Volume 10, Issue 1                     January/February  2006


by Rob Tait

Why Shops Fail to Make the Grade

I donít think Australia is any different than the rest of the world when it comes to the demise of the many new tinting ventures that simply canít make it long term. 

This occurs because these failed owners are incredibly naÔve and typically believe that they can buy a few square feet of film and turn it into easy money. 

In reality, it may seem that way but a reasonable sales number doesnít necessarily equate to enough profit to keep the business afloat.

The fact of the matter is that we, as tinters, are selling only our labor and there is just so much that we can make with our own hands on a daily basis. This is the most critical aspect of our window tinting industry. It is also the most misunderstood.

Some guys look at a roll of film, think that they can get a dozen cars or 300 square-feet for flat out of it because, gee, it doesnít cost that much in material and that will be the end of it. Hardly.

Itís all the other ďincidentalsĒ like wages, rent, insurances, phones, advertising, work cover, depreciation and tax that kill the cash flow. This leads to disaster. Paying the film distributor is only one tip of the financial iceberg.

Look at each transaction in a way that lets you figure out how much you gain rather than just winning the deal on price. 

Automotive tinting has become a commodity thatís price-shopped over the phone. Itís nothing for a customer to call to 10 shops to hear the same story. ďDo you have metalized film, do you have lifetime warranty, is it color stable, how many layers, etc.?Ē

Iím now seeing prices generally considered as the industry standard at the same levels I was charging more than 20 years ago.

This is a ridiculous situation and is a recipe for calamity.

Personally Iíd rather tint half the cars and half the flat glass at twice the profit margin but try and educate the industry to believe that. Itís a hard task. Yet those who donít ďget itĒ generally fail.

Those owners new to the industry tend to come from within and have many bad traits from previous tinting employments. There are also many pitfalls to being under-funded, without a business plan in place, no goals to differentiate themselves from any of their competitors, charging the same as everyone else without value added services.
To their credit, shop owners today have tried to get faster with one-piece installs, no trim removals, film cut on cars. In the physical sense, they have slicked their operations but itís the brain that they have left behind. We need the intelligence to do smart work and put real dollars in the pocket.

When it comes to window tinting we donít live in a vacuum. 

How often do we let our market be controlled by what competitors think they cannot charge? I see it all the time, but, personally I donít let it influence my pricing at all ... the competition does though!

Imagine that as a shop owner, you are going to be paid on commission only (no retainer) for every sale generated. The more profit you make the more you earn. 

Unfortunately, our industry is too easy to enter. There are no minimum buy-ins. I feel this is where the distributors are also at fault. Iíll save that minefield for another day, as it is also a massive issue.

I remember reading some time back a very sad discussion on a film forum where a particular tinter was getting out after many years of slaving over a squeegee, six days a week without much of a family life to speak of and nothing made out of his career. How typical is that?

Fortunately, I can see some merit in manufacturers and distributors appointing specific film dealers who have proven long-term, successful track records for their top end films so that they donít become bastardized product lines. We may see more of this in the future.

Till another time ... Tint Smart!

Rob Tait is the owner of Car Tint Pty. Ltd in Melbourne, Australia. 

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