Volume 16, Issue 2 - March/April 2012

feature

From the Ground Up
Window Film Shops Share Training Ideas and Solutions
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 right away.”

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 inception.

“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 komara@glass.com 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 www.iwfa.com.

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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