Why PPF?

Before I get into my first post, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Chris DiMinico, one of WindowFilmMag.com’s newest bloggers and president of AutoNuvo in Holliston, Mass. You’ll see my posts, which will mostly be about paint protection films (PPF), once a month. I’ve been in the adhesive tape/film business in one capacity or another for more than 20 years. I’ve seen the PPF business grow from its virtual inception, having held assorted positions from product manager/product development to executive with OEM manufactures, PPF distributors and installation companies. It’s been an interesting journey from what PPF was 20 years ago to its current market which has numerous OEM manufactures, types of films and pattern choices.

AutoNuvo, a division of Protective Solutions, has been installing PPF as a company for more than 18 years, and we preach the importance of your vehicles’ appearance. A vehicle is one of the largest investments the average person makes in his or her lifetime; why not protect it?

What is PPF?
PPF is an ultra-durable, non-yellowing thermoplastic film coated with an ultraviolet (UV) stable pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) that is virtually invisible when applied. It’s designed to protect a vehicle’s painted surface from everyday road-rash and debris, as well as staining and micro-marring, while preserving the original appearance of a vehicle’s paint. The material was originally used by the U.S. Military to protect carbon fiber helicopter blades from debris that is stirred up during the landing process.

How Does PPF Fit a Vehicle?
The film is applied directly to a vehicle’s clear coat; this is a wet application typically using a slip solution (soap/water) and a tack solution (IPA/water solution). The PSA bond to the clear coat will be achieved as the installer squeegees out the tack solution. It typically takes 24 to 48 hours for the PSA to fully cure and achieve its full bond.

To Plot or Not?
Today, there are numerous companies offering pattern software for PPF installers to “pre-cut” a specific vehicle pattern. This is done by the pattern/cutting company mapping the actual vehicle and then creating a 2-D pattern in its software. An installer can then plot out a “kit” on the film, creating the kit for the exact model he’s installing with PPF with the use of a plotter.

Depending on the pattern/cutting software, the installer will have the ability to make adjustments to the pattern. As for customizing the kit, installers will cut to suit their own techniques and personal preferences. There are many that will hand-cut the entire kit on a vehicle or use some hybrid of both methods to achieve the most coverage and cleanest install. After all, it’s about achieving what will make the customer most satisfied.

Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog and If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out at chris@autonuvo.com.

Stop Dabbling in PPF

I recently got into indoor rock climbing. It’s a unique and tough sport that challenges you mentally and physically to overcome obstacles and fear. Now that I’ve been a few times, I’m getting better and more confident in what I can do. I don’t let certain limitations stop me from taking more difficult paths—and you shouldn’t either when it comes to your business and adding paint protection film (PPF) as a profit center.

Too often I hear installers complain they have a hard time selling the product or they only do a few kits here and there. Frankly, most of the time they’re just dipping their toes into their PPF segment instead of making the true investment it needs.

That’s the wrong approach. You’re either in it or you’re not. In many instances, there’s room for gray areas but frankly, I feel this is a black and white situation. I might be an outlier, but this point is to provoke the way you look at your own business and the industries in which you operate. There’s something to be said of the phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” In layman’s terms, you do a lot of things, but you’re not really masterful at any of them. When it comes to business, that’s not good. You hear businesses like restaurants trying to offer too many things and therefore sacrifice quality. Dipping your toes into too many things causes a loss in quality and overall, a loss of opportunity.

When it comes to PPF, many aftermarket installers want to add it to their revenue stream but don’t put in the investment needed to make it a realistic profit center. Most places start with subbing the work out which starts out pretty well for all parties. But eventually the business owner wants to offer the service themselves rather than sub it out.

That’s the right step, but do it right. If you don’t go all in, you not only will waste your money, but customers will suffer—and so will your reputation. When I climb, I try to reach for that difficult piece to step on or grab with my hand, or else I’ll just be stuck in the middle of a wall with nowhere to go. I might fall, but I can always get back up, try it again and learn from my mistake. It might take a little longer than I want, but if I’m all in, my chances of success are greater than if I only go a portion of the way.

It’s the same way with PPF. If you add a dedicated clear bra business, you better be all in. That means you buy a plotter, get some software, buy some rolled stock and actually sell the product proactively. You can even take a training course to speed up your learning curve to the industry. Business isn’t just going to come to you. Not enough consumers know about it. With promotion and education, the consumer will understand the value and be sold on it just like window tint or remote starters. This product requires a proactive approach, not a reactive business strategy.

As always, exceed expectations every day!

Prime PPF Procedures

Having such a large sales territory, I have the gratifying responsibility to travel North America and see shop owners and installers in all different regions and territories. It’s interesting to see that every market has something different to offer or a set standard for paint protection film that varies from other areas.

Colorado’s Success

Take Colorado, for example. Installers there have a set standard of doing uppers (partial hoods, partial fenders and mirrors) with 18-inch or 12-inch material. Dealers there don’t do a ton of bumpers but find a lot of success selling uppers. Colorado also has the best penetration rate at the new car dealer level than any place in the U.S. Clearly, whatever they’re doing there is working. That’s just one state, though.

A Common Disconnect

With all the success out there in Colorado comes a lot of competition of varying shop sophistication. Some guys are freelancers, mobile installers and some have brick and mortar companies, but when broken down piece by piece, there’s typically a disconnect between operations, sales and customer service of those businesses. It’s very difficult for a one-man operation to juggle all his hats efficiently and successfully without a little help. Even small companies with less than 12 staff members deal with the same issues. Let’s look at the three major “food groups” of the PPF business structure: sales, operations and customer service.

Start with Sales

Sales is the toughest part of the business. Leads or prospects can be generated in a number of ways, but what do you do once you have that lead? Not everyone is a salesperson but you can fake it to make it with some simple procedures put in place to allow for anyone to fill in that role temporarily. Asking leads questions gets them to talk, let their guard down and develop rapport with you before you get to the last stages of the sales process. Come up with a script so you or an employee can repeat the same questions each time. Ultimately you want to lock them in for an appointment and possibly a deposit to seal the deal, which I recommend highly on the retail side. Streamlining things doesn’t work for every lead, but it will bring a consistency to the process so the prospect’s experience is similar every time.

Prime Pricing

Another good part of the sales process is standardizing your pricing model. Have a few packages to offer and set a price for each one no matter what size or type the car is. It makes quoting so much faster and easier. The overall goal of this is to get the customer to lock in with you and not take the worst of their two other options: going to a competitor that offers standardized pricing standard or waiting for you to call them back with a quote. Consumers would like to get their answers when they have you on the phone. If they have to wait, they’ll call your competitor.

Optimizing Operations

Operations is the next important business aspect. It is essential to have a standard operating procedure (SOP). Put a SOP in place that not only works but also fills the needs of every aspect of the business. This makes it easier to run the business efficiently and as a whole, even while trying to accomplish several tasks at once. A SOP covers everything from booking the appointment, cutting the film and even collecting payment or a deposit. Create a structure that gives a smooth experience not just to your customer, but you as the business.

Here’s my SOP for preparing a car for installation:

  1. Shampoo the car;
  2. Remove any hard-caked on contaminants with adhesive remover;
  3. Clay bar the surface; and
  4. Rinse with Alcohol, 70 percent IPA.

I do this every time and it makes the surface clean consistently.

Servicing Customers

Last, but certainly not least is customer service. This is where a lot of business owners miss a few steps, though not on purpose. Installers by trade and by habit are juggling a lot of things at once and can sometimes forget some of the details in the customer service department. Sometimes it’s not going over the actual install to make sure they’re happy with it. It could also be sending a follow-up email to check on the car after a week to make sure everything cured out. How about filling out the warranty card for them and giving it with the invoice and care instructions? It could even be as simple as shaking their hand and thanking them for their business. The best recommendation I can give you is setup an experience for your customer so that they not only want to come back to you for their next car, but also refer their friends, family and co-workers. Word-of-mouth marketing is best.

I know we’re scratching the surface with this discussion, but that’s the point. Think about how you can spruce up your procedures. Challenge yourself, tweak some and come up with some ideas to make it better. Exceed expectations every day!

-Jamie Werner
National Sale Manager and Head Trainer, PremiumShield

The Best Ways to Start Selling PPF

I want to first welcome everyone back from both the International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ and SEMA. These were two great events to network, learn and explore ways to build your business. Both had people who expressed a strong cry for help, particularly how to increase their sales. The question takes a bit of time to answer, so let’s take a journey down sales 101 and see if we can shed some light on selling paint protection film (PPF).

The Basics

Let’s start with the basics. PPF is considered a product for new cars. Your chances of getting a consumer to buy it after it’s been driven off the lot go downhill every day they don’t get it added to the car. Some shops use it as an upsell and some even use it as their main product/service they offer, while others are using it to attract that type of clientele in so they can sell them their other products and services. With all these reasons to carry PPF, it takes knowledge of the customers and why they want the product in the first place.

Time to Educate

Not enough consumers even know about PPF so that’s where the sales process starts. You’ll have to educate them on what the product is and what it can and can’t do. I love the phrase, “it’s paint protection, not paint perfection.” I don’t know who I first heard it from, but it’s stuck with me ever since. What that means is: Don’t over-sell what the product is. The more you talk about it, the more aware consumers will be of PPF and eventually it becomes something they know of, at least. It’s like a baseball player’s batting average. The more at bats you get, the more opportunities to get on base occur.

Why PPF?

The next thing to think about is why someone would even want to get PPF on his or her car. In its simplest explanation, PPF retains the value of the product for the secondary market. A good example is the electronics industry where most consumers are aware of screen protectors. We add them on the phone to protect the screen so when your upgrade is due in 2 years, you’re able trade it in at its highest value so you can roll that into your next phone. The same concept applies to the automotive industry. How your paint looks is a direct indicator of your cosmetic damage. Also, the value of your car, whether it be high-end or not, drops in value if the OEM has been damaged or repainted.

If you weren’t before, at least now you’re armed with some basics of sales hooks for PPF. It’s not the easiest product to sell, let alone install. The best advice I can give you is talk to your sales representative. They should be able to provide you with some help. If not, you can always reach out to me by leaving a comment below we’ll discuss some ways you can get the sales closure rate on the upward swing. Exceed expectations every day!