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Establishing a Pricing Checklist for Vehicle Wraps

Understanding the factors that increase, decrease price.




At my company, bluemedia, I’ve had great success using checklists—for everything from establishing our business goals to the basic tasks required to set-up a new hire. And pricing wraps is no different. Before you submit your next vehicle-wrap estimate, consider the comprehensive checklist that follows. Keep in mind that this list is not designed to tell you how much to charge; rather, it’s designed to help you understand the factors that should increase or decrease your final price—allowing you to quickly and confidently prepare an estimate.

I would, of course, love to tell you that I’ve thought of everything here—but I’m sure that’s not the case. We find new factors almost every week, it seems. Always pay close attention to factors that increase or decrease the cost for you to produce a job.

Client, quantity, and quality
Client: Consider who you are selling to.
• Increase: Client resides in a high-dollar market with little competition; “well off” client that recognizes the value of great work; client is not a broker; client has not—and probably won’t—spend a lot with you over time.
• Decrease: Client resides in a highly competitive market; client is a bargain shopper and may have sent a quote request to many vendors online; client is a broker; client has—or probably will—spend a great deal with you over time.

Quantity: Size matters.
• Increase (rate increase): The job requires very little material, design, and/or install.
• Decrease (rate decrease): The job requires a lot of material, design, and/or install.

Quality: You get what you pay for.
• Increase: High-performance materials, super-high resolution, and/or show-vehicle type of install finishing.
• Decrease: Short-term materials, standard or high-speed resolution, and/or public-transit type of install finishing.

Design, color, efficiency, and waste

Design: Great print files don’t make themselves.
• Increase: The job will require a lot of your time and that of your design team, too, to deliver files that meet the objectives; design requires your top designer; design will require the purchase of photography, copywriting, or other types of outside design/art expenses.
• Decrease: The client is well versed in vehicle wraps and preparing mechanical print files to your specifications; the job is a repeat of a job you have already done; the job is so large you may consider eliminating the design fees entirely; the job requirements are so easy that it will require very little time.

Color: Are you matching the color of someone’s favorite horse, or will anything that could be called “blue” be okay?
• Increase: Exact color match required to customer-provided color swatch that is not a Pantone Color; not in your color gamut; is fluorescent or metallic; client requires actual material samples that must be laminated first; color is known to be troublesome.
• Decrease: Job requires no color match and your design team will be choosing the final color values.


Efficiency: Smooth jobs are more profitable.
• Increase: Client will be difficult to communicate with (i.e. client is overseas, with a 12-hour time difference); client has no idea what they want or cannot provide needed information; requests many “ballpark” figures; changes directions or important specs many times; vehicle(s) is difficult to get to and/or has a challenging install environment; job will not allow for multiple vehicles to be designed, printed, installed, or even invoiced together; one or more difficult vehicles.
• Decrease: Client is prepared and professional, is easy to work with, and returns e-mails and phone calls promptly; has a decent idea of the objectives and respects you and your time; vehicles are easy to get to and scheduling logistics are minimal; multiple vehicles that can be designed, printed, installed, and invoiced together; design is simple to print and install; vehicle shape presents no challenge.

Waste: Someone buys the material in the trash.
• Increase: Shape of vehicle requires print files that cannot maximize the dimensions of the raw materials, resulting in 25 percent or more in material being thrown away.
• Decrease: Job makes great use of the raw materials resulting in almost no material hitting the trash can.

Installation, turn time, and payment
Installation: A great installer can install at a rate of 5 to 64 square feet per hour, so don’t charge per square foot.
• Increase: Vehicle(s) is challenging to get to; customer resides in rural areas and/or resides out of state; requires subcontractors; vehicle contains complex curves yet little square footage, contains numerous windows, has oxidized paint; will require additional prep like washing, wax, or graphics removal; bumpers and mirrors required to be wrapped; vehicle requires commercial drivers license to operate; vehicle must be moved with a trailer; design contains 360-degree alignment (i.e. blue stripe all the way around); excessive obstacles such as hinges, lights, and rivets; multi-layer graphics with cut-vinyl, reflective, custom clear prints, pin striping, etc.
• Decrease: Simple vehicle shape; mostly flat surfaces; few or no windows or rivets; easy access to vehicles or client drop off at your location; standard install finishing; single-layer graphics; design is easy to align.

Turn time: You want it when?
• Increase: Job requires departure from the most efficient way to run the other jobs in house; deadline requires you to hire sub-contractors, pay overtime, buy materials at a closer supplier with a higher price, or rush shipping of goods.
• Decrease: Job fits well with your standard turn times and requires no departure from efficient production schedule.

Payment: 2/10 net 30
• Increase: Client has a history of slow payment, client has a less than desirable credit score and/or trade references.
• Decrease: Client offers to pay in full and up front.

Jared Smith is president of bluemedia, a leading provider of design and printing for use in vehicle, large-format, and environmental applications, in Tempe, Arizona.





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