by Bob Beranek
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I am very pleased that not only did the holidays fall in such a way as to give me some much needed time off, but it also gave me a chance to listen to all of the 2014 laments and the 2015 predictions. Trade and industry pundits are calling for an economic upturn that may be a record breaker.

With news like that, how can you be negative?

Well, if you know me, you know that I always check things out before I make rash claims and statements of fact. So, I did some research. According to economic forecasters here, the Gross National Product (GNP) of the United States is predicted to have healthy growth in 2015 and even better in 2016. This is a website I like because it gives me access to statistics from a wide variety of sources.

The growth of the U.S. economy means more money in the hands of our customers. Will that in turn mean that consumers will finally get the windshield replaced they’ve been putting off for the past few years? We certainly hope so.

Great! You may say, that will get the automotive glass industry back to normal. What about the future growth?

According to J.D. Power and Associates, as reported by CNBC.com, auto sales for 2015 are predicted to break all records and reach 13.83 million units. History tells us that when new car sales increase, automotive glass replacements also increase. Add to that the lowest prices in fuel since 2008, which encourages more miles driven, and this is a recipe for growth that cannot be ignored.

All we need is to have the federal and state government increase their infrastructure budget for road construction and repaving and we can plan our vacations in exotic far off lands. Of course, if the legislature can’t agree on their infrastructure budget, roads will remain in bad repair and unpaved, resulting in more broken windshields. That’s what I call a win-win for our industry.

Next question, are you ready for this growth?

Do you have all your ducks in a row? Are your technicians hired and trained? Do you have tools and supplies ready for the increase in business? Is your support staff ready to supply the best customer service possible?  Now is the time to prepare for the upcoming busy season while the seasonal slowdown is at hand. Buy those tools and increase productivity. Schedule, develop and facilitate the training you’ll need so you are fully prepared and ready to go. Plan your marketing strategy so you speak louder than your competition. Negotiate your best deals and take advantage of opportunities while they are still there. Your goal for 2015 and the future should be being more proactive and less reactive. That is the true recipe for success.