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New PPF Installer Churn

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I read on another thread about the big turnover with installers for PPF.  I am left to wonder if that is just a minority opinion or do the majority of installers feel there are a lot of people that don't make it.  I am asking because before I invest $6000 for a new plotter, $3000 for initial product, $1000 for training.   Marketing, dedicated work computer, design software etc...  It looks to be a $15,000 investment.  I've been installing tint for 30 years but only as a side job and never as a serious sole-proprietor entrepreneur.   


Talking to the regional managers in a few of the major film companies, they have mentioned what it takes to become an authorized installer.  Some require exclusivity.  What advice do you have for a new installer?  Looks like you can use DAP without becoming locked into Xpel?  True or not?  


I like 3M products as that is the tint I started with in the mid-80s.  Is their 3M Clear Gloss Pro Series good?  Just OK?  I like the fact that it is closer to $4.62/sqft vs Xpel's $11/sqft.  Especially if I bulk the fenders and hood, I'm sure the waste at $5/ft would be a lot better than $11/ft if I didn't want to pay for the precut pattern via DAP.


Speaking of DAP, what are the all-in costs?  I was messing around with it and looked like there was a $20 access fee for many of their designs.  Is that about right?  Does it charge you when you cut that?   If you screw up a bumper and need to cut a second one out, does it charge you again?


Lastly, what cutters/plotters do you recommend.  I'd like to buy one used but haven't found a good marketplace for that kind of stuff.  Any recommendations for what to look out for would be very helpful!


What say you?  Thank you in advance.

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My opinion is don't go exclusive, you don't want anyone tying your hands, be free to use whoever you want and change it whenever you want.  


With all the turnover, I'd bet you could find a good, used plotter much cheaper then a new one.  


I think Suntek's TruCut is the better software out there, from the standpoint of, it being accurate enough, cheap enough per month and simple.  You just pay a monthly fee and don't mess with all the "money making" schemes some of the others are trying to push by making you pay monthly, then for each pattern and also be exclusive with their films.....  ugh


I wouldn't put too much money into software, most cars can easily bulk hoods, fenders, doors and such.  You really only need it for bumpers and large rear fenders that connect to the A pillars like sports cars do. But's its nice to have for B-pillars and such small areas like that.  I mainly use it for headlights and Porsche doors since the mirror base is on the door.  


If you learn to do more bulk installs you'll save tons of money on the software and patterns from XPEL and you'll turn out cleaner looking installs with better lines and less marks in the film. 


I also think Suntek and STEK have the best films right now, Suntek is tried and true, very user friendly and a great Co. to be connected with.  They take care of their installers.


STEK has a new film, it's extremely user friendly and very hydrophobic and they have a whole line of Fashion Films that are awesome but they're the new kid on the block so.... 





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Thank you sir.  Appreciate your input.  


What are the approx startup costs for the TruCut software?  Then how much monthly or per cut?


I've been a Mac guy for years.  Do these programs work on macs or just PCs?


11 hours ago, JoshVette said:

I wouldn't put too much money into software, most cars can easily bulk hoods, fenders, doors and such.  You really only need it for bumpers and large rear fenders that connect to the A pillars like sports cars do. But's its nice to have for B-pillars and such small areas like that.  I mainly use it for headlights and Porsche doors since the mirror base is on the door.  


If you are mainly doing bulk for the bigger hoods, fenders and doors, what size plotter do you recommend you get for the bumpers or large rear fenders?  Does a 30" do the job or do you need a 48"?

Edited by f152tall
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I have a 60 inch plotter but have never used it past 30 inches.  However I bulk everything including bumpers so I'm not a good person to answer that question.  I just know most installers use pre cut kits for bumpers.  


Some cars like the Porsche 911 have a very large rear fender which connects to the A Pillars and lower Rockers so that will need to be done on a 60, possibly a 48 but better to have extra.  


I believe Suntek TruCut is $100 per month, no fee per cut, cut as many patterns as you like.  

Not sure if it works on a Mac either, I have a laptop for it. 


You should get in touch with someone at Suntek as I'm sure they could better answer your questions.  



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My take is similar to Josh's...  I just bought a plotter but I still typically do bulk.  So the plotter is for the A-pillars, trunk ledge, headlights/foglights, maybe for leading edge of the roof, door cups, and door edge material... Basically smaller bits where bulk installation will give the same results but take longer.  But like Josh, I bulk the hoods, fenders, doors, and bumpers.  The trade-off is time, plain and simple.  You can install a fender or bumper in 1/2 the time or even faster with a pre-cut.  BUT I'd put my bulk install against any kit in quality any day. (Quality in my definition, is getting coverage all the way to edges, including parking sensors, around headlight sprayers, around side marker reflectors, etc.  Rolling edges everywhere possible, not just on the leading edge of the hood but around all 4 sides of the hood, plus into the wheel well, and around the back of the fender where the door-edge gap is.)


Ultimately,  it comes down to if the customer cares or not.. Car dealership?  Do a kit, make the $$ and move along.  But for my picky detail oriented customer, a bulk installation looks better with smaller edge-gaps where they have to be or non existent where I can wrap it around edges.


Last I was told by Jeff at Xpel, you have to be exclusive to buying Xpel film to use the Xpel Dap software plus you have to be exclusive to Xpel film to get Xpel film in the first place.  I do not approve of this business strategy but it's not my company and I've been more than happy with Suntek products and software for many years.


Back to the original topic, Applying the film clean, smooth, invisible way takes a pretty huge amount of practice and patience.  Meanwhile, you will throw away an expensive hunk of film here and there.  It especially hurts when it happens 2 times in a row due to frustration, haha.  So that is probably why a lot of installers give it a 2 or 3 week try and then quit.  The other problem is when an area has too many installers, all undercutting on price and kill the market with crappy rushed installations because they are going for Fast, Fast, Fast installations, while giving the film a bad reputation because of those fast, dirty installations.  Now the customers in those areas think that low prices are standard unfortunately, making it difficult to explain that a quality installation can't be price-shopped against a speed installation.

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