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Strategically speaking, if I were Belron, I would continue to buy up the larger regional players and when I built a good national base I would roll them all into a newly formed national brand so I could leverage my marketing, buying power, core competencies, etc... If you think there are serious challenges from Safelite for the independent now... what will it look like if that happens. Oh yeah, and I would also execute an flat glass service program in conjunction with auto glass so my company units could go head to head with the largest full-service glass company in the country...Glass Doctor. This would succeed in part, but in the end, will company-owned units overall ever see the same level of success as individually owned and operated businesses?
And so there is no confusion or perceived stealth, I am a consultant with Glass Doctor, and the scenario I just suggested is just speculation on what I would do if I were going to try and create a dominant market presence nationwide. The industry is getting tougher, not easier, and the Belron acqusition track suggests tougher times ahead for the independent out there by themselves... in my humble opinion.
Depending on the business makeup of the acquisitions, I think flat glass would be at the tail end of the "to do" sheet. They are buying large, almost exclusively automotive stores. Trying to wedge flat glass into a business plan that has thrived on auto (without the right staff) is a recipe for trouble.
You stated that GD is the largest full service in the country. Is that in total revenue or number of franchises? It seems that ACI/Binswanger would be larger in revenue.
Some of their acqusitions do some flat already, like Maverick. The driving in a flat glass wedge is exactly what is needed in my opinion. It is the same thing we did with all of the Harmon locations. Is the auto customer mutually exclusive from the flat one? Moderately performing at auto glass, we simply added the flat glass "wedge" to the existing Harmon locations and fit it into our current Glass Doctor model. All we did was reverse what Harmon had one themselves... take flat out of their system. :o)
Bins has 150 locs in 22 states, we have 150 franchisees with multiple locations in 48 states. Not sure as to their sales volume.
There is always room for smaller "family owned" businesses where there is a corporate giant. Generally people get turned off with the giants at some point. Word gets out that they outsource to other contries, import cheaper products, pay their people less, treat their people worst, etc, etc.
In almost every market there are smaller stores businesses with Walmart, Sports Authority, Olive Garden, Office Max, State Farm and all the other dominant names in their field.
If you run a good business, treat people fair and honest and are part of the community, you can not only make it, but excel at it. You may have to make some changes, but it can be done.
That somes alot of these posts up,right there with that comment!Thanks jac,we have to look ahead and stop focusing on the past.I am small also and it is tuff sometimes,you just have to keep pushing forward.
Nathan, I don't think Belron will make any of these companies they aquire change their names. Do you? It seems they have always allowed them to keep the same name (Belron, DBA: Elite Auto Glass). I mention the name Belron to customers and they have no clue who they are. Seems to me Belron is going after the best names out there and wanting them to keep those names.
I think you are right when you say that the name Belron says nothing and means nothing to customers. But I also think Belron acquired the companies they did because they were financial viable companies, each with their own set of strengths, not so much for their names. I will say that, it would not suprise me if they took the company with the strongest name (in terms of relaying to the customer what they do) and create the new brand. The name Binswanger means what to the customer? Not much. WHat about Safelite? Now Elite... I love as a brand name, becasue it says to the customer what it is... Elite Glass, in the same way Glass Doctor relays what we do. Harmon Auto Glass relayed nothing, so we rolled in that business and rebranded the remaining ones.
KT, I could be nowhere in the ballpark, but consolidators in other industries have done it this way in the past. It's fun to speculate though!
After seeing the Maverick info on GlassBytes yesterday, I printed it off and showed it to my store manager. One by one, they are just adding more and more companies.
I have a gut feeling that it is only a matter of time till Belron makes the offer for us!! Our company is very strong in every aspect of the auto glass business and I believe we would be a good purchase for them. I do believe that the owner(s) would sell for the right price, one which I believe Belron is capable of giving. I can't say I blame them! Just leaves me wondering what the future would hold and how much the company would change since it has always been a VERY good place to work.
Our name may sound like repair-only to some, that is invariably going to happen with any brand, but so long as our target market knows who we are what we do, we will continue to grow the brand.
If you spent 85-90% of your marketing dollars in Yellow Pages, like most companies out there, it might be a bigger issue. Fortunately, where most business owners use 2-3 forms of advertising, our franchisees have access to over 95 tools to use. not only are there many more tools, but we target our customers to make this advertising go farther.
If asked, most business owners couldn't begin to describe demographically their main customer. So long as the female... homeowner... age 35-54 knows who we are and what we do, we are safe, considering that demo represents 88% of our total customer makeup of customers in the home.
Go to your local magazine rack and pick up this month's Better Homes and Gardens or this month's Ladies Home Journal. It is called targeted marketing, and most business owners do none of this. Haven't seen the national television marketing we were doing in every market in the country last year? It could be that we ran it when our target customer was watching: Good Morning America, The TOday SHow, NYPD Blue, Trading Spaces... all of which run during the day when most others are at work.
I thought your point was that Glass Doctor didnt need ancillary advertising to identify what they do, because their name already accomplished that. If you need to do all of that advertising, to show that you do more than repair glass, you may as well have stuck with Harmon.
Harmon has been around forever, and had a more visible presense than GD, at least in my market.
No, we do all that advertising to target the customer we want. There is a saying here that "we don't want all of the business... we want all of the profitable business." There's a certain type of customer we target that is willing to pay a premium for a certain type of auto and especially flat glass replacement. All that advertising goes to attract more of these customers. The alternative is to stick with the biggest yellow page ad you can afford, and when the customer calls shoot them what you hope to be a price low enough (in comparison to your competition) you get the job. This is what most companies do.
The reason we do our marketing in this way is because it also works in our plumbing brand, electrical brand, appliance repair brand, heating and cooling brand, restoration brand, etc... It works in these other service brands becasue we have the same customer. If you, as a company, could package quality services in a way you can get a premium for them, then it should not matter if you are sending out a plumber or a glass tech. It simply works.
....and you list ,in the yellow pages, addresses of dent repair and muffler shops giving the impression to the consumer that you have multiple locations in a market...I wonder if the Lynx / Metryx "team" ever looked into this??
I am actually really pleased with the flow of the thread. I thought it was really helpful to some. Overall, we seemed to avoid focusing on any negatives or creating some sort of conspiracy out of helpful information. All good things must come to an end I suppose.
So you work for the Glass Doctor and you're trying to HELP the competition?? You refer to yourself as an "auto glass expert" and then you end a post with the quote "in my humble opinion"? You're a bunch of contradictions...Please stop trying to capitalize on other peoples misfortunes....
...I think Nathan forgot to add that part of that "marketing" is sueing other glass companies for their name, phone numbers, etc. with "similiar" trade names(i.e. windshield doctor's, etc.) despite the fact that their own plumbing services are called Mr. Rooter(sounds sort of familiar doesn't it?). I wonder what Roto Rooter thinks of the Dwyer Group?
I dont understand your point ccc? I see absolutely no problem with protecting your trade name. Large companies do it every day. What does this have to do with the AGR industry? Are we all just going to joust with windmills?
well I hope you are wrong about that information. Would like to know where you heard that, if you are able to share your secret!
We were all told the name would remain the same when they told us we were selling to Belron. Hmmm. Very interesting.
I don't think it's a smart move if they do that to the shops in the USA. Lots of repeat customer's won't beable to find them. Hmmm.