Vehicle wrap tips from the experts

Jan 25, 2012

In the February issue of Restyling, the article, “Wrap’s Realities: Part 2,” page 34, we asked our sources about wrapping windows and about perforated material, and wanted to know if there are any special considerations an installer must be aware of — and convey that to the client?

Here, our pro installers offer pass to you some of their best tips. You know, those that will make for better installs, better business.

Troy Downey from APE Wraps, Coronado, Calif., says, “Black is always the best color of car to wrap. Black is neutral. Also consider the areas that aren’t conducive to the [wrap] media or are not areas that would be wrapped and will show the painted surface — these are areas such as expansion joints; inner lips around lights; unreachable areas; small, complex concave surfaces, etc. These and other areas can, after reliefs, reveal the painted surface. Therefore, any other color than black can be obtrusive. One small sliver of another color can make or break a wrap. So, in the event a client says that they’ll be buying a small fleet of vehicles, do them and yourself a favor and tell them ‘the best color of vehicle to buy for wrapping is black.’ There are exceptions but, for the most part, this is a true story.”

Mike Grillo of Road Rage Designs, sparing Grove, Ill., is very adamant when he says, “Do not cut your prices. Do not offer wrap ‘specials. If you offer low prices from the start or offer specials, you will never be able to raise them. Perception is reality, if you offered a low price last month, the customer invariably will ask ‘Why can’t I get that price today?’

“Here’s an example: There is a local shop that was offering vehicle wraps at 50% off and boat wraps for any size for $1,000 — which is a third of the going rate. He uses the least expensive material available, calls vendors for samples to use for jobs, hires kids off the street (that he employs for no more than a week or two before terminating them) to do his wraps and still doesn’t have enough money to live anywhere but in his own shop.

“If you think you want to be in the wrap business because it’s ‘cool,’ please go find something else to do because all you are doing is destroying businesses other than yours. Business owners come to us to help them make more money by giving them a professional look. First impressions are what their customers see. So, a bad wrap is a bad wrap and is a poor reflection of that business owner. A wrap is a very-well-thought-out process from the initial meeting, through design, to printing a quality wrap and then professionally installing it, and then following up with the client.”

Matt Richart of Louisville, Ky.-based Digital EFX Wraps gives us this: “Two tips that I can offer. One, never quote any job over the phone. Most people who request pricing over the phone are looking for the cheapest price. Have or encourage them to come to your facility and bring the vehicle with them so you can measure, photograph it, and show off your facility and printer before giving a solid quote. This also allows them to see your printer and installers in action.

“Two, try to achieve the maximum amount of quality possible in every job you do. You never hear about the good news, but you always hear about the bad. Make sure your clients are happy and let your work speak for itself.”

Todd LaBrie of Carwraps, Los Angeles, says, “Take the time to build a relationship with customers. Ask questions and discuss their marketing or aesthetic objectives. Show interest, and don’t be afraid to charge what is necessary. Be willing to let a low-baller go. With car wraps, mistakes are costly, and customers that expect rock-bottom prices can often become prickly and easily dissatisfied once the job is complete.

“Manage customer expectations, don’t just try and get their money and then turn the tables on them. Create happy customers and you’ll get more repeat business than your competitors that just want an easy money grab.”

Charity Jackson of Modesto, Calif.-based Visual Horizons gives this solid one: “Best Tip: Practice — a lot. It really does make a difference. Get help from an experienced installer and learn from their experience. Wrap your shop vehicle, file cabinet, tool chest, whatever you can to learn how to work the vinyl, how much heat to apply, etc. Take your time and pay attention to the trim and finish work. Sloppy trimming can cause the graphics to lift and fail, especially underneath the vehicle and around the wheels.”

Justin Pate of Justin Pate Inc., of Boise, Idaho, and the Netherlands says, “I think one of the best tips I can offer is always being open to learn and to get better. There is never a point when an installer knows everything, because there is always a new car or film or someone doing something on a higher level. Always striving to do it right and enjoying the process are essential. I have wrapped over 2,500 cars at this point and it never gets old. Every vehicle is a new challenge and this approach has made my career an extremely satisfying one.

This should help the wrap industry in both things to do and not do from many of those in the trenches. Good info indeed.