After seven years of effort, owner Doug Steele of Executive Paint Protection, Bronx, N.Y., finally broke through and claimed a vacant spot at this year’s New York Auto Show in April. With a 10′-x-10′ booth and a couple of attractive models of VH1 fame at the show, Steele set out with a singular goal in mind, to grow his paint protection business.
“I have wanted to participate at the New York Auto Show for quite some time,” he says. “With a projected 1.9 million visitors in attendance it was a no-brainer for me.
“It has been my experience that anyone who loves their car, and finds out that a clear paint protection product exists, that it is only a matter of brief education on the product and our installation ability until we close a sale.”
Some of the early results immediately following the show have been impressive. Steele says he experienced a 143% spike in website traffic since the show and has landed somewhere in the neighborhood of 150-200 potential paint protection installations.
“The show was amazing. I not only had people visit my exhibit from the Tri-State area but Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, as well.”
When asked about the most enthusiastic customer Steele had a quick response: “It was the Porsche guys, hands down. Out of the large numbers of people that visited my booth over the 10 days of the show, the Porsche owners were the most excited about paint protection. Many of them did not know that this product existed until they visited my booth.”
“When it comes to the high-end customer,” Steele adds, “price is not as much of a concern as quality is. At our booth, I ran an LCD screen with a large database of installations that we have already performed. Many times the prospective customer would not believe that there was any film at all on one of the photographed cars until we went back and showed a series of pictures during the installation process.”
“In general, the sports car enthusiasts were all over paint protection and its benefits. In one morning after the show I booked two McLaren SLR Mercedes Benz’s and a Porsche GT3.” Steele adds, “Once the prospect saw the clarity of the premium film [Xpel] and the quality of work performed, it was game over. We had a sale.”
Quality, precise work
Steele’s entry in the restyling business came from his passion about cars and satisfying the customer
“At Executive Paint Protection, we utilize precision techniques and exclusive products, and we continually work to improve our skill set and knowledge to provide the best possible products and services to our customers,” he notes. “In our business, it’s all about creating strong client relationships.”
Steele’s focus over the past couple of years has been paint protection film installations. “The detailing and vinyl product lines are value-adds to help differentiate our services offering; but at the end of the day paint protection is where the demand and the margin are.”
“As for marketing support at the auto show, Xpel was an outstanding partner. When they got wind that I was taking a booth at the show they asked me what support I needed. The guys are like my brothers and they took care of me by sending over 1,000 tri-folds and a few banners at no cost to help support my efforts.”
In addition to the retail business gained from the show, Steele also had a number of professional shops approach him about outsourcing paint protection installations to Executive Paint Protection. “There were a number of window tint and paint and body shops that approached me during the event looking for additional revenue streams and saw us as a natural partner for their operations.”
As for future attendance with the New York Auto Show, Steele said, “I was so impressed with the results that I am already looking for a bigger space with better placement. Now that I am in the show, I am not going to give up my spot. I am only looking to upgrade. The results were great and I would encourage other restylers to consider taking down a booth of their own in their respective market.”