Volume 11, Issue 3 - May/June 2007

Paint Protection 101
Five Things You Need to Know 
About This Area of Diversification

by Penny Stacey
 

Welcome to Paint Protection 101, Window Film magazine’s own intro to a new area of diversification. While many readers may already be handling paint protection film in their business, for many, this is a new realm—and not one to be taken lightly. 

Paint protection film is an in-depth business that is sure to provide a challenge. Following is a list of the five things we think you need to know to get started.

1. How is paint protection film applied?
There are many challenges to this type of application, according to those interviewed for this article. “There is a learning curve involved in learning to apply this product,” says Craig Clement, chief operating officer for XPEL Products of San Antonio. 

He noted that the best way to adjust to the curve is to take a detailed course in the subject. (See sidebar.)

“It goes on much like window tint does, with a wet solution and a squeegee, but there’s a lot more to it,” Clement says. “I liken it to putting gift paper on a basketball. If you laid gift paper on a basketball, you’d be hard-pressed to get it to look nice. If you are applying paint protection film without training, you’d be hard-pressed to do it well.”

XPEL offers a 5-day course to give installers the basics, and also has an advanced course available for those who want to delve even further into the subject. “Once you have learned the basic skills, that’s the foundation for being successful,” adds Paul Costas, vice president of inbound sales for XPEL. “There’s no way to get that without attending a training class.”

Manny Hondroulis, marketing leader for Energy Products Distribution, a distributor of 3M’s paint protection film, agreed. He said EPD’s 3-day course, led by 3M’s Michael Beaver, includes history and evolution of the film, how to market the product, how to use a plotter and software and detailed, hands-on application practice.

“Upon completion of the three-day course, trainees are armed with the basic skill set and tools to enhance their industry expertise,” Hondroulis says.

Hondroulis also echoed Clement’s note that while related, applying window film and paint protection film are still very different tasks.

“Be patient,” Hondroulis warns. “Paint protection film is unlike window tint and having expertise in window film does not necessarily translate into expertise in paint protection film.” 

2. How do you choose a film that’s right for the job?
When it’s time to choose a paint protection film for your company—either to use on a specific job or as a standard film to offer—Costas says this is the simple part.

“It’s a pretty standard product. Basically there are two types of film out there. There’s a clear-coated film and a base urethane non-coated film,” he says.

Costas adds that most paint protection companies are migrating toward the clear-coated film, which has a higher gloss-retention rate than its base urethane non-coated predecessor. 

3. How do you market paint protection film?
“Marketing can be done at many levels,” Hondroulis says. 

“Installers market themselves, in addition to the product, to car dealerships, body shops, tint shops and other places. Some of these companies do not want to undertake the installation in-house so they outsource the work.”

For tint shops that already have a customer base and marketing plan in place, Costas says the same plan will carry over into the paint protection aspect of their business.

“Keep on doing what you’re doing,” he says. “If [shops] have a great retail location and they get good retail traffic, obviously put up some signs that you’re doing this now, put a car out front that you’ve already done, and, if you work with dealerships, market to them.”

Clement, however, added, that paint protection isn’t like window film from a marketing aspect. It’s not something that a customer is going to see on a car and want; the customer has to be told that it’s there.

4. How are customers reacting to the product?
Costas says through independent research XPEL has conducted, it has found that paint protection film is quite popular among consumers.

“The film does what it’s intended to do,” he says. “It protects against bugs, etc., that come in contact with the paint. This film does help the car maintain its pristine appearance. We hear over and over again the raves about the product that come from our dealers. It’s a product that has extreme function to it.”

For Hondroulis, he says paint protection’s history says it all.“It has been used by the military, NASCAR and is now finally making it to the consumer market,” he says.Hondroulis also adds that many car manufacturers are applying paint protection at the point of manufacture, which is a testament to how popular the product is becoming among consumers.

5. How do you find and choose a distributor for the product?
Just like locating a film distributor, Hondroulis says the key to choosing a distributor for paint protection film is making sure the distributor has what your shop needs.

“The basics of any good distributor include having inventory in stock, providing efficient shipping, carrying basic installation tools and shipping pre-cut kits,” he says. “But going above and beyond that proposition is important, too. Does the distributor help the installer market the product? Does the distributor help the installer develop a web presence? Do the distributor and manufacturer partner together to maximize the installer’s output and effectiveness?” 

Where Do I Find a Training Class?
Paint protection training courses are offered throughout the United States and beyond at various time periods. Following is a list of companies and their websites that Window Film was able to locate that offer training programs on a regular basis. If you offer a training course in paint protection film and would like to be included in future listings, please e-mail dvass@glass.com.

Company                                                  Location                                         Website
Courage Distributing Inc.                              Mississauga, Ontario                          www.courage.ca 
CPFilms Inc.                                                Martinsville, Va.                                www.cpfilms.com
Energy Products Distribution                         Baltimore, Md.                                  www.epdwindowfilm.com 
Starshield Armor                                          Irwindale, Calif.                                www.starshieldarmor.com
XPEL Technologies Corp.                              San Antonio, Texas                           www.xpel.com 

 

Penny Stacey is the outgoing editor of Window Film magazine.

 


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