Ask a Pro March/April 2022

April 4th, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs

Does Brand Matter?

By Mike Burke

Imagine starting a tinting business at age 21. What film would you buy? Probably whatever is cheapest. Eventually, as you work to set yourself apart from your competitors, you’d want to make a more intentional choice—but how? You wanted to pay more for carbon film back in the day because cheap, dyed film turned purple and peeled off. Film technology has advanced light years since, and it seems like every brand now offers UV-protection, nanotechnology, multi-layer construction, and impressive warranties. Is one any better than another? Is finding the cheapest option still the best way to choose? Partnering with a film company can have benefits beyond the product itself.

Marketing Support

When your business depends on high numbers of customers day in and day out, marketing is crucial, yet most small shops don’t have the budget for effective campaigns. Film companies, on the other hand, have far more resources. They can do a great job of increasing customer awareness and then help those customers find shops to do the work.

Territory Protection

It’s also in a brand’s self-interest not to oversaturate the market. Just as you don’t put three Chevy dealerships within five miles of each other, you don’t want three shops selling the same film. If shop A and B are two blocks apart selling the same product, they will start competing based on price. From the film company’s point of view, that devalues the brand. From the shop owner’s perspective, it cuts into profits.

With the advent of plotters, tinting sped up. But a plotter is only as good as the patterns you use. This used to be a more significant variable, but all major brands have been working hard to level the playing field. Pattern quality isn’t as much of an issue anymore, but the cost of the software can still be a factor.

Relationships

Brands can do a lot to facilitate relationships among their dealers. It’s crucial that we—as business owners— don’t sit in our shops unaware of industry happenings. Community makes us all better. XPEL has a dealer conference once a year that brings everyone together. They have educational breakout sessions, a competition with cash prizes, and roundtable discussions where dealers can learn from each other. SunTek always threw the biggest party at SEMA with ice sculptures, food, an open bar, and an opportunity to get to know everyone from across the country.

The future of brand-dealer relationships depends on who helps the dealers grow with marketing and sales support, coaching and training. I have a great marketing and lead-generation system of my own, so gaining that from my film company isn’t vital to me now, but it used to be. Territory protection also isn’t at the top of my list since I have a well-established customer base, but  it’s valuable to many of my member stores. I value the relationship-building opportunities I’ve had through dealer conferences more than almost anything  else. Choose your brand wisely and pick the one that’s the right fit for you.

Mike Burke has been in the window film industry for 33 years. His company, Sun Stoppers, has more than 63 locations in 19 states and offers residential and commercial tint and decorative film services as well as automotive tint, paint protection, and ceramic coatings. If you have a question for Mike to tackle in a future column, email him at mike@sunstoppers.com.

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

Leave Comment