Archive for the 'Commercial' Category

Desperation -Cause and Effect

I received a call from a customer that I left a window film bid with the other day. No, she wasn’t calling to schedule the job… darn! Rather, she was calling to find out why my price was so much higher than the other company that bid on the job. I really appreciate it when a consumer calls back wants to know “why” in this case. The last thing I ever want to do is put pressure on a potential customer in order to close a sale, no way! To the contrary, I want to give this person answers, not just fluff but genuine answers to their questions so that she can continue in her decision making process.

So before I could answer this question I had to find out what I was being compared too. To my stupefaction I was not prepared to be totally blown away by the statement I was about to hear. “I had another company come out and the salesperson said All window film does the same thing so you should just go with the cheapest price you can find” she tells me. “He said that?” I thought to myself… unbelievable! In all my years in this business I have heard a lot of desperate and utterly ignorant comments from my competition in hopes of closing a sale but this one ranks among the classics and one of the most concerning. I will explain why in a minute.

Now I had to ask what film was it that came in at the cheapest price, so I inquired and come to find out she was shown two different brands of metalized film with a dyed layer that did cost much less than the metal-free dye free film that I had quoted her. So I explained that the differences in film technology often affects the price of the job because some films cost us more to buy than others. I offered to come out and install the competing samples on her window next to mine (the competition did not offer to do that for obvious reasons) so that she could see the difference of one film technology compared to another. I went on to assure her that I do not want to pressure her into buying the film that I am selling, I just want her to see the difference and understand why I am so ashamed to hear that another window film professional has lowered himself to the level of teaching a consumer that all films do the same thing so really the only thing you need to be concerned with is finding the lowest price which he just happened to offer (-Btw it was really low).

Let’s break down his statement. “All window film does the same thing so you should just go with the cheapest price you can find.” There is a little bit of truth here that is surrounded by a lot of vagueness.

  1. Not all window films do the same thing. We have solar control films that regulate solar energy, UV, and visible light. There are security films that retain glass, anti-graffiti films that protect glass, and decorative films that enhance glass. These types of films do not all do the same thing.
  2. In this case let’s go with what I think he was referring too and that is “all Solar Control Films” do the same thing. True, they all regulate solar heat gain, UV transmission, and visible light transmission. Does mean that they are all equals? No, absolutely not! If we are to state that they are all equals in what they do then we are also inferring that they will all perform the same, have the same lifespan, and look the same years after they are installed. That is totally false and completely misleading. “It would be like saying that all vehicles do the same thing so you should just buy the cheapest one you can find…” or “all couches are the same so go for the cheapest one you can get.” How many people agree with that logic? Like automobiles and furniture Window Films are constructed differently with materials that vary in quality, appearance, and longevity. For instance, is a dyed film going to look the same in ten years as a ceramic technology film that contains no dyes? One will be purple and the other will not, but they both regulate the same 3 solar bands so can we say they are the same? No, we cannot say that. Films with UV absorbers in the adhesive only will lose their low UV transmittance far sooner than films with the absorbers in the polyester and the adhesive, can these be considered the same after one loses a considerable amount of UV rejection? Cheaper polyester can be cloudy looking compared to higher quality polyester making one film hazier than the next, are they equals? Some window films outperform others in solar energy rejection and some are designed to let more visible light transmit while at the same tie rejecting as much energy as a much darker film. Clearly and much to the contrary all solar control window films are not the same and obviously not the same price for good reason.

I am blown away by the desperation and lack of salesmanship that can be found in our industry. It is truly saddening. No, I am not trying to put any manufacturer’s products in a bad light because this dealer could have been representing any one of a number of window film brands. I am simply questioning business practices and those that support such practices. What I see is desperation in a segment of this industry… from the top clear down to the retail level.

Desperation breeds falsehood and this is often accompanied with unreasonably low price points that do not allow for healthy business growth and sustainability. This translates to numerous bad consequences for the consumer. The effects are far-reaching and eventually erode the credibility of our industry. For instance, what happens if the consumer we mentioned above purchases the cheapest film they can find assuming that they “are all equals” and then several years later it turns purple, or the adhesive begins to fail, or the UV rejection goes from 99% down to 93%? When they start seeing these things happen what are they going to conclude about “all window films” because after all, they are all equal? Here where the ripple effect comes in, think about it… she has had a bad experience with window film and she believes that they are all the same because that is what she was told. So what will she tell her friends and associates? The effect of one window film dealer’s desperate attempt to close a sale is far-reaching.

In my opinion anyone that makes such statements and at the same time considers themselves to be a window film professional is nothing but a sham. Shame on them! And shame on any company that knowingly chooses to do business with such dealers. Is that how you want your products to be represented? Yes, suppliers implicate themselves by association and many of you know full well what your dealers are doing on the street. I’ve heard the excuses, “we cannot restrict trade so we have to do business with these companies…” What a crock! You guys know how to deal with it but you choose not too. And what about the rest of us? Do we do business with companies that support our shady competitors? If so, then we become part of the problem as well.

It is time to bring accuracy and relevance to the fore and to stop supporting anything that undermines the credibility of a product that can make a tremendous impact on energy saving, comfort, security, and sun damage. Our products are a green solution when it comes to upgrading the performance of glass versus manufacturing a new replacement window. Window film has a much lower return on investment when compared to other energy saving solutions and can usually be implemented for a modest cost. There are many well-made window films on the market that can meet or even exceed the expectations of most consumers so there is absolutely no ethical justification or need to propagate falsehoods in order to sell these films to the consumer. Let’s do our part and clean out the bad apples and maintain a good name and a healthy industry!

-vc

On-Angle Performance Measurements -My Angle

Well I guess it’s about time for me to address the whole “on-angle” Total Solar Energy Rejection measurement. As many of you are aware it is a measurement that is currently marketed by 3M to show the performance of their Prestige Window Film line. The whole premise is that the window film industry has always tested and derived the Total Solar Energy specification at 90° perpendicular to the glass. 3M reasons that the sun does not reside at 90° throughout the day, especially at the hottest part of the day, thus the need to create a film that in their mind performs better “on-angle.” So the need for an “on-angle” measurement arises and subsequently the specification finds its way into their marketing literature.

Despite the fact that the window film industry has never promoted such a measurement and the NFRC does not post angular performance data on the product certification labels, the general public is left to assume that this is a common measurement that sets one product apart from all others. The assumption gets propagated further when window film dealers add inaccurate statements and insert fiction into what is fact. For instance one dealer writes a rebuttal on their website in response to the statement:

3M’s total solar energy on angle spec is not supported by the National Fenestration Rating Counsel

Dealer’s Response: This is true but this is new technology. No other manufacturer (glass or window film) can rate their product this way. The two hundred layers in the new 3M Prestige window films with nano technology make this new on angle specification possible. All window film manufacturers measure the total solar energy rejected at a 90 degree angle to the glass.

Let us separate fact from fiction here…

Fact: The NFRC does not support the Total Solar Energy Rejection On-Angle specification. All manufactures measure the total solar energy rejected at a 90 degree angle to the glass.

Fiction: The statement that this is new technology and that no other manufacturer (glass or window film) can rate their product this way. Also the statement that it is 3M’s multi-layer nano-technology that make this new angular specification possible.

The reality is that any manufacture can easily report their performance ratings this way, if they wanted too. This specification is not made possible by the unique construction of Prestige Window Film’s multi-layer technology nor is the on-angle measurement a new measurement. Lawrence Berkley Laboratories has had software available for many years that gives angular performance data of window coatings and window films on almost any glass type available. This software and the measurements that result from it are recognized by the Department of Energy (DOE). 3M did not invent this measurement and neither did any other window film manufacturer for that matter. So let’s use this LBNL software and run our own test comparing “on-angle” performance data of a few films. This particular test was run on clear single pane glass .120 inch in thickness with some 70% vlt films that have their specifications listed.

Sun’s Angle

SHGC @ 0°

SHGC @ 30°

SHGC @ 60°

SHGC @ 80°

SHGC @ 90°

Prestige 70

0.503

0.499

0.427

0.188

0.00

Vista VS 70

0.476

0.471

0.404

0.178

0.00

V-Kool 70

0.440

0.435

0.373

0.164

0.00

What I’m seeing here is that there is on-angle data available for all 3 brands not just Prestige. The SHGC or Solar Heat Gain Coefficient is the opposite of the Total Solar Energy Rejection measurement. The lower the number, the better the overall performance. So ignore the fact that Prestige 70 gets outperformed on every measurement by the other two films, but rather, focus on the pattern. As the sun’s angle increases, the performance of each film increases as well. So much so that when the sun is directly above the window all of these films perform extremely well; they reject all of the sun’s energy! By the way… clear glass has a 0.00 SHGC at 90° too. Why? Obviously as the sun orientates to a higher angle above the window less energy transmits through the glass.

So this whole idea of a company’s technology making a new measurement possible or window film being designed to be unsurpassed by any other window films in on-angle performance is unfounded and inaccurate. Let’s give the consumer some dignity as well as some accurate and relevant data that will not fool them into believing that one product is something that it is not. Window Film Manufacturers can do this by adopting standardized performance measurements and using well respected third party agencies like the NFRC to verify these measurements. Window Film Dealers can and should educate themselves so that they do not propagate inaccurate and false information to the consumer for if they continue to do so, it will only serve discredit a product that is so badly needed in a time where energy conservation is vital.

-vc

Tipped Off!

Ha ha! Somebody has been reading my blogs. It seems as though the video in my IR Rejection Part 2 blog has been pulled from Youtube. Now my blog is lacking an example (Darn I really liked that blog) but that’s a good thing. Aside from making me look like a fool I think this shows the power of the internet. Blogging makes a difference! That is one less misleading video out there.

Kudos to the company that deleted their video, I hope you did it for the right reasons rather than to save face. Your new website looks good. Hopefully, it contains plenty of accurate and valuable information for consumers. We surely do not need anymore “slight of bandwidth” demonstrations.

-vc

Is it Accurate?

Accuracy counts… in some things.

-“He missed by a mile!

-“We were close…”

-“Looks good to me…

These expressions are one thing when stated by your sports caster or weatherman but quite another if you heard your accountant or surgeon make such statements. Accuracy is important, even vital in some instances.

The window film industry has suffered from inaccuracy, inflated paybacks, unfounded statistics, and misapplied specifications among many other things. For instance, how many times has someone misapplied single pane 1/8th inch glass specifications saying that a 15%vlt window film will block 80% of the total solar energy when the window that is being considered is dual pane? If you did then you certainly missed this one by a mile for the total solar energy rejected on insulated clear glass is closer to 71% not 80%! “Well, we were close” you may say… Hardly! What if this was a 40,000 sq foot project? The results would be different, one would be accurate and the other would be inaccurate.

This scenario can create a chain reaction of misinformation such as an inflated payback or ROI (return on investment). Statistical data becomes inaccurate when we do not take the time to generate factual data. We then have a problem because once someone discovers that we have taken liberties with specifications it erodes our credibility as a whole. It is much more beneficial to not only bring accurate data to the table so to say, but to also be able to verify that the data is accurate and explain why that is so.

For years now the window film industry has measured most of their published specifications on 1/8″ clear single pane glass. We blogged why this was the common practice and the reasoning and benefit behind it. There was always a need for a standardized specification and standardized testing that could be verified by a neutral 3rd party to be both accurate and at the same time recognized by agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE). This was a crucial step in leaving old practices behind and moving a head in the promotion of accuracy. It was also vital so that single-region measurements would not be mismarketed to the general public and misinterpreted as total solar performance data.

A landmark occasion has arrived for the window film industry. There is a neutral 3rd party organization to certify window film performance specifications not just on single pane glass but on dual pane glass as well. The National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) is a non-profit organization that administers the only uniform, independent rating and labeling system for the energy performance of windows, doors, skylights, attachment, and applied window film products. Currently, there are two window film manufacturers with certified products listed in the NFRC Applied Films Directory. This accurate data can be used to not only compare the total performance of one film to the next, but it can also be used to calculate the glass’ affect on building performance and the return on investing in window film.

We have come a long way from presenting our customers with a specification card that in most instances does not apply to their glass situation and yields an inaccurate result. NFRC Certified Films are now recognized by the DOE as an energy saving device and in time, will qualify to be rated as Energy Star products. Consumers can rest assured that they are being given the most accurate and relevant data to date so the they can be confident in their buying decision.

-vc

The Value of a Good Installation

You could purchase the best window film on the market but if it is poorly installed, what do you have? Dissatisfaction, frustration, loss of time, loss of money, maybe and angry spouse, and last but certainly not the least; your home or office now looks like it received a cheap tint job. How does this situation come about and how can you avoid it?

You Really Do Get What You Pay For -Here Is Why?

All of us are in search for the best price, the best deal we can get. So we scower the Yellow Pages or start Googling looking for window film companies to come out and give us a bid. What are we typically looking for? Is it not the best price in a lot of instances? Sure it is! Ask yourself what is it that motivates my buying decision? What makes me choose one bid over the next?

As I mentioned, we all want the best price. However, when we go so far as to create competition amongst bidders to the point where they start slashing prices below a healthy profitability margin, we inadvertently set ourselves up for a horrific installation. Here is what happens.

Every business must profit to stay alive. If they do not profit, it is only a matter of time before they go out of business. So if a window film company discounts the film that you would like to purchase down to an unhealthy profitability level and still is not the lowest bidder, where does further discounting come from? Well the next bid line item on your invoice is usually the labor charge or the money that is used to pay the installers, their insurance, taxes, and other benefits. So lets say that the bidding company discounts 40% of the labor charge to tint your home. Logic dictates that this will also affect the amount of money the installer takes home on your job. If he or she is roughly losing a third of their income for the day, they will have to work faster so that they can squeeze in more work that day and make up for the loss on your job.

We all know what can happen to quality when we are forced to squeeze in more quantity and this can be the case with window tinting. Rushed jobs can simply be due to the economics of competitive bidding.

How Can You Avoid a Bad Install?

There is no guarantee that you will not find a bad apple or have a poorly installed window film job but there are some simple steps to drastically minimize the possibility.

1) Get a referral. If you know someone that has had window film installed in their home or place of business go take a look at it. Does it look good? Ask how their experience was with the window film contractor. Did the installer take his or her time, were they neat and clean, did they take care not to damage or dirty your home or business?

2) I usually say ask for experience but recently I trained a new installer who barely has 1 year under his belt and does better work than the 20yr + veterans. So if anyone brags about the length of time they have been installing window film refer back to point #1. The finished result knows no length of experience and speaks for itself.

3) Ask if they are licensed and insured. Usually companies that invest in measures to protect the consumer will more than likely do good work.

4) Be reasonable. Do not put contractors in a bidding war. It will only facilitate the above mentioned scenario. One hint is to choose the company that either holds their ground or even backs out of the bid. Usually these companies know from experience what their bottom line is and more importantly, they know not to cross it just to win your business.

Consumers deserve to have excellent products installed to the highest standards possible. However, with good reason contracting companies should also receive a fair wage that allows their installers to take the time necessary to perform good work and still be able to make a living. Then having the best window film installed to your satisfaction can be a reality.

-vc

Does Your Contractor Need a License?

Does your state require that you be a licensed contractor to install window film on a building or home? Many states do and it can be a real protection for both consumers and licenced contractors. For instance, in the state of California anyone performing construction work in California on jobs that total $500 dollars or more in labor and materials must be licensed by CSLB. There are few exceptions, and no, window tinting whether it be commercial or residential is not one of those exceptions. Despite these laws it is not hard to find companies that perform window tinting unlicensed. Some even use their business license number in place of a legal contractor’s license number!

In California, unlicensed contractors are part of the $60-140 billion dollar underground economy that doesn’t pay taxes, insurance or follow safety laws. Licensed contractors must demonstrate at least 4 years of experience/education in the field they are licensed, be fingerprinted, have a FBI Background check and be bonded. These requirements are put in place to protect consumers, employees, and even the contractors themselves. So when a company chooses to break the law by contracting without a license, they in essence choose to undermine a check and balance that is in place for the benefit of all parties that are involved.

It becomes even more ironic when these same companies advertise that they will care for you as a customer like no other company can. Well that is an all out lie! First of all they are breaking the law by being unlicensed and now they claim that you are in good hands? Secondly, how do you know that they are holding themselves to the same safety standards that licensed contractors have too maintain? Who is responsible if an employee of an unlicensed contractor gets hurt at your home? If their employer is not carrying the required insurance to protect their employees, who’s insurance do you suppose they will file a legal claim against?

Who do you suppose will pay for injuries, the lawbreaker?

Who do you suppose will pay for injuries, the lawbreaker?

Obviously, we could go on and on about the ramifications of this practice but wouldn’t it be better to discuss some steps that could be taken to put the burden on the lawbreakers to conform and comply? Well for one thing we all need to check are state laws and be familiar with what trades need licensing. Consumers need to verify that any company that they request a bid from is also providing their contractor’s license number. Most laws require that it be printed on any form of advertising, company vehicle, or letterhead. Once you have this information go to your state contractor’s board website and look up the status of your window tinting company’s license. There you will be able to access a lot of important information that will help you in your selection process. It is up to you to refuse to do business with someone who is breaking the law no matter how alluring their prices may be. You are ultimately in control and by making a stand you could play a key role in wiping out a flourishing underground industry.

If you are a window film dealer you can promote legal contracting practices in your advertising. When giving bids, you can encourage people to shop only licensed companies and highlight the benefits of doing so. You can report illegal activity on the contractor’s board website as well. Even if you think it does not work, the united cry alone will bring more attention to the problem. And one other thing that you can do is to lobby for legislation if your state does not require window tinting to have a contractor’s license. Any well established and well run company would embrace such laws. The benefits far outweigh the expenses.

Manufacturers and distributors have a role to play as well. It is in your power to require that your customers operate their businesses legally by following state contractor’s laws before supplying then with window film. This is not restricting trade but rather, it is similar to requiring a resale certificate on a tax-free sale… it is the law. No certificate, no film. If suppliers tightened their requirements it would have a dramatic effect on things. Perhaps if their customers demanded such practices, suppliers would be quick to make changes?

There is no denying that there is a problem so the message here is that it is a win/win situation if we all work together to solve it.

-vc

Purple Haze

Purple haze all in my eyes…

What happened to my windows! I had window film installed on my windows and the salesperson that sold it to me said that it was the best film on the market… Now my windows are turning purple and I can’t get the company that I contracted to return my call. Believe it or not, this scenario happens regularly. How do I know? Well, I remove quite a bit of that purple stuff. Dyed films are notorious for turning purple. You would think that consumers would start to become more aware of this but just about every day I either drive by a house or a building with purple glass and how many times do we all get passed by a car with purple windows? Nobody wants it, but despite this, people keep buying dyed film. Why?

Lately things don’t seem the same…

The window film industry in recent years has had an influx of new suppliers bringing new products to market at enticing prices. The problem with this situation is that for every good window film that has become available to consumers, there are many more poorly constructed films that have made it to the marketplace as well.

Competition amongst manufacturers is a good thing. It breeds diversity, innovation, and keeps pricing competitive. The problem rears its ugly head when the marketplace gets cramped and does not grow. Companies compete fiercely for market share but the proverbial pie does not get any larger. So without a growing marketplace suppliers have to be strategic as to how they will attract customers to their products.

The path of least resistance has always been to find ways to lower prices in order to increase sales. When prices are lowered something has to give in order to stay profitable. So if you are a manufacturer and you do everything in your power to reduce your operating expenses even going as far as moving your manufacturing facilities to countries where labor is cheaper, you eventually have to give consideration to the quality of materials that you are going to construct your product with. If you want to produce a low price film then you need to find cheaper components. You can also try and minimize the number of components or use a less expensive processes to fabricate all of your components together into the finished product.

I was talking to a Chinese scientist that does R&D for one of the major window film manufactures and he summed it up this way. “If you use cr@p materials and process, you get cr@p film.” I think that sums it up pretty well. The old adage “you get what you pay for…” still holds true but this is not necessarily the most reliable way to spot poorly developed films. Nowadays, even the more expensive films on the market incorporate dyes that can break down or even wear off the film surface.

I can’t tell if it’s day or night…

Dye is an inexpensive way to regulate the visible light transmittance of window film. It also is used to reduce the reflectivity of some metalized window films. Some manufacturers produce very inexpensive films by putting the dye into the adhesive layer because it is an inexpensive and easy process. The problem is that dye located in the adhesive discolors very quickly. Dye in the polyester layer is also susceptible to discoloration, it may take a little longer but it will happen. Even on some so-called “premium window films” dye is incorporated into the scratch resistant coating which is the protective surface layer of window film can wear down from cleaning and is susceptible to organic and inorganic fluids and cleaning materials. Whatever the combination, dye will eventually fade to purple.

The haze can come from a number of sources. The polyester can be one such source, stacking of film layers, pigments, and improper cleaning and maintenance of manufacturing machinery are among other factors that contribute to excessive haze and poor optics. So how does a consumer spot these problems before making the purchase?

The best way is to have samples placed on your windows before you commit to buying. Have differing brands of film placed side by side and look at them throughout the day, even in the evening, and be sure to look at them from the exterior as well. You will be surprised at how one film differs from the next and you will be able to pick out the dyed films right away. As the sun starts to hit the window look for “low angle haze.” Well-made films will be free of such haze and they will look good at any time of day.

I’m not happy… I’m in misery.

Don’t take this wrong but in a day and age where information is more readily available than any other time in human history, there is no excuse for a consumer not to educate themselves. Those who refuse to take advantage of the unprecedented access to what is available will suffer the consequences. A miserable experience can be easily avoided by not hyper-focusing on price but rather, on value. Dye-free films would naturally be the best option. Most ceramic films are dye-fee and there are some Spectrally select Films that are dye-free as well. One good way to spot these products is to look in a manufacture’s marketing material. Look for advertising that states that the product is dye-free.

Other options are to look for films that use pigments instead of dye. Pigments can either be organic or inorganic and are more stable than straight dyed films. There are some trade-offs when you go with films that incorporate pigments, we will try and address these in future blogs.

Once again, the main message is to be informed. Research, ask your window film professional questions, make sure they install samples, and look for good value rather than the cheapest price otherwise you may end up having “Purple Haze All Around…” your home, office, or vehicle.

-vclimber