Volume 17, Issue 2 - March/April 2013


Decorated Sales:
Educating Consumers on the Benefits of Decorative Films

by Casey Neeley

When consumers are looking to spruce up homes, or shopkeepers their storefronts and businesses, members of the window film industry know that decorative films can be the way to go. Some say getting consumers to understand the benefits of these films requires patience and commitment.

How can dealers reach out to clients considering a decorative update?

“I highlight the benefits: it’s going to be less costly, it’s less permanent in the event of a needed change, it strengthens the glass instead of weakening the glass, and odds are, it’s going to be more versatile to use film meaning I can combine colors and ideas,” says Jarett Hulett, president of Solartex in Columbus, Ohio.

“Price, flexibility and delivery are the keys,” says Eddy Russell, owner of Sunset Glass Tinting in Houston.

Explain the Costs
Several industry members agree that speaking to consumer needs solidifies the argument for installing film.

Helping consumers to understand the difference in price point between decorative films and glass makes a strong selling feature.

“For one of our upcoming projects, we’re probably going to save the architectural firm who contracted us about $100,000 and be able to do it in a much shorter timeframe compared to decorative glass,” says Russell.

“When people consider making the kind of financial investment that is associated with decorative glass you have to look at the other options that are available,” says Gus Arredondo, marketing department manager for Ontario, Canada-based AmGraph Group. “Decorative film is certainly a viable option to installing decorative glass for a variety of reasons.”

“A lot of property management companies think [a decorative look] has to be glass; [dealers are] missing opportunities there,” says Chris Aycock, owner of Sun Protection LLC in Cary, N.C.

“[Decorative glass] is considered a more permanent option, but with excessive cost and labor. If broken, it is very expensive to replace,” says Sam Lee, president of Wintech Window Films.

“The goal of decorative film is to look like decorative glass. It is often hard to tell the difference between the two, yet there are numerous advantages to using film,” Lee continues. “First of all, it is inexpensive, easy to install, and thus, easy to replace. When decorative glass breaks it can be extremely expensive to reorder and install new glass.”

With tighter purse strings and slimmer wallets in the current economic climate, touting cost-effectiveness is a no-brainer.

“Usually by the time customers call me, they’ve already seen my website and viewed the different films I offer and it’s a clear choice for them to get the film installed. Also, there’s a big price difference getting a piece of film installed as opposed to changing out the glass. It’s great for the cost-conscious consumer,” says Chris Daigle, founder and owner of Snappy Tint LLC in New Orleans.

Educating consumers about the opportunities film offers for a less expensive custom solution can be a call to action.

“With the advances in technology we can do just about anything with film,” says Arredondo. “Everything from frosted privacy film to custom gradients to full color, high definition, custom images with the finest details can be produced at a fraction of the cost.”

“In this fast-paced world where an economical option is more practical, window film provides the way to improve the interior design of any space quickly, efficiently, while saving lots of needless expense,” adds Lee.  

“When comparing decorative film and decorative glass, the cost difference is enough to justify opting for decorative film,” states Arredondo.

Flaunt the Versatility
The adaptability of film provides another unique solution for consumers.

“The fact that you can print nearly anything you want from a marketing message in a retail environment to a custom graphic that allows you to express yourself in your office or home for a significantly smaller price should be considered when discussing a return on investment,” notes Arredondo.

Film fits the bill for customers considering a temporary fix for a lighting problem.

“Film is a versatile option, because it can be easily removed and replaced if you want to update or completely redecorate the space,” says Lee. “Especially if the project manager thinks they will want to change the look in the future, decorative film is a more suitable option.”

“We did one project at a world-renowned art gallery that had an exhibit coming in and the owner wanted to change the ambient light that fell on her pieces so we applied a decorative film that was removable after the exhibit,” says Hulett.

“[Customers] like the idea that you can change out the films more often at a lower cost with faster turn-around [than glass],” adds Aycock.

Indecisive customers can also benefit from the efficiency of film, says Russell because they can “put off the design until the last minute. It also gives architects additional time to think about what they want, as well as additional design time.”

For residential solutions, Hulett says “Homeowners tend to want something more like a privacy film on the bathroom window.”

According to Daigle, decorative offers an excellent upsell opportunity for privacy-seeking consumers.

“There’s a market toward white frost for residential; you always have to have blackout and white frost. Working in the city, I get a lot of calls for those types of films for office buildings too. I always like to upsell them by offering a more decorative film instead of just a plain black or white film,” says Daigle. “I offer various options such as an installation of logos in place of the plain film.”

Another feature to explain to commercial consumers is also an excellent strategy in creating repeat customers: highlight the ease of updating promotional films.

“If you are using [it] in a retail environment you can change your decorative film as your promotions change throughout the year,” Lee adds.

Offering clients the chance to see your work may serve as the perfect opportunity for closing the deal.

Show What You Know
“I know it sounds very simple, but many dealers do not show the product to homeowners,” says Aycock.

“I would feature [decorative work] prominently on your website, and I would take a picture of every single job I did for decorative film,” says Hulett. “Window tint is hard to feature because it’s not as visual of a characteristic. Decorative is different because it really shows in photos. When we go out to a client, we take our iPads out and have our photo gallery available to show customers photos of that work. We put a lot of time in to organizing that so ideas are easy to replicate for the client.”

Carrying a portfolio at all times allows dealers to have instant and continuous ability to show clients exactly what they can expect to see from the job. It also offers another opportunity to sell consumers on ideas they may not be able to envision.

“I keep a binder of all of the decorative films I offer in my truck when I go out to see my customers and that’s a helpful tool to have,” says Daigle. “As soon as I hear the word ‘privacy’ from customers, I immediately go to my decorative binder to offer them a more unique look. Part of my job is upgrading because there is such a high market for black or white frost. Whenever someone else is just applying those films and I’m applying stained glass films it just creates such a different look.”

“Boring plain windows are everywhere,” says Lee. “As you go about your standard commercial/residential installations, think outside the box and see if there are any bare windows that need some jazzing up! That is when you can suggest the addition of decorative installation to your current [customers].”

Having the ability to upsell and an extensive knowledge of your products and services, as well as the equipment to create a custom solution will help show consumers you are the decorative authority.

Be the Expert
“I would get a plotter so you can cut the designs yourself,” says Hulett. “When we started getting into decorative films we worked with a sign company and now we’ve gotten to a point where the plotter was worth the investment we made in it.”

Going a step further, Russell says he is making it more convenient for architects who come to him for film.

“I’m forming a new company to market, sell, design, and, if we have to, install decorative film,” says Russell, who has developed his own decorative line. “We install a tremendous amount of solar film, but that is a very competitive market,” he says. “With custom-printed film, we’re doing something very few people know how to do.”

If decorative isn’t a major part of your sales, Russell urges dealers to reconsider allowing it to play a larger role.

“Windows have gotten so much better, both residential and commercial, so guys like me are looking for new ways to install,” he says. “Decorative film sales aren’t seasonal. It doesn’t have to be 100 degrees for customers to want these films; it’s an all-year-long service. It has nothing to do with energy savings or payback. Decorative films add a non-seasonal aspect to our industry which is a big deal. This type of work gets you through the winter.”

Extol the Beauty
For many consumers, seeing is believing.

“The aesthetics of the film are the biggest benefit,” says Hulett.

Educating consumers on the benefits of decorative films could help develop demand.

“I would like more of a market for [decorative], such as doing glass panels on the side of an elevator or escalator,” says Daigle. “I want to see decorative film come out to be just as popular as [other products].” Lee adds, “It is a beautiful and versatile option, which has not yet reached consumer awareness to the extent it deserves.”

What’s the Big Difference?
The image on the left is a photo of a printed polyester interlayer laminated between glass which took three weeks to print and about 13 months for the entire project to be completed at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital. The image at the top is an installation Russell completed at a church which otherwise “would have been a several hundreds of dollars of stained glass and many weeks of work to install; we did the installation with our product for $1,500 and as little as two weeks, including printing,” he says.

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