If you’re wondering what life is like as a mobile auto windshield repair tech, sit back, buckle up and join us as we hit the road with John McAuley, owner of a SuperGlass Windshield Repair franchise in St. Petersburg, Fla. McAuley heads to the office each day at about 9 a.m. He doesn’t have to go far. His office is just steps away from his home—it’s a big white pickup truck that he uses to perform mobile glass repair.
As owner of a SuperGlass Windshield Repair franchise, McAuley has two employees who together cover four counties and complete about 75 repair jobs a week—all of it on the road. One St. Petersburg employee is full time and the other is a contractor. Each technician does about 10 to 14 jobs a day.
McAuley previously spent 33 years in the auto business working for the kinds of companies that are now his customers—dealerships, used car lots and auto auction houses. He uses the knowledge he gained managing those businesses to “work on the other side” and provide, rather than purchase, windshield and glass repair services.
Life on the Road
On this particularly sweltering Florida day, McAuley was off to visit his first client—a used car dealership. The dealer has a customer from Orlando on his way to pick up his new SUV. McAuley’s going to fix the chip in the windshield before the new owner takes delivery.
Once he pulls up to the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee on the dealer’s lot, he inspects the chip, pulls out his tools and gets to work.
He drills a small hole in the chip and vacuums it out. Next up, he puts in the resin, being sure it fills out any legs of the chip. Once he is satisfied the break is properly filled, he uses a curing lamp to set the resin. Finally, he polishes the spot until it looks as close to pre-break condition as he feels possible. He’s satisfied, writes up the bill and goes to chat with the dealer.
And that’s McAuley’s favorite part of the job—meeting the people and learning about them, hearing their stories.
An insurance customer out in the same area is in need of windshield repair as well. Though she hasn’t answered her phone, McAuley decides to drive over to the house to see if she is home.
But it’s not to be. He pulls up to the house and rings the doorbell hoping she will answer. But she does not.
“It was worth a try,” he says on his way to the next stop, another dealership. “It was sort of on the way.”
McAuley’s next stop is a dealership about an hour away. He asks permission to walk the lot and check the inventory for glass damage. He finds a candidate and gains approval to do the work.
This is probably the hottest part of the long, sunny Florida day, yet McAuley walks the burning blacktopped lot with gusto. Once he gets the 2012 Impala with the damaged windshield into position near his truck, he rolls down the windows and turns on the defroster to help cool the glass down.
“Because the windshield has been sitting in the sun, it’s very hot. This cools the windshield down and makes my repair go more smoothly,” he explains. Then it’s back on the road to the next dealership, one of his favorites, because they sell luxury models and rarely turn down an offer to repair glass on their cars.
Keep it Personal
McAuley ends his day by servicing an insurance customer who purchased a Nissan Sentra for his wife a few days back. The customer didn’t notice the chip in the windshield until his wife pointed it out and the dealership referred him to his insurer—and to McAuley.
While working on the vehicle, McAuley talks with the customer, ever-so-gently weaving questions into his explanation of the windshield repair process. McAuley learns about the customer’s mother and her health problems, his kids, and even his dog. There’s no doubt he relishes the interaction as the best part of the job.
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