Too Cold to Tint – Winter Weather Preventing Window Film Installations - If you live east of the Mississippi, chances are you’ve been impacted by the recent onslaught of winter weather. From snow and sleet to freezing rain, schools and businesses in the East and Midwest have been closed multiple times since the start of the New Year. For window film companies, the consistently frigid climate is preventing many installations.
“Because of the cold weather and the cold temperatures we were prohibited to install film,” says Ed Golda (pictured), president of Michigan Glass Coatings in Auburn Hills, Mich. “When we sprayed the glass it froze and you can’t install film over ice. It was challenging. With the weather conditions and snow days, residential customers had their minds on kids and trying to get to work. The last thing on their mind was window film … Everyone is just in survival mode. It’s been a brutal winter.” “We’ve had two days where all of the installers were off. We’ve gotten shut down other days when the glass was frozen,” adds Steve Pesce, president of New York Window Film Co. in Farmingdale, N.Y.
Even south of the Mason-Dixon line, typically warm-weather companies are feeling the chill. Matthew Erbrick, owner of United Home Solutions in Alpharetta, Ga., says his shop has had to close and reschedule work as a result of the weather. “People were very cooperative. We did have to work on Saturday and Sunday which we don’t typically do this time of year,” he says. “It was only a day-and-a-half we had to make up because of the snow. It did affect us—minimally fortunately.”
In the Midwest, Northeast and South, snowy weather is continuing to promise slow working conditions for window film companies. “They’re talking like it’s an apocalypse,” says Erbrick. “We got a little snow, but now they’re talking ice. We’ll probably have to reschedule and work to catch up.” As far as the weather goes, Erbrick says it’s relatively unpredictable. “In Georgia, you just never know until March, but in 1992 we got hit in April with 10 inches of snow, so you just can never tell,” he notes.
Some dealers have a brighter outlook when it comes to improving conditions. “It’s the same as every other year, so it’s nothing new around here,” adds Pesce. “I’m expecting this whole thing to blow over by next week and get warmer. This is one of the few times I can remember where it’s consistently snowing … that’s the only difference.”
For Golda, though, the hits his company has felt since the start of the year have been some relatively tough blows. “I had to let one of our installers go on unemployment. It’s tough. Thank God we diversified into graphics and security films … the air temperatures are just brutal. This has been an extraordinary winter, as we all know,” he says. “The problem is once January is gone, that’s it. There’s no way to get it back. Only the tough will survive. “You keep a positive attitude and keep trucking and hope for a decent February, but the cold just won’t go away,” Golda adds. “When the sun is shining, it does help, at least it starts warming up the glass. But a cloudy overcast day, it’s very difficult.”
To try and maintain business during this time, Golda says his company works in a variety of creative ways. “We’re trying to book out in advance as well as work with the sun when it’s on the East side, then follow it to the West,” he states. “We also try to do a lot of graphics job inside buildings. If we’re in the hallways putting up graphics it’s a little easier because the interior temperatures are 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. We also try to make introductions and set up business for later on down the year. It’s tough but you have to do what you have to do.”
Left Out in the Cold – Dealers List Their Top Cold-Weather Selling Strategies: When the temperatures dip, sales for window film companies have a tendency to follow. So just what can your company do to maintain sales during colder weather? According to several dealers in winter weather-prone states, falling back on traditional marketing strategies helps. “For me a lot of it is referral and repeat business,” says Dave Mow, sales manager for Advanced Solar Solutions in Clawson, Mich. “I keep in contact with all of my customers. Our main source of advertising is the Internet.”
“Work on Sundays,” adds Mark Fravel, owner of Columbus, Ohio-based Quality Window Tint, “which helps because most people in the winter time will wait until they’re off on Saturdays. You can always work on Saturday or Sunday and take Monday off.” “The main thing we continue to use is word-of-mouth. We have longstanding relationships with construction companies that still need to have work done,” states Jennifer Shepherd, inside sales for flat glass at Absolute Perfection in Sykesville, Md. “We don’t cold-call, but we do rely on repeat customers coming back to us. We also do email promotions … such as $100 off.”
Setting yourself apart from the competition is another area in which dealers say they reel in winter time business. “Security films are always a big request,” says Mow. “The new low-E coated films are starting to get more requests, especially in our climate. “We also have [film] which offers summer and winter [heat control] benefits,” he adds. Mow, whose company serves the commercial market, primarily recommends architectural film dealers “go to glaziers unions, architects and glass companies” to try and find additional work. You really just have to take the initiative,” adds Shepherd. “We have really great customer service; if someone contacts us we get back to them immediately.”