Online Appointment Scheduling at the Heart of a Performing, Simple and Efficient Network

Specialized in windshield repair and replacement, the VitrXpert network, founded 11 years ago, now has nearly 150 locations across Quebec. VitrXpert can be found in many mechanical workshops, networks such as NAPA and Uni-Select and body shops including CarrXpert, ProColor and Fix Auto. It is the only network of its kind to have many car dealerships as members. It is also equipped with mobile workshops that can go on the road as needed.

Using the ProgiSync system, the network now offers online appointment scheduling, a simple and efficient way for customers to book an appointment at their convenience. We spoke about this to the founder of the network, Pierre Lévesque.

An Audacious Goal

This whole adventure begins with a BHAG. Pronounced bee-hag, the acronym stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal, that is, a long-term, ambitious, and audacious goal that gives vision and direction to a business project. Pierre Lévesque’s objective is to build a business model that is light, simple, and functional enough to be exported around the world.

This approach was necessary to stand out in a mature industry that has been around for over 40 years and includes several major players that are well established and well known to the public. It is also a strong industry, that withstands the test of time and evolves with new automotive technologies.

However, the operational aspects of this industry are often outdated, and that is true all over the world. Indeed, there is a certain digital lag among many players in the industry, many owners are reluctant to computerize their operations. Pierre notices, for example, that many large workshops still do their invoices by hand. He considers that for the future of the industry, this technological gap is as important as not being able to read or write, or not understanding English. But he adds that it can also be seen as a business opportunity.

For 11 years now, he has been working to modernize the market, and with this perspective, he adopted ProgiSync. His approach is first to intercept potential customers. He explains that approximately 40% of people worldwide who have an accident do not have their windshields repaired. Not only is this a risk to their safety, but it is also a problem for insurers for whom this increased risk has considerable impacts.

In-House Windshield Repairs

Becoming a member of the VitrXpert network allows to repair windshields in-house instead of outsourcing. At this point, Pierre reminds us that cross-selling is very profitable in the body shop. Body shops see their customers on average every six or seven years, but dealerships and mechanical shops see their customers twice a year, mostly for tire changes. It then becomes possible to intercept customers who come in for other repairs and offer them an available service on site. This way, we can reach some of the 40% who do not act themselves.

Since the customers are already onsite, it only takes a small investment of time and effort to convert them: this is what Pierre calls the 20–80 principle, i.e., 20% of effort for 80% of results. You only need to build a sales pitch to make a potential customer understand the need for a repair, and the advantages of doing it onsite. You can explain that a repair onsite will be less expensive, that a windshield in good condition is necessary for the safety of the vehicle, or that repairing rather than replacing is better for the environment.

Large Coverage

In addition, with a very flexible and light business model, VitrXpert was able to invest in regions not occupied by large branches. This is why the network has the most points of contact in Quebec, covering more territory than its competitors. VitrXpert also has a call centre to direct customers to the nearest branch. From an initial 100 calls per month, it now receives close to 700. ProgiSync allows agents to locate the appropriate branch and quickly assign appointments to network partners.

Quick and Easy Bookings

Online appointment scheduling is another great way to reach customers. The idea is to somehow uberize the auto glass industry. As we have seen, a customer already on site is one with the lowest acquisition cost. The second most profitable type of customer, according to Pierre, is the one who makes an appointment online, who would not necessarily be reached otherwise. These customers are already convinced of the need for a repair, unlike other interception contexts where they often need to be converted. This includes appointments by phone, which have similar expenses to the appointments booked online, but often require conversion strategies and sales pitches, and have a conversion rate of about 65%. Another very important advantage is the ability to reach customers outside of business hours. Pierre notes that many customers book in the evenings and weekends, and that this is a new type of customer that previously eluded them. Thanks to its online appointment booking system, ProgiSync allowed them to reach this new clientele.

Appointment scheduling is meant to be simple, efficient, and stick to the essentials. In this regard, Pierre feels that the customer’s needs may have been underestimated. They don’t want to fill out long questionnaires, be put on hold or talk to four people to get an appointment. From the operator’s point of view, the goal is not to have the most perfect appointment in the calendar, so superfluous questions or questions that can wait until late must be avoided to get straight to the point. Once the appointment is in the calendar, VitrXpert can then follow up with the customer at the right time.

Finally, by increasing the visibility of the service, through various marketing strategies and the use of QR codes (on cars, business cards, dealer entrance doors, etc.), customers can find an appointment even faster.

Streamlined Methods of Communication

Pierre is busy deploying ProgiSync across the network to optimize the customer experience, to schedule appointments efficiently across multiple branches and to have a global view of operations. It is indeed essential that all branches in the network can speak a common language. It then becomes possible to assign appointments to any of the branches, measure performance and simplify operations while avoiding having several software programs that do communicate together and make the process unnecessarily complex. In a context of labour shortage, it is important to simplify the transaction for the customer, but also for the operator. All of this quickly yielded concrete results: we have read testimonials from several network members who have recently adopted ProgiSync, and all agree that the software is efficient, easy to use and has brought them many new customers.

The next big step for VitrXpert will be to integrate insurers into the network: they will then be able to book appointments for their customers themselves and assign them to the appropriate branch. Anyone interested is invited to contact Pierre Lévesque (