Rx for PPF

By Mike Burk

When dialing in your paint protection film (PPF) processes, it’s helpful to think of yourself as a surgeon and your shop as an operating room (OR). Every person in that room has a job, and each is important. For surgery to run smoothly and error-free, every tool is prepped and laid out in its spot, and every person in the room knows their responsibilities and is ready to support the team.

1 Don’t ask a doctor to do a nurse’s work.

A surgeon has a team of nurses, an anesthesiologist, etc., standing by. The crew preps the patient before they arrive, arranges the tools in the OR and assists them at every step. In a busy PPF shop, it’s a waste of a master installer’s time to wash and prep cars or plot patterns. Hiring entry-level workers to do prep work can maximize your output by allowing you to focus on your specialty.

2 Optimize your environment.

Does a surgeon work in a dirty operating room? Does he or she perform brain surgery in bad lighting? Why would you work in a dim shop with dust and dirt waiting to contaminate your material? Invest in good lighting and make cleaning the shop regularly a priority. When you start a job, have your patterns weeded and your tools and solutions ready to go so that all you have to worry about is being laser-focused on the task at hand.

3 Stay calm.

When encountering difficult situations, you must stay calm to focus and envision the solution. Which direction to stretch? Where to put a relief cut? Do you bulk it or use a pattern? Can you imagine a surgeon throwing scalpels across the room when something unexpected happens? Throwing bottles across the shop never got the job done either.

4 Visualize the approach.

Do you start with the bumper? The hood? The fender? Do you need an extra set of hands for some pieces, or can you do the entire thing yourself? Gel, soap solution, or a water/alcohol mix? Different mixes work better for different pieces. Be intentional.

5 Never stop training.

Doctors constantly study and learn the latest techniques and advances in their field, and you should too. Some of the best in the industry give away invaluable knowledge for free on Instagram and YouTube. Follow them and absorb all you can. Remember, though, watching someone else’s technique doesn’t mean you’ve mastered it. Practice, practice, practice. Every car is an opportunity to improve.

6 Walk before you run.

Don’t take on cars you can’t do. Start with a Tesla and give yourself plenty of time. Eventually, you’ll be an expert, but attempting that McLaren 720 bumper before mastering a Porsche or Lexus is a recipe for disaster.

7 Consistency is critical.

Every car has its quirks, and you constantly will add new tricks and techniques to deal with difficult situations. But doing things the same way over and over creates a master. From your staging area to your spray bottles to the order you install, find what works for you and repeat it.

8 Don’t burn out.

Stretch, do yoga and take vacations. Investing in your mental and physical health will allow you to be a better installer.

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 Burke to tackle in a future column, email him at mike@sunstoppers.com.

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