by Bob Beranek
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In my last blog, I suggested that tracking callbacks leads to better management and quality control. Today I want to reinforce that argument with examples and explain how you can use the tracking data collected.

By now, if you did the exercise I suggested in the last blog, you know that callbacks can cost you a ton of money.  And, if you keep track of the numbers, you know the reducing these numbers can greatly improve your bottom line. So how do you reduce the callback percentage and increase profits?

First of all, I would suggest that you track the callbacks by each technician, then by branch/store and then by company in the form of a percentage of total jobs. If you completed 100 jobs and had five callbacks during that period you had a 5 percent callback rate. Don’t forget to back out repairs unless it led to an installation. Also, back out the callbacks that are frivolous, such as “my tail light burnt out right after you replaced my windshield.” However, frivolous callbacks can be a sign of some other problem that we will get to later.

The ideal callback rate should be zero but most certainly below 2.5 percent. The higher the rate, the more attention that store or individual should get. If a technician has a high callback rate, it usually indicates a difficulty based on the diagnosis and fix of the problem. For example:

  • Joe has several water leaks appearing above the rearview mirror. The diagnosis says that there was a hole in the urethane bead. This could indicate that Joe punctures the urethane bead while repositioning the wire cover. A quality control meeting led by the local manager or more training on proper placement of the wiring cover makes sense.
  • Same problem but the diagnosis says that there is a gap in the urethane near the glass surface. This could indicate that Joe does not paddle his urethane bead seams properly or at all. Same recommendation is suggested to solve the problem.

If there is a pattern building in a particular branch or store, then the cause could be improper training or lax supervision.

For example:

It is noticed that there is a problem of water leaks in the top driver side corner of the windshields at this particular store. It is not one technician, but several. Here are the possible causes:

  • The technicians use ungloved hands to set the windshield and the oils from their hands contaminate the top driver side corner of the windshield and keep the urethane from adhering to the glass.
  • It can be difficult to get a smooth clean strip back to the top corners, due to their sharpness. Flaps in the original adhesive bead can occur while stripping the existing bead thus causing a leak between the two pieces of urethane.
  • Or, it could be an indication that the vacuum cups and setting tools that were acquired for their use are not being used. It could be because the technicians were not trained in their proper use or that they have no trust in the holding strength of the tools due to past experience.

 

In all of these cases, increased training or stepped up supervision is necessary to cure the problem.

Other indicators will be just as obvious when callbacks are tracked and analyzed properly. For example:

Callbacks Part Two02252016

Tracked callbacks can be used to pinpoint training and correct problems that might otherwise go undetected, causing continuing problems. Through tracking you know what your callbacks are, and you will have the documentation to let you test theories until you have a solution. Undetected callbacks are unsolved problems and unsolved problems lead to unhappy customers and unhappy customers lead to … well you know.

P.S. Callback tracking goes for all of you one-man shops out there as well. If you want your company to be a success, you have to keep track of your callbacks and fix your problems quickly and the first time or your new company will suffer the consequences.

In some areas of the country when a customer calls you back to re-do your work it is called “warranty” work or “re-work” but here in Wisconsin we call them callbacks. Obviously, none of us want to have callbacks occur. They cost us money and customer ill-will. It takes up time that could be better spent on putting in parts that we get paid for. However, callbacks can be a benefit to your company if handled correctly.

How can callbacks be a benefit? When you track them and use that information to improve your performance.

Most customers do not want to complain. They just want their vehicle back to the way it was before you serviced it. When they find something not right, they will decide if that issue is important enough to complain about or if they will let it go. The result of that decision is whether you have an opportunity to correct the problem and re-instill confidence in your company or have the customer bad mouth your service at the next backyard barbeque. That is why you want to determine what areas are causing you callbacks so you can eliminate as many as possible.

How can you fix a problem if you don’t know it’s there?

You must track your callbacks every time a customer calls for rework. What do I mean by track? You must document and note the problem, diagnosis, and fix it on every complaint you receive. I know that this is a pain and a little time consuming, but so is a callback. How can you manage a problem if you cannot track the cause?

In my early days in this industry, I worked for a company that tracked everything, callbacks, missed jobs, even when the service vehicle was stopped and started again. As an installer, I always felt that it was overkill until I was promoted to management. Then I realized the purpose for the tracking. Simply put, it allowed a manager to identify problems, making the company better and increasing profits. Wow, what a concept. Even today when I visit companies and talk to CEOs, I find that some don’t track the most profit-destroying part of doing business, callbacks.

In the next couple of posts, I will talk more about following up on callbacks. In the meantime, I suggest you begin documenting your customer feedback. I will bet some of you will be surprised by the number of complaints you get. Here is what you need to record:

  • Customer’s name and vehicle;
  • Technician(s) name;
  • Details of complaint;
  • Details of diagnosis; and
  • Details of the fix.

Also, track the costs:

  • Time expended on travel to location (if any);
  • Time expended on the diagnosis and fix;
  • Cost of materials used;
  • Fuel costs(if any);
  • Labor rate;
  • Average revenue lost by callback time expenditure; and
  • You could also extrapolate the cost of attracting and keeping a customer (sales and advertising costs) and then subtracting that cost of a callback from the calculation to get a better sense of your profits and losses.

If you take the time to do this exercise, you will realize that tracking callbacks is one of the most important things you will do as a manager.

I have been in contact with two different glass shop owners recently who both asked me the same two-part question. Why are there so many bad automotive glass shops and technicians in our industry and how can we stop their dangerous and callous actions?

Both of these gentlemen belong to Auto Glass Safety Council™ (AGSC) Registered Member Companies and practice safe and proper installations. I can understand their frustration. They do everything right but find that time and again customers are choosing to do business with competitors whose standards are not nearly as high. What is there to do?

One owner took his frustration to his state government for help. He cited the recent actions of the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island which licensed technicians and shops. Both states made the effort to assure safe automotive glass installations because they realize the windshield and other stationary glass parts are a part of the structural integrity of the vehicle and improper installation would compromise the safety of their constituents.

Initially, this owner’s state of Michigan doesn’t see it that way. (Currently they may be more concerned with water quality than glass installation quality.) However, through perseverance and strong effort, the owner got his state representative to take a closer look. We don’t know what the results will be but at least owner one made the effort and made his point.

Owner number two complained that local competition passed their compliance audit through AGSC but promptly returned to the high production and lax quality issues as soon as the evaluator left the building. He suggested that audits be unannounced to truly measure installation quality. He wondered how these shops can get away with it.

As a trainer who has seen thousands of prior installations, I completely understand the frustrations these two owners are experiencing. The AGSC does have an Accreditation Committee that will investigate Registered Member Companies that fail to practice the guidelines published in the ANSI/AGSC/AGRSS™ 003-2015. The committee can remove noncompliant companies from their membership. However, there is no mechanism to discipline them in other ways, and of course the AGSC cannot discipline non-registered companies. They are not and cannot be the installation police.

The answer then is to take our case to the government, or the consumer, or both. The government can enforce compliance through rules and regulations. The educated consumer can punish bad actors through not buying their defective products or services. Either way, it will take the concerted effort of the members of the industry to do the legwork and spend the money to provide the education necessary to move the dialogue.

My only advice as an automotive glass installer and business owner is to continue on and not give up. Join the AGSC and get active on a committee. Find likeminded owners in and around your market and organize. Numbers equal power, and the more voices there are, the better they are heard. Whether through government involvement or consumer awareness, our only answers are with the shops and individuals out there that do it right and are proud of it. We can move mountains if we work at it together.