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August 6th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

How Do You Compete?

By Manny Hondroulis

The window film and paint protection film (PPF) industries have low entry costs. It’s not like you need significant start-up capital and a board of directors to watch your every move. Anyone with a few hundred dollars and a useful pair of hands can be in the business. That does not mean everyone who enters the industry will be successful. A clear vision, a forward thinking strategy, a differentiated business plan, and effective selling skills will better ensure success.

Proper Offerings

In my travels, I encounter dealers that seek to diversify their business by adding products and services. To the automotive dealer, this may mean the addition of PPF, vinyl wrap, ceramic coatings, detailing, and other vehicle protective measures. To the architectural dealer, this may mean graphics, printing, design services, vinyl laminates, and other building modernization efforts. Diversification may enable dealers to compete by offering the client something local competition doesn’t. It can also be a way to help dealers raise their average ticket price. The PPF installer who offers windshield protection earns more profit per customer.

I often wonder if dealers diversify prematurely and if they would be better served by improving their core business. After all, it won’t take long for local competition to offer the same additional service. So the competitive advantage may be short-lived.

Industries with low barriers to entry often invite service providers that compete by selling only on price. As such, dealers tell me they are often forced to sell low.

Strategic Selling

If given a good, better, best product offering, most gravitate toward the middle. That means a dealer does not need to sell on the low end. Certainly, there is a market for middle and high-end; otherwise we would all be driving Nissan Versas rather than a mix of Cadillacs, Teslas, Rolls Royces, and Ferraris. Focusing on capturing the middle and high-end customer may be the best source of diversification. Of course, easier said than done, especially if you’re not an accomplished salesperson. That is why many service providers default to price. Selling a consumer on value, rather than price, requires skill, presentation, and pitch. It also requires the appropriate merchandising, demonstration tools, and extra time per transaction.

Value has different meanings. That is why it is important to interview the customer and understand what brings them to you.

You may need to offer additional services in order to add value. Do you have a product performance guarantee? Do you offer a no-fault warranty? Do you offer energy audits? These are just a few options you can offer clients, on your own or in conjunction with your manufacturer and distributor.

Your clients may value the extra attention you give them. They may value the aforementioned add-ons you offer. That may allow you the differentiation needed to compete more effectively in your core product.

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