Film Stars March/April 2021

August 13th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

It’s All in the Details: How a Career Change Led to Window Film

By Emmariah Holcomb

Some say change is the only constant thing in life, and as a business owner you have to able to adapt to new trends, customer needs, new products and more. Brian Brown, owner of Exclusive Detail located in Charlotte, N.C., agrees. And this issue’s Film Star finds that a change in career paths led him to a more fulfilling career.

Brown currently has three full time employees along with his wife, Annette, who also works at Exclusive Detail. His business currently does approximately $600,000 in sales annually and has plans to expand further. Brown says he started his detail shop in the early 2000s after spending many years in retail banking. Window tint was introduced in 2003 and he started offering paint protection film (PPF) in 2005.

Starting Out

“Almost 20 years ago we started our business detailing cars and soon after our clients asked us to do window tint then they asked us for PPF and we just gave them what they asked for,” Brown explains. “My training is in accounting and one day I thought I didn’t want to be an accountant anymore, so I began looking at opportunities to buy a franchise.”

He quickly realized that franchising wasn’t the best financial move. “Buying a franchise for one, costs a lot of money and two, what sense would it make financially for us? We couldn’t budget for it because we couldn’t afford it,” says Brown.

In lieu of buying a janitorial franchise, he instead looked at what would give him and his family the best opportunities. “We thought about detailing cars because, at the time, we also were considering getting into the used car sales business and we figured detailing could be an avenue,” Brown recalls.

He began detailing cars, and his customers, who were mostly used car dealers, were impressed with his work. But there was one overarching problem—the margins weren’t there. “There came a point where we realized we spent hours making one car look good and we weren’t making any money. So we switched gears from serving used car dealers. We rented a small shop so we could focus on higher end detailing,” says Brown. This higher end clientele were more particular about the way their vehicles looked and according to Brown, this was when using wax was the trend.

“It was like everyone wanted to protect their cars and it was a natural move from working with protective wax to sealants and film. We also began offering ceramic coating services a few years ago when things started picking up,” explains Brown.

Family Bonds

In the beginning it was primarily a one-man operation with his wife coming in to help on a part-time basis. Many other installers and business owners have asked how he and his wife have made it work.

“Here’s the irony, we’re both Scorpios, our birthdays are very close and we’re similar in a lot of ways,” says Brown. “God has blessed us with a good relationship and she compliments me. I couldn’t do this business without her, she makes up for my deficiencies and she’s my helper when I’m installing film.”

Although things are smooth for the Browns now, it wasn’t always so easy. “Initially when she started working with us full-time, I’ll admit I was reluctant at first to have her answer the phones, because developing customer relationships requires a certain kind of savvy,” he says. “It’s not something you can just jump into, you should also set roles and responsibilities in the beginning.”

Brown says one key benefit to working with women is their attention to detail, “It’s almost like they’re naturally wired to do so.” In fact, one of the three people that we hired in the past year was a woman who specializes is vinyl wraps and PPF installations.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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