How a 70-Year Old Service Brand Keeps it Real by Thinking and Operating Like a Start-Up
Started in a junkyard in Wichita, Kansas in 1947, Safelite AutoGlass® now operates 600+ retail locations nationwide and employs nearly 14,000 people. The 70-year old company manages to maintain the entrepreneurial spirit that has gotten it through the better part of a century and continues to propel its growth.
Here are a few ways Safelite stays on the cutting edge while still leveraging 70 years of business expertise.
It starts with purpose. At Safelite, we think the difference between good and great starts with one simple word – why. For us, it’s about the greater purpose behind what we do. For our people, it’s why they get up in the morning, what inspires them to want to achieve beyond the task at hand and it provides a sense of fulfillment. It’s leaving our customers remembering how we made them feel. At Safelite, our purpose is to make a difference and bring unexpected happiness to people’s everyday lives. Our people deliver on our purpose and that’s why we put them at the forefront of all we do.
Putting people first. Safelite believes our people power our performance. We value people who make an impact on our business by demonstrating passion in their work and kindness to each other and our customers. We hire the right people and let them excel in their careers by having great leaders who are care, encourage, and provide our people with the right tools not only to succeed, but also grow. If our people are happy, our customers are happy. We want people to exude our Safelite Spirit – a service mindset, a can-do attitude and a caring heart – to each other and our customers.
Fostering a culture of making a difference. Often, our customers don’t equate a broken windshield with a pleasant experience and don’t think replacing glass will make a difference in an already bad situation. At our core, our job is to bring happiness to our customers. Our culture and purpose stand on the idea that our people make a difference and delight others. They are applauded and rewarded for providing memorable service every time, going above and beyond, and doing all of that while being compassionate and considerate.
Focusing on customer experience. Providing great customer service goes beyond making a customer happy in the moment, which is why we believe in service so great it’s memorable. We also know in order to make these experiences memorable for our customers, we must adapt. Because our customers’ needs change, literally constantly, we anticipate our customers’ needs and innovate ahead of them, so we can focus on providing them with the best experiences.
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Taking a fresh approach to technology. Sometimes companies become “set in their ways” as they grow older and gain expertise. At Safelite, we flipped that on its head when it comes to technology and innovation. We stay ahead of trends and predict what future customers want by putting good leaders in place and building programs around thinking of and testing new ideas. We’ve even revamped the way our technology teams work for an even more agile working environment that promotes collaboration and encourages brainstorming.
Caring about the environment and the community. Social responsibility is so important to us. We see caring for the environment and supporting the communities where we live and work as essential to the way we approach our business. Each leader at Safelite is encouraged to plan giving back activities with their teams and each associate gets time off every year for their own volunteerism. We also hold three big fundraisers each year to donate to international, national and local causes. Our environmental efforts are unique in that we recycle the broken windshields we replace to prevent millions of windshields from entering landfills. In fact, the carpet our associates walk on at our home office in Columbus, OH is made from recycled windshields!
Investing in long-term strategies. Companies live and die by how fast they scale for the future, so we invest where it counts. In all the areas we mentioned here, we’ve made these investments. These investments help us ensure our people are happy, we stay ahead of our customers’ needs, we think about the future for our brand, and we continue to make a difference in the communities where we live and work.
All in all, we must leverage our experience, but stay true to our humble beginnings. With a desire to continue to grow and diversify, Safelite charges ahead by supporting our people with a spirited culture, encouraging new ideas, and like any successful start-up, embracing change.