Volume 12, Issue 3 - May/June 2008

IWFA Update
Learning, Listening and Lobbying

In the March-April issue of Window Film, I “pushed the envelope” a bit by writing a column that described three practices—falsifying product claims, failing to honor warranties and installing illegal tint—that threaten the window film industry (see the March-April issue, page 6). In this issue, I’d like to take the opposite perspective. Rather than continuing to focus on practices that could derail us, I’d like to highlight a few techniques that can keep us charging full-steam ahead. What will thrust our industry forward is a continued commitment to education, a focus on selling solutions (not just products) and a sustained emphasis on legislation. Writing that list, I realized something important—these three strengths are the building blocks for every successful sector. And the window film industry has them in spades.

Committing to Education
The International Window Film Association (IWFA) and several manufacturers offer a variety of training and certification courses. In the past, enrollment for these events was sparse. But over time, word-of-mouth referrals have increased and today it is very common for educational sessions to reach capacity. The demand for real-world training has allowed organizations to increase the number of sessions offered as well as the sophistication of those courses. With many dealers becoming as knowledgeable about window film science as distributors, every link in the supply chain is becoming hardened. So continue to invest in yourself, because it will pay the highest return of all.

Solutions Selling
Less than a decade ago, many experts considered window films to be a commodity. It was argued that price was the sole differentiator between one material and another. Fortunately, that point of view is all but forgotten. The industry has realized that homeowners don’t want films per se, but rather balanced interior temperatures, lower cooling costs, or maybe the feeling of safety during a storm. In other words, dealers have realized that they aren’t selling products—they are selling solutions. And the more we focus collectively on understanding the needs of automobile, home and property owners, the more premium our solutions become.

Legislative Lobbying
It’s no secret that the film industry has long operated in the shadow of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Window, skylight and door OEMs are a powerful group. Their lobbying efforts have been wildly successful, as their products are certified in a variety of categories, from U-factor, to solar heat gain, to air leakage, to condensation resistance. Consumers trust third-party certifications and documenting a product’s performance against universal standards is an effective way to earn consumer confidence. Together with the IWFA and the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), the window film industry is on the verge of a similar breakthrough. But without the interest, support and outreach of our vast network of dealers, this achievement would not be so near. So, continue to support the IWFA’s lobbying efforts, because in the end, its success will be measured in your profits.

This is an exciting time to be part of the window film industry. Our dealers are smarter than ever; our products are embraced as solutions; and our influence is beginning to take root. And we are enjoying this success because so many of us have focused on the most basic elements of every successful industry: learning, listening and lobbying. 

Tom Niziolek is president of the International Window Film Association (IWFA). Mr. Niziolek’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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