Volume 34, Number 6, June 1999



Asked and Answered

by Debra Levy

You may have already seen or heard the commercials for the ARepair Medics@ program, Safelite Glass Corporation=s mobile glass repair service. The spots are professionally executed and include some swift plays on words that keep your attention. They tell consumers that many windshields can be repaired and that Safelite can do just that--for a price of $59.99.

Opinion about the new ads tends to fall in line with where the individual is in the AGR chain. I asked assistant editor Les Shaver, (who also serves as editor of our Windshield and Glass Repair Magazine7) to borrow parts of an article he recently wrote for WGR about the subject. He says:

AThe campaign, which began on May 10, currently includes three television advertisements depicting a Repair Medic driver racing to perform a repair, a rock flying at a driver as he is on his daily commute and a a chip cracking out as a woman enters her car. The commercials say Repair Medics can repair cracks up to 6 inches, which most insurance companies accept.

AThe commercials have drawn a lukewarm reaction from the repair industry, as technicians= excitement about more exposure for glass repair is tempered by fear of Safelite=s expanding presence in the repair market. >The advertisements make the public more aware of windshield repair,= said Kerry Soat of Fas-Break Windshield Repair of Phoenix. >Companies in Phoenix have done advertisements and it did us as much good as them.=

A>I think at this point the ads will help the windshield repair industry,= said Dave Casey of SuperGlass Windshield Repair. >They will educate a customer who does not know about windshield repair and, in that case, they are not pulling from our current pool of customers.=

AIn spite of the increased attention the ads will bring to the repair industry, some technicians have noticed a decline in their network business from Safelite since the advertising campaign began. Dee Utter-mohlen, marketing manager of Safelite, says, in some cases, technicians will notice a decline in network jobs from Safelite. >In some markets business may be driven to us because we can now offer high quality repairs,= she said.@

So in one ad campaign, Safelite will succeed in bringing a great deal of consumer awareness to the fact that many windshields can be repaired, rather than replaced. The only question that I heard asked repeatedly isBwhy? Some of our readers have wondered why Safelite has put forth a large amount of resources to create awareness for a product that it sells for less than $60. Many (and I=d put myself in this category) just didn=t understand why the company would go to such effort and expense. So I asked.

John Barlow, the company=s president and CEO, explained it this way: AWe began by wanting to create a brand awareness program for Safelite and thought about highlighting a number of different thingsBthe fact that we have locations in 50 states, or that we provide mobile service or any of a variety of other themes,@ he said. AOur research told us consumers can=t differentiate among different shops that offer those services and we wanted a memorable way to differentiate our company. Highlighting repair does that. It helps consumers realize that Safelite offers total glass solutions ... and that many insurance companies will waive deductibles for this service. Consumers are happy that we can reduce the severity of their glass problems.@

AWe wanted to distinguish ourselves,@ Barlow said, Aand we didn=t want to offer a box of steaks or Mexican dinners or do so in any way that would offend our insurance or fleet partners.@ He also said that both have been very supportive of and happy with the efforts. -Deb



Copyright 1999 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.