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Buy Window Film the Right Way

As a distributor who works face to face with is dealers on a regular basis, I’ve noticed a few patterns that emerge when it comes to purchasing window film. And depending on the way you buy window film, these patterns may be costing you real dollars.

Most tinters develop their habits and skills in a slight vacuum. By that I mean that they are usually self taught to some extent, or a product of a teaching tree that only extends from one or two other tinters in their local area. The technician who has traveled to several SEMA shows, visits other shops, and searches You-Tube for new ideas is a fairly rare creature. As a side effect of this isolation, they often buy window film based on what the guy that they learned from bought, and this isn’t always the most economic way.

The most common window film roll size dealers buy is the 40” roll. It’s also the most in-efficient roll size to use. If you’re currently using a plotter, I know you’re thinking, “I can squeeze the patterns together and my waste is low.” That’s true, but the majority of installers aren’t using plotters, and I really believe that even plotter users can conserve material by adjusting their philosophies.

Your philosophy for purchasing window tint rolls needs to be practical, and many times what on the surface seems the most economic way to go, isn’t. It’s important to get away from the “I work out of my trunk and I can only afford one roll of film at a time!”philosophy, because it’s costing you cash. It’s just this simple, the more sizes you have on your shelf, the less waste you’ll have. Whether it’s a 40”, 36”, or any other size, having only one or two different sizes on the shelf will automatically make those sizes the most inefficient.

Let’s get back to the 40” roll for a minute. When I ask dealers why they buy this size window film, the most common answer is that it covers all of their needs. Ok then, what happens when you have 32”x 52” back window? You’re going to waste a piece of film that’s 8”x 52”? This is coming from the guy who can’t afford more than one roll of a particular VLT? Now, some guys will use that piece for a brow, which is good when you can do that. But what happens when the back window is 35%, and they want a 5% brow?

Here’s another scenario: Let’s suppose you have a truck come in that needs a 24” piece for the side window. You’ll be wasting a piece that’s 16”x 36”! No, the dealer says to me, “I’ll roll that up and use it later”. Really? On what? We all know what happens when we put these little pieces aside for later, nine times out of ten they get lost or forgotten.

Many dealers like to order 60” rolls cut 36”- 24”, and they proudly proclaim that they don’t have all the waste of a 40” roll. What about the sides? They use the 24” roll for all of their sides and waste four to five inches on 95% of the cars they tint. That a strip 4.5”x 95’ completely wasted!

Ninety percent of side windows will be 20” or less. So why not carry a 20” and a 24” roll! Or better yet, have you distributor cut a 60” roll down to 18”-20”-22”, and keep a 24” roll handy for big trucks.

On back glass even the 36” roll is very wasteful. You’ll waste much less film if you carry one 36” for larger back windows, and have a 60” roll cut 30”-30” for the 75% of vehicles that have back windows less than 30”!

Again, I hear from dealers that they can’t afford to have that much film on the shelf. My answer is: “Why not?” You’re in business to tint cars, you know you’re going to use it, and it will save you money in the long run! There’s no arguing with the logic.

So if it’s logical and makes economic sense, and you’re not doing it, maybe we should look at the real reason: Poor money management.

Wasting film because you don’t want to spend money on the material that is the life blood of your business is a very broken philosophy. Setting funds aside to buy window film should be the first thing on your budget or business model plan.

Now, I do get dealers who tell me that the film costs so little they’re not worried about the waste, and I say “Fine”, but very often those same dealers will place an order and really need to have it the next day because they are completely out of film, or they’ll complain that they can’t get into a better quality product because of price! So which is it? You can afford to waste film, but you can’t afford to buy enough window film to get you through the week, or move up to a product with a lifetime guarantee?

And, all the reasons I’m given really start to sound silly when you consider that you can buy a 60” window film roll of a lifetime warranty product with the proceeds from only 2-4 vehicles! So why not have several of those rolls on your shelf cut in several different sizes?

My goal here isn’t to run down anyone, or belittle you or my clients. My goal is to bring attention to the fact that far too often; tint shops do not buy window film like other successful businesses manage their material purchases. Shrinkage, which is corporation speak for waste, is something that every business should be concerned with. McDonalds spend about $50 million a year trying to find better ways to reduce shrinkage. If a large business like McDonald’s thinks it’s really important, then shouldn’t it be even more important for a small business like yours?

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