Monday morning as I read the glassBYTEs.com™/AGRR™ magazine forum, I came upon a discussion thread concerning leak detection and dealership involvement. All of the advice and the ultimate results were exactly correct. I am proud to be associated with a group of professionals that can accomplish difficult challenges competently and professionally. As I read the thread, it reminded me of a story I tell at some of my training courses. It involves issues like troubleshooting, leak detecting and the benefit of using technology to impress the customer. However, it also illustrates a more important issue we need to pay attention to, dealership relations.
Several years ago a customer came into my shop with a concern that his trunk was filling with water. We did not replace the backlite, but the vehicle owner was told by his dealership that the leak was caused by his backlite and he should take the car to a glass shop to be fixed. My first impression was that it was not the back glass leaking because the car was fairly new and I did not see any corrosion or body seam that would cause water to enter the trunk. However, the customer was convinced that the dealer was correct in their diagnosis of a leaky back glass and no matter what I said he did not believe me. So, instead of me using the antiquated but accurate water test, I chose to use an ultrasonic leak detector to prove to the customer that I was on top of the latest tool technology to find his problem. I was hoping that the bells, whistles, lights, and headphones were enough to impress the customer, prove my first impression and find the problem.
I began by putting the transmitter on the interior back deck and ran the receiver around the perimeter of the glass. No lights and no sound from the unit. I then placed the transmitter in the trunk and ran the receiver around the perimeter of the trunk lid. The sound practically blew the headphones from my head. Lights were blinking and the sound was deafening. I opened the trunk lid and made my inspection. I asked the customer if the vehicle had any work done on it recently. “Yes, said the customer, I took my car in to the dealer to replace the weatherstrip in the trunk area that had been torn loading luggage at the airport.” Now we may be getting somewhere.
It turns out; the dealer installed the weatherstrip backwards, putting the seam at the top of the opening instead of the bottom where it could drain. I reversed the weatherstrip and ran the test again. No leak. I even dried out the trunk and water tested it to make sure. The result was no leak. Problem solved.
I know that every one of you has a similar story of dealer/customer relations. Many of you have negative feelings toward dealerships because of those experiences. But I urge you to resist those feelings and realize that the future demands that we get along with our local dealerships. New technology demands that we use dealerships to please our customers. It may be purchasing dealer glass and parts to make sure the systems operate correctly; it may be sending our customers to dealerships for re-calibration of automatic systems; or maybe we need their knowledge about options and new value-added equipment.
My advice to you is that you must develop a positive relationship with your local dealers. Make them your best friends. Find a way to buy from them as often as you can to show that you are a good customer. Stop by periodically and say “Hi” and ask about the new vehicles or new technology. Talk to everyone in the dealership, including salespeople, those at the parts counters, body shop, mechanics department and management. The new technology built into the modern vehicles demands that we work with our local dealerships. Believe me, developing good relationships with your local dealers will pay off in the long run. You are going to need dealerships a lot more than you used to in the past. Hopefully they are going to use you for their glass services as well. Besides, wouldn’t you rather have the dealership on your side for once instead of working against you?