Quality Vehicle Wrap Pricing and Installation:
By Travis Haremza | Published: April 5, 2009
There is no doubt that the vehicle wrap industry is booming, and very rapidly, I might add. My name is Travis Haremza, owner of Midwest Wraps based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I have been in the graphics and sign industry since 1996 and a vehicle wrap designer and installer for the past eight years. Throughout my career I have seen everything from “out of this world” wraps to “you let that leave your shop?” wraps. That difference in quality of wraps is a huge concern to me. Now that digital printers have become so readily available, it seems that a number of individuals and businesses, no matter what area of expertise they come from, want to get in on the vehicle wrap boom. Remember just because you own a printer it does not make you a wrap master. If you are going to get into the wrap business and have no idea what you are doing please get some training. Back in the day, we didn’t have many experts in the field and had to learn with much trial and error. Now there are a number of individuals and companies that offer training. My recommendation is Fellers. They offer the best overall training consisting of everything from product information to installation techniques and the cost is more than reasonable. One of the benefits to getting certified by Fellers or another reputable company is that most corporate accounts require certified installers.
As a professional I see every wrap I do as a piece of art and I take pride in that. I believe that my clients get what they pay for; someone with years of experience who pays attention to detail. There are two issues here that I would like to address. First the varied quality of wraps that are out on the street, and second an appropriate amount to charge for a wrap.
My father in law in Denver, CO works for a big company that decided to get a company car wrapped. He had asked me for a quote not realizing that someone had already put a deposit down for the wrap. Subsequently when I was in Denver I went to his office to look at the wrap and was embarrassed by what I saw. The wrap was not even two months old and the corners and door handles were coming up. There were also seams all over the vehicle. When the company president saw my truck next to their wrap he wanted to know why theirs looked the way it did. I install my wraps with little to no seams and take the time to properly seal the edges, so two months later my wraps don’t look like they are five years old. Obviously experience matters but sloppiness can be avoided.
The purpose of most vehicle wraps is advertising. There are two elements that go into creating an effective wrap and those are design and installation. If you have a terrible design and a seamless installation your end product ultimately is an ineffective wrap. However if your design is high quality and the wrap is peeling up after a few months, the client has to start from scratch due to the poor installation. For example, there is no need to use multiple pieces of vinyl to cover a single door. If you install and print it correctly, one piece should suffice. The end result of a poorly installed wrap is ultimately replacing it and now YOUR profit and time go down the drain. It takes both an excellent design and installation to achieve the ultimate result; a great wrap. The vehicle wrap industry needs more certified companies and individuals that can provide high quality designs and installations. Part of the quality of the overall wrap is dependent on the products used. My personal recommendation for printers is Mutoh Valuejet, and Seal for laminators. When it comes to vinyl and lamination I prefer to use Avery and Clear Focus for window perforation. Some of the other quality brands to use are 3M and Oracal.
A great design for a vehicle wrap typically comes from people with graphic design experience and a clear understanding of the advertising industry. Professional designers typically charge any where from $50 to $120 an hour depending on experience and geographic location. In my region the average is about $65 to $85 an hour. If you have no experience with design, my advice is to find someone that does. If you have some design knowledge, just not with wraps, there is a program out there to help tackle a wrap design. It is called The Bad Wrap® vehicle design system. It can currently be purchased through Fellers. Fellers also offers a design course focused on vehicle wraps. All of this needs to be taken into consideration when trying to price a wrap. For the wrap itself most people charge by the square foot. The square foot price normally includes printing and installation. Though sometimes there are other factors to consider when pricing a wrap. For example if you are wrapping something flat you may want to charge less than a truck with big fenders that would require extra time and effort. Another factor that might affect pricing might be if the vehicle is going to be used as a show vehicle. In that case the job should cost more because you can’t cut corners. There needs to be extra attention to detail with little to no flaws. No matter how you charge for your vehicle wraps you should take into account one thing, what goes through your printer gets charged for. You might ask “what is an appropriate amount for me to charge”. For my region the average price is between $12.50 and $14.50 a square foot. Just remember your client should get what they pay for. If you are good at what you do then you should be compensated appropriately for your work.
My objective in writing this article is to help you have a better understanding about the importance of vehicle wrap pricing and install quality. I recently talked to a member of the military about the extremely poor quality installs that had just been done on several of their vehicles. I explained that I was concerned with what I saw and his response to me was “Well, I think we got a good deal on them”. I left asking myself “who got the good deal?” Pumping out a high quantity of cheap, poorly designed wraps that aren’t installed well will not only hurt your business but the businesses other wrappers. Word of mouth goes a long way and before you know it, your doors are closed.
My price may be a little higher than others but the end result reflects why. Fourteen dollars a square foot includes removal of the extra vehicle parts like door molding, side mirrors and lights. By going the extra mile, your end product will set you apart from the competition. In the vehicle wrap business we should do a better job of educating our clients about what they should expect for the money they pay. Lower price generally equals lower quality. High quality and a near flawless install requires paying a higher price. Practice makes perfect or at least close to it, so charge what you think your job is worth. Feel free to use the information I have given as a guideline. And just remember, if you see a vehicle driving down the road that you wrapped, you should be proud of that job, not denying its one of yours.
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