Volume 12, Issue 3 - May/June 2008
|Opportunity Always Knocks
And McCutcheon Is Always Listening
by Drew Vass
In July 2007, hundreds of loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings crawled to their deaths near Deerfield Beach, Fla. These tiny newborns, which often hatch at night, instinctively will crawl toward light seeping from coastal homes, hotels or businesses.
Do you hear it yet? Keep listening.
Do you hear it now? If not, you may need a lesson in listening. And Scott McCutcheon may be just the window film dealer to provide it.
A news item on this topic appeared in the “Newsworthy” section of the September-October 2007 edition of Window Film (see page 10). Long before the article was published, however, McCutcheon, who owns Emerald Coast Glass Protection in Panama City, Fla., was tuned into this dilemma after hearing about it on local news broadcast. And what he heard was—opportunity.
“When I first heard about this situation, more than five years ago I guess, it just happened to pop up on the television and I thought, ‘Huh … they could use film to help solve this problem,’” he says.
McCutcheon didn’t step into a phone booth and put on his window film outfit; instead, he started digging into the situation to find out which organizations were involved.
“I’m actually working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Commission regarding this situation,” he explains. “They selected a strip of beach to test the effectiveness of a lighting ordinance.”
McCutcheon was responsible for introducing film as a solution.
This is “business as usual” for this shop owner. He lives in a film state of mind—seeking and finding sales opportunities in many places. When the terrorist attacks occurred September 11, 2001, McCutcheon began working his military contacts to promote the use of safety and security films.
When a string of hurricanes struck Florida in 2004 and 2005, he developed a marketing plan for home and business owners centered on safety and film. With the green movement in full swing, McCutcheon spent this past winter relearning solar films and creating a custom marketing plan with all the right buzz words and lingo.
Do Your Homework
If it sounds like a great deal of work, McCutcheon assures—it is. He also says developing these opportunities requires immense patience. Just getting in touch with the right person often can take weeks.
“My first objective for the turtle dilemma was developing marketing materials customized specifically for that market,” he explains. “Then it took me weeks to get the right person to contact me back and consider working with me on this.”
McCutcheon says you have to remember who you know.
“I’ve got a friend who does bird-watching for the government,” he says. “So I contacted her and she said, ‘Oh, you need to talk to this person.’ And that was it. Next thing you know, I was finally talking to the right person.”
Another resource McCutcheon has learned to leverage is his relationship with one of his film manufacturers, Bekaert Specialty Films.
“When I come across something, I try to work with a manufacturer and get them involved,” he explains. “Bekaert has the resources to get involved with something as large as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”
“After September 11, I began thinking that security films would surely become hot,” he explains, “so I started learning everything I could about every security film on the market.”
McCutcheon says he began culminating his relationship with local military bases and personnel.
“My main connection came out of Tyndall Air Force Base,” he says. “So, I ended up calling and talking to people there to find out whom I should approach and I ended up talking to their engineers.” McCutcheon ended up filming approximately 30 buildings at Tyndall.
“You can get set in a certain comfort zone, especially with auto tinting, where you have income coming in, so you have to push yourself and invest in acquiring the business sense and know-how to get into the architectural market.”
Like many, McCutcheon got his start in automotive tinting, before deciding to branch out into flat glass. After working for someone else for several years, in 1991 he decided to take a stab at owning his own business. He now has four employees, a new shop that’s tastefully furnished and equipped to attract high-end customers and a steady flow of business. But success didn’t come easy. In fact, in the beginning it didn’t come at all. McCutcheon tried to acquire his initial contact base rather than create one—something he warns against in retrospect.
“I made a rookie mistake in the beginning,” he explains. “When I opened my office, it was in a fairly large building where there was a tint shop already operating that did mainly commercial and residential business. The guy that owned it said, ‘Hey, if you rent this space, you can have the business I have’—basically all his contacts. Well, he ended up going out of business and that’s not what happened in the end.”
With no contact list in hand and a mound of credit card debt created in the process, it was time to move on to Plan B. When this self-proclaimed introvert by nature discovered the benefits of networking, he committed to the practice.
Make Yourself Uncomfortable
At first, he says this wasn’t easy.
“All of this networking is something I have to force myself to do,” he says. “I don’t really enjoy it. I mean, once I’m there and kind of get myself to relax, I’m fine. But it’s more something I have to do rather than want to.”
McCutcheon says he knew that forcing himself to step outside of his comfort zone was what it would take to push his business to the next level.
“I just wasn’t that kind of person, but I forced myself to do it,” he explains. “And what I discovered was, the results were pretty good. It was really helping to get me in front of people and generate some business, so I forced myself to get over it.”
Now it’s just another day at the office for McCutcheon.
“We have a new interior design association here, so I was certain to develop a relationship with them and have an opportunity to go to one of their events coming up to speak about the use of window film,” he says. “The place this event is being held in is a facility that houses and sells high-end rugs, so that’s an additional prospect to market to while I’m there. It’s a wine and cheese event,” he says, laughing. “Those situations are tough for me, because I’m just not that sort of person.”
Spend Money to Make Money
“It takes money to be professional,” he admits. “Developing high-quality, customized marketing materials is expensive.”
He also says you have to spend time learning each subject.
“I spend a lot of time studying the market and marketing trends,” he says. “I search for trendy words or styles that seem to work and then I incorporate them into my materials.”
McCutcheon recently attended the International Builders’ Show in Orlando.
“Part of my objective was to learn a lot of the words and phrases being used in the green movement, so I can work them into my marketing materials,” he explains. But while he was there, he discovered yet another marketing tactic and trend.
“I came across this company that has researched and developed systems for marketing specifically to women,” he says. “What they’ve discovered is that women make most of the decisions. I sat down and talked with them for a long time and learned all sorts of techniques and lingo. That was probably my biggest learning experience there.” He plans to implement this strategy immediately.
“So, they have a guy you can hire to come out and teach you how to effectively sell to a female audience,” he says. “I’m going to hire him to come out and give a session, but I’m going to have him give it for interior designers—teaching them how to sell to their customers. I’ll have a luncheon, or something, and invite them all out to attend this for free.”
“As New Orleans is rebuilt, I think that’s going to be a big opportunity for the film business,” he says. “It’s not yet rebuilt, but I’ve developed contacts and have been working that area heavily already.”
He does take away from his prospecting efforts to spend a bit of time on board a yacht. Someone else’s yacht, that is.
“Another thing that I do is I film a number of yachts. I’m not big on it, but it can be relaxing to be out on the water, working,” he says. “Some guys will shy away from a job like that, but what they aren’t considering is—those people who own yachts? They also own big houses. And most of them also own businesses with commercial buildings.”
For McCutcheon, living is prospecting and prospecting is living.
“Once you develop a network and have a steady stream of business, it’s easy to let yourself become complacent,” he says. “So you feel like, ‘Well … I don’t have to go do these things as much.’ But that’s dead-wrong—you’ve got to keep forcing yourself to do it.”
So, when you turn on the news this evening, or pick up a paper, just remember—it pays to listen.
McCutcheon’s Formula for Hearing and Landing a
When Opportunity Knocks, Find the Right Person: Once you’ve established which groups or organizations to target for a specific opportunity, spend the time necessary to locate a decision maker who can get you involved.
Speak Their Language: Once a target audience has been established, spend time studying the “buzz words” and trends, then incorporate them into a custom marketing plan.
Focus on Film as a Solution: Offer up a specific product to fill a specific need and involve your manufacturer when you need a helping hand.
Maintain the Relationship: Once you’ve got the right person and made your initial pitch, maintain the relationship. It may take months or even years for the deal to come around, so it’s important to stick with it.
Go Above and Beyond: Treat people exceptionally well by providing the utmost in quality and customer service. It will come back to you.
Cash Your Check: Patience and perseverance pay!
Drew Vass is the editor of Window Film magazine.