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Tips For Handling First-Time Vehicle Wrap Buyers

Basic questions and simple answers.

We love 'first-time' wrap buyers: A new client has decided wraps are a great marketing tool-and that wraps just might be a great value, too. New clients come from everywhere. They could be agencies whose clients want to try something different, a new start-up with venture capital money, or a start-up on a shoestring budget. A new client could be an avid fisherman who doesn't have any sponsors but likes the other wrapped boats on the lake and wants to keep up. Or a new rapper promoting his debut hip-hop album. Or it might even be a local charity that won a grant. Their reasons for wrapping a vehicle may be very different, but one thing they all have in common is a lack of knowledge about vehicle wraps.

This is okay. You are supposed to be the expert, and that is why they are coming to you. They have visions of how cool this thing is going to look when it's all done. They are going to increase sales, impress their friends, increase brand awareness, and become the envy of their competitors. They just have no idea how it works. If you do a good job letting them know 'how it works,' you will have a much happier client, and a happy client is a very good thing.

Conveying a sense of confidence
When our shop was sort of new at producing wraps, we would tell some of the clients some of things they needed to know. We would constantly get conflicting information from our industry, and therefore, we didn’t always have our story straight with our clients. Since we really didn’t know what we were talking about either, we had a "blind leading the blind" situation on our hands, which left the door wide open for unhappy clients.

Thousands of wraps later, we are able to speak from our own knowledge base and experience. With some internal systems, processes, and training, we can now communicate in a way that is consistent, accurate, and complete. This conveys a sense of confidence that we are indeed experts and that the process we are about to take a first-time buyer through is well-thought-out and tested.

Some clients ask a ton of questions, and others just want to know when you will be done. Whether new clients come prepared with questions or not, there are some answers you need to provide them with before you get down to work.

Basic questions, with answers
What follows are 10 basic questions, along with the answers that work well for us and our clients. Feel free to use these as guidelines for thinking about your own responses and perhaps preparing an informational handout for those clients of yours who are considering a vehicle wrap.

* How much does it cost to wrap a car? There are many factors that go into calculating the price of a vehicle wrap. The main three are the amount of time we spend on the design, the amount of material needed, and the amount of time the install will take us. Other factors that can affect the price are the client’s ability to deliver useable elements and print files for our design team, as well as a clean vehicle-on time and 'wax free.' The demands associated with adding any specialty materials, such as reflective vinyl, are also considered.

* How long does it take? Our clients typically see their first proof within one or two days of submission of the job. This requires all logos, photos, and text, as well as the design direction brief. Revisions requested by the client are also turned around in one or two days. Once final art is approved for content and color, we can schedule the install date; on that date we only need most vehicles for eight hours.

* How long will it last? We offer a warranty based on where the vehicle will reside. In desert climates, such as Las Vegas and Phoenix, the warranty is less than other areas.

* Will the wrap hurt my paint? Our warranty covers sound paint jobs if the wrap is removed within the warranty period. Aftermarket paint jobs, oxidized paint, worn clear coats, and plastic areas like bumpers are definite causes for concern. The most important thing to remember to protect paint from damage is to remove the wrap before the warranty expires. We tell customers that a good rule of thumb is that if they see any yellowing, fading, cracking or peeling, head directly to our shop so we can do a free inspection, as these are signs that the vinyl could be damaging your paint finish.

* Can a wrap actually protect my paint? Although I have never read any studies that prove this rumor, sun does damage paint over time and vinyl does shield the paint from the sun for a period of time. It could also save a possible scratch or small chip from happening as well.

* Exactly what is covered in the warranty? All wrap shops and all vinyl manufacturers have different warranty details. We provide a copy of our warranty in writing along with the vinyl manufacturers’ warranty, and tell the customer if they have any questions at all, please feel free to ask.

* Are all vinyls the same? No. The vinyls we use are specialized, with many features designed to wrap certain vehicles. Using the wrong vinyl can have major consequences.

* What if my current paint job is not in the best shape? The first thing to keep in mind is that removing a wrap may remove some paint if it is not sound. Failing clear coat may come up as well. With a simple test or two, we can determine if the vinyl will adhere well. Although the wrap may get successfully installed, we probably won’t be able to offer our standard warranty because the wrap will only stay on as well as the paint underneath it does. We tell our customers they should feel free to stop by if they see an edge lifting and we’ll see if we can help.

* Can I wrap the windows? This varies from state to state, but here we are allowed to wrap any area we like except the windshield as long as the driver can be seen by someone approaching both sides of the vehicle. This typically means we stay completely off the front driver windows. The laws generally follow the same as the laws for window tinting.

* Any special requirement when it comes to washing this vehicle after it is wrapped? Stay away from automatic carwashes that have spinning elements for sure. They can 'hook' the edges and lift the vinyl. For best results, hand wash with a very mild detergent if any.

Alleviating future stress
Vehicle wraps are indeed tricky, and there really is a great deal of information that needs to be conveyed to your client. From pre-inspection checklists to setting the client expectations correctly, there is a whole lot more to think about than just design, print, and install. Avoiding as many potential issues with proactive steps is always a good idea.

The best way to develop your own systems is to make sure that when issues do arise, you not only fix the issue at hand, but you also prevent the issue from happening in the future. Set policies, deliver those policies to both your staff and your clients, and educate your clients, and you will alleviate future stress for everyone.

Wraps are not paint. They are better, but different. Make sure your client knows what they are purchasing and help them understand the purpose of a wrap, and they will thank you for it.

Jared Smith is president of Tempe, Arizona-based bluemedia, a leading provider of design and printing for use in vehicle, large-format, and environmental graphic applications for b-to-b and b-to-c organizations. Bluemedia features innovative and customized solutions, cutting-edge technologies, and a nontraditional approach to ideas and design expertise. jaredsmith@bluemedia.com

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