Ask a Pro May/June 2022June 1st, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs
Four 4 Four
By Mike Burke
Coaching and strategizing with shop owners across the country and world is one of my favorite things about my job. I love sharing advice, and I’ve noticed that most of the tips I give tinters fall into four categories. Nail these areas, and you’ll be well on your way to running a successful business.
Small businesses fail to believe they can afford marketing because of their size. A typical one- or two-person operation working on referrals will maximize what they can accomplish daily and often not think beyond that. They may try Google ads or Yellow Pages, but it’s hard to tell what works without a mechanism to track the source of the leads.
Besides, they have all the work they can do—why pay for advertising? Unless you want to work until you die, you need to phase yourself out, and you require more work than you can handle to do that. Do everything you can to bring customers through the door. If you have the business, you can hire people to do the work.
When you master marketing, you suddenly have the phone ringing off the hook, a website generating leads and customer relationship management (CRM) software dumping those leads into a referral system tracking everything … now what?
A salesperson is someone who can guide a customer’s thoughts. They have magic words that come off their lips, enticing potential clients to do business. These situations are where front counter assistance comes in. When you’re busy tinting windows on a hot day, pulling cars in and out, you’re not thinking like a salesperson. It can be tough to transition into sales mode every time the phone buzzes. An upbeat, well-spoken young person answering the phones can give the customer complete attention and turn leads into paying jobs.
Once you’ve got an impactful salesperson closing 80% of the deals versus 40%, they are paying for themselves tenfold—as long as you can get all that work done. Efficiency becomes more crucial as you grow. Your sales process generates a ticket, which goes to the back, so the person manning the plotter understands the task. A dedicated helper does the prep work freeing up the master tinters to do the heavy lifting. Now, you can scale and grow.
The shop’s physical setup is equally important. You can save hours over a day or week by shifting plotter locations to minimize walking or implementing rolling carts for each employee’s tools, ramps for PPF and better lighting.
4. Business Administration
Accountants are expensive, but you have a guide, counselor, consultant and advisor if you discover a good one, someone who tells you what money you have and what you can and cannot spend. Buying that new boat sounds like a great idea in the middle of summer when you’re booked three to four weeks out, but a helpful accountant will let you know if you don’t have enough money in the bank to get through the winter.
They can assist with weekly payroll and show you how much money you can save by keeping additional inventory, so you aren’t always overnighting film—not to mention tracking down the UPS driver every week. This wouldn’t be a problem if you had it all in stock and used an inventory management system. Planning for rainy days, knowing the trends and preparing for the slow season is the key to long-term growth.
To put it simply: Tell people what you do. Convince them they need you to do it for them. Do it efficiently, and get expert advice. If you need help finding access to advisors or coaches, please reach out to me. If I don’t have the answers, I know someone who does.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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