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Market Research: Paint Protection Film


shane@detailedreflections
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Hey everyone,

 

Since information from this forum has been invaluable as we grow and shape our business, it’s time to tap the brain trust that is Adam’s Forums once again. 

 

We have been debating (at length) the merits of getting into paint protection film (PPF). There are a lot of pros to getting into  it, but also some cons. The pro’s are added services and protection for clients. It’s also a new skill set for us which presents new challenges and excitement for us, but also means there’s a learning curve full of errors. 

 

The con’s...the learning curve and waste from mistakes. The biggest con is it’s a significant investment. That investment is somewhere in the $7-10k range. That’s for a year of access to the software template, a plotter and film to get started. The variance in startup cost comes with the difference in plotter sizes (42” versus 64”) and films purchased at startup (training film versus actual film).

 

So the questions are:

 

- Would you or have you ever considered PPF?

 

- Would you consider it from a smaller operation as opposed to a larger scale one?

 

- What coverage would you most likely choose?

 

- And the big one...how much would you be willing to pay for PPF?

 

Feel free to chime in with any other thoughts you may have on the subject. We are a small operation out of a private garage. It’s myself and one other person. The quality of our work I think speaks to our knowledge and attention to detail. Or at least I hope it does. But we are still a very small operation considering a large investment. 

 

Thanks for taking the time!

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I AM NOT A PRO DETAILER, I DONT EVEN DETAIL FOR PROFIT:\

My 2 cents is this, depending on where you see your clientele trending, I would go that direction. If your clients are bringing you higher end cars for detailing, maybe it's worth going into PPF, if not perhaps wait it out til you build a bigger clientele and then proceed. Not that all cars that get PPF are high end but most regular car owners probably won't go more than a clear bra to the front end.

If your clients are bringing you high end luxury cars every day then perhaps it's worth looking into expanding your service offerings. Logically a customer who buys a brand new $25K car isn't going to have the money to shell out another $5K for a PPF wrap. (I say $5K based on what I've seen some companies charge, again **NOT SURE**). 

I think if you're interested in expanding, start small: start doing partial wraps, i.e. mirrors, high risk areas (for paint chips), then depending on the business move further. 

Although training won't be cheap and neither will materials (as you stated) so I'd make sure you're in the market for it before you jump in...although I've seen your work and it's fantastic so I'm sure you guys would be solid 

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Through a customer point of view and car fanatic, I dont see myself ever using protection film on my cars. I feel like thats like buying a brand new 70" flat screen tv and leaving the protective plastic on to keep it from getting scratched. 

 

However, if I ever did consider putting a film on my car, id probably choose a place with the best reviews wether online or word of mouth regardless of its a small or large business. I have had plenty of bad experiences with big and small companies to narrow it down based on those guidelines. 

 

As for the coverage, I would choose to cover as much or as little as I possibly can. I would hate to invest so much money on protecting it, only to give it tan lines. 

 

And considering what I mentioned, I would have a hard time getting convinced to wrap my car even if it was free. Thats just my personal opinion, which could be the minority. 

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I have PPF on my wife’s jeep summit. I paid $2200 for entire front end, hood, mirrors, leading edge of the roof, rockers, door handle pocket and behind the rear wheels. I got it installed as soon as we bought it back in 2016 from a known installer out of his house (no overhead.) I am glad I got it installed and would absolutely do it again on our next vehicle, especially commuting up and down the highway. Hope this helps....

Edited by MDDETAIL
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HI Shane, you asked so here's my two cents.  You've posted pics of your recent work and as I recall several of the vehicles were brand new, essentially direct from the dealer to you for paint correction and ceramic coating or equivalent protection. To me, that same client base would most likely buy in for PPF,  if you offered it.  I have two of my vehicles partially wrapped with XPEL Ultimate, and had it applied fairly soon after purchasing them.  I know the plotter and templates are a significant expense, however, I believe your client base would afford you a fairly short return on investment.  I also believe that becoming a "one stop shop" for that type of client would be another stride towards growing your successful business. 

 

As for my experience, I had the front fascia, hood, fenders, A-pillars, partial roof, and mirrors wrapped on the Challenger.

On the Charger, I only had the door sills and rockers wrapped.    

 

Keep us posted. :cheers:

 

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I have SOME 3 M film on both of my cars.  A nearby dealership has a side shop that does it and their employees actually had to go to school to learn the process. So I would say if you're considering it, be sure your guys get the right training FIRST before using a client's car for trial and error.  When you're dealing with stripes, decals, etc, you don't want to apply it, then have it turn out wrong and ruin the stripes, etc. when you have to remove the screwed up film.  

The first 3M film I had on yellowed. But they developed a new formula recently and my Vette was one of the first cars they put it on.   That was 2 years ago, and it's still clear.  It would really show yellow on the white, but you can't tell it's there.  Definitely an asset.  

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I had the front end, head lights, hood front, and backside of mirrors done back in October on a car I purchased and it cost me about $1,000.  I think the product is well worth it.  I had a Tundra that I had the same product installed back in 2004 and it never yellowed.  I had the truck for 7 years with the product.  If I recall I paid roughly the same price.  Both vehicles had the 3M product.  The truck actually had a big gash that tore through the film on the hood and left a dent.  But zero paint damage.  Had a PDR guy remove the dent, and new film applied.   I would have to look at my current vehicle, but I know that on my truck the headlights had a thicker film applied to them. 

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Another tip to consider if you take the plunge.....charge a few bucks more for White vehicles.  I know other installers do because they're almost guaranteed the client will bring their vehicle back the first time dirty rain water gets beneath then leading edge of the film.  It stands out like a sore thumb on White paint and I've been told the only way to make it look right is to trim the edge back a few millimeters.   Ask me how I know :)

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I have learned from the hard way that it is a must have on some cars/trucks.  I ended up having both my Wife's Rav4 and my Silverado done.  Both were done in Xpel, on both they were bumpers,hood, and fenders(Highway coverage is what they call it).  The Rav4 was about $350 done thru the dealer, and the truck was $850 done thru someone else since the dealer did not offer it.

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1 hour ago, shane@detailedreflections said:

$350 sounds like a super deal. Knowing the cost of the film, I don’t know how they offered Xpel that inexpeaicely. Good purchase. The $850 is more in the area I’d expect to see. 

 

I'd guess that the $350 was a deal, but a Rav4 there isn't much to protect on them.  I'd guess the big thing is to get a brand that is well know, such as Xpel/3m and work with a dealer to maybe get some business.

 

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The plotter sounds like the biggest expense considering you can buy them pre-cut. Is there that much savings and hopefully demand to warrant needing a plotter? I have no idea or not but I know our body shop use to buy them pre-cut and the pinstripe guy use to put them on. Sounds like running before walking type deal but maybe I am missing something?

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I have Xpel on my 2016 Crew Cab Silverado. I had the front bumper, headlights, fogs, mirrors, half the hood and fender, A-pillars, and leading edge of roof. I also had the vehicle polished (One step) as it had been sitting on a dealer lot for 6 months and needed it before applying PPF. The vehicle was then had OptiCoat applied that lasts for 5 years. I paid $2000, but I know I got a discount since I bundled some services. As with a white vehicle, the same probably applies to black as well. I had to take my truck back as I had a few places on the bumper where bubbles didn't come out after two weeks, and there was a few pieces of trash under the film. And this came from a reputable place that has been detailing for 20 years.

 

The pro to me if I was a client is that you would be offering a one stop shop. I found one local place that had higher prices for polishing and coating, but didn't do PPF. The owner told me he would do the polishing, drive the truck to another shop to have a cheaper PPF (SunTek, not Xpel) installed, and then have the truck brought back to apply CeramicPro. I didn't like the idea of two places doing the work, as if I didn't like the workmanship, who would be to blame. Also after polishing, the vehicle would have to be re-prepped since it would have been drove about 10 miles to the PPF shop.

 

The con for you would be the initial investment and possible learning curve. I have seen your work posted on this forum, and I would say you have the knowledge and experience to learn quickly. Take some classes and get certified.

 

If you have a higher end clientele, I would say go for it, as it shouldn't take long to pay off for your investment, as I know my dealer charges roughly $3-5K to wrap the whole car depending on size. Xpel shows prices for templates for each vehicle they offer. Based on my experience, they are quite high based on their website, but my dealer seemed to charge less than the template price and that included installation. I wish you luck on either way you proceed, and keep posted on the awesome work you are doing for your clients. :bow:

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Thank you so much for a fantastic post @jabo_pf  I’m leaning towards taking the plunge. There’s a definite learning curve and cost that goes with that to say the least. I’m confident in our ability to get good at the installation. I have a buddy who lives an hour away that does vinyl wrap installs. Mostly trailers and commercial type stuff, but he could help get us started with technique and be an invaluable resource. 

 

We have quite a mix of clientele. Everything from showpieces to daily drivers that the owners simply don’t want to clean out. I’m happy we have the wide array of clients, but sometimes if it were more of a focused group decisions like this would be much simpler.

 

We aren’t a full time shop, and I guess that’s where my hesitation/risk comes from. We are small, very small. Myself and one other guy and we work by appointment. We are always amazed that two guys and a garage have been able to gain momentum over the little over a year that we’ve been an official business. I told my wife (and I still hear about it to this day) that the first couple of years were not going to make money and were not going to be cash flow positive. I know part of accelerating a business is to reinvest. We are just trying to invest smartly and make sure we aren’t pushing into bigger arenas too quickly, while also making sure there’s an eventual return on the investment. The flip side is that nobody is going to hand us anything. I’m in awe of a lot of the shops out there and what they’re doing. We hope to grow and to one day do the kind of work that makes people want to come to us or follow us to see what we are doing. But we want every aspect of business we enter to have that same philosophy. 

 

Thank you again everyone for following along, being a sounding board and for always provided much needed criticism and feedback. We appreciate it!

 

 

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On 3/31/2018 at 6:47 PM, ZMAN024 said:

Another tip to consider if you take the plunge.....charge a few bucks more for White vehicles.  I know other installers do because they're almost guaranteed the client will bring their vehicle back the first time dirty rain water gets beneath then leading edge of the film.  It stands out like a sore thumb on White paint and I've been told the only way to make it look right is to trim the edge back a few millimeters.   Ask me how I know :)

 

That's why I'm happy with the new 3M tape.  Their old formula did just that. The new stuff doesn't.  I haven't had any issue with it at all on either white vehicle .  But don't think that just white paint becomes noticeable.  The least bit of wax or dirt on the edges on black vehicles does the same thing (did with the old tape).  

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So for an update to everyone, we have some samples of window film and ppf on their way from Suntek. We are going to play and see what we can learn with the samples before going all in and getting a plotter. If it goes well and we get the basics, we will move forward. 

 

Hopefully in the future we can offer detail, coatings, ppf and window film to our clients. 

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On 4/13/2018 at 7:38 PM, shane@detailedreflections said:

So for an update to everyone, we have some samples of window film and ppf on their way from Suntek. We are going to play and see what we can learn with the samples before going all in and getting a plotter. If it goes well and we get the basics, we will move forward. 

 

Hopefully in the future we can offer detail, coatings, ppf and window film to our clients. 

PPF is definitely something I would have done had I had the funds at time of purchase. My area I was quoted $3000 for Xpel ultimate including" paint correction" by the local Porsche dealer for the '17 Explorer for full front, a, b, c & d pillars. Another window tint shop quoted me $800 for full front w/o paint correction using SunTek PPF. I didn't bother looking for pricing on my lease silverado. Ultimately, if it was my vehicle and not the wife's, I would have corrected the paint myself and had the front end done. She was adamant that it wasnt needed. It would have saved the front end on the Explorer.

 

My suggestion is to pay close attention to the clarity of whatever film you coose. It's possible Xpel got better but every car I've seen with xpel has had an orange peel appearance, and that's the biggest gripe I've seen online about Xpel.  I have heard great things about SunTek and 3M. 

Edited by SumBeach35
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Thanks for that feedback. We can’t get xpel since there’s another installed 40 minutes away. They offer protected territories. SunTek is who we have samples coming from. We are going to work with the film on some surfaces and tint some windows to get a feel of if we like the process, if we think we can do it and keep to our quality standards (I refuse to put out low quality work regardless of earning potential) and to understand the films better. If we are successful and enjoy it, then the cutter and precut software might come and simply things considerably for us. 

 

The $3k for a full front with pillars seems a bit on the high side unless they assumed significant time for paint correction. I don’t know exact material costs for Xpel, but I have SunTek costs of similar film and their pricing ranges. 

 

$800 for a full front without correction is pretty much right in the middle for a full hood, fenders, mirror and front bumper install. The partials would be a few hundred cheaper.

 

 

Edited by shane@detailedreflections
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