Volume 10, Issue 5 - September/October 2008

Independent’s Day

Get Smart When It Gets Tough
by Dave Zoldowski

MY MAIN DISCUSSIONS with members of the Independent Glass Association (IGA) this year have been economic.

In addition to the auto glass industry’s woes, we are seeing local, state and federal governments that have revenue problems in the middle of a presidential election year.

So where do we go from here? We go straight to our offices, close the door, unplug the phone (but not the Blackberry ™) and pull all of our costs and expenditures together and we get smart.

Adjusting to the Economy
My company is headquartered outside Detroit, which has an 11 percent unemployment rate—one of the worst in the country. But we are growing as a chain of 15 stores at a rate of 7 percent so far for 2008. Some stores are off 30 percent, while others are up more than 50 percent. The stores that are growing are adjusting to economic change better than those that are missing their sales goals. Here are a few of the changes that we have made in an effort to fight our current regional economic situation:
• Our customer service representatives have gone through the IGA customer service sales training and are mystery shopped twice a month to ensure they are incorporating what they have learned.

• All of our stores are AGRSS-registered.

• We have just certified our first 10 installers with the new AGRSS-registered IGA Auto Glass Certification Program.

• We have cut our Yellow Page advertising for the past five years by 80 percent. We have replaced that print advertising by optimizing our web sites.

• We have joined local Chambers of Commerce.

• We have ironed out an internal supply purchasing process where by we compare the cost and service of EVERY piece of glass we buy from our group of suppliers.

An Immediate Solution
We are also being asked to make these same adjustments at the IGA.

Our immediate solution is more business education for independents. IGA has listened to your requests and has put together a Marketing Conference this year specifically designed to help independents acquire new profitable business practices.

We have asked Scott Orth of GTS to follow up on his immensely popular Internet seminar at our annual conference this past May. Scott will be presenting an in-depth 90-minute tutorial on Internet advertising. He will explain pay-per-click, optimization and other important strategies.

Another money-making session at our Marketing Conference will answer the question “Is Radio Dead?” Kyle O’Brien of Xhang Creative in Portland, Ore., will provide attendees with a step-by-step guide of how to create an affordable and effective radio advertising campaign. Kyle will give you the upper hand when you approach your radio sales agent so that you pay only for what will be effective.

Additionally, to help attendees with their branding strategies, we have asked Rodger Pickett of Cindy Rowe Auto Glass in Harrisburg, Pa., to discuss his experiences in helping make that company one of the most successful auto glass service companies on the east cost. His session, entitled “Selling Value,” will be full of useful information to help independents create a consumer base who thinks of their company when they see a damaged windshield.

And finally, we have made plans to present a seminar that will show shop owners how to incorporate green business practices. Mike Boyle of GlasWeld in Bend, Ore., has agreed to give his presentation on sustainability, a presentation that has been shown around the industry and around the world. Mike will demonstrate that by making your business as environmentally neutral as possible you will decrease your costs and increase your revenue.

So there it is; an excellent marketing conference designed to help you run your business in today’s volatile business environment. I hope to see you there so we both can learn more about how to be better business owners—all for only $99.

The IGA Marketing Conference will be held in Las Vegas during Auto Glass Week™ November 7-8. To register, visit us online at www.iga.org.

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