As in every industry, there are always new products on the market designed to help install graphics better and faster. Martin says that while some of these things may serve a purpose, AB Installations has learned that sticking to the basics is always the best way to go.
“Every time someone wants to reinvent the wheel or say I can do this better if I can do this faster, every time we’ve been tempted to veer off our direction and go a different route, we’ve said you know, ‘let’s stay the course, let’s keep doing what we know works and get the job done.’” Martin says.
“There’s always something new and improved out there but if you talk to the people that do it every day it’s the basics and the foundation” Martin adds, “Make sure you understand the industry as well as how to do the actual work itself.”
Ivers discusses using various tips for positioning graphics.
“For application the general rule of thumb that everyone needs to keep in mind is to stretch the vinyl the absolute minimum possible,” Ivers says. “Take the biggest area possible of vinyl and then stretch it rather than waiting until the end.”
“Many people don’t completely understand that when you finish a wrap and it’s all done and everything is installed and there are no bubbles or whatever it’s a very important part of the finishing process to go back and post heat,” says Ivers. “A lot of people understand that but they don’t know how to do it.”
When it comes to post heating, installers must be aware that manufacturers have different specifications. To ensure proper heating installers should use an ion thermometer to track the temperature and compare it to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Ivers says, “It varies but it usually runs about 200 to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Nobody, no matter how good they are or how long they’ve been wrapping, can keep a wide area of vinyl up to 200 to 225 degrees with a propane torch without burning something.”
Grillo states that the installers must take many things into consideration from the time of year, temperature, coating or finish of the vehicle, and whether or not the vehicle is in a controlled environment. It should also be noted that not all products carry the same warranties.
Martin sums it up best by quoting a poster that hangs in the AB shop: “Don’t learn the tricks of the trade, learn the trade.”
Outlasting the Competition
Every business has its share of competitors—good, bad, or otherwise. When it comes down to it, people have the skill or they don’t. Martin says, “If you’re not good at it, you’re not good at it. Not everybody is and you can’t beat yourself up for that.”
Grillo says that Road Rage has come across a rash of companies that severely undercut competitors only to produce a poor product. Over the past year, Grillo has seen three local companies change their names due to bad procedures and results. The customer ends up with a bad taste in his mouth and the industry gets a bad rap.
Grillo says, “People get a wrap and it fails then they don’t want to get a wrap again: “I don’t want to get a wrap because they don’t work.’”
Grillo advises customers to go to a dedicated shop and to avoid companies that offer all-in-one services such as printers that offer business cards to vehicle wraps.
“You have to look at the installer. If the same guy that is installing the job is the same guy that’s printing the job, installing the job, and designing the job—that’s 90 percent of the guys out there. The guy who’s doing everything—that’s the guy that’s the problem.”
In the end, all of the experts agree that outlasting the competition comes down to skills, communication, satisfying the customer, and standing behind the work.