Volume 14, Issue 5 - September-October 2010

AsktheExpert

Are You De-Valuing Window Film in 2010?
By Donna Wells

It has been an interesting 2010, hasnít it? Many questions and issues have arisen over this selling season. Some of you have hired me to help you close large deals, while others have hired me for individual projects. At both ends of the spectrum what I am seeing across the country is a shocking trend. Many window film companies are de-valuing their products. It seems to be a growing trend to price products and services ultra low to get the deal. I donít usually use this word, but window film is selling cheap, cheap, cheap!

I try to instill into my clients the value of what we offer to the consumer. We offer a cost-effective way to reduce energy costs, increase comfort and add beauty to the space. Yet, many companies feel that the only way they can win a job is through price. I am not here to tell you how much to charge per square foot or per job. But I am going to point out what it costs to win a contract.

Know Your Costs
First, think about what it costs you to receive an invitation to bid a project. Yellow page advertising can be expensive. How about other forms of advertising? Do you advertise on the Internet? Do you use door hangers, flyers, Value Pak, RSVP or your own mailing list? How much are you spending to design your own advertising? What about home shows, trade shows, car shows, etc? You must consider all of these costs when your phone rings or your front door swings open. You invested dollars to generate that lead.

ďSome companies have decided that breaking even is the wave of the future. If you are not
making a profit, then you need to ask yourself, why not?Ē

What does it cost you to put the numbers together? Think about travel time to and from the site as well as time spent at the actual site with the client. What is your time worth? Consider how long it takes to calculate the cost of the job. Large commercial jobs can take hours or days to prepare. Are you doing cost comparisons with various manufacturers? How much time have you spent researching products for equipment costs (if needed) and additional incidentals specific to the job? Most companies do not take the following costs into consideration: blades, paper towels, drop cloths, squeegees, ladders, parking fees, insurance, workmanís compensation insurance, liability insurance, bonding, pre and post liens, salaries, commissions, rent on shop space, car payments and auto insurance.

Finally letís consider the installation. Are you installing during normal business hours? Does the job require installation after hours and/or long weekends? What will your installers cost you? Is the job a government job that requires a prevailing wage? Is the glass unusual? Does it require lifts or the removal of pre-existing film?

Beyond Breaking Even
As a business owner, you have to decide how much profit you need to make in order to expand your business. Some companies have decided that breaking even is the wave of the future. If you are not making a profit, then you need to ask yourself, why not? Iím going to bet, if you are not making a profit you are not going to be in business for very long.

Having been in this industry for more than 20 years, itís alarming to see pricing in our industry reverting back to 1980s levels. While pricing in other industries may have dropped 10-20 percent, window film prices seem to have fallen by a large percentage. By reducing your pricing significantly, you are pricing yourself out of the market. More importantly, you are de-valuing our entire industry.

As you go forward the rest of the year, think about how you want others to view the window film industry. Do you want people to think we are a cheap alternative or a cost-effective way to achieve energy efficiency, meet LEED requirements and add beauty? My bet is on the latter.

Donna Wells has worked in the window film industry since the 1980s and is currently sole proprietor of Image Imagination in Huntington Beach, Calif. Ms. Wellsí opinions are solely her own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

Got a question for Donna?
Please e-mail it to us at erogers@glass.com. Individual names and company names will be withheld upon request.


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