Though heat control continues to be the primary function of most applied window films, top-of-the-line spectrally selective films can provide increased ultraviolet (UV) protection superior to most low-emissivity (Low-E) glass, increased insulation performance and the ability to mitigate the impact of seismic stress, wind-blown debris and explosive force.
Window treatment installers understand how UV rays can damage window treatments, furniture and flooring. They are well positioned to offer window treatment customers window film that will significantly reduce interior fading. But there are other reasons for taking on this line of products.
Consider these additional reasons to sell and install conventional and spectrally selective applied window film:
• Compared to heat reflective glass, all types of applied film cost less and are priced dramatically lower, offering high potential profitability. Film manufacturers and their distributors typically sell generic heat-reflective film for less than a dollar a square foot to installers who, in turn, sell that product for up to five times that amount installed. Spectrally selective film often sells for three times the amount of generic heat-reflective film installed. The costs of installation, overhead and marketing of state-of-the-art spectrally selective film seldom surpass $4 a square foot.
• Applied window film can be a much easier product to sell than replacement glass. Homeowners and building managers are reluctant to spend the money for, and put up with the inconvenience of, purchasing replacement windows when their existing glass, except for an overheating problem, performs well otherwise. The ability of some applied window film to also provide UV and security protection affords window treatment installers with additional selling points to impress end-users with the cost performance value of applied film compared to replacement glass. • Solar heat and UV through south- and west-facing windows are serious problems even in cold climate cities such as Detroit, MI, where many homes and buildings experience costly overheating and fading problems even in winter.
• With increasing concern about energy conservation, window film is the most cost effective way to reduce heat entering a structure, reducing the use of air conditioning.
• According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, the total residential window market in the United States accounts for 19 billion square feet of glass, less than one percent of which has benefited from applied film. Considering that the average residential window is 25-years-old, there is great potential for window film to become extremely competitive with replacement windows in the residential market.
• Even though the potential demand for applied window film seems unlimited, only about 100 million square feet is available for architectural applications. Clearly, this is a market in the embryonic stages of development, offering remodeling contractors a real ground-floor opportunity.
Too good to be true? Unfortunately for many of the existing 5,000 film dealers and installers in the United States, window film has not been a lucrative proposition. The reason: limited marketing skills and no differentiation in products.
Window film installers selling conventional window film are in a commodity business and possess a commodity business mentality that negates their ability to sell a unique product such as spectrally selective film. Price competition among commodities drives down profitability. Installation and customer service may not be adequately funded, creating customer dissatisfaction with conventional film installers.
For successful window treatment installers, opportunities abound in residential and light commercial markets. An aggressive, proactive marketing and sales organization capable of dealing with property management decision-makers as well as homeowners will achieve results.
What does it take to get in the window film sales and installation business? Becoming an applied window film installer does not require an up-front commitment of significant money or time. The investment in tools and equipment amounts to no more than a few hundred dollars. Basic knowledge as well as comprehensive and easy-to-follow instruction manuals are published by the International Window Film Association (www.iwfa.com).
Window treatment retailers interested only in selling, but not installing window film, should be able to find several existing local film installers happy to do the actual installation while leaving the selling and most of the profits to them.
Marty Watts is president and CEO of V-Kool, Inc., Houston, TX, a sales and marketing and distribution company of spectrally selective applied films for architectural, automotive and specialized vehicular applications; 800 217-7046;