Subscribe to glassBYTEs!

National Auto Glass Conference Coverage: Feeney Closes Out Conference

Jeff Olive managed to make Tom Feeney do something few in the auto glass industry ever thought they'd see—he managed to make Feeney blush.

The Belron US president and chief executive officer gave the closing speech Friday afternoon at the National Auto Glass Conference held in Orlando. "What a way to end the conference, a presentation by one of the elite members of our industry," said NGA vice president of auto glass Leo Cyr in introducing Feeney.

This prompted a quick opening retort. "I haven't been called that since I spoke at the IGA (Independent Glass Association) conference," Feeney quipped. "Oh wait, they called me other things at that conference," he added with laughter.

Feeney then told the audience that, in the course of his presentation about best practices, they would see a short film about the "Best of Belron" competition. "You'll see a film where we talk about the best technicians in the world. I want also to acknowledge Jeff Olive, who is in the room," said Feeney to a round of applause for Jeff Olive of Glasspro, who won the gold medal in the first ever Auto Glass Technician Olympics and has gone on to win other competitions as well.

He then went on to explain best practices. "We at Safelite had always followed best practices," he said "but the idea of best practices received a turbo boost when we were acquired by Belron. We learned from each other … we adopted their brand-building practices and they adopted our customer service practices.

Feeney also acknowledged the difficult economic times facing the industry. "When times are tough, we cut our budgets and do lay-offs, but we don't compromise our best practices even in those tough times," he said.

Feeney said Belron's goal is consistency and uniformity in all its auto glass installations, no matter where they occur. "The process you go through should be the same no matter what country you are in. We are standardizing our advertising, installation, and supply chain operation….we have found that consistent quality and best practices will turn our customers into promoters for us.

"In 2008-2009 we spent more money on advertising than we have in the past 20 years combined," he said, citing a goal of creating net promoters. According to Feeney, net promoters are those customers who rate their experience using Belron high (a nine or ten out of ten) and have said they will share their experiences with other potential customers. "This is our goal," he said in detailing Belron's high satisfaction rates.

He also cited another relatively new practice that has worked well for the company. "We send an e-mail to customers before the installation with information about the technician. We show their picture, biographical information and certifications all in an e-mail. This has proved very popular with consumers."

Then Feeney showed the aforementioned short film about the "Best of Belron" internal competition among the company's technicians worldwide. Those in the room who weren't watching the screen as Gary Lubner proclaimed the Belron competitors "the best technicians in the world" saw a crimson hue come over Feeney's face, in obvious deference to Olive. (CLICK HERE for more information on the Best of Belron).

Feeney added that Belron soon will begin using two new tools in the United States, Belron Technicals EZi-Wire Cutter and the Lil Buddy Mechanical Lifting Device. "We use wire cutter as an alternative to other extracting tools," he said. "They work better and are easier on the technician. We also expect that the new tools will allow more women to break into the technician arena.

Feeney also said Belron US will continue to do background and driving record checks and will also be doing drug testing in the future pre-hire.

Feeney closed by showing the Chinese symbol for crisis. "The economy has created a crisis in our industry," he said. "The Chinese word is actually two symbols together—one for danger and one for opportunity. And that is what we have with this, some danger and some opportunity. How you choose to treat the crisis—danger or opportunity—could be a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Feeney took no questions and the conference ended after a round of applause.

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
CLICK HERE to subscribe to AGRR magazine.