Volume 15, Issue 3 - May-June 2011

AsktheExpert

Season Beginnings
By Donna Wells

 

Spring has arrived! Translation: ďThe season has begun!Ē in the window film industry. Many companies are contemplating hiring new employees, looking over their advertising and trying to decide what is the best approach for a prosperous 2011. Have you considered shopping your competition?

If you have been in the industry for any given amount of time, you might have fallen into a rut. Maybe your advertising campaign hasnít changed in years. Your approach to growing your business has become stagnant and you are well, just treading water. However, your competition seems to be growing, thriving and becoming a powerhouse in our industry. So, what are they doing that you are not? Here are a few suggestions for shopping your competition. After all, if you want to become a powerhouse in the industry, donít you need to perfect all of the tricks of the trade?

Shop the Competition: I have done this my entire career in the industry. Call around and find out what they are offering. Are they offering a monthly special? What types of film do they use? Are they offering tiered pricing for different films? One of the things we used to offer was a rainy day special. If it was raining you could receive a significant discount on your automotive window film. It was a terrific way to keep the shop busy even on a rainy day. Most shops tend to change their strategy from season to season. You need to know exactly what everyone is offering and think about what would best fit your business model.

Check Out the Competition on the Internet: Most companies today have a website. If they donít, thatís interesting competitive information as well. You can learn a lot about your competition just by surfing the web. Besides learning about its films and years in business, some companies have a price list online. Perhaps they will mention partnerships they have with other businesses in the area. If a company is active in the community, they will list their membership with BBB, ASID or various other organizations. You can research your competition through these organizations. For instance, you can discover if someone has filed a complaint against your competition with the Better Business Bureau or if they have won an award. Companies that have been around for awhile might have articles or news clips circulating on the World Wide Web; read them and learn.

Is Your Competition Involved with Social Media?: Most of us have heard someone brag about how they do not advertise. They get all of their clients via word-of-mouth, right? Well, that is exactly what social media is. It is word-of-mouth. You can tweet, post or blog about the positives and the negatives of working with anyone these days. More importantly, you can find out what is being said about any company, positive or negative through Twitter, Google or Facebook, just to name a few. If you have a Facebook Fan Page, clients can post any experience they have had with your company. You can set up programs such as Google Alerts and you will be notified every time your competition is mentioned online. Its a great way to find out what the competition is doing during the day without spending hours doing research.

Talk to the Competitionís Clients: We have all lost jobs to our competitors. How can we use that experience to better our company? Call them and ask them why they chose ďthe other company, instead of you.Ē Most of the time the client will say price. At that moment ask them if they are satisfied with the work done. Did the competition show up on time? Were they courteous? Did they do what they said they would do? Most importantly, would you use their services again or would you try someone else next time? All of these questions can be answered within a couple of minutes and it will only help strengthen your company in the future. Many times, price may close the customer, but, it will not secure a client for life.

I hope 2011 brings you all much wealth and happiness. Donít forget to send in your questions. Happy selling!

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 khodge@glass.com. Individual names and company names will be withheld upon request.

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