Almost 20 years ago, in January 1998, I started working for Key Communications on a small magazine called Windshield and Glass Repair. A few years later, we launched AGRR to have one magazine serving the auto glass industries, and I was involved in that as well. My first show was the Auto Glass Conference in Memphis, and I met great people there like Dave Taylor, Cindy Rowe, Dave Casey, Rich Campfield and more. While still involved in AGRR, I specialized in some of our other publications and traveled to trade shows serving the residential and commercial glass and window industries. Fast forward to 2017 when I took a larger role in AGRR and attended my first full Auto Glass Week™ in October 2017! Some people remembered me and uttered, “Tara, I haven’t seen you in a while.”
Henri Goudsmit is one of those individuals. He is now a consultant but, 20 years ago, he worked at the Performance Achievement Group (PAG), and I was one of the auto glass students who traveled to his company in Madison, Wis., in a cold snowy week in March to learn how to install windshields. Robert Birkhauser, president of AEGIS, owned PAG at the time, and both of them asked me about that experience 20 years ago when they saw me two weeks ago. Down the aisle from AEGIS on the exhibit floor was Bob Rossey of Creative Extruded Products, who was one of my classmates at PAG, though he worked for PPG back then. Birkhauser said, “So, did you actually install a windshield during that class?” I admitted I couldn’t lift it myself to which he replied, “Oh, well you could do it now with all the tools out there.”
Which finally brings me to my point. Wow, has the auto glass industry changed. Here a few of my key takeaways from the show held in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Kudos to all the exhibitors for designing ways to draw people into their booth. From Pilkington and their OptiAim equipment, and all the sales tools that come with it, to Equalizer and its cool ambulance displayed right on the show floor, exhibitors didn’t disappoint. My top pick, however, goes to XYG and its marketing team. Brilli Huen, manager, sales and marketing, explained how the company is continually coming up with new ways to bring people into its booth, which features the company’s glass products. But what led attendees in this year was a cool virtual reality display which I got to try out first hand.
“Our slogan is navigating the future, so we always want to draw people into our booth and show them what’s new,” she said. You can tell the company really gets marketing and how to do it well.
Watching the finals of the first-ever Customer Service Representative (CSR) competition was one of my favorite parts of the event. It was evident how nervous some of the finalists were. You could see it in their eyes when they forgot to mention safe drive away time, for example, or struggled to remember the caller’s name, and were rebuking themselves inwardly. Countless show attendees mentioned how great it is for CSRs to finally get the attention they deserve, and for everyone to realize how difficult their jobs are.
Harder Job, Less Pay
In the focus group and in the sessions, one fact was clear, and it really hit home for me. Cars are getting more and more challenging, and techs are making less and less money. “The amount of time it takes to book a job now is a nightmare as technology increases,” said one focus group attendee who works in customer service. “Customers don’t even know if they have a rain sensor, and that’s something pretty easy. How are they going to know if they have all these other advanced items?”
If you missed our focus group but have some ideas to share regarding AGRR, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.