By Mel Villalon
This column is an insider’s guide to choosing an actual training facility versus having an onsite paint protection film (PPF) trainer visit your facility.
For those looking to learn how to install PPF, the choices are tough to navigate. You’ll need to do your research. I won’t comment on any online options, as I only want to speak on topics I’ve personally experienced. These are my perspectives.
The main questions asked regarding training or getting started are:
1. Where’s the best place to get training?
2. Where can I buy PPF without an account or dealer agreement? I want to buy a roll and practice independently.
3. Shops that offer PPF/window tinting/coatings are known as having the trifecta. The trifecta is a common denominator among emerging shops grossing seven figures. For those that wish to get into the game with the trifecta, which skill should be acquired first? Will choosing one over the other make the transition between skills easier? We should probably add wrap skills to the options as well. We’ll get back to this later.
In this article, I’ll start with question number one: where should I train?
You can attend a physical school or have a trainer come to you. In my experience, the best schools have a variety of full front-end workstations that have various skill-level requirements. Aerotect in La Verne, Calif., is excellent. I’ve personally experienced their training program.
The second attribute I believe is important is a generous amount of material and hands-on installation time. This is where I noticed a big difference between a local distributor and a brand. Both have an end goal of selling more film. The local distributor may not have deep backing from the brand or manufacturer and the materials may be coming out of his pocket.
I’ve seen classes that give you half a bumper or a set amount of material per student, which is fine if it’s fair. I see nothing wrong with starting a half-bumper or re-using the same piece several times. It’s also a great way to test film, but if it’s out of necessity, that’s unfortunate. They’ll also do more talking and demos, with less hands-on time and materials wasted on you. If the class is cheap, this is what you’ll find.
For me, the hands-on time, a variety of vehicles to practice on and a generous amount of material are the most important factors to consider.
I like doing basic training classes in search of that minute basic detail I may have missed, forgotten or misunderstood. There’s also the option to have a trainer come out to your location and provide training.
I’ll cover the pros and cons, along with creative ways to fund your training. There are known training professionals and brand-based trainers. They each have a purpose— just ensure your choice aligns with your goals. We’ll dive into this in the next edition of my column.
Mel Villalon is the general manager of Paradise Tinting in Long Beach, Calif.
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