Volume 15, Issue 6 - November/December 2011

AsktheExpert
By Donna Wells

Business Ethics

Can you believe that another year is almost over? By the time you read this, it will be November and SEMA time! Be sure to stop by Window Film magazine’s booth (#12729) and say hello to the incredibly hard-working staff! I hope that 2011 has been profitable for you. It has been an interesting year for many film companies and I am sure we are all looking forward to an even better 2012.

Ethics
As we look ahead, I would like to tackle a difficult, yet very important topic: business ethics. Does your business advertise a specific line of film, but install a less expensive version? Many times we are tempted to substitute less expensive counterparts for name brand products. You might think to yourself, “Why does it matter? The client will never know the difference!” Let’s look at this through the client’s eyes.

You may have watched your business expenses increase and your profit decrease in the last few years. You are trying to decide where to cut costs and how to improve your bottom line. You advertise that your company carries product “A.” Today, there is a less expensive knock-off. It looks and performs just like Product “A.” Your client believes that they have purchased Product “A” and neither you (nor your sales team) disclosed that you will be installing a different product. Is that fair to the client? How would you feel if this happened to you? I would imagine that if someone pulled the old “bait and switch” trick on you, you might not take it very well. You might even think, “Is this company ethical? Why would they advertise something that they are not installing and how do they stay in business?”

“Does your business advertise a specific line of film, but install a less expensive version? Many times we are tempted to substitute less expensive counterparts for name brand products. You might think to yourself, ‘Why does it matter? The client will never know the difference!’”

The key issue here is that “business ethics” is such a subjective term—what is ethical to one person may not be to another. Therefore, the concept of what is ethical is a constant variable. It is a moral code each of us lives by. In my opinion, business ethics equals respect and truth. If you are an ethical company and business owner, you are respectful of the people around you. You strive to tell the truth, sell the truth and not sell a substitute product.

Ideals
Unfortunately, there are many business owners whose business ethics are not set at a high standard. As an industry we need to confront this issue on every level. Manufacturers who have had their films tested and certified by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) have taken the first step. This certification holds manufacturers to a standard that is good for the industry. Individual companies need to develop their own business ethics and implement them into their everyday business practices. Companies need to hold their employees accountable for their actions and employees need to understand the consequences if they do not abide by the ethics established by the company. If we did this as an industry, we might begin to receive the respect that we deserve. Perhaps our sister industries such as architects, interior designers and glass companies would consider our products more often. Perhaps we would be specified more often. Maybe window film would not be looked upon as an alternative to today’s glass technology, but the reverse would be true. I look forward to your comments. Please feel free to respond to me directly or through the magazine by sending an email to khodge@glass.com.

Donna Wells has worked in the window film industry since the 1980s and is currently sole proprietor of Image Imagination in Huntington Beach, Calif.

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


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