Safelite AutoGlass leverages the Yext Knowledge Engine to optimise business and operations through mobile technology
Founded as a single location in Wichita, Kansas circa 1947, Safelite AutoGlass has grown to become the largest auto glass specialist in the United States. Today, the company provides convenient mobile vehicle glass repair and replacement services, and it fixes more windshields than anyone else in the United States.
“We’re really a model of vertical integration,” states Bruce Millard, Vice President, Digital & Customer Innovation. “We have a glass wholesale business called Service AutoGlass that imports, distributes, and sells glass to our own stores as well as to our direct competitors. Then there’s our Safelite Solutions business, which partners with insurance and fleet companies, and of course, we have the retail glass repair and replacement business. We’re the guys in vans who come to your office or home to fix your windshield. And we have stores, too,” he adds. “We are owned by Belron, based in the UK, which operates auto glass businesses all over the world,” Millard explains. “So when you look at who consumes the most auto glass on the planet, we are one of the three largest consumers — right after Toyota and Volkswagon.”
Servicing the auto industry, Safelite is extremely aware of how influential mobile technology can be on consumers’ choices and how powerful it can be for its operations. “Mobile is key to our business,” says Millard. “More than 60 percent of the people who visit our website are on a mobile device. Moreover, all our techs are dispatched through smartphones with custom software that we created to route them, get the jobs to them, manage work orders, and so forth such that we know where they are and who’s available.”
Safelite has a history of adopting leading edge technologies to help power its business. When Millard first joined, he swiftly recognised that the company’s digital knowledge needed cleaning up across the web. “Our digital knowledge, internally, was fine,” he clarifies. “But the digital knowledge on all those directories out there — it was a hot mess. If you look at our physical footprint of stores, it’s roughly 730 stores and 6,700 MobileGlassShops. We close stores, open stores, move stores. We are in constant acquisition mode — and when we acquire somebody, we rebrand them. Trying to get all the different search engines and directories to keep up with us was a monumental pain point.”
Safelite AutoGlass Takes Charge of Its Digital Knowledge with the Yext Knowledge Engine
Safelite uses Yext Listings to manage the public facts about its brand. The Yext Knowledge Engine enables brands like Safelite to manage the digital knowledge about their people, places, and products across their websites, mobile apps, internal systems, and the entire Knowledge Network — over 100 maps, apps, search engines, GPS systems, and social networks including Google, Apple, Facebook, Bing, and Yahoo. “Yext gives me the catbird seat,” beams Millard. “I can see how my content is being consumed across multiple providers. I couldn’t have that visibility without the Yext Knowledge Engine.”
“We are absolutely seeing the value here. Incremental conversions because of Yext are in the 10-20% range,” estimates Millard. Since launching with Yext, Safelite has increased its overall listings presence to 48,898, and the listings it has created using Yext have driven 942,000+ search impressions for the brand’s locations. Safelite has also experienced an 81% increase in Facebook ‘likes’ and a 22% increase in Facebook ‘were here’ check-ins across location pages.
“Getting started with Yext was insanely easy,” Millard says. “Lots of companies will claim their start-up is easy and turnkey, but that’s usually not true. With Yext, we went from zero to fixing listings in a boatload of places in about two weeks. That doesn’t normally happen! It’s a huge point of differentiation between Yext and anything that would even try to claim to be a competitor. And beyond its powerful technology, Yext’s people are exceptional. When they promise to do something, it actually gets done.”
Looking ahead, Millard sees digital knowledge management as increasingly integral to businesses in any industry — though particularly critical for those in the services industry. “People are not going to look us up and map out directions to our address. They will go wherever Google tells them to go! Moreover, if you look at our business model, it’s not really just auto glass: our business is more akin to that of a hotel’s. We have the capacity of our technicians to do the work. We are selling time. If we have a no-show because an address wasn’t in Google, or because the person couldn’t find the shop, or is three hours late, or is frustrated and drives by competitor’s shop and gets the job done there instead — then not only did we lose that job, but we also have to pay for the technician’s time for doing nothing. Essentially, location impacts our bottom line in the most fundamental of ways, and Yext helps us to ensure that the impact it has is a positive one.”