Volume 10, Issue 6 - November/December 2006

Who’s To Blame?
Wintertime Doesn’t Mean You Have to be a Bear in Hibernation
by David Read

The other day I was in Las Vegas and I heard it. In fact, I hear it every year from dealers across the United States right at about this time of year. 

The dealer in Las Vegas said to me, “My phone just stopped ringing!” The dealer continued to tell me how the combination of cold weather and the fact that all the kids are going back to school is the reason why business had slowed down. Over the years, I have heard many other reasons why business has dropped off: it’s the economy, the war and, best of all, it’s our president’s fault. 

The fact is there will always be something that will affect your business. However, it may be a good idea first to step back and ask yourself: why do you think your phone should ring in the first place? 

This may be a strong question, but think about it. What did you do yesterday to make the phone ring today? Let’s face it; you’re probably not the only tint shop in the area that will be affected negatively by outside influences. I know this is true because I also hear from dealers that when business is slow, it’s slow for everyone—as if this justifies why they don’t have any business. 

Taking Control
Instead of accepting your fate, why not take advantage of the situation when the slow season starts? Why not go after the competitors when they, too, are possibly settling like you usually do? Why not go see the dealerships that you know usually work with your competitors? How about a mailer combined with a discount that never expires? How about a back-to-school marketing plan? You need to be even more aggressive when business slows down in order to make your phone, instead of your competitors’, ring. 

I have been to thousands of tint shops all over the world and the funny thing is that when business is slow, shop owners react differently. I stopped in to see a dealer the other day and the shop was closed. I called the dealer the next day and was told business was slow so he sent everyone home. I’ve seen shops change to less expensive film to get them through the bad times. I have to tell you, I don’t get it. 

Facing the Bear
Marketing your company during the slow season is like walking in the woods with your friend and coming face-to-face with a wild grizzly bear. You do not need to out-run the bear; you just need to out-run your friend! There is a shop in Tampa, Fla., that does the opposite of most shops. When things slow down the owner actually stays open later. He lets all the dealerships in the area know that he is open until 9:30 or even 10 p.m. He markets to all the people in the area who usually pass by on their way home from work and see the closed sign out in front. He even hires extra help just to get through the evening.
This dealer now owns one of the largest shops in Florida and has just moved in to his new location—an 8-car bay installation shop that installs more window film, stereos and alarms than anyone else in town. 

Now with all that being said, I have only a couple of questions. And these questions may not be for everyone, but maybe just for the shop owner that closes early. Or maybe for the shop owner that justifies or settles because things are slow. What if your competitor stepped up during that “down period” and started going after your business? What if the dealer down the street started stopping in and visiting your best accounts? What if the little shop on the corner stayed open later and came in to the office a little earlier? 

It’s like a good old street fight—either scrape or be scraped! The slow season is approaching fast and in some parts of the world the new season is already here. What is it that you could do differently this year that will make your phone ring more than it did last year? Do you even have a plan? If not, you must assume someone else is hungry enough to come up with ways to steal your business.

David Read is sales development manager for Carson, Calif.-based Johnson Window Films.

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