Auto Glass Shops Find Success with Social Networking Sites
September 4, 2009

When Dave Burns of Ray Sands Glass in Rochester, N.Y., enters the home of a friend or acquaintance, he always asks one simple question: "Do you have a phonebook on hand?"

And recently, he's finding that about half the time, the answer is no. In order to combat the declining use of paper sources such as the phone book, his company has delved into new territories online.

"You've got to have a strong web presence or you're going to get left behind," he says. "The phone book is becoming more of a dinosaur than I can believe."

Burns' company has found success with not only having a website, but also using social networking sites such as Facebook.

"I think [potential customers are] looking for more of the human touch there," he says. "I think we're fairly good at it. We write a couple blogs and we put that kind of stuff there."

He says though the company does get inquiries via Facebook, it's also a good method for driving customers to the business's own homepage.

"What we find more than anything else is people looking for information and background on the company and we find that make the leap from there to our website," Burns says.

The company continually posts status updates that include its name, phone number and website, and describe its services.

"We just keep it kind of light," says Burns.

And Burns isn't the only one using this type of online mechanism. Alan Geiger, owner of Glass Aid in Oklahoma City, has had his website up for about three years, but also uses Twitter to provide updates to potential customers.

"I originally set it up so that I could use my cell phone out in the field to tell people that I have an opening," Geiger says. "We're now seeing opportunities to be able to market through [there]."

Geiger's also seen a decline in the use of the Yellow Pages. He says even those customers who do find him there don't always book a job right away like they might do via the web.

"When you've got [potential customers] on the website, you've got a more informed customer right off the bat," he says. "It cuts down on phone calls with people price-shopping."

Even large chains, such as Safelite, utilize sites like Twitter and Facebook. Safelite communicates regularly with customers via Twitter, and also tracks via Twitter when a customer tweets about a pleasant experience with the company using the popular "RT@" feature common on many social networking sites.

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