Industry Comes Together to Ensure its Survival
This week, six members of the window film industry gathered for a one-hour Facebook live event on the TintWiz Facebook page, and never have I seen a more resilient group of people fighting not just for their companies and their employees, but for the industry as a whole. If you missed it I implore you to grab your notebook and give it a listen—you will not be sorry. It was chock full of the type of advice needed for industry companies during this difficult time—strategies they can put into place to ensure their survival.
Those on the call included Eric Devash, founder and CEO at TintWiz; Patric Fransko, president, Eye Magnet Management, Chris Robinson, owner, The Tint Guy Window Tinting, Harry Rahman, founder, Veloce Innovation; Ty Sullivan, vice president at SPF Window Tinting; and David Read, vice president sales and marketing at Signature Glass Tinting.
Among those representing window film companies, Sullivan, located in Mississippi, and Read, located in Costa Mesa, Calif., reported their businesses are fully closed now while Robinson, in the Atlanta area, continues to conduct business, albeit at a much lower level.
Very Real Challenges
Read reports that he brings in $100,000 a month on automotive film, the sole service his company offers, and he recently took out a loan to pay his staff.
These are the very real challenges many of you out there are facing. But there are programs out there that can help right? There are but it’s up to you to navigate through all of these resources such as Small Business Administration Loans and unemployment benefits, which vary by state.
One of the six cautioned to not move full time employees to part time now when things are slow, as because if they have to collect unemployment later they won’t be able to collect the full amount.
“What happens when we have depleted our reserves? “ Robinson posed to listeners. “We don’t get a bailout. We won’t get a good rate on a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan.”
Read added, “SBA is a nightmare and it’s not a lot of money that you would get.”
Perhaps, but nothing is more true through all of this that it is up to each film company to make sure they are aware of their options and what works best for their business. And what a great group of people you have along with you to help navigate through these waters. For example, the six on the Facebook Live event talked about things like having a two week plan, a six-week plan and so forth.
“We are paying employees now but then we are talking about looking at layoffs in six weeks,” said Sullivan.
Robinson executed a four-day workweek which reduced payroll by 20%, which is helping somewhat. These are all things your company may have implemented, or may want to consider as well.
Look at Your Reserves
A few reported that the situation will get worse as the weeks go on, when the slow times come, and when those cash reserves are depleted.
“We have a substantial amount in accounts receivable due to us,” says Robinson. “That is going to affect us later in the year when we don’t have the cash reserves.”
Those in attendance then debated what is a good amount of money to have in reserves.
“I will tell you that when we go back to normal I will strive for three years in reserves,” says Read. Rahman suggested one year in reserves.
Throughout the live event, tinters could make comments, and one commented. “That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars. I can hardly make payroll in the slow season.”
All seemed to agree however that the goal for companies should be to do everything you can to protect your company so your workers have a company to come back to. And the bright side in all this could be that up until now it’s been a great year for window film.
“As of right now we will still have a better quarter than last year,” said Read, to which others agreed, pointing to how well business has been going up until this point.
Take Steps Now to Emerge Strong
“Right now you should be focused on coming out of this so strong,” said Rahman.
Many in attendance encouraged tinters to take advantage of the down time to take marketing classes, to develop business plans, for two and six weeks out.
“There will be a lot of companies not here at the end of this,” said Sullivan. “The smart people are on their computers right now writing a business plan and taking classes.”
“If you have an employee you are paying already you may as well have them take advantage of these opportunities,” added DeVash. “Use this time to make the best decisions you can because this will not last forever.”
“It’s very hard to sit in front of a computer and work on a website or a business plan when you are worrying about how your bills will get paid,” said Robinson, “But you have to do it.”
I can’t stress enough how important it, and how lucky you all are, to have a group of people in the industry who are so willing to share advice and help their peers succeed.
So yes, take advantage of their advice, do your research and come up with a plan that is right for your individual business. In the meantime, here are a few resources that may prove helpful.