Volume 10, Issue 2                     March/April  2006

by Rob Tait

Is the World Better Flat?

Todayís auto window tinting market has grown to saturation point in terms of the sheer number of automotive tinters. Iíd suggest itís no different the world over. 

But just as lucrative is the flat glass market, which demands an entirely new degree of professionalism to crack it. (No pun intended Ö Iíll come back to this later.)

The trouble with the automotive tinting market is that the product is entirely shopped to death over the phone and more often than not, price becomes the only factor that decides who gets the installation.

This tends to occur more nowadays because the car that a client wants tinted is the same wherever he or she goes, so the potential customer falsely believes all tinting has to be the same.

They hear the same old touted statements from tint shops about metal films, color stable products, lifetime warranties, one-piece rear screens, etc. Nothing is different except the price and even then it can be almost identical.

Consequently, shop owners have tried everything to ďfine tuneĒ their operations in order to still maintain their profitability. They want to tint more cars, faster each day, so volume, unfortunately, has now become the name of the game.

Itís a pitfall that is not really understood! 

All modern cars are becoming more complex to tint; they have more glass areas that are designed in a way that makes it harder for the installer to apply film. Installations could vary from a couple of hours to half a day depending on the difficulty the car presents, the level of expertise of the tinter and quality standard demanded. Yet prices are not much more than what they were 20 years ago.

An auto job requires a lot of physical work to reach that profit goal at the end of the day. The limited output is proportionate to what ends up in your pocket. 

On the other hand, a flat glass application of similar dollar value literally can be done in minutes, without drama. The film just sits there and in three cuts itís done! 

Many a time I have had substantial flat glass areas added while on the job. That can never happen once a car is completed. One pane can be the equivalent of a whole car tinted. 

I know these days what is the easier and more lucrative market in which to be involved. I just wished I had realized this a lot earlier.

Flat glass hasnít got a customer with their nose on the glass inspecting every pinhead ďpointĒ of the filmís installation either.

But both arenas do have their pros and cons.

Auto comes to you; you have to go get and win flat glass. 

Flat can break a pane due to thermal shock and that can cause huge grief whereas auto never will. 

The knowledge and professionalism exhibited by flat glass technicians is significantly higher than auto. An auto tinter, to a small extent, can get away with less education or professional presentation, which a flat-glass tinter (who must conduct face to face meetings with a managing director of a huge corporate conglomerate for which youíre trying to win a job) cannot.

Flat requires a lot more inventory and you certainly go through more product than with auto. Some slow-moving films can sit on the shelf for ages without being sold and this is dead money.

But there is no question in my mind that flat is totally overlooked because itís deemed to be too hard to leave oneís comfort zone. This is why there is a proliferation of so many auto tinting places in which no one makes any real money. 

Donít be afraid to give it a go but employ people who work in a new playing field and arenít afraid of knocking on doors. The results can be very rewarding in a much easier manner.

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

©2006 Key Communications Inc. 385 Garrisonville Road, Suite 116, Stafford, VA  22554
Phone: 540/720-5584, Fax: 540/720-5687 e-mail: film@glass.com