Here are some insights to life on a Corporate Innovation programme, with Belron (everyone in the UK seems to know the brand Autoglass) and investor L Marks.
About Belron Group
Belron is the world’s leading vehicle glass repair and replacement group. Home to 26,300 employees, Belron operates across over 30 countries and 5 continents to ensure all their customers receive the best quality service.
Getting in to the programme
We battled it out with >70 other start ups that had applied across 5 categories and were delighted when we were invited to Pitch Day on Friday 17th March. We spent the day in an amazing hotel just outside the M25, alongside 20 ambitious start-ups all prepped for their 10 minute presentation.
The presentation was to the global leadership of all of the Belron Business Units (each country), you get 10 minutes to tell them what you do, why you want to work with them and why they should pick you.
The term ‘Employee Engagement’ doesn’t exist in German
If they like you, you’re called back for a more intense chat with a table full of the category experts and business units interested in how your solution may support some of their challenges.
We even had one of our direct competitors in employee ideas and innovation management there. I felt incredibly honoured and excited to be chosen against such great competition. March 17th feels like a long time ago now when I reflect on all we have achieved with Carglass® Germany.
Much more than just a free trip overseas!
Only 5 companies made it through on to the programme and we were delighted to be selected. The ‘2017 cohort’ included ThriveMap, Talking Circles, Locpin, Blitz and ThanksBox (of course).
Just in case you don’t know… ThanksBox provide a suite of digital tools for employees to share ideas, offer feedback, complete surveys and recognise each other. They utilise the data created through these interactions to provide real time insights into employee behaviours, relationships and levels of engagement.
Each company was paired with a particular Belron Business Unit – we were lucky to get Carglass® Germany, one of the largest Business Units globally and filled with really passionate people.
Carglass® is part of the Belron® Group, and is the No. 1 among the car glass specialists in Germany.
I hadn’t studied German since school (I left 12 years ago this year!) but I had remembered the translation for ‘car’ was ‘auto’, ironically the name of the UK business is called Autoglass and the German business is called Carglass® – this even confused Google Translate!
We started the programme really getting to understand the Carglass® business, what they wanted to get achieve from the collaboration with ThanksBox and how we could make their life as easy as possible to implement our platform in just 6 weeks.
At ThanksBox, we promote building systems with the experience of ‘humans’ (some might call them employees) in mind, so we wanted to spend time with our prospective users and arranged a trip to Germany.
We were overwhelmed by the warm welcome we received from our key sponsors Bernhard Speyer, Luisa America and Lennart Schultze. We also loved the all you can eat sushi restaurant after a long day and a workout!
Ahead was a packed agenda, meeting people from the Head Office, the Contact Centre and the Service Centres.
Who knew, the term ‘Employee Engagement’ doesn’t translate to German!
It’s easy to believe that everyone thinks and speaks the same way that you do, but the first grounding thing we learnt from our experience was that the term ‘Employee Engagement’ doesn’t exist in the German language. Of course, the concept does but this taught us a great lesson – to consider the local nuances to the way you discuss your business.
At the end of the 2 days, we shared the things we had learned with from all of the people we met from the Carglass® business, both good and bad – there were no major surprises for the leadership team and we used this information to inform our approach to the launch in each venue.
Blown away by the success of the launch
On 1st June we launched to all Head Office and Contact Centre employees, over 400 employees were invited and two weeks in, already more 2/3’s of people have registered and thank you has been said over 2,500 times!
We knew that Carglass® was an amazing place to work and from our discussions, that people were achieving great things but the level of recognition for the hard work for the Carglass® people has been outstanding – well done team Carglass®!
Gearing up for Demo Day
We have one more visit booked to Germany to gather additional feedback from people there and then it’s full steam ahead to the big day on June 26th! We will let you know how we get on. 🤗