What Worked for Me
As told to AGRR
Jason Polzin, store manager for Polzin Glass in Faribault, Minn., spoke with AGRR about his companyís safety-centered marketing program. Polzin Glass was founded in 1977 and has two locations, 12 full time employees, and $1.5 million in annual sales.
AGRR: You have an interesting marketing strategy. Can you tell us about it?
Jason Polzin: One thing weíre doing right now is creating a brochure that will have a safety checklist on it for our customers. It is something I created that has points on it, telling customers what to ask when theyíre calling a glass company to get a price or to have a windshield replaced. They need to ask them [shops] these questions and make sure theyíre following all proper procedures, doing quality work and are educated about the latest changes in the industry before they have them do an installation.
The checklist is a way for us to make sure that we do not have to compete with low price shops that arenít providing the same quality. A lot of times people will just say, ĎWhatís your price?í
We donít just give them a price. We talk to them about safety first. We talk about all of the points on the checklist: Having two certified installers, being an AGRSS certified shop, using OEM quality glass and urethane, using the full cut-out method instead of the partial cut-out method.
We also have a question that customers need to ask every glass company to find out how much they [the shops] know and understand about the industry theyíre working in. We tell them to ask if the airbag and roof has anything to do with the windshield being installed properly. If they say, ďnoĒ or ďyeah, thatís important,Ē then why arenít they explaining it?
Those points [about the roof and airbagís relationship to the windshield] are answered on my safety checklist. It talks about the airbag hitting the windshield at over 200 miles per hour. It talks about it springing back in place to properly protect the passenger. Then it talks about roof crush [that the roof canít go down more than five inches]. It explains those points to them so that they know itís important. We educate the customer to make sure that when they call anyone else and they donít get answers like we gave them, they may want to consider calling us back.
AGRR: Do you have any other teaching tools that you use?
JP: I went into to a salvage yard and had the roof and everything cut out of a vehicle. Then I cut most of the windshield out. You could see the rust and that it was only a partial cut out. I used that in radio commercials. I talk about improper windshield installation and mention that I have a picture of a vehicle with an improper installation. I used that picture in print advertising. I show them that picture and I tell them that this could be their car.
AGRR: What other advertising strategies do you use?
JP: In June, I brought the car pinchweld with me to Faribault Rotary Club for a ten-to 15-minute presentation to explain the safety checklist along with showing them the pinchweld and what can happen if somebody does an improper installation. I also have taken it to a networking group Iím involved in called BNI [Business Networking International]. Itís so important to be able to educate people in your market area. I think thatís the best thing we can do. Now with the AGRSS standard out there, itís going to be even easier to educate because there is a standard in place that helps us differentiate our work from others. When I saw AGRSS come into play, I got us signed up as one of the first 100 shops, which meant we were a charter shop. Those are the kind of things I want to get out and explain to everybody. So that people are getting the proper job done, not letting people that are just hacks run around putting their windshield in and putting their familyís life at risk.
AGRR: How do you get the message out? Do you use television and radio?
JP: We used to do television. We donít do it anymore. We get a lot more moneyís worth doing radio, a little bit of newspaper and direct mail. Weíre starting to do more and more direct mail. Weíre finding that getting right in someoneís hand with a postcard with your name on it in their house is valuable. They can miss your commercials, but when they get their mail they have to see it. We usually put a coupon on the mailing piece to get them to hang onto it for a month or two in case they need us. Iíve found a lot of people will do that. They call me and say they know they had it around here somewhere but they canít find it. Usually Iíll give them the deal anyway. Knowing they kept it around their house for a while and remembered to call the right place, Iíll still give them the discount.
AGRR: Do all of your advertisements have a safety aspect to them?
JP: Since I took over the advertising of the company for both of our locations [two and a half years ago], a lot of them do. Iím our safety manager. Iím the head of our auto glass technicians at both locations and Iíve been going to the IGA conferences every year except for one or two. Thereís been great information that Iíve learned every year and brought home in piles of notes and ideas. I started researching and learning everything I could about the industry. Thatís something Iíve been real passionate about. When I took over our advertising, I focused it on the safety aspect.
AGRR: How has it worked for you?
JP: Good. Whatís nice about it is the more we talk about it in our advertising, the easier it is to explain it to people. When they call to get prices, it makes it easier to get them to listen when youíre talking about safety stuff because theyíre saying, ĎYeah, I remember hearing that on the radio.í They might not even remember it was me talking about it, but they remember hearing about safety and that itís very important. When I start talking about it, instead of tuning me out and not caring and asking how much it is, they seem to be more attentive and more interested in making sure their installation is done properly.
AGRR: How do you get checklists out to people?
JP: A bunch of different ways. If someone is calling, we can ask for an e-mail address. Iím going to add it to our website (www.polzinglass.com) so that people will be able to go online and download it. Most of the promotional products we give out have our website address on them.
Itís also going to be on the brochure weíre creating. Weíre going to be able to have that at the front office. Iím going to be giving out brochures at the Rotary Club and BNI and other groups Iím involved in. Weíll probably mail out our new brochures as a direct mail piece. Thatís going to have the safety checklist right on it.
I actually did an article for the local paper. Instead of it saying, ďPolzin Glass does this and this,Ē it said, ďAuto glass safety checklist. Make sure the company you call does this, this, and this.Ē
AGRR: What kind of paper did you do an article for?
JP: It was a daily newspaper here in Faribault. I wrote it for them. They put out a Fall Car Care Special section. All it could have was my name, but since the shopís name is Polzin they know who I am and where I work. I could get a lot of publicity for the company through doing that.
I have a relationship with the publisher of the paper because sheís in Rotary Club with me. Iíve gotten to know her personally. Thatís one of the areas I think is very important to growing your businessóbuilding business relationships by getting involved in community groups like Rotary.
AGRR: Through Rotary, BNI and other venues, it seems like youíve used networking to help you. Has that been effective?
JP: Networking is so much bigger than people give it credit for. Some people live and die by it. I think for any business itís such a huge thing. The way I look at it, you have a pyramid of customers; the more people you build a personal relationship with, or have a very strong business relationship with, the more are going to become lifelong customers. If you can build that base bigger and bigger every day, youíre going to be successful. I think one of the biggest things for us is getting out there and getting to know people and let them know what kind of quality we do and how much we care about getting it right.
You donít have to advertise to those people anymore. It makes it easier if you can work with people and get people coming in without even having to advertise. Itís cheaper to get more customers through word of mouth.
AGRR: Whatís the best way to get a safety message out?
JP: With radio, you can be a little more creative and you can catch their attention a little better. The IGA had a company create a safety message that all its members could use for radio commercials. It has a screeching car sound in the beginning. Then it has sirens sounding. Then it talks about the safety of the windshield, what it means to a vehicle and what can happen if itís improperly installed. Itís a professionally done commercial. We play with the tags from Polzin Glass at the beginning and the end and then our phone number. Itís a great professional sounding message. It really catches peopleís attention. I have people say, ďMan, I heard that commercial. Thatís pretty cool. I never knew that before.Ē
© Copyright Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.