Volume 8, Issue 3        May/June  2006

What Worked for Me
as told to AGRR

Marketing Windshield Repair
Fast Facts:
Founded: 1992 
Locations: Eight franchise locations, four of which are corporate operated 
Employees: Corporate employs 22 people 
Number of employees who do repair throughout the system: Approximately 45 
Annual sales: $10 million

Dave Zoldowski is vice president of Auto One, a franchise company, and is part owner of four corporate Auto One stores. Auto One has a very successful marketing plan for windshield repair that has earned his company high visibility and profits. Zoldowski, who also serves as president of the Independent Glass Association, spoke with AGRR about his highly successful repair program.

AGRR: Your company primarily does replacement. How do you use repair?

Dave Zoldowski: We use glass repair to market our company. Mobile repair has been around for years, and, in some cases, gained a rather unsavory reputation. But by the proper use and marketing of strategically placed events in your area of marketing dominance, a company can improve its sales, expand its relationship with insurance agents, and reduce those fly-by-night operators. When repair is the better alternative to replacement, make the consumer aware of this.

AGRR: You have found the tent method successful?

DZ: Yes. Weíve done an informal survey of people who come to our tents, asking why they are getting a repair. It most cases, it is an impulse decision that is made because they see the tent. Itís convenient and a time saver for them. It takes a lot of shoe leather, but it can be very profitable.

Customers without insurance can be sold the value of the repair. We explain how repairs will prevent spreading of the crack. We talk about the repair being a mechanical fix and how it reduces the blemish. 

I also suggest planning a chip event around community events where there is high traffic. You want to keep fly-by-night competition out of these community events, so any time you see a chip tent or someone doing repair, check to see that they have the permits required in your locale. Weíre active in our town and we donít hesitate to contact the police to shut down the ones that donít. Remember, you are protecting your brand.

AGRR: What sites does your company target for repair tents?

DZ: We like charity fundraisers. Many big box stores allow reputable companies like ours to display noncompetitive products at their facilities (for a fee). For example, Home Depot and Costco each do fundraisers for local charities allowing companies to display products inside and out. The parking lots and main entrance offer the ideal site location to get brand exposure for your company. We also like shopping centers, car washes, high traffic store locations and major fuel station corners. 

AGRR: What do you see as the benefits to these high-profile repair operations?

DZ: I believe there are a number of benefits to a mobile glass repair program. You increase sales with good margins, you promote your other products and services, you capture customers for other products and services in the future, you build brand identity within the community and with the customer, you build relationships with the insurance agents, and you reduce insurance agentsí loss ratios.

AGRR: An important part of your program is selling the brand.

DZ: Itís all about building your brand and strengthening your relationship with insurance agents. Once youíve done the repair, sell your brand. We have the technician in a clean uniform showing that we are a professional organization. We have the technician hang a leave-behind piece on the mirror with the name of the technician who completed the job and a $10 coupon that can be used for another service at the company. We have a small guide that explains the repair so that the customer knows what was done. We also have a products and services brochure which explains what our company does, and we pass this out to consumers. We also follow up 10 days later with a coupon offer that gives a 10 percent discount on the customerís next purchase or $20 off any purchase over $100 at the company. We want to make them customers for life. 

AGRR: How would you sum up your program?

DZ: Itís the little things that allow you to expand your business.

AGRR: What do you think about State Farmís decision to stop paying for repair?

DZ: I donít think State Farm stopping payment for repair on policies with deductibles is an industry trend. I predict that State Farmís repair ratio will drop from somewhere in the 30 percentile to the 20s. Why do most insurance companies pay for free repairs? Itís all about the mathematics. The average windshield replacement costs the insurance carrier $300, and the average deductible in most markets is 0-$250. On average, the insurance carrier paying $60 for a repair would stand to gain by having the windshield repaired versus replaced. 

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