Hey there! My name is Kaval Vilkhu, owner/operator of Make it Shine Detailing in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. Established in 2007, I started as a die-hard detailer and lived on Autopia.org forums soaking up as much as possible. Fast forward to 2023, and my business is about 95% paint protection film (PPF) projects. The rest is high-level correction work and ceramic coatings with a bit of window tint mixed in.
Public Service Announcement
It’s an honor and privilege to contribute to PPFMag’s Focus on PPF/CC newsletter. Many who are reading this right now are people I respect and admire. I hope that my contributions are worthwhile, thought-provoking and informative.
To the veterans in the industry, what I share may be common sense to you. If you read this, thank you for taking the time. This is for the newer owners that are still trying to figure things out, find their strategy and begin to make their mark on the industry and their target market.
New owners and installers—I hope my words cause you to think deeply about business and understand the parallels between how your business operates, how you live your life and how you think.
If there is one thing I have learned over the years it’s that being a driven entrepreneur and business owner is like holding up a mirror to yourself and learning to be a better person and owner every single day. Like life, you must think long-term if you want long-term success. You will also notice short-term successes from long-term strategies.
Raising Costs—and Prices
If you spend two minutes on any social media platform that allows local targeted ads, you will likely find a sale for ceramic coatings, window tint and PPF. Have a look at the pricing these shops are offering. We see the same thing every winter, but it is never the same shop year-over-year (because they don’t last). Sales are great for specific industries, but I believe that they hurt your business and make it harder to build lasting relationships with clients in the long-term.
As time passes and your business grows, so will your costs. You should raise your prices, too. If you have built your clientele with a certain price signal and are committed to improvement, there will come a time when you may lose some of these clients that are locked into your previous pricing signal. Why? It’s quite simple. If you go to a restaurant offering a $30 meal for $20, the restaurant has effectively told its patrons that the meal is worth $20, not $30.
Corporations pay their employees the minimum dollar value to keep them around. If you discount yourself and give in to these short-term pressures without learning to build true value, you are telling your clients that the discounted price is the true price you see your services are worth. Remember that a discounted price from your side results in you making less margin, therefore making it worth less of your time and energy—both finite
Let’s take an example from my business to drive home this point.
A client contacted me for a full-body PPF installation on a brand-new Audi S4. I did the usual consult over the phone, sent pricing his way (keeping in mind that we are already higher than the competition) and waited a couple of days. After no reply, I reached out with a follow-up and heard back. He replied, “I want to go with you, but I am struggling to decide because I got quotes for $2,000 less than you.”
It struck me that not one or two quoted $2,000 less … it was six shops! Our client said this signaled him that if six out of seven shops have given nearly identical quotes, we must be way off-base.
How Can We Serve You?
Naturally, my client asked what I could do with my pricing to make it more attractive, as he wanted to bring his vehicle to my shop. But veterans know—lowering your price is not the best way to set yourself up for future success.
You need to say no, but in the right way. Sure, it’s vital to get the job, but don’t do it based on price. Acting as a consultant for my client, I asked if the other shops gave details about the installation and if any of them invited him over to see some work.
“After all, if you’re giving anyone $5,000 or more, wouldn’t you want to see an example of what they can deliver?” Both questions were answered with a concerned “no.” And herein lies the difference in thinking. You want to guide your client’s thought process back to what matters—giving them what they pay for.
Thinking Long Term
You must assess this with true honesty and humility because your clients will pick up on this, as our client did. Be less of a salesperson and more of a consultant for your client. Generally, if they have $5,000 to spend, they have more, but you have to show them why they should pay more.
Nobody wants to pay twice and to say that is not to focus on the fear. It is a fact. Many will take that risk, and that is okay. Sometimes the journey of our clients cannot be fully controlled. Thankfully, the right ones will find their way back to you. This is true long-term strategy and thinking. We get very tempted to lower our price to get that job, but what we lose in the short term becomes hard to make up in the long-term.
You are not just saying no to your client, you are also saying no to your temptation. Do you want to be busy because you are good or cheap?
I am happy to share that the S4 I mentioned above is being picked up tomorrow, and the client is very excited. I shifted the focus away from dollars and towards what little more in the long term could get him and delivered on everything I promised.
In the end, he spent 45% more with me, but over the course of his ownership, it’s an extremely small amount that is much easier to justify. By effectively saying no, he knows what Make it Shine is worth and sees its services as worth it. Now, he will say two things within his network—“Make it Shine was not the cheapest, and I have no regrets.”
Until next time!