What is your first instinct after discovering a large crack in your windscreen? What about a shattered windscreen? Although the situation may be stressful, you may be inclined to ring your motor insurance provider to make a claim. If you’ve got windscreen cover, there shouldn’t be much to worry about.
The problem, however, is that you may end up waiting days or weeks for your windscreen to be replaced by your insurance provider’s preferred automotive glazier. “There’s got to be a better way,” you may be thinking to yourself.
This is a problem that has become so commonplace in Britain, but it’s also created an excellent opportunity for competitive business from independent auto glaziers that can offer better services, better prices, and faster turnaround times than most preferred automotive glaziers by insurance providers.
Leading automotive glass manufacturer Pilkington reports that the long-term average annual growth of the automotive glazing industry is around 2.1% per year, with no sign of slowing down. This will hopefully translate to more competition in the UK, stimulating better services at better prices.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of both local auto glaziers and national chains, and which is better for you? Consider the below points before committing to one over the other.
Local automotive glaziers
What do we mean by ‘local automotive glazier?’ Simply put, we’re referring to any auto glazing company that isn’t one of the big national chains.
Whether that be a small, locally-owned and operated shop covering Manchester or an established windscreen repair shop serving the entire North West of England, what matters is that these local auto glaziers are a direct competitor to the national chains.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing an independent auto glazier, which is why you may wish to read our previous blog, 5 key traits to look for in an auto glazier before making your selection.
Benefits of choosing a local automotive glazier
- Response times: there’s no quicker and more convenient way to get your windscreen repaired or replaced in the UK than to get in touch with a local auto glazier near you. Most myWindscreen members can provide same-day or next-day service, getting you back on the road faster and minimising any downtime and inconvenience.
- Price: even if your insurance provider charges you an excess for choosing a local auto glazier not listed as their preferred provider, you’ll often save a substantial amount. Local auto glaziers are often far more competitive in terms of price because they opt for windscreen repairs instead of full replacement (when safe to do so), and they also operate on much leaner budgets than the big national brands, thereby giving customers affordable prices.
- Quality: all automotive glazing work must be done in accordance with British standards, which means that local auto glaziers are not exempt but instead must offer superb quality on all workmanship. All automotive glass is either OE or aftermarket, which must also adhere to stringent standards of quality.
- Customer service: as a local operating in your community, an independent automotive glazier will try their very best to offer you exceptional customer service. We all know that a cracked or shattered windscreen can be stressful, which is why these qualified professionals endeavour to offer effective and stress-free services.
- Experience: most independent automotive glaziers have many years of professional experience and NVQ & IMI qualifications. Compared to the big national chains, local auto glaziers tend to be more experienced because they’ve already completed their apprenticeships at those very same national chains!
Disadvantages of choosing a local automotive glazier
- Insurance claims: chances are fairly good that your insurance provider will charge you an excess fee for having your windscreen repaired or replaced by a non-preferred glazier. Keep in mind, however, that many auto glaziers listed here on myWindscreen can help process your insurance claim on your behalf whilst also saving you money (even with the excess).
- Coverage: local auto glaziers don’t have the same reach as the national chains, which is why they’re national! However, some local auto glaziers cover a fairly wide radius in communities near you, so all you’ve got to do is find one nearby and give them a friendly ring.
- Branding: likewise, small and independent auto glaziers simply don’t have the reach of the big national chains in terms of advertising. This means that it can be a lot harder to find a reputable automotive glazier near you. Not to worry, that’s exactly why we’ve built myWindscreen. We put motorists in the UK in touch with reputable local auto glaziers.
National automotive glazing chains
Now, what do we mean by ‘national’ auto glazier chains? If you live in the UK, you’re surely aware of the big nationwide windscreen replacement companies. Their vehicle liveries can be seen up and down roads and motorways across the UK, and they’re most certainly amongst the preferred automotive glaziers of the big motor insurance providers.
Benefits of choosing a national chain
- Consistency: when dealing with one of the big national brands, customers can be fairly well assured that service will be consistent for each and every customer, no matter the type of glass or the type of service required. This can be an advantage but also a disadvantage!
- Insurance claims: perhaps the best reason to choose a national chain for windscreen replacement is to streamline the entire insurance claims process. Most of these companies will already be recognised and preferred automotive glaziers with your motor insurance provider, so you often won’t have to fill out any paperwork and your excess fee, if any at all, will likely be low.
- Coverage: customers in Greater London or Inverness can equally avail of the services of the national windscreen replacement chains due to their nationwide coverage.
- Branding: the big national chains don’t need much introduction, since they are quite successful at branding.
Disadvantages of choosing a national chain
- Consistency: much like with other big national brands in other industries, big corporate customer service is supposed to be uniform and in accordance with corporate policy. Quite often, this means they’re lacking in genuine, sincere service, treating customers and their own employees like numbers.
- Dependability: a big bugbear of many motorists in the UK is the sluggish response times of many of the big national chains. Two-week turnaround times are somewhat common for service, which is simply unacceptable if you need your vehicle for work or shopping.
- Price: perhaps you may not be thinking of price since your insurance provider will handle the claim, but price is actually quite important to consider regardless. The excess fees that are often charged for windscreen replacement services can far surpass what a local auto glazier would charge (sometimes even without insurance covering the full cost!).
- Customer service: as mentioned, big national corporate brands aren’t well-known for their genuine customer service. In many cases, you’ll feel as though you’re simply treated as another number in a long queue. If something goes wrong with your windscreen replacement, getting in touch with a real human being to resolve the problem can equally be a frustrating experience.
- Experience: most of the big national windscreen replacement companies constantly churn through apprentice automotive glaziers. On the one hand, it’s great hands-on practical experience for new automotive glazing students, but most end up leaving after a few years to start their own independent automotive glazing company or to join friends doing the same. What this means is that your vehicle is almost always in the hands of an apprentice who may fail to properly install your windscreen.
Local auto glaziers vs national chains: which is better for you?
Most motorists in the UK may not even consider going elsewhere than a big national chain for windscreen replacement services, simply because their motor insurance provider wants them to! It is almost always possible to opt for an independent automotive glazier in lieu of your insurance provider’s preferred glazier.
You can read more about motor insurance in our previous blog, the top 5 motor insurance companies in the UK in 2022. Some insurance providers charge higher excess fees for non-preferred glaziers, but the total cost (even with high excess fees) is often significantly cheaper, the service is often faster, and the quality of workmanship is the same (or better).
Exceptional services from independent automotive glaziers
Want same-day windscreen repair or windscreen replacement services from genuine local automotive glaziers? Want to save money whilst you’re at it? Want great customer service and a professional fit so that your vehicle is safe and sound? Use myWindscreen today. Click GET QUOTES to get started.