Mike Grillo, president of Road Rage Designs, a Spring Grove, IL, provider of specialty vehicle wraps, has a number of rival vehicle wrap companies in his general vicinity. But Grillo isn’t worried about the future of his nine-year-old shop.
“One [competitor] went out of business, one is currently going out of business, and one is coming back for a third try,” he says. “We take pride in what we do. We warrant all we do, and it’s hard for others to compete with that.”
Like other successful companies providing vehicle wraps from coast to coast, Grillo and his colleagues have discovered the secrets of success in this competitive field. In the pages ahead, they, and others, share their insights, serving up their top tips and advice to help ensure your wrap is right every time.
Listen to Customers
The first step in creating the perfect wrap is the ability to really communicate with the customer. That involves listening well and also being able to let customers know when they are wrong in what they want, Grillo says.
“The customer knows their business better than you do, and your job is to learn their business from them, to help promote them in the best way possible,” he observes. “Everyone is an individual and has their own mindset. If you have a plumber who comes in for a wrap, he’ll have a mindset about how he wants to project himself. You have to get to know his business and his personality, and tailor the vehicle graphic to his business image and his company’s direction.”
As noted, that sometimes involves informing the customer he’s wrong about what he wants. One of Grillo’s favorite anecdotes is about a plumber who wanted a wrap depicting two pipe wrenches crossed, a real bad boy image, for his All-Pro Plumbing. “My designer said to him, ‘Who is your client?’ It turned out housewives were his customers. My designer suggested a rubber duck on the side of his truck. Today, he has a rubber duck on his truck. In parking lots, women come up, ask for his card, and say, ‘My child loves your rubber duck.’”
Customers should be reminded that vehicle wraps are intended to achieve three results: tell who you are, tell what you do, and tell how to contact you.
“The wrap is just eye candy to draw the attention of the person reading that message, and make it stand out on the road,” Grillo says. “If the wrap obscures those three messages, you’ve failed the customer.”
The customer should also be apprised of other considerations concerning the wrap, says Sam Twomey, manager of The Mad Striper in Murfreesboro, TN, which Twomey terms the longest-standing installation firm in the US.
Most wraps have perforated window film, which was invented primarily for commercial bus windows, he says. It will work on car windows, but is really made for windows that don’t go up and down. “You have to tell the customer that if you put perfed window film on windows that are raised and lowered, it voids the film’s warranty. The film is not made to be raked across rubber.”
The installer should also discuss with customers whether carmakers’ logos and emblems will be removed, which takes time and often damages them, or whether the wrap will be trimmed around emblems. “However they want to do it, we can do it,” Twomey says. “But it needs to be discussed ahead of time. It’s easier for them and for us to get that expectation taken care of ahead of time.”
Veteran wrap installer Rob Ivers, president of Raymore, MO-based Rob Ivers Inc., a nearly 25-year-old company that installs graphics on walls, windows, and floors but primarily on vehicles, reports measuring is an overlooked practice.
“A lot of people don’t measure. They make templates, and some people use digital camera photos,” says Ivers, who not only installs wraps himself but trains others in the art and science of the discipline.
“I use templates. I take photos. But I always go out and measure the vehicle. I’ll measure a Camaro. It doesn’t have to be the Camaro.