The onset of COVID-19 quickly impacted the auto glass repair and replacement industry and businesses had to adapt to new safety regulations early on. Now some are saying they’ll keep some of last year’s lessons and changes throughout 2021.
AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com reached out to several industry businesses and learned some of the positive takeaways from 2020. “What’s positive about this whole thing is that for a small company like us, we changed the way we did our appointments,” said Peter Brown, president of Tiny & Son’s Auto Glass in Pembroke, Mass. “We spun around and changed on the fly, so now everything is done by email and by phone and text and it’s excellent. I think this way of doing things is going to be with us for a long time.”
“The pandemic has provided us an opportunity to step back and evaluate our business and the value we bring our customers,” said Tim Siterlet, Carlex aftermarket replacement glass regional sales manager, with headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. “It has further emphasized that technology surrounds the efforts we make with our customers and the products we offer. The importance of Original Equipment glass continues to grow.”
Some industry members learned the importance of respecting an employee’s personal space as they implemented social distancing guidelines from health and government officials.
“We learned a lot from this,” said Jon Laski, CEO at City Auto Glass, with locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Florida. “It taught us about slowing down a little bit and respecting other’s space, being fortunate to what we have, not taking anything for granted and to take this opportunity as a life learning lesson that at any time our lives can be turned upside down.”
“We’ve learned how to work harder, smarter and respect your fellow employee,” said Ted Andersen, vice president of franchising at Novus Inc., with multiple locations throughout the U.S. “I think a lot of good things have come out of this pandemic and it really will prepare us for the future … and if you’re able to get through it that’s saying a lot about your team.”
Many businesses learned how to effectively communicate with staff if they worked remotely. “Like most companies the ability to work remotely for customer service/small package shipping and other administrative support has resulted in our staff staying engaged,” said Dell Skluzak, owner of the PipeKnife Company in Wheat Ridge, Colo. He also noted that communication is more challenging when select staff works remotely and that having frequent updates keeps them engaged and interested in the success of the business.
Siterlet said his staff was able to adapt easily to the changes that were made in order for the business to remain safe according to CDC, state and local recommendations. “We have adapted to working from home and with new office guidelines to keep everyone safe.”
Although not every auto glass business made additions throughout 2020, many found that constant sanitizing and hand-washing helped. Brown said he installed handwashing stations in each of his company’s trucks so that his installers could wash their hands after every job. “We’ve really adapted and we plan to keep the added stations,” he said.
Laski said City Auto Glass implemented new procedures to ensure vehicles were being sanitized properly before and after an installation. “We’ve put protocols in place to wipe and sanitize all of the main touchpoints – it has added time and chemicals, but there’s no expense that you can have that can help keep your people safe,” said Laski.
All agreed that their senior team members are cross trained and are able to assist when needed if something drastic were to happen.
“We have a team that’s been in place for 30 years so our contingency plan is always having constant communication with each other,” said Laski.