Start a Frosted (sandblast look) Window Business

A frosted window business applies sandblast look vinyl to windows for various purposes including branding, decorative, privacy and safety.

The cheaper and easier a business is to start the more competitive and less lucrative it is. A highly lucrative business usually requires both skills and capital, and when I say skills I mean expertise that took a long time to master, something like web development which is a lucrative business if you are proficient. If you don’t have skills or a lot of capital, you need to find a sweet spot, usually within an existing industry (it will usually cost a lot and take a lot of time to invent a new market or sector).

So today we look at something within the signage industry, which we know is quite established, there’s clearly lots of work there including new businesses opening and existing renovating etc. and we also know that anybody with a vinyl cutter can enter the industry that is why there is so a lot of competition.

We are looking at the frosted window business, while most signage companies already do it in some form or another there is an opportunity by specialising in it and marketing your business as a player that does just that while offering a larger range of sandblast look vinyl’s than your competitors, this business even opens up a product/retail opportunity to sell off the shelf ready cut stickers to home owners with glass sliding doors, which when clean can be a safety hazard as people tend to walk into it.

Business Model
The standard business model is simple:
> Advertise your business: go door to door, advertise in local classifieds, Gumtree etc.
> See client, make sure to take a “swatch” with, this is all the vinyl’s you offer applied to a piece of glass so people can choose (they come in various shades).
> Take measurements and prepare a quote (you should be able to do this on the fly as it’s easy to work out).
> If client approves quote you take a 50% deposit, do the job and collect the balance upon completion.

Services to offer
Business branding
This involves cutting logos into the sandblast vinyl and it looks really great on windows, where coloured vinyl looks cheap.

This involves using covering entire lengths of the window, sometimes even the entire window. Even some homeowners do this.

Privacy vinyl examples:
Cashier, behind the till:

Here is a very good example of privacy vinyl, women don’t have to worry about perverts looking at their panties while they eat:

This is often used in homes and even offices where patterns run the length of the windows, doors or even mirrors.

Decorative vinyl examples

This is usually the sandblast vinyl cut into various shapes, patterns or animals like dolphins etc. and then stuck on windows to make people aware of the glass in front of them.

Make sure your business plan and marketing materials, focuses on uses like I have mentioned above, this will open you up for more potential customers. Also see how I used the term “frosted windows” and “sandblast look” in the title, avoiding the generic “signage”. That is how you position yourself in a crowded marketplace.

The market
Now what you’ll be doing is no different than what signage companies can achieve but by marketing yourself as a frosted window expert, you are able to enter a crowded market, get a foothold and make good money. There is precedent in various industries, even small business: if you enter the screen-printing business, which is also crowded, there are pockets to get into, if you into textiles the corporate branding market is flooded, so you aim at the fashion industry, where the quality is higher but the price you get is also higher. Even in the pain killer industry you have companies that focus on pain in various places of the body. This is marketing, whether a “headache” tablet it will work on other parts on the body the same as a “period pain” tablet, the same way a “backache tablet” they work no differently.

That being said you can still do “normal” signage if requested; you just change the colour of the vinyl and the surface it will go onto.

Equipment and materials
You will need a vinyl cutter and vinyl in this business. Other stuff needed include a squeegee and water to apply, masking tape and tissue paper etc.

The vinyl cutter
Vinyl cutters come in various width that it can cut in. A small vinyl cutter is not necessarily a problem as you can flip the artwork 90 degrees to cut lengthwise (which is usually as long as the roll you are cutting) instead of width. Also remember if you doing privacy work, the vinyl come in various widths, usually machine standards like 610mm, 1.2m so these come in running meter rolls. You might not even need a cutter if you can cut by hand straight.

The vinyl
My supplier sells the sandblast look in three different shades of grey, a light one, a medium and a darker one. But I have a colour swatch here that I just looked at and and you get various colours with the metallic look; if you can get that, then that will differentiate you especially when you advertising or showing samples. The colours I am talking about is called “White and coloured sparkle etched glass polymeric calendered film” from Hexis. From their product description:

Create original graphics with these coloured etched glass effects. Available in 4 colours (blue S5DP04, green S5DP05, yellow S5DP06, and pink S5DP07) and in sparkle finish (S5DP03), the coloured etched glass films offer a touch of originality for your decorations, allowing you to combine your decoration with a specified graphic charter.

Here is a pic from my colour book: