Dealer Plans to Take Referral Concept to New Levels

What is in a name? Well, in a time when consumer confidence is at an all time low, long standing dealers can only hope that a recognizable name will prove a valuable asset. John Susnik, a Cleveland, Ohio-based 15-year veteran of the window film industry believes this is true in his case-so much so, in fact, that he decided recently to offer his company's name, identity and marketing systems up for sale. Sunray Window Films LLC is no longer just a window film dealership; it's a licensable brand name.

"This program enables start up companies to use our licensed brochures, pocket brochures and the such," Susnik explains. "This is basically set up kind of like what you would expect a franchise to be. They can keep their current company name, if they want, but add doing business as (DBA) Sunray Window Films."

So why would one window film dealer pay to license the name of another? Susnik, who is a 3M authorized dealer, says his company's long-standing and search engine optimized (SEO) identity draws in more business than it can possibly serve and often in areas that it doesn't cover.

"If you go to Google and type in 3M window films, we come up on the first page," Susnik explains. The leads generated from his company's prime, web-based real estate is just one of the offerings that Susnik has incorporated into a three-tier program. For years now, Susnik says he has delved out referrals to fellow 3M dealers for no gain, but, at a time when every source of revenue counts, Susnik says he believes these leads represent a valuable product. For this reason, he is likely to be one of the only window film dealers to have a "Dealer Login" option on his company's web page-something you would only expect from a distributor or manufacturer.

"[Our] website has now changed to where it lists all of the 3M dealers," Susnik says. "When a customer fills out our 'Find a Dealer' form, it is automatically sent to both us and any 3M dealer [that is a part of the newly-formed program and] is in that zip code."

While 3M doesn't endorse Susnik's new system, he says the manufacturer doesn't have a problem with it. And he is only offering the licensing options to 3M authorized dealers.

"I'm gun-ho 3M," he says. "I started out on several other brands, but this is what I always wanted to be-a 3M dealer."

The system includes more than web-based lead generation and brochures. Susnik has basically cloned the marketing and prospecting system that his company has developed over the past 15 years and made it available to other dealers. Various offerings include branded attire, Sunray email accounts, a web-based contact management system, quarterly webinars, and a host of mail-based marketing systems and materials-all bearing the Sunray™ name.

"These changes weren't cheap to make, but I believe, in the long run, it will be both beneficial for me and for the participating dealers," he says. "I think it's going to help us compete with a lot of the other competitors out there." In addition to paying for systems and web development, Susnik also hired an attorney to review and draw up the agreements. He believes it will not only help put money in his pocket that was once given away for free-in the form of referrals and advice-but it will help some dealers act more professionally.

"You come across dealers in this industry and you wonder how they're even in business," he says. "You can make yourself professional, but don't fake it. If you're not organized, you're not on the ball and you're just sitting, waiting for the phone to ring? It's not going to happen."

Time will tell whether or not Susnik is actually on to something with his concept. But, in an economy that's making it tough for window film dealers of all experience levels, some may opt to give his stimulus package a try.

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