Looking Into Selling Decorative Film? Here a Few TipsFebruary 21st, 2018 by Katherine Coig
Despite having much to offer in design aesthetics as well as its budget-friendly cost, decorative film isn’t always an easy sell. This leaves some dealers hesitant to enter the market. Micky Calcott, founder of The Window Film Company in the U.K., answered some of Window Film magazine’s questions to help dealers overcome any obstacles that may be preventing them from exploring this viable industry.
WFM: Succeeding in the decorative film market isn’t an easy feat. How do you get your business in front of potential clients? Are there certain markets or industries you try to target?
MC: One of our biggest challenges in this market is also a big strength: There are very few clients or industries that could definitively say they will never need decorative window film. This means there is a great deal of potential business out there, so we need to be targeted and considered in deciding which industries to prioritize. Office refurbishment and fit-out companies are an excellent source of business, and the trend for open-plan offices with a retained element of privacy means that glass partitions remain popular. Partitions are often used as an opportunity for delivering decoration or branding, with decorative window film the ideal product for delivering this.
Film can be produced to feature designs or graphics of any size, style and color, with state of the art print and cut technology allowing details to be recreated with pinpoint accuracy.
Increasing numbers of clients are using the need for manifestation markings to add a creative element to their glass, meeting a regulatory requirement with something eye-catching and stylish. The option of having a bespoke manifestation, decorative or privacy feature is appealing to a whole host of potential clients, so it’s our job to make sure they know we can deliver.
WFM: Have you found any marketing strategies work particularly better than others?
MC: Over the years we’ve discovered that there really is no substitution for providing the best possible product and the best possible customer service. This has allowed us to foster excellent relationships and enjoy repeat business from an ever increasing range of loyal customers. As an over-arching strategy, education is one that should never be overlooked. It’s not always immediately obvious as to what can be achieved with decorative films, so it’s our job to ensure that people are aware of the opportunity these products provide. Clients are often surprised and excited when they find out just what can be achieved, so investing time and effort into making sure people understand just what it is you are offering is of vital importance.
WFM: We all know face-time can be critical in ensuring your company is chosen for the job; who is your targeted audience base?
MC: It’s always important to get in front of the people that know exactly what is required and have an appreciation of what can be achieved with decorative window film. It’s important to be able to fully explain the opportunities without the message being lost in translation, so it’s always worthwhile trying to ensure that your contact or client is in a position to act on the information we provide.
Being specified is one of the best ways of securing work, so architects are a valuable target audience. We’re able to speak directly to those within that industry on a regular basis via Continuing Professional Development (CPD) presentations, delivering talks in architect’s practices throughout the country. Over time, we have created a presentation that provides details on how we can solve existing issues and problems, while also providing food for thought for future projects. The people we’re talking to might not need decorative film at that particular time, but they know where to find us when they do.
WFM: How do you educate clients on decorative film’s capabilities, especially when decorative glass is also on the table, which may have the perception of longer-lasting durability?
MC: Etched glass can actually be susceptible to marking or scratching, but we maintain that it’s important to focus on the positive aspects of our products as oppose to highlighting potential issues with alternatives. Window film is long lasting and durable, it isn’t adversely affected by moisture and is easy to clean using standard products – no specialist equipment is required. Decorative window film is almost exclusively only applied to one side of glazing, so if there is a concern about high traffic – down corridors for example – the film can be placed on the inside face of the glass, meaning that it isn’t exposed.
WFM: Along those same lines, how do you sell them on decorative film if they had decorative glass in mind?
MC: We see it as our job to be very clear of the benefits of decorative window film. Using film is a cost-effective way of achieving a genuinely bespoke solution, with the possibility of incorporating designs, illustrations, imagery, text, brand elements or logos in a range of different finishes. Our company prints and cuts all custom-made decorative films in our dedicated print department, so we can be flexible on lead times – a quick turn-around time is often attractive for the end user. The installation process is also relatively un-intrusive. Businesses don’t have to shut for the day to allow us to carry out the work which provides an obvious benefit.
The biggest plus-point is the sheer range of finishes that can be achieved. Using decorative film gives clients the opportunity to be as creative as they want and ensures that they meet a specific brief.
WFM: Who do you normally work with on these projects, or is it a group effort?
MC: It is a very collaborative process. Our in-house graphics team will keep the client updated at each stage and will liaise on key decisions and aspects of the project. Proofs are supplied as a matter of course, while more granular conversations could take place about color opacity, shading or levels. Ultimately we will do whatever it takes to ensure that the end product is exactly what the client wants and expects. We continually invest in equipment to ensure we are using state of the art technology – this not only delivers the best quality finish, but also gives us the confidence to meet deadlines and challenging turn-around times. By printing in house, we are in control of the entire work flow and are happy for our customers to be a part of that process.
WFM: Are there any misconceptions about decorative film that you feel you need to be upfront with when selling to a client?
On occasion we still come across some outdated misconceptions about window film. These usually arise from seeing poorly installed or low quality window film that may have bubbled or peeled. We have worked hard to be in a position to swiftly allay these fears and misconceptions by providing samples and sharing images, videos and case studies of our previous work. It’s important to take the time to listen to customers’ concerns and to provide an honest and clear answer, while also highlighting the benefits. It’s about making sure that communications are coherent, clear and concise, addressing the questions of that particular customer instead of just sending out a standard response or piece of literature. By treating each potential client as an individual, it should be possible to make sure that their worries about film are fully dispelled.
WFM: What’s your advice to landing these types of installations?
MC: Marketing and communications are vital parts in continuing to attract and win decorative film projects. We’re continually working on our website which is an extensive resource of information and imagery, while also constantly being on the lookout for opportunities to get our message out to more and more people. This can involve working with trade bodies, industry experts and other online resources.
Our CPD presentations allow us to reach architects, and we continually seek opportunities to speak with key personnel from a range of industries. Building relationships is absolutely vital; playing a part in the local community, being active in the industry and generally getting involved in the business world. It’s important to establish contacts and connections—the majority of which may not pay off instantly but will pay dividends further down the line.
There’s no secret formula to winning work other to establish your business, continue to invest and improve and to put in the hard yards with getting your name and reputation out there.
WFM: Aside from cost, are there any other advantages that help sell decorative film?
MC: Decorative film is a totally bespoke product, so it can be used to deliver a brief or a specification down to the smallest detail. Different film types can be printed or cut to deliver a myriad of different looks and styles, including the look of decorative glass if that’s what is required!
The turn-around and delivery times are quick, and the installation process is straightforward and less intrusive. It’s also cost-effective to replace if required, in the case of a rebrand for example. Advances in film technology mean the product is better than ever, while state of the art printers and cutting machines deliver pinpoint accuracy. Decorative film can be whatever a client wants it to be, and it can be in place quickly and with the minimum of fuss.
WFM: Does decorative film present any unique challenges compared to other types of film installations?
MC: Every pane is different, so when dealing with patterns and graphical detail, it’s important to make sure that the sizes are absolutely perfect. Frames also need to be taken into account to ensure that any patterns flow from one pane to the next. A mistake on a measurement or in setting up the artwork could have a major impact on the final appearance, so attention to detail is of paramount importance.
It’s also important to take care during the installation process. With each pane tailored to a set of dimensions featuring a specific design or pattern, there won’t be a replacement immediately available if there is an issue during installation.