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Superbrands case studies: Autoglass

Autoglass is the UK's leading vehicle glass repair and replacement company, serving more than 1.3m motorists every year.

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With the widest reaching network in the UK and Ireland, Autoglass has 121 branches nationwide and 1,300 mobile service units operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Autoglass is part of the Belron group, operating in 29 countries with a team of over 10,000 highly skilled technicians serving an average of one customer every four seconds.

Market
Vehicle glass has evolved over the last 20 years to play an integral role in modern automotive design. Today's cars typically use 20% more glass than in the 1980s and often incorporate complex technology such as rain sensors, wire-heating or satellite navigation components. Take the BMW 3 Series, for example; the latest version has 22 variations, 30 if you include compact models. Specialist skill is required to ensure they are repaired and replaced to the highest quality standards and that's where Autoglass excels. The company is currently the UK's market leading automotive glazing expert.

Achievements

A windscreen accounts for up to 30% of a vehicle's structural strength and Autoglass places huge emphasis on training to ensure every screen is fitted to the highest quality standards. It is the only company in its industry to have achieved accredited status from Thatcham and the Institute of the Motor Industry for its National Skills Centre in Birmingham and its Startline Induction and Repair training programmes.

Autoglass has also won a number of independent awards including two National Training Awards, a Glass Training Ltd Commitment to Training award and the Insurance Times Training award. In addition, Autoglass holds the ISO 9001 quality certification and is exclusively recommended by the AA.

As part of its ongoing commitment to caring for customers who have been a victim of car crime, this year Autoglass announce a long-term partnership with the charity Victim Support. In return, the charity has created a dedicated training programme for Autoglass employees to help them deal more effectively with distressed customers who may have been a victim of crime.

In addition, the long-standing Autoglass "Cracking car crime" campaign unites motorists, police forces and local authorities in the battle to beat car crime. The campaign is in its 14th year and is currently focusing on the growing issue of satnav theft, educating motorists to remove them from their vehicles when parked.

Autoglass is committed to the environment and reprocesses the laminate screens it removes, helping to save the energy and resources involved in the manufacture and distribution of new windscreens. The company also promotes windscreen repair over replacement to help reduce carbon emissions and waste.

Product
Quite simply, Autoglass fixes broken vehicle glass on any make, model or age of vehicle.

The company operates a "repair first" philosophy ensuring that, wherever possible, its technicians will repair a windscreen rather than replace it so that the existing seal doesn't have to be disturbed; a solution that saves time and money.

If the damage is beyond repair, Autoglass will replace the windscreen. It only uses glass from vehicle manufacturers' suppliers to ensure that each replacement windscreen is a perfect fit for the vehicle. It also uses one of the quickest drying bonding systems for customer convenience.

Appointments can be made by phone or online and customers can choose to take their vehicle into their local branch or arrange for a mobile technician to come to a location of their choice.

Recent developments
The customer experience is central to Autoglass and in August 2006, the company opened a purpose built "drive-in" windscreen repair service at Bluewater shopping centre. This specialist facility offers windscreen chip repairs in a convenient and accessible location. When the customer has finished shopping, they place a call to the Autoglass branch and arrange to be collected by the Autoglass buggy and taken back to their repaired car.

Autoglass recently demonstrated its commitment to raising standards within its sector by becoming the first to introduce the highly regarded Automotive Technician Accreditation scheme for the auto glazing sector. Under the scheme, technicians can work towards three accreditation levels dependent upon knowledge, skills and experience, ultimately leading to Master Auto Glazing Technician status. The scheme provides technicians with recognition of their expertise and customers with additional peace of mind.

In 2007, Autoglass became the first vehicle glass repair and replacement company to offer online booking, through its website www.autoglass.co.uk. Thousands of customers are now using the interactive facility every month to book an appointment at a convenient time for them.

Promotion
Autoglass became a household name in the 1990s after becoming the main sponsor of Chelsea FC and since then, has invested in a number of high profile brand campaigns to ensure that it remains at the forefront of motorists' minds.

In 2005, Autoglass launched the "Heroes" radio campaign, using real Autoglass technicians to explain the benefits of repairing windscreen chips. The success of the campaign, which airs during drive time shows, lies in the emotional impact of a real Autoglass technician explaining the importance of chip repair to people who are likely to be sat staring at chipped or damaged glass in their own vehicles. So far, the campaign has become the most successful in Autoglass history, helping to boost brand recognition and drive contacts via the call centre and website up by 20%.

The campaign has won two awards -- Outstanding Campaign over £250,000 and the Grand Prix for Most Outstanding Radio Planning at the 2007 Radio Planning Awards -- and was commended in 2006 for the most effective radio campaign in the GCap Media Radio Planning Awards. The "Heroes" campaign is currently being used by Belron subsidiaries in another 15 countries across the world.

In just 24 months, Autoglass has become one of the UK's top five radio advertisers, in terms of spend, and the only advertiser in the top 10 to be 100% focused on radio.

Brand values
The Autoglass vision is to be the natural choice through valuing its customers' needs and delivering world-class service. Its brand values are to be caring, expert, professional, innovative and to have integrity.

Things you didn't know about Autoglass

  • Autoglass doesn't just repair chipped windscreens; it has even repaired a chip on the viewing glass at the tiger compound at Glasgow Zoo.
  • In 2006, Autoglass recycled around 8,500 tonnes of glass -- that's the weight of 1,700 African elephants.
  • In 2007 Gavin, the technician featured in the Autoglass 'Heroes' campaign, beat James Nesbitt from the Yellow Pages adverts to be voted by the listeners of Xfm as the best radio actor of any commercial.

Timeline
1951 F.A. Wilkins & Co Limited is founded. It goes on to become part of the Doulton Group.
1971 Windshields is founded in Bedford and develops the mobile concept, operating across southern England.
1973 The Doulton Group launches Autoglass, and begins operating across northern Britain.
1982 Solaglas International (now Belron) acquires Autoglass. The following year Autoglass merges with Windshields to create Autoglass Windshields.
1985 Autoglass Windshields rebrands to Autoglass.
1990 The windscreen repair service is launched with the acquisition by Belron of Glass Medic.
1994 Autoglass becomes a registered trademark after a seven year IP registration process.
2002 Carglass in Ireland rebrands to Autoglass.
2005 Autoglass launches the 'Heroes' radio campaign, using real Autoglass technicians to explain the benefits of repairing windscreen chips.
2007 Autoglass becomes the first vehicle glass repair and replacement company to offer online booking.

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