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June 9th, 2023 by Nathan Hobbs

Security Film 101

By Manny Hondroulis

School shootings, civil unrest, increased crime, terrorism and general citizen fear have created a spike in demand for safety/security window film. While increased demand is good for industry members, there are several steps dealers should take to prepare themselves for the opportunity.

Prepare Now

Security films are designed to protect people, property and the continuity of operations. While sun control films address the comfort of others, security films address the safety of others. The stakes are much higher when marketing, selling and installing these films.

First, familiarize yourself with what security films can and cannot do. When window glass is broken, it poses several threats. We’re taught at an early age never to touch broken glass. Why? Because it causes bodily harm. Broken glass also decreases a building occupant’s protection from outside dangers. Security film, coupled with a complimentary attachment system, is designed
to hold glass in place when it is broken from some sort of trauma. There are several types of relevant trauma: blunt force, bullets, seismic, windstorms and explosions—just to name a few. Holding the glass in place provides several benefits such as protection from bodily harm and continued separation from outside dangers. That is what security film is meant to do at a basic level.

Take it From Me

However, security film may or may not prevent broken glass or unwanted entry, protect occupants or prevent a tragedy from occurring. That brings me to my second point. Never make product recommendations. I know that sounds strange to many of you; in fact, it may sound downright ludicrous. So, let me explain. Recommending a certain security film and/or attachment system can potentially put liability on you and your company if your client’s glass experiences trauma and a tragic event follows. For example, you recommend Security Film A with Attachment System B, a burglar smashes through the window and, while stealing personal property, assaults those inside. Are you potentially the target of a lawsuit because you recommended a product that didn’t prevent a tragedy? I’m not an attorney but I learned early on in my window film career to stay clear of making product recommendations.

Film Flashback

I joined the 3M Window Film family in early 2002, just months after 9-11. The threat of terrorism still loomed across the United States, and security films to mitigate the effects of a terrorist bomb were the driving force within the flat glass industry. I met with a knowledgeable, accomplished and experienced window film dealer who had established a trusted reputation with the U.S. government for security film and attachment system installations. He shared some of his wisdom; he told me never to make a security recommendation because in our roles we are not qualified to do so. He explained that you’ll never fully understand the client’s perceived level of threat and will not be in a position to know if security film, or any other product for that matter, will provide a potential solution that matches that threat. I’ve stuck to those words ever since and am sharing them with you here.

You may now be wondering how to sell your security films and attachment systems if it’s wise to stay away from making product recommendations. Here is what I suggest. Present manufacturer’s test data to the client and let the client make the appropriate decision based on their understanding of the test results, their budget and their tolerance for aesthetic changes.

For example, if a client’s perceived level of threat is from a gunman, present testing that shows how films and attachment systems perform when shot. But don’t be afraid to also present testing for other types of trauma, such as bomb blast testing. Attachment systems are just as important as the film itself. If there are any changes to aesthetics, which usually are a result of an attachment system, have a demo window with the attachment system installed so the client can see the finished product.

Finally, provide pricing of your various films and attachment systems (supported by testing). At that point, the client can balance all these considerations and make a buying decision. The important thing, in my opinion, is to let the client make the appropriate decision because you’re not necessarily in a position to understand the perceived level of threat against which they want to mitigate.

Finally, take your time during the installation process. Security films are thicker than sun control films and require more physical effort to squeegee out remaining water to minimize cure time. It can take days, if not months, for the film’s adhesive to develop the requisite tack. Attachment systems are also challenging for a lot of installers.

Manny Hondroulis is the vice president of Energy Products Distribution in Baltimore.

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