Accurate estimates can save your business

Pricing Vehicle Wraps

Anyone who has ever sold car and vehicle wraps consistently, and for any amount of time, understands fully the importance of accurate pricing. Underbidding on a job is a problem everyone faces at least once. It’s never a pleasant experience to work on a project that you know is not paying what it should.

Whenever you deal with a buyer who is eager to get pricing information, it’s important not to offer exact pricing until you get all of the details for their project. Always be sure to ask a lot of questions and do some very thorough fact finding. Don’t immediately start talking prices.

Some designs can make a wrap job breezy. While others can turn an otherwise standard procedure into a week-long design affair. This dog taxi design was provided by the client. Because of the exact 3-D nature of design, the “overuse” of the vehicle template as part of the design—creating the need for the wrap to fit together like lock and key—most of the original design had to be scrapped and recomposed in MAYA, adding several days of additional time.

When a customer asks me point blank, “How much is a wrap,” I never say, “About $3,000.”

Instead, I always say something like, “Well, It varies. Some can be in the $1,500 range, while others can be upwards of $4,000. It really depends on exactly what type of vehicle you have and what is involved with your particular job.”

This immediately tells them that there are variables to this process, and although it can be somewhat inexpensive, this is certainly not always the case. It also sends the clear message that one price does not fit all.

When you take the time to slow the sales process down, it serves two purposes. First, you get the necessary facts for an accurate quote. Second, your customer begins to see that there is more to the process than they might have imagined. In addition, most people will appreciate and value your services more if you invest some time and interest discussing the process and their objectives.

Most wraps entail a lot more detail than the client is aware of when they first go shopping for car wrapping services. Understanding the expectations of your client, as well as any potential pitfalls, is essential. You need to know if your client’s production will involve a two-hour design, or a 20-hour, three-week, back-and-forth nightmare. It is important that you don’t settle on a price first and then ask the details. This is a trap that once fallen into, you can seldom get out of.

Some of the most important details are:
• Do they have necessary assets (artwork) to compose a wrap in a reasonable amount of time?
• Are there any graphics currently on their vehicle (including lettering or stickers) that need removal prior to wrapping?
• Is the vehicle in their possession and will you have easy access to it?
• Is the project time sensitive? If so, you may need to charge rush pricing.

Of all the issues that can turn an otherwise profitable job into a money pit, the design process is the number one offender when it comes to problems that can make or break a wrap project.

If you are a salesman or the business owner, you should already be familiar with the design process. If you don’t know much about the design process, you should spend some time talking to your graphic designer. Ask them questions and have them explain how much work actually goes into a design. They can best explain to you how a finicky, indecisive client can drag out a design from three hours to 33 hours, easily and without even knowing it.

Remember, computers are only tools. Designers still have to deal with the “human” element and get the design approved by a client. When you promise a client the world, without confirming that they have usable artwork beforehand, or without being aware of unreasonable expectations, you can be sure that you’ve just eaten up a good part of the profits. It is a valuable tool to understand what you need to ask your client so that you can accurately quote the design portion of a job.

Once the design objectives and concerns have been addressed and you are confident you have what you need to proceed, it’s then time to price the job.

Graphic Services: $150-$250 basic composition from client supplied assets. $65-$95 for each revision after two.

For graphic services, I charge a $250 flat fee for a four-hour basic composition, which includes two revisions, if needed. Any revisions after two will cost $95 per hour. This usually helps them make decisions faster, and puts a value on time.

Custom Design Services: $65 to $95 minimum per hour for custom design work (i.e., logo creation, backgrounds, image retouching).

For custom assets like logos, backgrounds, or photographs, I charge $95 per hour, plus the costs of any assets I have to purchase. Depending on where your market is, you should be charging anywhere from $150-$500 for the layout alone. Walk into any ad agency and ask how much they’d charge for a wrap design and they’ll likely give you a number several times the cost of what we sell a whole vehicle wrap for.

Printed vehicle wraps: (quantity 1-4) $5-$8 per sq. ft. (including waste). Window Film $7.50-$9 per sq. ft.

For print production services on single vehicles, I generally charge upward of $7 per square foot for premium cast vinyl with lamination and around $8.50 for window film. Some markets may be charging as low as $5/per square foot, but you should be aware that any lower and you are really risking losing your shirt on the job.

Installation $1.50-$3 per sq. ft. More for complex installation or difficult vehicles.

For Installation, I charge from $2 to $4 per square foot. Depending on the client and vehicle and whether I am outsourcing the installation, the basic range is anywhere from $650-$900 for most wraps, on average vehicles.

Most important is to charge what you need to in order to stay profitable. What’s right for your competitor may not be right for you. Price your jobs correctly and you’ll have years of profitable days ahead.