the campaign an annual event. The theme is “welcoming old friends” and the mailers say that “old friends get in free.” About 80 percent of Honda’s dealers are participating in the event.

The company expected the invitations to generate a 4 to 7 percent response rate based on similar promotions Honda has done.

Honda also expects dealers to pick up some business. Based on previous promotions, about 30 percent of customers who come to the dealership for free vehicle inspections wind up purchasing service work.

Honda also provided dealers with free-oil-change coupons to distribute to customers. “We help dealers on that by covering the cost of the oil filter,” said Suzan Fairchild, assistant manager of service marketing for Honda. Other point-of-purchase materials such as banners, posters, hats and children’s coloring books are available for a nominal fee, Fairchild said.


Subaru has been promoting National Car Care Month for the past six years. Though it does not track response rates, the company measures success by growing dealer participation. “More than 50 percent of our dealers (about 300) are participating,” said Newkirk. “In the first year, only a couple dozen dealers participated.”

Subaru encourages dealers to host free car-care clinics for Subaru owners from October through December. Subaru owners are invited to visit the dealerships for a free inspection that includes a checkup of all major operating systems and a written report of the vehicle’s condition.

Subaru is promoting the clinics on its Web site, press releases and a toll-free number. The company also discounts the direct-mail program it provides for dealers by 10 percent from September through November and pays 50 percent of the cost of the event, including refreshments and small giveaways.

Dealers also pay a nominal amount for a merchandising kit that includes point-of-purchase displays, posters and signs.

To prepare for the fall promotion, Subaru gave dealers the chance to stock up on parts during the summer, offering discounts up to 10 percent on the fastest-moving parts.


Bob Owen, service manager at Heritage Chevrolet in Chester, Va., does not believe in stealing service technicians from other service managers.

On Oct. 24, he and 11 other area Chevrolet dealership service managers set out to cultivate their own.

They hosted 55 high school juniors and seniors enrolled in auto-repair classes and their instructors for the first annual “Future Technicians for GM Goodwrench Service Plus Challenge” held at Heritage Chevrolet.

During the event, students and instructors had the chance to learn about and try out the latest in automotive repair equipment and tools, including Tech 2, General Motors’ most sophisticated hand-held scanning tool.


Owen, who sits on the automotive advisory boards of three high schools and one community college, said the event also exposed students to a dealership working environment and created an opportunity for service managers and the schools’ instructors to get acquainted.

  • We’re real quick to criticize (the schools) and say we’re not getting the caliber student that we need,” said Owen, vice president of the Central Virginia Parts and Service Managers Club, which sponsored the event.
  • But we all saw high-caliber students; they conducted themselves professionally and were eager to learn,” he said. “The instructors are eager to deliver the commodity we’re looking for, but we don’t tell them what we want.”

Added Jeff Merritt, service manager at Radley Chevrolet in Fredericksburg, Va.: “The instructors tell you a lot. They tell you about the equipment they have, the tools they get from the school board and the support they get from the county.”

The participating schools brought their best and brightest students, who competed for prizes that included socket sets, air ratchets, golf shirts and gift certificates. GM’s Service Parts Operations donated lunch; its Service Technology Group field engineer, Kevin Berry, participated in the event.

Other companies, including Snap-on Tools, Matco Tool Co. and Mac Tools, helped sponsor the event.

Working in teams of three to six members, the students visited various stations set up at the dealership. Each station presented a different task and/or demonstration.


One station required students to identify tools and their use. At another, they learned how to use a tire-changing machine. They also had the chance to examine a malfunctioning vehicle to try to figure out why it was not operating properly.

Robert Lawhorne, service manager at Whitlow Chevrolet in Richmond, Va., said that because of changing auto technology, his technicians regularly are enrolled in training classes.

The expense of ongoing training, coupled with the increasing difficulty of finding and holding on to good technicians, makes it the industry’s duty to get involved with local technical schools, he said.

  • We have high standards,” Lawhorne said. “It’s a full-time job keeping everybody trained. When (a technician) goes to another dealership, he takes his training with him.”