Volume 12, Issue 4 - July/August 2010

feature

Multimedia Marketing Measures
Auto Glass Businesses Remain Focused on Yellow Pages and Internet, According to Recent Survey
by Penny Stacey

Despite the rise of Internet advertising and social media use in recent years, 69 percent of auto glass shops still maintain a presence in the yellow pages, and 54 percent of auto glass businesses see this as the area of advertising in which they spend most. Only 50 percent see it as the most effective method, according to a recent survey conducted by AGRR magazine.

If you’ve ever been curious about what your competitors are doing, where they’re advertising and what types of customer surveys they’re doing, you’ve come to the right place. Numbers also are included on social media—how many companies are using this method, and more.

In the following pages, you’ll see an overview of the data supplied by auto glass businesses throughout North America in AGRR’s first survey on this topic.

We’ve also included a variety of looks at other technological innovations, including company cell phone policies (see Mobile Pros below) and the use of Twitter in the auto glass business (see at end of page).

 

 

 


Mobile Pros
Experts Suggest Companies Should Utilize Cell Phone Policies
by Penny Stacey

Does your company have a cell phone usage policy for talking and/or texting while driving for mobile technicians? Some experts say this should be considered for any businesses in which cell phones and driving come into play.

“[This is] a big deal because distracted driving is now about the number-one issue as far as vehicle safety,” said Jeff Chilcott, senior risk engineering consultant for Zurich North America during a webinar the company recently gave on the topic. “We recognize it’s a problem, but we keep doing it.”

Chilcott described “distracted driving” as “any activity that takes your eyes off the road and/or takes your minds off the driving task.” He pointed to a study by Virginia Tech that showed that driving and texting increases the risk of being in a crash while driving by 23 times, and even just talking on a cell phone increases the risk by four to five times.

“I haven’t seen one study yet that says driving and being on a cell phone is a great thing,” he chuckled.

Due to concerns about safety and the legal liability this could present to a company that works on a mobile basis, Chilcott suggested companies put policies in place to combat the problem while on the job—even though these are often difficult to enforce.

“You’re better off having a policy in place,” he said. “It makes you look like a proactive company … We can’t just say, ‘we’re going to issue everyone a cell phone and wash our hands of it and not have any responsibility.’ We’ve got to say, ‘Okay, I need to be connected but in a smart way.’”

But Chilcott warned many have become accustomed to talking (and texting) while driving and habits are sometimes hard to break.

“Sometimes you have to change people’s attitudes or culture a little bit,” he said, likening it to the initial seatbelt laws and how difficult it was for some to begin wearing these years ago.

Chilcott gave several examples of various accidents involving cell phone use while on the job, including a $30 million suit resulting from an accident in which a law firm associate swerved off the road and killed a teenager while talking on a cell phone. In this case, the teen’s family had contended that the associate was on her cell phone on work-related business and that “cell phone usage was encouraged by her employer.”

“Cell phone records are very easy to get a hold of,” added Chilcott, pointing out that if an employee was talking on his cell phone during a crash it would be simple to prove.

Chilcott also advised that an employee can be held liable even if the employee is using a personal cell phone while in a company vehicle, or while talking on a company cell phone while in his/her personal vehicle.

“One of the most basic things you can do is just set up a policy,” he said. “The stricter you can get, the better.”

And these can range from putting a ban on use of all cell phones, or just permitting wireless/hands-free communication, and specifying that they can be used when the vehicle is stopped.

He provided the following as a possible policy that could be adapted to meet a company’s particular needs:

“The use of wireless communication devices, such as cell phones, including those equipped with hands-free devices, are not permitted while driving a vehicle on company business. However, these devices may be used when the vehicle is safely parked in a designated area.”

But creating a policy is just the beginning, Chilcott said; employees also need to be aware of it.

“Post warnings, and let everyone know what’s going on,” he said.

Auto Glass Plus in Richmond, Va., is one auto glass business that has implemented a cell phone usage policy. Company president David Cooper says company management made the decision at the beginning of the year to limit the use of personal cell phones and texting while on the job, and particularly when driving.

“We would rather have our mobile auto glass technicians focus more on the traffic at hand, to and from their scheduled appointments, than to respond to a text message or make a cell phone call,” says Cooper. “If a call has to be made in regards to work, then we would rather have the technician make the call with the vehicle in an idle state than en route.”

Penny Stacey is the editor of AGRR magazine.


Tweet, Tweet
Auto Glass Businesses Are All A-
by Penny Stacey and Katie Hodge

In recent months (and even years), many auto glass shops have turned to online social media outlets as a way to market their businesses. And, though Facebook is a popular outlet, many also have turned to tweeting—or the site otherwise known as Twitter.

“You used to look up something on a search engine or in a book in the library, but now it’s more people communicating with each other about companies and brands ahead of time,” says Todd Overpeck, e-commerce, marketing and public relations manager for Glass Doctor. “And they choose those companies in the back of their minds and, when they are ready to purchase, they want to communicate with you.”

Rick Rosar, president of Rapid Glass in Minneapolis, agrees.

“More and more these social communities are actually becoming search engines within themselves. People can go on to Facebook and Twitter and do searches for auto glass and windshield repair and hopefully find you.”

Tony Padula, co-owner of A+ Auto Glass in Fort Myers, Fla., says he hopes that tweeting interesting items will keep his potential customers tuned in—and will keep his company in the back of their minds when they need his services.

“You hope that [potential customers are] so used to seeing you that when they’re driving down the highway and a rock hits their windshield they immediately pick up their Blackberry® and look for the guy whose tweets they see everyday,” says Padula. “Rather than go into the phonebook or do a search they’re going to go to someone they know. They might not know you personally, but they know from seeing you on there that you’re informed and a real person.”

Rosar hopes to grow name recognition from his company’s tweets.

“In a sense it’s a form of branding as well,” he says. “When we are out there tweeting and responding to tweets people will see our name. You want to be an active participant and an expert in your field.”

Enticing Tweets
Auto glass industry retailers tweet a variety of different items to their customers and potential customers.
Padula, for example, often re-tweets news stories he sees tweeted by AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com™, but he doesn’t stop there.

“If I can find some humorous glass videos I’ll tweet those,” says Padula.

Like Padula, Rosar tries to keep his tweets informative and interactive.

“We see a lot of automotive stuff out there involving new windows that come up and different techniques and we’ll tweet that,” he says. “We do a lot of community activities and fundraisers and donations to certain charities and we’ll put that out there. We had some Red Cross tweets where we donated 20 cents to every person that re-tweeted us and that was kind of interesting because it allowed us to build our brand and at the same time give back to the community.”

Glass Doctor, a national franchise chain based in Waco, Texas, uses Twitter both internally and externally.

“There are two ways that we use Twitter,” says Overpeck. “One is for the corporate office, which is more for branding and communication at the national level. The other way is by the franchise owners who are communicating more on the local level and that they might use it for special offers or for special programs that they are doing and their own news announcements.”

When marketing directly to customers, he sees a variety of tweets coming from Glass Doctor franchisees.

“They may tweet that they are going to be at a trade show or maybe they are going to be at a county fair and they want to have a special offer or just announce what they are doing.”

Rosar warns, however, that over-tweeting also can be a concern—so it’s important to reach a middle ground.

“If you are putting out a bunch of spam content people are going to un-follow you and not look at you as a thought-provoker in the community, but as spam,” he says. “Spam content can range from repetitive identical tweets to constant advertisement tweets. On top of potentially losing an audience, Twitter also can ban accounts that have been reported for spamming their followers.”

The Future of Twitter
“It’s a hard thing for people to commit to because there is no instant gratification,” says Padula. “As businessmen, when we invest money in advertising we are looking for that instant gratification. You place an ad in the yellow pages and the day that book hits the street, you are sitting there staring at the phone waiting for that call.”

Rosar recently announced he would begin accepting accepts service requests through his Twitter page.

“I had the idea of doing service requests via Twitter so we would not only engage in the community actively, but if someone wanted to contact us to have their windshield replaced or needed some home or business glass or shower doors they could actually tweet us and we could respond that way to take a service request,” he says.

“With Twitter, if you tweet something and you are waiting for the phone to ring, you better have packed a few lunches,” adds Padula.

Penny Stacey and Katie Hodge are the editor and assistant editor, respectively, for AGRR magazine.

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