As Baby Boomers plan their exits from the auto glass industry, the younger generations are stepping into their place and leaning on technology to power their shops.
That reality is driving Mark Haeck, vice president of business development for Mainstreet Computers based in Belleville, Mich., to address the evolving needs of auto glass retailers and dealers. He spoke with AGRR magazine to explain those needs and how his company aims to meet them through its Glas-Avenue and Glas-PAY software solutions.
AGRR: What changes are happening within the auto glass industry that are leading more companies to invest in software?
Haeck: ADAS and calibration have been a huge change in the industry. They’ve given glass shop owners an opportunity to make more money and feel profitable again. There is a cost of entry, but I think it’s a reasonable cost, especially adding the calibration side of the business.
Another big change—and there are pros and cons to this—is that the Baby Boomers are getting well into their retirement age. You are seeing a lot of acquisitions taking place by large companies. This makes it tougher for the smaller guys. However, it’s an opportunity for younger people to get into the business. As they do, they tend to rely more heavily on technology. That trend is a positive thing, especially given what we do.
AGRR: How have your products evolved in response to customers’ needs and requests?
Haeck: Back in the day, a software company wanted to do everything. We’ve advanced to the point where we realize we can’t do it all. There are now times when we partner with a third-party vendor that specializes in some aspect of business technology, like VIN lookups for getting the right part.
Glas-PAY is also really a value for our customers because of the security it offers. We have a call center that gives out quotes and helps people get jobs scheduled. We can help companies market their business. We’re trying to do as much as possible to be a one-stop-shop for all of their business needs.
AGRR: For the uninitiated, how does Glas-PAY work?
Haeck: It enables a company to process their customers’ payments through the [Glas-Avenue] software, and it has some unique features. We can send a link in an email, a QR code or a text that takes the customer to a website without having to give their credit card over the phone. A report within the software lets glass companies track the source of payments.
They can also use Glas-PAY as a standalone. We intend to have a full book of business with someone, but we have a couple of unique situations where clients are doing just credit card payments with us, and we’re able to accommodate that.
AGRR: If an auto glass company wanted to switch its payment processing system, what does it need to know first?
Haeck: The biggest thing is to find out if their existing credit card processor has a cancellation fee. Generally there will be some kind of a term of commitment for service. Some card systems have fees if you drop early. Once they know that for sure, then we can go ahead and work with them.
AGRR: How do you see the market changing and evolving in the next 5 to 10 years?
Haeck: I think the verdict is still out with regard to electric vehicles and what kind of impact they’re going to have on the glass industry. There are a lot of unknowns there, even for glass, and we’ll see more changes that will require more technology.
This article originally appeared in the July/August issue of AGRR magazine. To read the full issue, click here.