I recently got the chance to speak with Tim Haywood from Tint School, the training arm of Ultimate Tinting, one of the UK’s largest window tinting networks. We discuss how Tim got into tinting, the training courses he offers, the most expensive car he has ever wrapped, and much more!
How did you first get into window tinting?
Since I could walk, I’ve always been a massive fan of cars. This eventually turned into me – in my early twenties – becoming a car dealer, starting off selling cars from outside my house and ending up with a small local garage employing four staff. I got into tinting in the late nineties, because there was no one local to tint my own sales cars, I thought “how hard can it be” and had a go. I soon discovered it wasn’t as easy as I suspected and ended up doing a group course in Hamble with Johnson’s Window films. I then came home and for months I practised and practised on my sales cars. Don’t forget the internet was in it’s infancy then – e.g. no YouTube etc. – and I really struggled. After attending a dealer organised meeting, I made a point to get business cards from everyone. I spent the next six months travelling around to everybody I’d met at the meetings, and various tint shops, picking up hints, tips and techniques. After more practice, I eventually put together a simple tinting sequence that just worked for every car, every time. As much as I loved selling cars, I’d seen something in tinting that just struck a chord with me. I could see an opportunity and I won’t kid you, it was quick, easy money, and unlike selling cars, where you’re the enemy, even though I did it properly, people loved their tinted windows and kept coming back. I have customers now where I’ve tinted over twenty cars for them. To this day, I still tint because I love it, but I must confess, there are certain cars I swerve now.
Tell me about the services you offer at Ultimate Tinting?
Well, basically we’ll tint anything that’s glass. It’s a fantastically varied business that takes us to some amazing places. We’ve tinted cars, lorries, buses, boats, some truly amazing houses and offices. Years ago, I tinted the control centre that looks after all the hydroelectricity distribution for the UK, and I’m not allowed to tell you where that is! I’ve tinted one of the Trafford Centre domes and I’ve even spent two months in the jungle of Papua New Guinea, fitting security film to Exxon Mobil vehicles. I always say you don’t have to be the best tinter in the world, but as long as you provide the best service, you’ll succeed. And it’s true.
Would you say the majority of your customers prefer a darker window tint or a lighter tint?
Medium, a nice classy factory look, 15% visible light transmission (VLT). Most people come in and ask for Limo Black or 5% because that’s all they’ve heard of. Once you educate them and explain the benefits of a slightly lighter, classier tint, that you can still see out of at night, nine times out of ten they’ll go with our recommendations. My favourite is 15% on the rears and 35% on the back doors, this is no good if you’ve got kids but if you really want to enhance the look of your car, this works a treat. It also means you don’t get the big distinction between the untinted front doors and the gradual fade back. Many many people still tint front doors, and this annoys me. The law is 70% VLT on front doors, which is very close to the VLT of factory tinted glass, so ANYTHING apart from clear UV film, fitted to front doors is illegal. It can be 3 points per window. If I had a quid for every time someone has said to me “I want it as dark as possible but legal”!! We lose business because we won’t do it. But the laws the law and we can sleep at night. At Tint School we always encourage our guys not to do front doors, but it’s up to them, and where they’re surrounded by people who do and people want it, then their arm is forced to really. EVERYBODY knows front doors are illegal and it’s not helped by television programs saying they’re fitting dark, legal, front door film!
What inspired you to start Tint School?
I just love helping people change their lives. In the early 2000’s, I was tinting a chaps car, I even remember his name, Jeff, working at home while he was watching. During a conversation, he asked if I could teach him as he was moving to Spain and thought tinting would be an ideal business to start over there. I worked out it could be done in 3 days, calculated a price, and we did it. I really enjoyed teaching him and set up a very basic website, the rest, as they say, is history. At the time the only courses available were group courses with the window film suppliers themselves, so I differentiated myself by offering 1-2-1 courses. I knew people would pay more for that 1-2-1 experience, and over the next few years, I honed the training to what it is today. I loved the training, but once the guys left me, that was the last I saw of them so I wanted to get a bit more involved. I initially paid a lot of money to a company called “The Franchise Doctors” in Manchester to set up a franchise, but to cut a long story short, they were a con and I lost everything, eventually going bankrupt in 2008. The absolute worst experience of my life. But I kept going. By now several of the actual film suppliers were sending us customers to teach. The training was going from strength to strength and I was building a good name in the industry. I’d loved the idea of franchising, but didn’t like the downsides, so this is where I started the “Business in a box” idea. All the good bits of the franchise with none of the downsides. I did it in a way how I’d like to get involved in the industry, and it just works. Now we have some very successful guys out there. It’s not always for everyone, and it’s very frustrating, hard work for the first 1 or 2 years but then, you’re set and you’ve got a skill that you can take anywhere that will last a lifetime. I’m still in touch with people I trained 12+ years ago who have built amazingly successful businesses. There’s nothing better than to watch someone grow from a mundane £5 per hour job to getting their first £1000+ a day flat glass job. Not saying it happens every day, but it does happen.
Tell me a bit about the training courses you offer at Tint School?
All our courses are guaranteed 1-2-1 with an option to bring a friend/business partner along for half price. We organise accommodation for the duration, and for the wrapping courses, because our clients actually learn and wrap their own cars, we’ll lend them a car for the duration too. So we offer 3-day automotive training courses, a 1-day architectural course, a 4-day learn and wrap your own car course, and now a 2 or 3-day PPF course. Plus there’s the full-on “Business In A Box” course where you’re buying a turn key window tinting business, automotive & architectural, and for 2018 we’re throwing in a free wrap course too, for still the same price. The other important feature of our courses is that they’re 100% hands-on, you’re not standing there watching us do it the whole time, we already know how to tint and wrap, you don’t. I also think we’re unique in the fact that we give you a key to our premises and you can come and go as you please. Once John’s finished with you in the evening, you can stay on and practice as long as you want, and I have to say, the guys that do, succeed!
What sets you apart from other businesses that offer similar training?
We’re the original, independent window tinting trainers, many have tried to copy our methods and ideas, but fail. If you do your research you’ll also see it was actually us that taught the majority of other training companies out there. I think what really sets us apart from the others is that we’re not just in it for the money, we genuinely care about our trainees, and we go above and beyond to help. We don’t do 9am to 5pm with an hour for lunch, we do 9am till whenever, grab a quick sandwich for lunch, and just crack on till you’re happy. We work on weekends if it helps our trainees, we’ve even had guys there till 8pm, 9pm, even 11pm at night. John, who is now in charge of training, is an amazingly experienced and conscientious guy who’s been in the industry even longer than me, and he really goes out of his way to help our trainees. We’re currently training an increasing number of people who have been taught by other companies and are struggling, they’re getting no backup, so they come to us. I can honestly say our backup is head and shoulders above ALL others out there. We even have our own online forum that’s only open to our trainees so they can chat and help each other out. There’s another company I know of that make their trainees sign non-disclosure agreements so that they DON’T talk to each other. What does that tell you about them? We’re also the original company to offer learn AND wrap your own car courses, this is very, very hard to do but we haven’t failed yet and we’ve done hundreds. If people have a look at my twitter page @tintingtim and go back over the years, you’ll see that the cars the guys turn out at the end of their courses are stunning. I’m still constantly amazed at the quality of the work John’s trainees produce and don’t forget when you look at these cars, they’re the first cars the guys have wrapped.
Do you find that most people who have completed your course pursue a job in the industry or set up their own business?
Without fail, they come to us to start their own business, they like the idea of working for themselves, they’ve done some research and decided we’re the people to help them. I don’t think we’ve ever taught someone who then went off to get a job working for someone else. With the potential money to be earned, why would you? We do train guys who have been sent by their boss, BUT we don’t really like to. Why? Well we tend to find “employees” only want to work 9-5, they want an hour for lunch, they want breaks every 5 minutes, their hearts are just not in it. They’ve nothing to lose because they’re not paying for the course, and I always warn their employers, who are at the end of the day paying for the course, that once these guys have been trained, practice, and get good, they will probably leave and set up their own business because of the potential money they can make.
Name the most expensive car you have ever wrapped?
That would be a Ferrari 456, amazingly on one of our recent “wrap your own car” courses. We’ve also done Aston Martin’s, numerous Mercedes C63’s, and BMW M3’s etc.
What is the craziest colour you have ever wrapped a car in?
A full carbon fibre Aston Martin DB9, and I have to admit it turned out far better than I was expecting. The issue with carbon fibre wrap is that you never get the carbon weave to be consistent from panel to panel, but it did look awesome in the end.
Why do you think the demand for car wraps has increased so much in recent years?
Has it? I’m sure social media and all the programs on Sky have something to do with it. I love the new Yiannimize programme on Dave Channel because he goes through all the grief we do when wrapping cars. Also, he’s charging really good money for his work. There are too many cowboys out there doing shoddy £800 full wraps and cheap tints. It’s great for people to see a good job costs money and that not everyone wants “cheap”. He’s a fantastic self-promoter, hats off to him for building the business he has, we’ve definitely had people come to us because they’ve seen wrapping on his social media pages. I owe him a pint. However, I do cringe at the tints he’s fitting to front doors, obviously, the laws are different in London.
What would you say are some of the main benefits of wrapping a car in paint protection film?
Well, the main benefit is that it’s a brilliant product for protecting your cars paintwork. That’s all it really does. It’s still an incredibly expensive product and you need to spend thousands of pounds on plotters and computer equipment, I know because we just did this. It’s only really used by top end marques but is slowly filtering down to more everyday brands. Also, they only recently solved the main issue with the product, which was the yellowing. Supposedly that’s a thing of the past now. We’ll see.
Lastly, what is the best way for people to get in contact with you if they want to find out more about your training courses?
The first thing to do is fully read the information on our www.TintSchool.co.uk website, then just call me, and we can have a good chat. I don’t get into emails and text enquiries, I tend to find the serious enquiries come from people that pick up the phone for a natter, and I can promise you, you won’t get daily sales emails or calls after. When you’re ready, you’ll be back in touch. I’d also encourage your readers to follow our Twitter page @tintingtim to see what we’re up to and take the time to go back through our timeline to see what our trainees have achieved.
I would like to thank Tim for taking the time to speak with me. Be sure to check out his website and social media pages to stay up-to-date with everything him and his team are doing.