In everything we do, we must seek to better ourselves if we expect to grow. I am going to make an assumption that if you’re taking the time to open this magazine and read the articles inside, you are looking to better yourself in one way or another. Learning is a learning process, if you know what I mean.
Growing up in California in a small farming community, I was raised from the sixth-grade by my grandparents. School work was never for me. In fact, I would much rather be at the body shop with my grandfather sanding and painting cars than doing homework or even going to school. I was always pretty good in math, but my English skills were terrible, which is kind of ironic that the kid who almost did not graduate from high school is now writing articles for a trade magazine. After barely squeaking through high school, thanks to a compassionate English teacher who saw more in me than I saw in myself, I went into the Air Force. What I learned in the Air Force is the basis of this article, quality, quality, quality. While in the Air Force, I was a crew chief on a C-130 aircraft. I had an instructor that told me every time a plane flew over that he sure hoped that the airman who bolted the engine on that plane paid attention and tightened all of them. This always stuck with me, and every time I see a plane fly overhead I think of that phrase.
So why did I write a mini bio to start off an article on quality? One reason ... so those of you who are out there reading this who didn't go to college or were not so great in one thing or another growing up can relate with me. I am just your average guy who is passionate about what I do. I have learned everything I know by watching, listening and asking questions. I learn something every day, and that is what has helped me create my company, 360 Wraps, to what it is in such a short period of time. Being passionate about what you do and having pride in what you do are two of the key ingredients to producing quality work. So what does it mean to produce quality work? Quality to me means doing it the same way when no one is looking as you would if they were standing over your shoulder. Once you have pride and you’re passionate about what you do, you will start to affect those that work around you.
CUSTOMERS REMEMBER QUALITY
Your customers will forget about how much the job cost long before they forget about what a good or bad job you did for them. From the minute a customer walks through the door, the experience begins. Your customers are subconsciously judging you against the competition from the first phone call or meeting. The littlest things matter to your clients, like remembering that they had a birthday and telling them happy birthday or remembering that they like Dr. Pepper and offering them one when you see them. If you have not experienced the difference between “OK” and “excellent” customer service lately, go and test drive a low-end car, then go test drive a Lexus and see the difference in the way the people treat you in the dealership. You should treat every customer as if they are the Lexus customer, even if they are just inquiring about a small job. I could go on all day about things you can do to create a great customer service experience, but there are plenty of books out there already for that.
Let's talk about making the sell on quality now that you've made your customer feel good and built some rapport with them. The sales process can be handled in many different ways, and you kind of have to read your customers as some customers are just price sensitive, and not too concerned about anything else. However, to most wrap customers, it is a significant investment in marketing for their business, and they want to make sure they are making an educated decision about it.
For those customers, step them through the process and help them overcome the typical objections about wrapping before they even ask. Let them know that their wrap can be removed without damaging the paint. Explain to them the process you use to apply the wrap to their vehicle and the safeguards that are used to prevent cutting the paint on their vehicle. An educated customer in the long run will make a great outside sales rep for you as they will get asked about who did their wrap as much as they get asked about their own business.
After we have explained the process to the customer, we then leave them with a print sample to show off the quality of the prints that we put on our wraps. We have these little files about the size of a post card that we keep on our RIP print machine that have graphics and my logo on them so that when I'm printing a tailgate on a truck or something with some dead space in it, we throw those in there . This is a way of promoting your company with what you would normally throw away. We use a Mutoh ValueJet and it is a great printer for doing wraps. When I was searching for equipment to start this business, I found a trend in large format printing, the inevitable banding issue. I kept seeing cars in parking lots with light streaks every 1/4 inch or so in the print, and so I began my search for a printer that wouldn't band. When looking for a new printer, be sure to ask about banding, reliability and speed from people who already own the machine. And let me tell you, you'll get honest opinions from people when you call them unsolicited. I highly recommend that you do this because you will learn much more on top of what you learned in the showroom or at the trade show.
Now that you have sold your wrap, and set the expectation of a quality job, you need to focus on the design and the install, the two most important parts of the wrap.
THE DESIGN PROCESS
Designing a great wrap means educating your customer on the design process. It is very often that we have a customer bring in a tri-fold brochure and tell us that they want all the stuff from their brochure on the side of their vehicle. And as you look around, you will see many wraps that have been designed this way. It is your job to make sure that you design them an effective vehicle wrap with quality graphics on it. This starts with understanding your customers’ objectives for their wrap.
We have an interview that takes about an hour to find out what exactly they are trying to do with the wrap. Some people are just trying to brand their name, while others are looking for a call to action on a Web site or phone number. So the most important thing to do is find out the objective of the wrap and work backward from there. If you do not take the time to do this step, you are hurting both your customer and yourself. When they leave your shop, if their wrap does not do for them what they wanted it to do, then they will not be an evangelist for you. On the other hand, if you nail it and they are thrilled, you will have a sales person who you don't have to pay. So, less is more in the wrap. The way I explain it to the customer when I get the tri-fold is that text on a wrap is like salt on your food, a little makes it great, but a lot will ruin it. They usually get it when I put it that way. So keep this in mind and explain the design of the wrap to your customers like this:
People who view the wraps going down the road view it like this:
1) Catch their eye. This could be from a bright and colorful graphic, a nice photo, or just about anything that will stand out.
2) Convey your message as to what you do, I.E. Air Conditioning Company, Wraps Shop, Pool Company, flooring company, etc.
3) Identify the company. This could be through logo placement or a Web address that is prominent that is the same name as the name of the company.
4) Call to action. Usually a Web site or phone number. Remember, a cleverly named Web site is much easier to remember than a 10 digit phone number in four seconds at 60 mph.
Before I started designing a wrap, I did mock-up designs for potential sponsors of NASCAR teams, usually 3-D renderings to show the sponsors what there car might look like if they were to sponsor, so I come from a background where you need to convey your message at 180 mph from 1/4 mile away. That's why I try to design like I do. Let's face it, a wrap is no more than street-bound race car advertising a product or service.
INSTALLING FOR SUCCESS
Now that we have the design done, it is time to put a quality install job on the vehicle. Let me start this off by saying that nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. It's not about not making mistakes; it's about learning from our mistakes and how we fix them, and or prevent them the next time. The key to a successful wrap job is properly prepping the vehicle. Make absolute sure that you spend most of your time cleaning around the edges. I have never seen a wrap start peeling back in the middle of the door, so make sure you focus more time around the rocker panels, wheel wells, door seams than in the center of the flat parts.
A bad install can cost you more than you'll ever know. Here is how I explain it to my employees. Let’s say that we were in a hurry and didn't prep a vehicle properly. So a month or so goes by and the bottom of the vehicle is peeling back, and it looks like a parade float. That customer of yours could be at Office Depot buying some supplies at the same time that the President of a large company that needs to get his fleet of 100 box trucks wrapped. He notices the wrapped vehicle because they are looking for a company to do their vehicles, and decided just off of the quality on the install on that one vehicle that he will not use your company. Because you failed to prep and install that one vehicle properly, you just lost a $350,000 account. When you start thinking about it that way, you will step up your game and try to put out the best work possible. You will never know about how much business you lose like that.
After prepping the vehicle properly, you will then install, which is a whole other article in itself. We teach classes at our facility in Dallas on installation, and I am amazed at how quickly people pick up the skill. The main difference I have seen in the good installers and the bad ones is the good installers have pride in their work and the bad ones don't. Why should you and I care if other shops do a good job or not? If we all do great work, it is going to help our industry grow and we will all benefit from it. Let's say I install a vehicle for a guy in Dallas that is originally from Tampa, Fla. He likes the wrap and what it does for his business, so he tells all his buddies back home how much this wrap has helped his business. Now they go get wraps in their local area, and that just might be your shop he's coming into.
I've been a little long winded on this, but I feel it is so important. I would like to leave you with this. None of us are perfect, and we all make mistakes, it's how we handle them that makes or breaks us. If you ever make a mistake and don't have the time to fix it before the customer gets there, be up front and honest with them and show them the fault in the wrap and let them know you would like to make them happy and rewrap that part. You cannot go wrong doing your best to produce quality customer service and a quality wrap every time.