Ask a Pro March/April 2023March 30th, 2023 by Nathan Hobbs
Leveling Up Window Tinting
By Mike Burke
When I talk to window tinters across the country, one of their complaints is that people don’t treat us as professionals. I’ve dealt with this myself. When I started 30 years ago, window tinting wasn’t as mainstream as it is today. My friends even saw my profession as beneath theirs.
I built a house in a wealthy part of town and was constantly looked down on by the “country club crowd.” Things have gotten better since then, but public perception of our industry is still low compared to many others.
How can we fix that? First of all, take an honest look in the mirror. One reason tinters aren’t treated as professionals is that many of us aren’t. The first element of this is appearance: if you walked into a lawyer’s office and were greeted by a guy wearing an old Metallica t-shirt who hadn’t shaved in four days, would you give him your business, or would you turn around and go somewhere else?
Why do we think it’s okay for us to run our businesses that way? Comfortable clothing is important while we are on our feet doing manual labor, but a collared shirt with a company logo is just as comfortable as an old t-shirt, and you look more legitimate. Pants made from technical fabrics are lint-free, dry quickly and look more professional than jeans.
The second factor is client interaction. When a customer calls looking for information, do you answer the phone distracted with a heat gun running in the background, or do you have a friendly, attentive receptionist who can answer questions and book appointments? If someone texts, do you respond in three words—two of them misspelled—or do you have an informative response ready to go, complete with information about your shop and the experience the customer can expect if they choose to do business with you?
When a customer enters your shop, do you conduct your business in the corner of the work bay? Or do you have a comfortable waiting room with various kinds of seating, a place to plug in a phone or laptop, a clean bathroom and maybe some complimentary beverages?
These small touches go miles toward giving people the impression that your business is a professional one. If you were in the market for a new car, would you be more likely to pay top dollar to someone selling out of a dilapidated garage or a dealer with a pristine showroom?
Finally, many tinters I know are disconnected from their communities. We all live on social media, paying attention to what other tint shops across the country are doing. That can be great, but the real networking value is local.
Join a Business Network International group, shave, dress nicely and tell people what you do. Explain why everyone can benefit from tinting their car, whether they want the windows dark or not. Tell them how tint can improve their Tesla’s battery life. Ask them if they’ve ever heard of architectural film and how it can save them money on energy bills.
Mike Burke has worked 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 Burke to tackle in a future column, email him at email@example.com
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