Volume 6, Issue 4, July - August 2002

IWFA Update
Mike Smith                                                                                

Let’s Go to Tint-topia!

What would it be like in the perfect world of tint? It would be a world where every consumer knew the marvelous benefits of window film; a world where installers were experts in sales, marketing and installation; a world where manufacturers, distributors and dealers competed ethically and with respect for quality competition because they realize that each of their competitors contributes to the betterment of the whole. What would it take to make such a world? 

“You’ll never get those competitors to unite,” bellow the disgruntled installers. 

Why would I want to see my worst enemy (I’ve heard it in those terms, folks) get any benefit from any marketing I might do? And so the sun rises and sets on the fledgling world of “Un-Tintopia.”
But is it possible that a dreamer sees a vision of the future where such a place really does exist? This could be a place where petty differences are laid aside for the betterment of the whole and where (if only for a few seasons) all of the masses that consider window film their “golden goose” united in a common cause of educating the consumer.

I have such a dream. I’ve been foolish enough to share it through the Internet with dealers and in IWFA board of director meetings. Though most of those listening agree the idea is meritorious, the reality is it’s a dream.

I, for one, believe that if we are ever going to get window film accepted widely by the consumer, we have to educate that consumer widely. I believe that ignorance and overselling by some industry zealots has created confusion and skepticism resulting in a “no-touch, no-buy” attitude.

No single industry entity has the wherewithal to tackle such a mammoth marketing campaign on its own. But a united industry, like the dairy and beef councils, could join together to begin a widespread media educational blitz.

I’ve talked to several dealers who have utilized local cable channels to boost their marketing. Most have enjoyed moderate to good success—in spite of the fact that the consumer is still relatively ignorant of our products. Just imagine how successful dealer advertising would be if the consumer was very knowledgeable about film and its benefits. Then the choice isn’t film or no film; it’s “who do we want to do business with?” Then all the marketing money that dealers, distributors and manufacturers use to entice the consumer to their products will do its job—bring business to the dealer who best portrays himself and his product. 

First, however, we have to create the demand. A knowledgeable consumer base is the single greatest need in our industry.

Evidence of this fact is the regular reports I hear of California or Texas customers who have moved to another location where the sun shines and have called a local dealer to get film applied. What does that tell us? They have obviously been converted to our products. They are educated.
Without belaboring the subject, let me say one last thing. The IWFA has been making substantial progress in developing and disseminating educational materials to help our industry develop a greater level of professionalism and competency. The dealers who are utilizing that knowledge and growth opportunity in their marketing efforts have realized a greater payback than those who haven’t. Regardless of how you argue, knowledge is power. When we have knowledgeable consumers, we have powerful and confident consumers who will buy. When we have knowledgeable and competent dealers, we have dealers from whom knowledgeable consumers will be comfortable buying. 

My dream is still alive. Someday—hopefully sooner than later—the Association of Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators’ window film committee (primarily manufacturers) and the IWFA (primarily dealers and distributors) will be able to come together in the common cause of public enlightenment; a dream in which every party sees its vital role in supporting such an initiative; a dream where honest and ethical competition is welcome. Only then will our industry flourish in Tint-topia! 

Mike Smith is the branch manager of Sun-Gard Southwest in Tempe, Ariz., and the current president of the IWFA.


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