From the Ground Up
Window Film Shops Share Training Ideas
by Katie O’Mara
Every tinter starts off with no knowledge of the industry.
At some point he becomes interested, falls into a job at a tint shop or
just discovers a natural talent for it. However, a skill like tinting
does involve some important training. Improperly installed film can damage
vehicles and buildings.
Some window film businesses train their employees in-house by pairing
up a new tinter with a veteran to learn the trade. Other businesses pay
for employees to attend training through manufacturers. Finding the right
teaching techniques can be key to successfully growing and expanding a
window film business.
Teaching the Trade
“I trained new employees to install film with the techniques that I use,”
says Robert Kersten, president of Quality Glass Tinting Inc. and Infiniteoptiks
in St. Louis, Mo. “I was fortunate enough to find people that were hard
workers and dedicated. If you really want to train people there is so
much information out there that makes it easy to train people yourself.”
“It’s good to teach them from scratch because it can eliminate all the
bad habits up front,” says Ross Kehl, president of Tintingpro.com
in Sedona, Ariz.
In addition, new tinters can help maintain the shop and do some of the
ground level work as they perfect their craft and expertise.
“We do train a lot of people and we make no bones about it—you are bottom
level so when we are not busy we expect all of these other things to be
done around the shop like cleaning up and organizing,” says Brad Campbell,
president of Campbell Window Film in Huntington Beach, Calif. “If they
are ambitious and get through the first cut we take them to the next level.
We don’t really waste a lot of time. We try to get them installing film
There are other things to consider when hiring a new tinter. Many commercial
and residential jobs involve equipment or credentials to access job sites
and if an employee has background or training in those areas they are
hired it can save time and money in the long run.
“There are a lot more restrictions now on the type of people you can send
out to jobsites,” says Kersten. “Today about 50 percent of our work requires
someone with safety training. They are wearing a hard hat on a commercial
site and using lifts, boom cranes and sky jacks. To have people like that
you may need them to have security clearances.”
Work the Program
For a busy shop owner, finding the time to educate a new employee can
seem daunting. There are window film manufacturers and distributors that
offer training in sessions. There are also some select companies that
specialize in training and offer workshops and hands-on experience to
those in need. These programs have come a long way since their initial
“It was tough to try and learn how to install film back in the day,” says
Campbell. “I tried a few training programs and I know I had a couple people
that took advantage of me. There are some programs that will charge a
lot of money for a one day course. They have some pretty good one-day
programs now though.”
Formal training programs also offer an opportunity for trainers and installers
to share ideas and techniques in an open format.
“Many years ago I participated in a training course,” says Kersten. “Right
after September 11, Madico was bringing up their Safety Shield program
and a guy was going around the country training. We actually helped him
learn some better techniques for some things he was training others on.”
However, some within the industry believe that formal training programs
cannot be a replacement for hands-on, everyday training within the shop.
“I think all those training courses do is alleviate the business owner
of the responsibility of the initial orientation of what window film is
and if it is something you are cut out to do,” says Campbell. “A business
owner might want to hire someone to mop the floors and if the employee
is interested long-term then they can send them to the course. It takes
years of doing it to become good at it. Be at work every day and surround
yourself with it in order to be good at it.”
“There are some independent flat glass schools as well as automotive schools.
Some of the film distributors offer film classes,” says Kehl. “Really,
the bottom line is if they want to open a window film tinting business
they need to work for someone else first and get the training before they
branch out on their own. There are some training schools that you can
go to now, but there is not a substitute for hands-on training. There
is a lot to it, even though it sounds like it is just installing film.”
Food for Thought
At the end of the day, a shop’s image rests with its employees and their
abilities. Investing in training for the shop’s staff can impact the success
of a business and patiently training new staff can pay off later on. Using
care and consideration when training and hiring can make the difference
between a successful business year and a wasted investment.
Katie O’Mara is the editor of Window Film magazine. She can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow her on Twitter at @windowfilmmag.
Back to School IWFA Accredidation
The International Window Film Association (IWFA) offers accredidation
in solar control, advanced solar control, safety and security and automotive
($100 for IWFA members, $300 for non-IWFA members). Manuals are also offered
in solar control ($29.95), advanced solar control ($39.95), safety and
security ($29.95) and automotive ($5.00). Testing is available online
at testing centers and at some industry events. For more information visit
Manufacturers and Distributors
Many window film manufacturers and distributors also offer training, both
at their locations and on the road. Many of them provide it at a low cost
and in conjunction with a discount on film. For more information and to
see if your manufacturer or distributor offers training visit their website
or contact your representative.
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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.