Streamlining the Vehicle Decal Process

Feb 27, 2012

Having a system can help deter miscommunication and reduce customer comebacks, says Rod Voegele of Gator Wraps. Here’s a basic process for creating and installing decals:

  • Photograph the vehicle: A customer wants to see what his or her graphic will look like on his or her vehicle to help visualize the decal size, placement and other details.

Because there are so many different kinds of vehicles, Voegele takes a photo of the specific vehicle at the onset of a project. This avoids issues of a wrong make, model, year or paint color.

  • Sketch the concept: If your customer doesn’t already have an existing logo or decal design on file with you, it helps to sketch out what your customers want. Discuss details like if the logo will be contour cut, what colors you’ll use and how large it will be.
  • Design the decal: “If you’re doing fleet-type graphics small or large, make sure you assess what different makes and models of vehicles the client will be using,” says Troy Downey, APE Wraps. “When you develop a design it will take all the different shapes and sizes into consideration therefore lowering the client’s design costs and developing a more efficient cookie cutter for the project.”
  • Show the decal on the vehicle: To avoid installing a graphic on the vehicle in the wrong place or size, Voegele places the graphics on the vehicle photo he snapped earlier and e-mails it to the client for review and approval.
  • Revise as needed: “Proofs of the graphics are shown to the customer during the design phase,” says Jackson. “No necessary changes are made until the customer signs off on the final design.”

As long there are customers, there will be revisions. But the goal is to minimize the revisions by checking and double-checking details during each of the first few steps.

  • Printout for customer approval: What you see is not always what you get when it comes to vehicle graphics on your PC screen.

“Colors vary from one computer monitor to another,” says Voegele. “So, we give our customers a color-accurate printout to review and approve.” This helps avoid a lot of misunderstandings about colors, size or placement.

  • Graphic production: “Graphics are then sent to production,” says Charity Jackson of Visual Horizons. “They are either cut in one-color vinyl on a computer-controlled vinyl cutter/plotter or they are printed full color on a solvent-based media on a large-format printer.”

“Printed graphics are laminated with a corresponding cast or calendared laminate before being contour cut to shape as needed,” continues Jackson. Cut graphics are covered with a transfer tape as needed to streamline application.

Turnaround time depends on the number of revisions, shop workload and vehicle availability, Jackson adds. “Our typical turnaround time on most jobs is 7-10 working days, but we can rush jobs when needed.”

  • Installation: Installation can be set up with the customers at their location or your shop. Most companies want their vehicles off the road for as short a time as possible. An out-of-commission work truck or van is losing your customer money. So it’s important to make the actual installation time as quick as possible.