Posts Tagged 'window film dealers'

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

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The peasants are rioting in the streets!

Ok, I’m getting slightly outraged. I have been receiving messages from window film dealers all around the country lately detailing how their suppliers are out selling window film and bringing their dealers the install rather than the entire sale. This is nothing new but it seems to be more common than ever before. What’s up? You manufacturers and distributors know who I’m talking about… should I name names here? It seems as though just about every one of you has set up some kind of direct to commercial sales program and now you have assumed the role of competitor in the minds of your customers.

I can empathize with the competitive situation between manufactures, I have a similar situation on the retail side myself. Where does the line get crossed though? You can only sell around your customers for so long until it reaches a point to where you completely undermine your relationship with your customer as well as undermining the market place. So let me address some of the excuses that I have heard on the supply side of this issue.

One dealer cannot handle an entire national account…

True, but the sale could be negotiated so that the national chain makes the film purchase through a local dealer at each chain store location for an agreed upon rate. Does Taco Bell’s UFPC sell beans and tortillas direct to large buyers or do they make them go to their franchise partners and buy a Buritto Supreme? Can you see people bringing their beans, tortillas, cheese, and so forth into the local Taco Bell requesting them to just cook and prepare it and at a reduced charge? Absurd! To the contrary, Taco Bell’s operating entity makes sure that it’s retail outlets are equipped and capable of handling business otherwise they cannot be an outlet.

There is not enough room in the deal to include a local dealer in the film sale. We can only close the sale if the dealer takes a modest installation rate.

Well, that is your fault! Manufacturers and Distributors have created a commodity environment where prices have been driven down so far that there is no longer any healthy margins to sustain their own dealer base. Oversaturated markets with dealers peddling the same brand films right across the street from one another drives prices down not up. Why do some of you continue to pursue the oversaturation business model? See what you are contributing too?

Dealers are not capable of handling the financial implications of a large project.

True, this industry is full of great window tinters but that does not automatically make them great business persons. Again though, it is in the suppliers power to determine who they will do business with first. I know there are some great companies out there that are very capable of handling the financial logistics of a large project but in your eyes the only ones remotely capable are called distributors. Distribution is not retail nor is retail distribution… quit blurring the line here. How do dealers feel when they have to bid against a company that at the same time tries to supply the same product to them? The peasants are tired of being treated this way. Your actions have spawned a flourishing contract installation movement that creates more transient behavior which undermines your efforts to build solid dealers.

If we don’t sell it, some other manufacturer will…

Ok… then what happens? After your dealer base dries up and blows away are you going to handle the install too? Because if you don’t, some other manufacturer will you know.

Dealers lack the skills necessary to negotiate and close large projects.

Well then train them. They are your customers, you will reap from their rewards.

Where is your loyalty? How come you are using other suppliers instead of us exclusively? We’d let you in on the deal if you were exclusively buying from us…

Where is my loyalty? Uh, let me turn that around… where is your loyalty? If I meet all of my obligations to you (ie. purchase requirements) shouldn’t I be rewarded by being allowed to be a window film dealer rather than an installing entity? Poor accounts are one thing, but when a dealer is carrying their load, they should also get a measure of loyalty in return.

This customer will only deal directly with corporate, they do not do business with retail dealers…

And who set the precedent for this? Will the same customer only deal with corporate on the installation end as well? Can’t you just see it now… Window Film CEO’s, CFO’s, and the like all will their tool belts and OLFA knives ready to go out and install film. After all, this customer will only deal directly with corporate… yeah, ok.

Dealers do not have the time necessary to close large jobs or national accounts…

In most cases that is true. But I have to digress back to the issue of partnering through the whole process. Sure the supplier is in a position in most cases to make 1st contact, propose, bid, and close the deal. So why has the industry stopped short and cut their dealer base off at the knees by refusing to move the film sale through the retail outlet rather than the source? Has your practice strengthened the market or has it eroded it?

And This Wasn’t Enough…

We have been contending with these “Premium Film Programs” that are for the privileged (volume) dealers (Or the only dealer in the middle of nowhere) that will throw down the cash for their own exclusive slice of the pie. I was approached a few years back and offered a Prestigious Program for a mere $15K where I would have a territory all to myself provided that I rid myself of every vestige of competing film brands.

Well that was the deal then but a lot has changed. The exclusive territories are now Depots where companies from thousands of miles away can run virtual outlets and negotiate installations with local dealers (my competition) and even have access to other brands of film if a bid calls for it. Now if I had spent my $15K way back when, how would it be explained to me that now I have to share my slice of the pie with the boys from Georgia? How much did they spend to have a share of my territory? It is things like this that have dealers seeing red… no pun intended. Well, maybe just a little pun intended… -lol

I know this is just scratching the surface of the whole issue and there is a whole other side to this story from a supplier’s standpoint. But here is the reality. I am getting to the point where I will ask every supplier that wants to do business with me if they are out procuring sales from my potential customers. Will I find myself bidding against my supplier? If so, then why should I do business with them? If the supplier explains that their direct to commercial account program is designed to capture business that is normally lost to the dealer anyway, then how is the transaction going to be handled? Will I be a window film dealer or simply an installer?

And while I am asking I may as well inquire whether or not there will be a competing company roving about negotiating deals with my competition, starting new partnerships with my designers, window covering, and glass companies all while selling the same brand of film that you want me to buy from you for after I pay my buy-in. When I ask, will you be truthful with me?


Window Film Dealers should not have to compete against their suppliers!

Perhaps this is what all dealers should do? I know I am not alone, others have spoken out about the reality of doing business with supplying companies. The peasants are outraged and yet despite the mania I have found a few select companies that still treat me as a partner but it is a two way street which requires that I hold to my end of the partnership. Yes, there are expectations that I must meet and that is usually not a problem so long as we work collectively to build our business and marketplaces so that both sides can grow and flourish.

Hold on supply side and don’t get outraged at me yet… I will discuss what I know of your side and the challenges that you face with us dealers in a future blog.

-vc