Top Window Film Dealers’ Tricks, Tips and Sometimes TripsOctober 4th, 2017 by Trey Barrineau
The toughest problem today for window film dealers? Finding good employees. That was the consensus of a panel at the International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off, which is being held this week at the Palm Beach Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“You’ve got to surround yourself with good employees,” said Chris Diminico of AutoNuVo, echoing sentiments expressed by other top dealers on the panel.
“Surround yourself with good people,” said Jeff Franson of Window Film Depot. “People who give you lift and leverage. Try to lead them the best way you can.”
Panel members also said it’s important to forge good partnerships and business relationships.
“It started when we partnered with 3M,” said Chris Robinson of The Tint Guy. “We get a lot of support from distributors all the way up to corporate. It’s made a difference in the way we run our business. They see our business from the outside looking in.”
“You can’t do everything on your own,” said Franson. “If we hadn’t established good business relationships with our partners, I wouldn’t be sitting up here today. Let them know what you can and can’t do.”
The speakers urged those in the window film business to pay close attention to their competitors — but not too close.
“I have some great competition, and I have some morons, who I like to call schmucks in trucks,” said Mike Feldman of Advanced Film Solutions, who differed from most panelists because he said he studies his competitors very closely. “I know more about what they’re doing than they do. This is a war. It’s not a hobby.”
However, others say it’s more important to make sure you’re doing the best work you can do.
“If you have one or two competitors that light a fire under you, that’s great” said Franson. “But we focus on what we’re doing. To compete, we need to really understand our pricing, knowing the market and knowing what our resources are.”
Bill Valway of Absolute Perfection said he doesn’t spend a lot of time studying his competition, but he does pay attention to what’s going on around him.
“You need to know your competition,” he said. “You need to know what’s going on in the market.”
Others said it’s more important to be the best in the market they serve.
“Try to differentiate your business from everyone around you,” said Tommy Silva of T&T Tinting Solutions. “Deliver the same consistent quality every time. Become the McDonald’s of window film so people know everytime what they’re going to get from you.”
One panelist said window film companies that operate retail outlets can have different challenges.
“About 80 percent of our business is through our standalone store,” said Robinson. “We try to respect the boundaries of our competitors. For us to be really competitive with our competitive makes it difficult to run our business. For us, what works is just thinking about us.”
One thing almost all the panelists agreed on was the explosive growth in commercial graphics for window film companies.
“It’s the lowest-hanging fruit, but it’s going to get more competitive,” said Franson.
“It’s a fun, creative side of our business,” said Silva. “It’s a different clientele. It’s shopping centers, hotels and nice restaurants. They have the budget for these projects.”
Others cited security film as a fast-growing area.
Panelists said it’s important to be deeply involved in digital media as well, especially when it comes to search engines.
“Try to dominate the Internet,” said Feldman. “In my marketing area, if they’re looking for window film, they’re going to find me, and find me 10 times.”
Finally, the group said risk was a vital consideration for any business, particularly when it comes to acquiring property.
“Multiple locations are a lot of work,” said Valway. “If you have the opportunity to buy an asset like a building, do that first.”
Robinson reframed the “location, location, location” mantra through the lens of the window film business.
“If you have the option to either buy a building in a bad location or leasing a building in a good location, lease the building in the good location,” he said.