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Setting Customer Expectations for Detailing Services: Paint Protection Film (Pt 4/4)


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In the Auto Detailing Industry, successful businesses are built upon superb craftsmanship, quality products and tools, and top-notch customer service. These businesses are set up to stand the test of time and always carry a positive reputation.

Effective customer service identifies a client’s exact wants or needs and matches that with services of appropriate value and quality which are fully explained to the customer.

For successful detailing businesses, this process heavily relies on client education. Therefore, in order to close a sale, and set the stage for a successful transaction and long-term customer relationship, setting clear customer expectations for specific services is a core component of success. This is vital because some clients will not have realistic knowledge about specific services.

This series of articles will help auto detailers understand how to set customer expectations, for some common services, and demonstrate some ethical and helpful practices that will best serve customers.

The first article will examine Overall Service Philosophy. The second will examine Paint Correction. The third article will explore Ceramic Coatings. And the final article will focus on Paint Protection Film. To view all articles in this series, click here!

Why Set Customer Expectations for Paint Protection Film?

Paint Protection Film (a.k.a. PPF or Clear Bra) is the best form of impact protection to guard surfaces from rock chips and road debris. This is because it is a durable layer of clear plastic film that can average from 8-10mils thick. This is anywhere from 125-200% thicker than most modern paint jobs.

It is important for detailing businesses to clarify to customers exactly what PPF is exactly intended for. There is a lot of information floating around on the web and it can create a lot of confusion for clients starting their research. Therefore, by incorporating education about film into every customer conversation, it will help customer to understand both the film and your businesses approach. Also, PPF is more expensive investment than other forms of protection, therefore customers will naturally have more questions. Creating customer clarity always paves the way for a quality experience.

Important PPF Information points to include when educating clients:

  • The preparation steps leading up to PPF installation.
  • How much labor goes into the installation process.
  • How paint protection film practically functions to protect surfaces.
  • Which PPF coverage packages best fit a vehicle and client’s needs.
  • The business’s pricing for an estimated project.
  • The falsehoods of common myths about PPF vs. ceramic coatings that may exist.

What are Realistic Expectations for PPF?

Paint Protection Film is the best solution to protect vehicle surfaces from impacts. This is due to the thickness of the material and its composition which allows for the absorption of force from impacts.

While PPF is the best impact protection available, it is not a magic force field. Extremely jagged pieces or heavy dense debris pieces may penetrate the film. However, this is a rare exception. The majority of impacts (95+%) are easily protected by the film.

It is important to mention to the customer that film is a wearable item that is intended for protection. It is not a permanent vehicle surface fixture and will eventually require removal. From the experience of Signature Detailing’s clients in northern New Jersey, the realistic lifespan of the film on a frequently driven vehicle is in the range of 6-8 years. Of course, the film’s lifespan is greatly influenced by many factors such as frequency of driving, terrain driven in, storage, and care habits, etc. The takeaway here is that PPF is not a permanent fixture and will eventually require replacement to properly protect surfaces.

PPF has greatly advanced in technology within the last 5-10 years. Films are constantly improving their overall quality, appearance, and features.

The additional beneficial characteristics of many popular PPF brands may include the following:

  • A Self-healing topcoat layer which prevents fine scratches and marring over time.
  • Enhanced UV protection.
  • Protection from environmental contaminants.
  • A possible reduction in the appearance of paint texture (orange peel).

Evaluation Factors of Paint Protection Film to Consider in Estimates

The following factors are important to evaluate and explain in PPF service estimates in order to set customer expectations for final results:

  • Which areas on the vehicle are most susceptible to impacts.
  • How ‘soft’ the paint is. (how easily may impact marks occur)
  • The installation complexity of vehicle surfaces.
  • If the vehicle is a viable candidate for PPF installation. Does it have many existing chips or other issues that require paint work before film installation?

How to Find a Customer’s Expectations for PPF Services

To understand the wants and needs of a client, detailing business must communicate with clients to find the proper service to fit each client.

Speak to clients to understand their vehicle situation. Sometimes important circumstances surrounding customer vehicles aren’t mentioned unless proper questions are asked.

Therefore, it’s recommended to ask specific questions to customers inquiring about paint protection film services. The following questions will allow detailers to deliver the best overall results tailored to customer-specific needs:

  • How long do you intend on keeping this vehicle?
  • What’s the typical usage of this vehicle?
  • Where is the vehicle typically parked?
  • What is your overall objective for a paint protection film service?
  • Do track or race your vehicle? (to know if particle impacts are common)
  • On a 1-10 scale, how much will rock chips or paint impact marks bother you to look at?
  • Is there anything special that you want me to know about your vehicle?

Answers to these questions will guide a business to effectively offer the best PPF installation for a vehicle, which best satisfies the client’s needs.

Setting a Customer’s Expectations for Paint Protection Film

After clients answer the questions from the previous section, it is critical that a business explains why all of these answers are important to finding the right solution for their vehicle and preferences. Customers want to understand that your business is taking the best care of their vehicle as possible and, as a result, your business is looking out for them as people.

After asking the questions, it is then up to the detailing business to weigh the realistic expectations of their PPF services vs. the client’s wants, in order to find the best solution for the client and vehicle.

To effectively set customer expectations a business must:

  • Offer a customized PPF solution for the client’s vehicle.
  • Explain why the service fits the customer’s wants and needs, emphasizing their most important concerns.
  • Remember to explain the realistic outcomes or longevity based on the evaluation factors of the vehicle and the solution type.
  • Uncover the client’s perceived expectations about services. This allows the business to educate customers on any info they are unaware of, or about any false expectations they may hold.
  • Include the business’s philosophy to explain the business’s unique approach to the service solution.
  • Make sure to ask the client if they have any questions or concerns about the solution after it is presented. Use their questions as an opportunity to build trust with fully explained answers.

All of these steps prove very effective to build the value of the business’s knowledge and skill during the process.


Since Paint Protection Film is a signature service for some auto detailing businesses, and a more costly protection option, it’s critical to correctly understand what a client is looking for.

Also, there is a lot of conflicting or false information floating around about PPF. So, it’s critical to understand client expectations and communicate realistic expectations for paint protection film and possible coverage options.

Relaying customer expectations and setting realistic outcomes for PPF will help to:

  • Strengthen the client’s confidence and trust in your business’s knowledge and expertise.
  • Give the client exact clarity of what they will get, from your services, for their money.
  • Build value for services and validate your price estimate for the client.
  • Generate customer excitement about the vehicle’s protection.
  • Improve the overall experience from a customer’s perspective.

Ultimately, the entire goal of these steps is to build a sense of helpful trust in confidence in the minds of customers that your business and solution is the best option for them.

Gregory Gellas
Signature Detailing
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
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