There are many suppliers of vinyl materials attempting to win business away from the long-time industry leaders, he added.
“I get salespeople calling several times a month to introduce a new company or product. I talk to them to see where the industry is headed and what kind of technology is available. But it’s our philosophy to go with proven companies, which we consider to be Avery and 3M. Having two companies is great for the industry. Having two strong companies keeps the prices competitive, and keeps them advancing technology in this industry. They both have advantages. The winners are the wrap shops and their customers.”
Troy Downey, heading APE Wraps in San Diego, said material selection is the key to speedy installs. “Speed can be a double-edge sword,” he added. “But it’s only double-edged if you select a material that is initially too aggressive.”
Kris Harris, vice-president and co-owner of Spring Grove, IL-based Road Rage Designs, is among those who believe installer training is the best way to ensure quick, efficient installs. Road Rage Designs has certifications from both 3M and PDAA, both of which have codes of conduct and installation guidelines.
“All my guys are certified, and that helps streamline the installation,” she said. “It also gives them a sense of pride. Not everyone can pass the certification process, and if you get past that not everyone passes the test.”
Still other purveyors argue the way the installation process is designed holds the key to efficiency. One such observer is Jared Smith, president of bluemedia, a Tempe, AZ company specializing in environmental graphics and vehicle wraps. “One of the big differentiators for us is our scheduling of the steps in the streamlining of the work flow,” he said.
“One person installing on the vehicle, and ten people installing, are not the fastest ways. Somewhere in the middle is the ideal amount of manpower.”
The Design Phase
While some commonalities exist, vehicle graphics providers all tend to take different approaches to the design phase. Harris of Road Rage Designs said some clients like to come in and see her vehicle wrap operation, but in most cases she and her colleagues will start with a visit to a client site.
“It’s very, very important we get an understanding of what the client is doing,” Harris pointed out. “Every business has its own distinct personality, and it’s our job to accurately portray that on their advertising.”
After brainstorming with the client, Harris and colleague Amy Pease, go to work on design creation. Following in-house tweaking, the design is emailed to the client for review. After approval, Harris creates test prints the client will look over to ensure color and design are as desired. “After that, we get the vehicle in and do the wrap,” Harris said. “If they know what they want, it can take a couple of weeks. But some clients we started with a year ago we’re now just finishing.”
As might be expected, client desires during the design stage can be as varied as the products and services their own companies offer. Voegele of Gatorwraps.com reports his company fields a broad array of requests.
Some clients have very specific preferences regarding their firm logos and colors, for instance. At the opposite extreme, he says, is the client “who doesn’t have that vision, and as a result gives us full autonomy to create their brand.”
Considerable schooling of clients must take place as well, says Downey of APEwraps. Noting he and his co-workers could “write a novel” about dealing with clients during the design period, he said too many clients “don’t understand the life-size world we, the large- and grand-format converters, live in.”
For that reason, APEwraps staff must educate clients there’s far more involved than simply pushing a button and having the client’s graphic suddenly “spit from the machine and jump onto their desired surface,” Downey said. “We’ll be dealing with this lack of understanding for a long time.”