Ultimate Tint Shop Winner Says Image is Everything

May 28th, 2009 by Editor

Image is an important factor for any business. And, in a time when consumers are more skeptical than ever, it could be the difference between making and not making a sale. No one understands this better than Cedro Rodriguez, co-owner of A Different Shade, a Kennewick, Wash.-based window film shop. Rodriguez recently won the Solar Gard Ultimate Tint Shop makeover contest and he says it has made all the difference in his business.

“People are very careful with their money these days,” Rodriguez says. “They want to do business with places they feel will be there several years down the line.”

And Rodriguez, a ten-year veteran of the window film industry, says a shop’s appearance has a way of telling customers how long it might be around. He and his wife Tiffany, who is a co-owner in the business, realized they needed to improve their shops image recently.

“It was a pretty good shop for doing installs,” Rodriguez explains. But it wasn’t the most advantageous for locking in sales, he says. Since opening the business, the company’s shop got the job done, but a makeover was overdue. “We started with a shell really and then did the necessary things to get the doors open,” he explains. “But, over the years we had some clutter build up, organization was something to be desired and it was starting to fall apart, so we really needed to do something to it—really bad.”

This past November, while at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Rodriguez visited the booth of Bekaert Specialty Films, the San Diego-based manufacturer of Solar Gard window films, the brand Rodriguez has carried since he has been in business. Bekaert’s booth was set up as the “Solar Gard Ultimate Tint Shop.” The company designed what it considers to be the ultimate shop, complete with custom paint, floor coverings, furniture, lighting and indoor and outdoor signage. The setup also includes new marketing materials and interactive product displays aimed at facilitating sales. Rodriguez says he fell in love with the concept at first sight. Bekaert held a contest in conjunction with show—a drawing in which one lucky shop owner would win the ultimate makeover. “I knew that we needed to update our image,” Rodriguez says. “We really hadn’t done anything to make our shop standout and set ourselves aside from the competition, aside from being great installers. I saw it and said, ‘Boy, that would be great to win.'”

And he did. Rodriguez says he couldn’t believe the stroke of fortune.

“When [our sales rep] called, he asked us how it was going and I told him pretty good, but that we were looking forward to making some changes and making our shop over a bit,” he says. He and his wife had begun moving forward with their own plan. “He said, ‘Well, you’re going to have some help with that, because you just won the Ultimate Tint Shop!'” Rodriguez explains. “I said, ‘Aw, that would be pretty cool, but what’s really up?’ He said, ‘You really won!'”

Bekaert completed the makeover this past March and Rodriguez says it has made all the difference in his business.

“I think in the window tinting industry, especially, there is somewhat of a stigma with the general population,” he explains. “An unrespectable amount of the population desires this product, so when people come in, first impressions are everything.” And Rodriguez says his shop’s new look, thanks to Bekaert, does the trick. “We live in a conservative area and people shop around … since having the ultimate makeover, there are very few customers, maybe I can count them on one hand, who have not come back in,” he says. “When they see what our shop looks like—on the outside and in—and they see the cleanliness and organization, and a showroom that allows us to demonstrate the product to them, they are very impressed.”

But it’s not all about looks. Rodriguez says the makeover includes tools for the showroom.

“The heat lamp display we now have, for instance, allows us to demonstrate heat rejection,” he explains. “People are able to see the value in it and we’re able to up-sell a lot better.”

Whether they had won the free makeover or not, Rodriguez says he and his wife would have moved forward with their own plans. Even with Bekaert’s provision, he says there was still a lot of work to be done.

“A huge thanks goes to our family members. I had my brother-in-laws here with me day and night through that entire weekend,” he says. “It really couldn’t have been pulled off without them.”

And for those who are skeptical of spending the money for a makeover these days, he offers the following assurance: “We’ve had such an overwhelming response to the shop that we’re going to have to expand a little bit and bring on some people to meet the demand.”

As it turns out, for at least one shop owner-image is everything.

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