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The Lure of Vehicle Graphics

(April 2008) posted on Tue Apr 15, 2008

All of the start-up know-how on this moving market.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Jared Smith

If you’ve been out on the streets at all, you’ve seen the vehicle-wrap market explode over the last five years. With technological advances peaking at the same time market demand is at an all-time high, ambitious shop owners have to ask themselves if it’s time to jump into the game.

That decision is a tough one, though. I love the wrap game, and after wrapping thousands of cars, our company has made it a profit center for our business. But there are certainly much easier, faster, and cheaper products to produce-and especially to reprint when something goes wrong-than a vehicle wrap. As shop owners, it’s our responsibility to explore opportunities and make sound decisions about the products and the focus of our companies, and within the past year I’ve noticed a trend of shops exiting the vehicle-wrap category.

But many more are adopting this application-so why all the interest in wraps? It could be that they retail for more than $3000 each, and almost every wide-format printing company can benefit from them. So let’s run through the factors you need to consider before you start wrapping the world.

A big investment

I like to start with the capital commitment-it’s just where my brain goes first. The following are the investments that must be made to end up with a vehicle wrap and a happy customer, and I’ll estimate the low- and high-end cost of each.

* Finding customers, or having them find you: Low end, $50 for a banner hanging off your building that can be seen by traffic. High end, $100,000 for a PR firm and good marketing campaign.

* Closing the deal: Low end, $0 because most shop owners are great sales people and don’t get paid commission anyway. High end, $40,000 to $150,000 to hire a savvy rep for a base salary plus commission.

* Presenting a design: Low end, $2000 for design software and template software, if you have a capable computer, design skills, and some time in your day (usually 4-10 hours per wrap). High end, a $5000 PC or Mac-the faster the better, and dual monitors really help-plus $2000 in design and template software, and, potentially, a senior designer on your staff, with an annual salary of $35,000 to $60,000.