With record high temperatures baking the Midwest, it’s a good time to look at the business case for automotive window tint installation. Selling window tint film not only helps cars stay cool and reduce the risk of heat related interior damage, it enhances the vehicle’s appearance, which is pretty cool too.
As sign makers continue to look for lucrative new markets, some traditional artisans are looking for the productivity gains of adopting digital technology. Much like today’s professional vehicle wrap installers, traditional window tint installers ply their trade with skills acquired through experience.
These artisans can greatly increase productivity and profit by adopting digital processes in the form of a vinyl cutter and window tint software. Vinyl graphics professionals can easily add another profit center by offering window tint installation to their existing customers.
The Digital Process
Installing window tint film digitally is a fairly simple process. Using a PC, the installer searches the software’s database for the correct template (i.e. a 2009 Honda Accord Coupe). Once he finds the template, the installer can adjust or enhance it, perhaps by incorporating flames or the driver’s name. Then the installer loads a roll of window tint film on a vinyl cutter and sends the template to the plotter, which cuts it precisely. Then the installer uses his or her skills to apply the film to the vehicle’s windows as they would normally do. The difference is in the quick, precise cutting of the film on the plotter instead of meticulously cutting it by hand.
More Sales & Profit for Window Tint Installers
Experienced window tint installers often ask why they should consider the expense and learning curve of converting from manual to digital cutting of film. Here’s what you stand to gain;
Productivity– Even a mature shop with a crew of experienced installers can see significant gains in productivity—and therefore revenue—by switching to a digital system using a PC, vinyl cutter, and tint software. The time required to cut the film to precisely fit car windows is greatly reduced by using templates sent to a plotter. Tint America, an established window tint shop is a good example. When they switched from manual cutting to using Tint Tek 2020 software, their daily output doubled.
Waste & Damage– Since the software nests the patterns before sending them to the vinyl cutter, the amount of film used per vehicle can be greatly reduced, lowering material costs and enhancing the bottom line. Digital cutting also saves money eliminating the risk of damaging a customer’s vehicle because the installer doesn’t have to place the film against the car window and cut it to fit. The slip of a knife in a new BMW can severely damage the bottom line as well as a Tint shop’s reputation. Cutting the film from ready made templates on a plotter eliminates that risk.
New Revenue for Vinyl Graphics Businesses
If you already own a plotter and software but aren’t offering window tint film, consider this a potential new profit center. As most merchants know, there are only two ways to grow your business; find new customers for your existing products & services or find new products & services to sell to existing customers. If you already sell vinyl graphics—especially vehicle graphics like striping and decals—you can easily grow your business by offering your customers window tint installation. Selling a window tint package to just two of your customers per day adds $1,500.00 per week to the till. If these upgrades are sold to customers whose vehicles you already have in your shop for other graphic work, it’s a very efficient way to pad the bottom line.
Window Tint Shopping List
Obviously you’ll need a plotter and software. What else is required to make all of this work? There are four essentials for the digital production of car window tint film; A PC and window tint software, a very good vinyl cutter, application tools, and of course window tint film. Let’s take a brief look at each of these ingredients.
Software– Tint Tek 2020, the original window tint template software continues to lead the market. Tint Tek 2020 has an enormous database of templates including some dating back to the late 70s. This database is constantly updated so that Tint Tek customers can download new templates as they become available. Tint Tek 2020 maintains a team of experienced professionals who travel North America sampling vehicles to produce the most precise templates possible. In addition to its voluminous database, Tint Tek has advanced plotter drivers that reduce the likelihood of media feed problems and damaged film. Tint Tek 2020 is available in two versions, the traditional full featured product, and an online only version that can be purchased for only $199.00 and $150.00/ month. For more information about the features and benefits of Tint Tek 2020, please click here.
A Good, Wide, Plotter– A 42” cutter is preferred because the rear windows of most vehicles are at least 40” across. A smaller cutter can be used to cut film for the rear window in sections, but most customers want the rear window to be tinted from a single piece so that no seams are visible.
In addition to size, you will need a cutter with advanced media handling properties. Vinyl cutters are designed to handle adhesive backed vinyl, almost all of which is 2 – 5 mil thick. When you add the adhesive and release liner, the total thickness of a typical calendared vinyl is 9 mil or more. Automotive window tint film is 66% thinner so most vinyl cutters do not handle it well. They tend to have trouble controlling the media feed, resulting in bunching up and tearing as the film is fed across the platen.
The Vinyl EXPRESS Q Series excels at managing this media because of its advanced Smart Blade Landing system, which measures the actual thickness of the installed media and senses the surface of the film. This allows the Q to precisely control the amount of force with which the blade makes contact with the media. The resulting soft contact enables The Q to produce as precise a cut in window tint film as it does in 3mil vinyl. This superior engineering is found on very few vinyl cutters. Starting with one of these finely engineered cutting plotters is your first step toward a launching a successful window tint business or making an existing tint shop more efficient and profitable. The Graphtec CE5000-120 or FC8000 series is also an excellent choice for cutting window tint film.
Tools– Just as in sign making, you’ll need some unique tools to produce top quality work. To get you started, we offer a basic window tint tool kit– including the slim foot, Equalizer and other creatively named gadgets. Any of the items in that kit can be reordered as needed. As you work, you may find you like some more than others. For a full range of tint installation tools, including the Conquistador and The Stroke Doctor, check out the assortment at 44tools.com. To help you figure out what to do with them, our Tint Tek 2020 Online package includes the John Rhoades Window Tint Training DVD which is a comprehensive 90 minute video that shows you all the tips and tricks on how to get a perfect installation every time.
Window Tint Film– Obviously you can’t sell professional quality window tint installations without professional quality film. That’s why, when we decided to offer a line of automotive tint film, we consulted with John Rhoades, a leading installer and trainer. He told us there are lots of low quality imports in the market these days and some of them carry expensive brand names. Ours however, is one of the best. He particularly liked its excellent heat forming properties of our High Performance metalized film. We offer EnduraTINT in three grades: standard, high performance, and carbon.
Standard is a charcoal dyed film designed to match the tint of factory auto glass. It comes with a three year warranty against peeling, cracking, delamination, or adhesive failure.
High performance is a metalized film with superior color, heat resistance, and a lifetime warranty against cracking, peeling, delamination or demetalization.
EnduraTINT Carbon offers the look and durability of the High Performance, but its non-metallic carbon composition prevents interference with vehicle FM and satellite radio reception. No matter which EnduraTINT product you choose, you and your customers will be happy for years to come.
PROFIT AND ROI
That looks like a pretty big shopping list; which brings up the issue of cost. What does it cost to jump into this field and how long does it take to recoup that investment. Because we believe in providing unbeatable value, we offer complete Tint EXPRESS packages including a Q42 vinyl cutter, Tint Tek 2020 or 2020 Online software, tool kit and EnduraTINT film, all for under $5,000. There are also packages that include sign software and tools should you decide to sell vehicle graphics and signs in addition to tint installation.
But let’s narrow the focus and look just at the business case for digital window tint installation. Here’s a quick breakdown in dollars and cents.
- The average retail price for window tint installation is $100.00 Generally two door coupes cost about $90 – $120 and four door sedans cost $120 – $150 depending on your market, and the quality of the film used.
- The average material cost is only $28.00, leaving an average gross profit of $72.00 per vehicle.
- Using Tint Tek 20/20 templates and a vinyl cutter, the average daily production capacity is 12 cars. That’s a daily gross of $864.00. If you pay an installer $10.00/hour, subtract $80 for labor and you’re left with $784.00 per day, $3,900 per week, $16,800 per month.
- At only 50% production capacity, you’ll generate enough net profit to pay for the investment in just under three weeks.
There are a few more things to consider, but you get the general idea.
If you’re running an old fashioned window tint business, “going digital” can double your sales, reduce waste, and open markets to other services like striping and fleet graphics. If you’re in the sign business, adding window tint services can give you more items to sell to your loyal customers, and broaden your customer base.
Regardless of whether you’re a sign maker or a tint installer, consider partnering with local car dealers. They can add window tint to new car purchases and outsource the installation to you. You won’t have as much gross profit in such an arrangement, but can make up for it on volume and referrals. Either way, you’ll be helping drivers to stay cool and look cool.