How to Staff up Properly to Repair Glass
Scott Woodard runs three Miami-area collision repair facilities built for optimal efficiency. The largest repair facility under the Bill Ussery Motors umbrella is 35,000 square feet, with 35 well trained employees that repair Mercedes and Teslas with precision.
Yet, for years, that shop’s glass repair procedure was broken.
“We were at the mercy of an outside vendor’s workload—powerless,” Woodard, the collision center general manager, explains. “We had to figure something out, because we knew, from a repair standpoint, we could get a percentage of cars out of here a couple days earlier, if we weren’t waiting for the guy to install glass.”
Considering the luxury vehicles Ussery worked on, Woodard knew he couldn’t afford to keep having long, drawn-out glass repairs that, all too often, resulted in cracks or leaks. And, he knew that glass repair offered the chance to add consistent work that would aid his bottom line.
So, he severed ties with the local mom-and-pop glass repair vendors.
But that, of course, would require an investment of both time and money.
Woodard recently began his 20th year working at Ussery. And, by 2017, he had dealt with glass repair frustrations for seemingly as long as he could recall.
Outsourcing that work had spiraled out of control.
“We always had something going wrong,” he says. A vendor “cracked it, taking it out. Or, it had a water leak; there was one instance we almost had to buy a car back, because it leaked full of water.”
Because Ussery’s collision repair facilities only fix luxury vehicles, many local vendors simply lacked knowledge of the elaborate repairs it took to fix, say, a laminated rear window for a Mercedes S-Class sedan. And, since those vendors weren’t employees of Ussery, they seemed to lack the requisite sense of urgency when presented with glass repair jobs.
Often, Woodard would ask a vendor if they could handle a repair after 5 p.m.; they rarely seemed to make the time for him.
So, by late 2016, leaders at Ussery decided it was high time to cut their glass repair vendors loose.
“We went out on our own because it was becoming a problem. We had a lot of challenges with installation, removal, leakage, breakage. It was creating chaos for me,” Woodard says of glass repair work.
By January 2017, Ussery Motors Collision Center had its plan.
“We made a decision to find a technician, from the dealer, to fix glass,” Woodard explains. “And that was a win-win for us.”
Although the plan ultimately worked, it required some legwork to fully implement. The MSO needed to spend a few thousand dollars on glass repair equipment like glue warmers, and multiple glass removal tools (Mercedes provided a much-needed glass repair kit). Fortunately, Ussery’s staff was able to find most of the necessary equipment rather easily, on Amazon.
And, Woodard made sure to set up a dedicated bay for glass repair work on the shop floor at Ussery’s 35,000-square-foot facility.
But the biggest step, as one might assume, was identifying the right employee to take on the role of glass repair technician. Woodard eventually identified a recent trainee who had shown promise while working as a car washer. Then, that promising young employee was sent to roughly three weeks of OEM training.
Woodard tried to identify a fledgling staffer who had yet to develop poor work habits, and who wasn’t scared off by starting their career in a $10 per hour role, doing 40–50 hours per week.
And, he made sure to seek a glass repair tech with attention to detail, and one that was eager to study every element of repairs required for Mercedes and Teslas.
“He knew the challenge going into it, and what our goal is,” Woodard said of his glass repair employee, who now works in a flat-rate capacity. “And he did a little bit of assembly when we got behind. So, it was the right fit.”
If you’ve worked in collision repair long enough, you’ve probably heard of the 5S philosophy.
Woodard has his own motto, involving the “5 Ps”: prior planning prevents poor performance.
“A goal without a plan is a dream,” he notes, explaining the role that planning took in his facility’s implementation of in-house glass repair.
But, by taking a few months to fully plot out their plan, the leaders at Ussery left themselves with an improved method for replacing windshields and windows. Now, instead of begging vendors to make early evening visits to their facility, Ussery’s biggest body shop has “control of the repair,” Woodard says.
“Taking the glass out, taking the headliner out, it’s the same day—the car goes to paint, goes to body, and comes back out,” he says. “The glass guy can set glass at 5 o’clock walking out the door, and the next day the car can be buffed and washed. We’re not waiting for the (vendor) to come and install the glass.”
While Ussery’s largest collision repair facility does less than $10,000 in glass repair revenue
per month (at a 46 percent gross profit), the facility has reduced its cycle time from 28 days in 2016 to 18 days currently. It also contributes to the rock solid, 90 percent CSI score.
And, Woodard estimates that his glass repair technician operates at nearly 300 percent
efficiency—far better than his old vendors used to.
“We used to have the mentality that [glass repair] wasn’t worth the aggravation—make it
somebody else’s problem,” Woodard says. “I never thought it would be this beneficial.”