A competitive advantage
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“Using the highest quality urethane film is only as good as the installation, which is why installation quality is so critical in our business,” concurs Skip Vachon, owner of Protective Film Technologies (PFT), an exclusively mobile application service in the Washington, D.C. area.
“Stretch marks, wrinkles, scarring, lifting and dimples all determine whether or not the film is visible on a vehicle, especially on darker colored paint,” Vachon cautions, citing the importance of being properly trained.
“There are really no entry barriers to this business – the only barrier is your skill level.” Plotter equipment is utilized to ensure the correct cuts, although some applications require custom handiwork. “You order film as-needed; it’s simple.”
Vachon, echoing Helcberger, was a detailer who became hands-on with PPF 13 years ago after purchasing an “absolutely pristine” classic BMW and hearing “horror stories” about botched jobs. “The quality of the films was terrible compared to what we have now.”
About 98 percent of Vachon’s customers are people who have bought new cars. But he is selective about enlisting car dealers as a source of accounts. “Every dealer has differing preferences. Everything has to be done right now, and then you don’t get paid for a month.” Among other drawbacks, sometimes the vehicle to be worked on is not even present on the lot for the scheduled appointment.
“The majority of my work is going to individual homes,” says Vachon, who conducts customer interviews in advance. “A lot of my clients live in very nice homes, so it’s usually a clean environment” with a spacious and uncluttered garage.
“It’s a huge competitive advantage to be mobile,” he says. “Since I started the awareness of the product has gone up a lot, and sales have grown tremendously.”
There is one key wrinkle, however, and that comes when attempting to expand the operation by taking on and training additional technicians. “It’s so lucrative,” Vachon laments, “that they’ll go off on their own and start their own business.”
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