The New Year is just getting started, and there are a few lessons from 2020 that window film businesses are still holding onto. Window film magazine reached out to a number of shops to see what changes they made temporarily in 2020 that will become permanent in 2021.
One thing that is for certain is the importance of strong leadership. “2020 taught us a lot and Steve Pesce [president of New York Window Film Co., located in Farmingdale, N.Y.,], especially never gave up in keeping the company going,” said Jennifer Haynie, New York Window Film Co. marketing manager.
Michelle Hurtado, co-owner of Sal’s House of Tint, located in San Marcos, Texas, said 2020 was full of lessons, mostly of the back-to-basics type. “We immediately learned the importance of having a diverse product offering,” said Hurtado.
An essential government project kept the company busy in April when the phones were otherwise quiet, explained Hurtado. Although she says the company saw an overall decline in its architectural flat glass revenue in 2020, its automotive sector made up for the loss. “We were reminded why ‘rainy day funds’ exist and how being prepared for the unexpected can make all the difference,” said Hurtado. “The PPP loan application process reinforced the value of good bookkeeping and why it’s smart to know your commercial banker.”
Haynie explained that the company is a part of the construction industry and some jobs and projects were scheduled but not at the company’s usual amount.
“We continued staying patient while following all of the precautions from government and health officials,” said Haynie. “We are adapting as we transition to the New Year ahead. We are still targeting commercial/residential markets, but we give our customers the lead on what they feel most comfortable with in proceeding the install.”
George Atkinson, sales and marketing vice president of Source One Digital in Norton Shores, Mich., said that having more and having more open and honest communication with customers was a lesson the company learned in 2020. “Be closer to your customer and make sure you have their back when they are in trying times too,” said Atkinson.
2020 also taught the team at Sal’s House of Tint just how much they love their careers and the business that they’ve built. “During the uncertain times of mandatory shut-downs and shelter-in-place orders, we realized how suddenly our lives could change,” said Hurtado. “We were grateful to get back to work, and for our sustainable industry. Business lessons aside, we learned to treasure our health, happiness, and our tribe.”
One of the more common changes industry companies had to adapt to was socially distanced or virtual meetings.
“We are very personable company so to reduce in person meetings and estimates was a change,” said Haynie. “Zoom calls became our new normal and we relied on our customers to provide more if not all of the sizes and pictures to get a proposal in the works. We did adapt and have tried our best to move forward.”
Atkinson noticed that his staff adapted well to the company’s changes throughout 2020. “They adapted to new products, changes in staffing plans, and really anything we asked them to do,” said Atkinson. “They all banded together to make sure we all got through this.”
According to Hurtado, adapting to new safety guidelines has been a process that feels a bit more ‘normal’ every day. “Wearing masks, contactless appointments, not shaking hands after a business transaction, sanitizing to the max … it’s all taken some time to get used to,” she said. “But at least we’re all going through this awkward phase together and I’m excited to see what 2021 brings. I’m hoping for steps toward health, economic growth, and the return of consumer confidence on a global level.”
Jordan Campbell, vice president of Fusion Tools in Maryville, Ill., said her employees were somewhat prepared for the company’s changes. “We all had plenty of groceries at home,” said Campbell. “We keep our shop well stocked with paper towels and alcohol for PPF installations by general practice anyway. My warehouse manager is extremely clean because she has a high risk mother she cares for at home so the few changes we added to increase sanitation were well received and easily met by my entire staff.”
And there are some changes that were eye-openers and will be staying.
“I think the attention to upgraded sanitation, cleaning surfaces as well as washing hands, etc. will be around or a long time to come,” said Tommy Silva, CEO and president of T&T Tinting Specialists, Inc., in Honolulu, Hawaii. “The world was pretty lax in that department for a long time and COVID opened our eyes…”
“We are looking forward to actually having some live events next year so that part of our business returns,” said Atkinson.
According to Haynie, the company’s employees are staying hopeful for better days in the future. “We had a couple of jobs on hold since some of the buildings were vacant, so the plan is to close jobs almost a year later in the spring,” said Haynie. “Overall staying healthy and taking care of each other is what we will carry into 2021.”