Dave Kozlowski - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Three years ago, David Kozlowski was tired. He was tired of corporate life and he was tired of moving his family every two years. He thought if he could find the right franchise system, he could start his own business and stay in one place for a while. In June 2007 David bought a stagnant 14-year-old Glass Doctor shop in Milwaukee, Wis., and turned it into a full-service glass machine. It earned him the 2008 Glass Doctor Rookie of the Year Award. Little did David know that staying put can actually move someone in unexpected ways.
You had a successful career - why did you invest in a Glass Doctor franchise?
Prior to Glass Doctor, I worked for 20 years under a private label company opening new offices and setting them up. We moved a lot, about 14 times. After we got to Milwaukee, they wanted to move us again, but we were tired of moving. Since I already knew how to set up offices, I thought about starting my own business. I knew from my corporate background that I needed some proven business systems, and that’s how I got interested in franchising.
I picked the service industry because our current generation hires people to do things, and my kids’ generation doesn’t even know how to turn a screwdriver. I worked with a franchise broker, and he pointed out Glass Doctor. I wasn’t interested in glass really, but I kept coming back because of the sizable territory available, the business systems in place and the training Glass Doctor offers. Now, with the Glass Doctor University Training Center in Waco it’s so much easier to get into the glass business. I’ve been so pleased with Glass Doctor we plan to expand our territory in the next year.
When you took over the existing Glass Doctor, what improvements did you make? What opportunities did you find?
First we had to go back to the basics and do practical things to implement the Glass Doctor system. The shop had no waiting area, so we had to clean out the place and make one. We put people in uniforms and we learned how to answer phones correctly. It was difficult because some people didn’t want to change. In one year, eight of the 10 original employees left the company. The employees who stayed have made a huge difference.
Dave Kerr stayed, and he became my general manager and trainer. Colleen Furey stayed. She was a part-time ISR who graduated from college with a business administration degree. She saw what we were doing and thought she could learn more about business by working for us full time. She’s done a great job earning customers.
I brought people on who wanted to learn. I recruited good people who had automotive or construction background. We started training from scratch, and Dave taught them how to do glass. We’ve got a great team of technicians who have a variety of experience and mechanical aptitude. We sent some to a regional SWAT training offered by Glass Doctor and they came back fired up. They are able to fix the glass and much more.
Once you got the Glass Doctor customer service system in place, what difference did it make in performance?
It’s made a huge difference because the system does the marketing for us. When we ask customers how they heard about Glass Doctor, it’s almost always repeat business or referrals. We get compliments about our technicians on a regular basis, especially about how clean they work and how great of a job they do. It’s taking the extra step that makes an impression, like vacuuming out the whole car, not just the front dash, or cleaning all the car windows, not just the new windshield. Even the shoe covers make a positive impression – people see that, and they are amazed. I found 20 cases of shoe covers when I got here, and now we are down to two. I just ordered more with the Glass Doctor logo on them.
What is a specific example of Glass Doctor service making a difference in your business?
It’s not just the system and the service, it’s going the extra mile. That’s how we got a great corporate account, a maintenance company in Milwaukee that handles work for Wendy’s, Chili’s and Perkins restaurants, among others. I went to Wendy’s for lunch one day and saw that the store had a cracked insulated unit. I gave the manager my card and told him what we did. A week later, I went back there for lunch and the manager saw me and asked for my card again. I wondered, “What’s going on?” I went back a couple days later for lunch, and the Wendy’s district manager was there. The store manager introduced me to him. I followed up with an e-mail, and said that I was glad to meet him and to let me know if we could ever help.
Three days later the director from the maintenance company sent me an e-mail with a database for ALL of his stores. Then the faucet turned on. After we got the business they told us they couldn’t believe how fast we were. They had been waiting weeks for service, and with us it only took days or hours. I made the sale, but the team got the business. That account has become worth its weight in gold, and it began with just giving a manager a business card. Each of my employees has a business card now. It’s amazing how many customers come back.
What would you tell new Glass Doctor franchisees just starting out?
One of the reasons I went with Glass Doctor is the networking. Everyone has been helpful, just reading information on Glass Doctor Connection [online] has helped. A lot of the Wendy’s work is solariums, and they couldn’t find anyone to do it. I talked to Glass Doctor franchisees through the GDC online forums. They helped me find a company that could get me exactly what I needed.
Another thing - use the system. Even if you use 10% you’ll see a difference. It’s proven itself. It works.
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