Let’s Make A Deal!
Paint Protection Film Installers Talk
About Their Relationships with Car Dealers
By Katie Hodge
The buzz throughout the automotive tinting industry has
been all about paint protection film (PPF). Tinters have flocked to trade
shows to watch the product in action. They have asked countless questions
about PPF to see if it is a good fit for their business. Those who have
added paint protection film to their repertoire are now working on growing
these lucrative product clusters as part of their businesses.
One of the most common ways to promote paint protection has been through
relationships with car dealerships. Dealerships, especially high-end ones,
receive hundreds of pristine cars and are looking for a way to keep those
cars in perfect condition.
That was just what Trey Pappas, owner and CEO of Speed Specialists LLC
in Addison, Texas found when he started calling around. At the time, Pappas
was designing pre-cut patterns for paint protection film for another company
and was looking for a dealership that would allow him to design the pre-cut
patterns using its vehicles.
“I would go out and cold call at a dealership and meet with the sales
manager or the general manager. I would tell them the need we had to make
pre-cut patterns for automobiles,” says Pappas. “Obviously, I would have
to explain the material to most people because it was still not a very
Sometimes it would take some convincing to allow Pappas to use the dealership
automobiles so he started offering a free kit on one of its demo cars
to sweeten the deal.
“I would go in and explain what we are doing and ask if we could use its
cars to populate the patterns for the pre-cut library and the dealership
would say yes,” says Pappas. “Sometimes I would have to offer a free kit
on one of its demo cars and that was a great way to sell the film as well
because the dealership then had the film on a car in the showroom. Usually
after a few weeks of doing patterns there the dealership would be calling
to do some installs.”
Once he proved himself as a skilled paint protection film installer, dealerships
began sending referral work directly to Pappas.
“We have some dealerships that just send us referrals. We have some dealerships
that actually bring cars to us and pay for the service,” says Pappas.
“We still have others that do a combination of the two...”
For others, car dealerships provided assistance in launching their business.
“You have to start somewhere. You can’t just break out in retail with
no following. You have to go sell a car dealership and do a lot of cars,”
says Ken Schacht, owner of Teeter and Schacht in Marin County, Calif.
Schacht, widely known as “Big Tint Daddy,” used dealerships to help grow
his skills and business.
“Car dealerships got me started in paint protection, but now I mainly
do customers who care about their car,” says Schacht, who rarely uses
It wasn’t always as easy to get business from dealerships, which traditionally
used its service departments to install a clear bra or paint protection
film. With the complexity and continued technological advancements many
dealerships recognize it as a job for true professionals. Pappas works
directly with his local Porsche dealership and they have developed a strong
“This dealership used to do its own clear bra installations. The people
who work there aren’t the specialists that they need to be in order to
do clear bras,” says John Hamilton, a sales professional at Autobahn Porsche
in Fort Worth, Texas. “You really need to be focused on that one specialty.
For the dealership it became more of a hassle to keep up with it since
we weren’t doing them back-to-back. So we dropped those installations.
However, we still had the need from our customers to get clear bras done.
It was a very strong need—someone is spending a lot of money on a car
and they want it to leave here perfect. That’s where companies like Speed
Specialists have been in touch over the years to get that business.”
Companies such as Speed Specialists can either do the cars on site at
the dealership or install the paint protection film in their shop away
from the busy car lot.
“Trey performed installations for a number of our customers and they were
a tremendous benefit to the customer. The customer pays him directly and
they are satisfied. It keeps his docket full,” says Hamilton. “He can
come here and do it or he can go to his place and do it. It’s great for
our customers because a car will come in from Germany to our house and
we will do all of the pre-delivery inspections and cleaning and Trey comes
in and puts the clear bra on so the car is perfect and protected when
the customer leaves with their new car.”
of the salesman don’t know what clear bra is or they don’t believe in
it. They haven’t seen how strong it is and how great of a product it is.
There is still tons of work for us to do with the dealerships to make
it extremely lucrative, but the potential is definitely there.”
—Trey Pappas, Speed Specialists LLC
While many still believe that a service such as paint protection film
would only appeal to those consumers who buy expensive high-end cars,
there has been a spike in average cars getting the protection they need.
“We do get a lot of run-of-the-mill cars. Last week we did a Volvo XC60.
Before that we did a Mazda CX9. We do quite a few BMW’s, but we get regular
cars like Volkswagon Jettas and every once in a while we get a Kia,” comments
Pappas. “A lot of those cars are doing the real expensive packages that
we offer. They are not skimping out.”
“When I first started we really targeted the import markets—Hondas, Volkswagons,
Audis, Volvos. The import market buyer seems to maintain them a little
better,” says Nuno Ferreira, president of Shadow Tinting in Calgary, AB.
“However, we are seeing a complete turn around now. We do everything from
a Toyota Echo to a Lamborghini.”
For paint protection film installers one of the major struggles has been
educating consumers and car dealers about the benefits of the product.
Some dealerships may not feel comfortable recommending the product to
its customers without believing in it.
“I think the dealership business is increasing awareness slightly. There
is so much more work to do with the dealership side,” says Pappas. “So
many of the salesman don’t know what clear bra is or they don’t believe
in it. They haven’t seen how strong it is and how great of a product it
is. There is still tons of work for us to do with the dealerships to make
it extremely lucrative, but the potential is definitely there.”
Representing the company and the product well will go a long way with
car dealerships. Gaining the dealership’s respect will open it up to listen
to what you have to say and show.
“You have to be consistent. The timing of the month that you go to the
dealership is crucial,” says Ferreira. “You don’t want to go bug a sales
manager at the end or the beginning of the month.”
Getting Your Foot in the Door
Paint protection film installers and dealers do have some tips for
making sure that a dealership remembers your company.
Be confident in your skill: Appearing confident and self-assured will
make the dealership aware that you know what you are doing.
Be professional: Show up on-time and do things when you say you are
going to do them. Be reliable if the dealership needs your help.
Train, train, train: Even if you are confident and professional,
technology and products are always changing. Continuous training will
keep you on top of your game.
Be considerate of the dealership’s schedule: Be conscious of what
days are busy for the dealership and work around its schedule. Don’t
pester a sales manager on a busy day.
Don’t just ask; offer: Offer something to the dealership in return
for their attention or meeting. Provide a free paint protection kit
for a demo car or offer to help out if it is in a crunch and needs
a car done quickly.
Piece of the Puzzle
While there are some mobile paint protection film installers who do 100-percent
dealership work, most rely on dealerships for just a portion of its business
and also do private installs or provide other services like tinting. However
bringing in dealership work can give a company some reliable and constant
“Dealerships are a piece of the puzzle. The most important thing in the
PPF industry is to be confident and very skilled at what you do,” says
Ferreira. “You have one shot to go in there and you will either get a
good name or a bad name in the industry.”
Relying solely on dealership work will present some struggles for a new
company, especially es to bringing income in that day.
“As a business owner, it’s tough dealing with dealerships because they
don’t always pay quickly,” shares Pappas. “Small businesses need cash
fast and a lot of times dealerships are on a net-30 or net-60 cycle. You
have to call a lot of the dealerships and stay on them. It definitely
can be high-maintenance. It’s still lucrative because you can get pretty
good volume out of it. It is really up to each business owner as to what
they want to deal with.”
For some, car dealerships really have only been a small part of their
“It was definitely important at the beginning. We did dealership vehicles
really cheap just so we could get a feel for all of the different paint
protection films. I basically used the dealerships as my test ground,”
However, for some companies that have established a referral relationship
with dealerships they can only benefit from the work that is referred
to them. Nurturing those dealership relationships can prove just as “lucrative”
as everyone seems to imply.
Katie Hodge is the editor of Window Film magazine.
© Copyright 2011 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.