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  • What’s more profitable – Vehicle wraps or Vehicle Graphics

     David Hammond updated 2 months ago 11 Members · 19 Posts
  • David Hammond

    September 17, 2021 at 10:51 am

    What do you find more profitable, more standard vehicle graphics, or partial/full vehicle wraps?

    As an example, we’ve done two partial wraps this week, ranging from £750-£1000, taking anywhere from 1 full day, to day and a half to strip down the vehicle, clean, apply, and reassemble the van.

    Add to that cast material is considerably more expensive, I know one van took 10m of 970RA, plus a bit of digital print and cut vinyl on top. One was printed entirely on SLX.

    For us it’s a full day minimum on most part wraps. So it sounds good £750 for a days work, but taking out the cost of material, overheads etc, it’s not as glamorous. Plus it’s a full day, we’re not doing anything else, so the following day is spent dealing with enquiries, artwork, preparing vinyl for the next installation.

    Comparing this to a job I’ve done this morning. £250 for a car. In & Out within an hour, using 1m of digital print, and no more than 500mm of white gloss vinyl. I’ve the rest of the day now to prepare the vinyl for the HGV, and 3 vans next week.

    Whilst I enjoy partial wraps, and the do look good, sitting here I’m thinking that really we’d be far better sticking to standard signage.

    It seems disproportionate to me the price between wraps, and more standard signage?

    What’s are your thoughts?

  • Robert Lambie

    September 17, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    It seems disproportionate to me the price between wraps, and more standard signage?

    The most common question I am asked is,
    “Why do you not do as many “full wraps” as you do everything else, Rob?
    I won’t touch a “full wrap” unless I am being paid properly. I can think of better ways to chuck money away!
    I could go on and on with this subject but will spare you the boredom 🤣

    David, you may remember from our wrap training courses mate.

    “Single colour change”
    Use premium cast vinyl only, double your material cost for your markup.
    charge £100 per hour “hands-on” labour.

    what you cannot justify at £100 an hour is if someone is a slow or a poor fitter. so you need to have a realistic time window the job will be done in or you will completely price yourself wrong.
    the trouble is, bad pricing structures have already crippled the wrap market. and freelance wrappers are one of the worst culprits!

    • David Hammond

      September 17, 2021 at 2:09 pm

      I think you’re right Rob, some of the rates I’ve seen freelance installers quoting are silly.

      I don’t entertain full wraps. Partial wraps look great, but the truth behind it is, they’re a lot of work, it’s a full, non stop day to turn one round. Where as a standard van, is more likely 1/2 a day.

      I could on further training, and I might speed up a little, but not dramatically.

  • Martyn Heath

    September 17, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    Totally agree david. Obviously it shouldnt work like that and in “theory” you should be making comparable margins. We would all make more money doing 200-300 quid vans all day long rather than wraps.

    • David Hammond

      September 17, 2021 at 2:12 pm

      That’s the theory, real world you’re not cutting, weeding, and taping the vinyl, if it’s a colour change it’s off the roll onto the vehicle. It’s still undervaluing the skill involved.

      I’ve know a few people in the industry who’ve said we must be doing OK as we do more partial wraps, they’re surprised at how much material costs, and how long they take, and I would be better doing more cheaper jobs.

      The old saying “Turn over is vanity, profit is sanity” rings true.

  • Colin Crabb

    September 17, 2021 at 2:47 pm

    Never liked ‘wraps’. Clients want them, but don’t want to spend the premium costs. Personally we prefer more standard graphics!

    But to add this into the mix.. we can produce £500 worth of stickers in the time it takes to design, prep’ and fit a £250 vehicle, with a lot less stress……….

    • David Hammond

      September 17, 2021 at 2:52 pm

      Yes there are smarter ways to make money. We’ve sacked off a load of machinery as it took so much time to produce stuff, we can buy it in cheaper, and the average invoice amount for the kind of work we were producing was less than £50, so got shut.

      I know there’s money in stickers and labels, but boy it bores me silly! 😂

  • Kevin Mahoney

    September 17, 2021 at 3:37 pm

    I’ll be damned if Avery or 3M are going to make more out of my jobs than me, if you have champagne tastes but coca cola pockets, you shouldn’t be bothering me with an enquiry. Just show them your best wraps & what you expect to be paid for something similar & you soon see the back of the tyre kickers

    • David Hammond

      September 17, 2021 at 4:44 pm

      I agree and is what we do.

      Still though, even charging a fair price locally, the margin doesn’t reflect the time, effort and materials.

  • Simon Worrall

    September 17, 2021 at 6:01 pm

    This is sacrilege!!
    It is almost like saying that overpopulation is the cause of all of our environmental problems! Completely true, but you are not allowed to say it in polite society!

    Full wraps are a vanity project for a signwriter, more for the portfolio than for the pocket.
    The level of skill, time, and material involved far outweighs the profit. I hear many outrageous estimates of the time taken to do a wrap. It takes me almost twice as long, and I charge much too much for them to get much work in that department.

    • David Hammond

      September 17, 2021 at 6:20 pm

      You’re right. The jobs I mention above, I’ve made profit but not as much as other jobs.

      Add to that, there’s probably more people looking to spend £200-400 than £800+ on signage, more customers, easier sell. Less chance of failures etc.

  • Pane Talev

    September 18, 2021 at 6:56 am

    Vehicle graphics for me.

    I don’t do vehicle wrapping because I make more money doing other things.


    As soon as vehicle wrap fails – you’ve made no money on that job!

  • David Lyons

    September 18, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    Hi, I think you have stated what is in my mind also. I do not believe we make money on wraps. You also get competitors driving price down by using non wrap vinyls. Examples we have seen include LWB High Roof van including stripping terrible graphics (probably took 2 days) for £1600. The material cost and time wipes the profit. Unexpected issues, stripping, cleaning all add up. I don’t understand why these have been driven so low. We can make money on vehicle sign writing and 1/2 wraps but not full wraps. I have been reading comments and really has made me think – so thanks. I hope i have the courage of conviction to price these going forward so that they work for us. I suspect I have been taking full wraps to show we can do great work (Davy Stevenson). Profit, Vanity and sanity.

  • David Hammond

    September 18, 2021 at 1:52 pm

    If I charged the same margin on a part wrap as general vehicle signage, I’d never do another part wrap again.

    It sounds good, a van for £250, or a part wrap for £800, it doesn’t add up when you look at the numbers.

    I’m not into busting a gut either, or working 14hr days, I work for myself so I work at my own pace, one of the perks of being the boss.

  • Stephen Morriss

    September 21, 2021 at 11:16 am

    I made that decision years ago, it just didn’t make sense to me with the material costs etc, I can sign write a tractor unit in less than a day with far less material costs and effort than any partial wrap I’ve done.
    I had one customer that had the bottom of the cab colour changed, about half way up the door, while I did that my wife would sign write the rest of the cab and then the half I’d wrapped and she’d be waiting for me to finish the other side.
    The design has now changed and while it’s still complicated to apply it’s a lot faster and I charge more.


    • David Hammond

      September 21, 2021 at 11:44 am

      That’s the way we’re going, we’ve pushed the “higher end”, and go more partial wraps, trouble being the margin’s just not there.

      We had a customer try and modernise their livery on a tractor unit, we wrapped a band down the side, but were glad when they replaced another unit and went back to the more ‘traditional’ livery.

      I can sign up most vans in 1/2 a day, and spend the other half dealing with enquiries, preparing the next job, where as a wrap just seems to consume a day, then I’m playing catch up. I *could* work more hours, but then I’m just working more hours for the same money.

  • Peter Cassidy

    September 27, 2021 at 11:59 am

    i think when all is taken into consideration a complete wrap is not as profitable unless you are set up for it properly. even then, stripping cars and vans down and the time involved in that alone drastically eats into your budget. and thats if you dont mess anything up!

    getting a freelancer to do it for you is a good option. but how many will give you some sort of cover should they mess up stripping the vehicle down, or indeed that their work wont fail and if it does they will fix it free of charge? i think i know the answer to that one. 🤔

  • Hugh Potter

    September 29, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    I can wrap, but I’m very slow and don’t think I’m really that good at it.. 95% of the wrap work I do here (part or full) is done with one of a couple of freelancers I use. I’ve only ever had one issue on a wrap failing, that was a satin chrome which kept delaminating where we’d plotter cut it, but we’d charged sufficiently on the first job and didn’t lose.

    Freelancers: They’re anything from £160-£200 or so a day, not a problem as I charge a full day ‘our money’ at a minimum £360 a day +vat, or double their day rate – whichever greater. Both know I charge them out higher that they earn as, well, it’s my job, my premises etc. All wrap colour change is at least double the cost +vat, and printed wrap film (3M / SLX) is put out at £80 a mtr on short runs. we make great money of regular poly digi print and cut vinyls so no issues their if they want stuff added.

    In short, we rarely touch a part wrap under £1250+vat, and full wraps from £1700+vat. Pretty good money to be fair… a transit custom “commercial colour change” might use 25m of wrap film at £20 per mtr, £500. double it and a bit for hassle to £45 a mtr, £1125 (£625 profit), then the wrap guy, a full wrap I’d usually book 3 days, say £600 max, I’ll be charging that out at £1200, another £600. Design time etc. on top if required. plus a “ballache” fee, to cover those bits that will break, the additional cleaning because they haven’t bothered, etc. etc. call it another £200 to be safe. including the cost of my building, salary etc. etc, it’s cost me around £1300 max. and retails at £2425 +vat.

    If the customer doesn’t like my pricing “cos I can get it done for a grand down the road”, I don’t care, I’ll use my time better.

    That’s £1200 profit for three days work, of which I will have minimal input – maybe helping to help some vinyl now and then, I’m also then free to deal with customer enquiries and get on with other work…

    A part wrap is cheaper but only pro-rata, I still usually book a minimum of a day + materials.

    Vehicle graphics are obviously much more profitable, I think I’m doing about 8-900% mark-up on cad vinyls (oracal 551, avery 900 etc.) and around 6-700% on most print.

    Absolutely no point underselling yourself or your business. I probably lose 50-60% of web enquiries, but will get about 95% of walk ins, and those I get through the door to discuss their options. I talk them through materials, show them examples of work, etc. and there’s usually a deposit in my hand before they’ve left. I see some local competition doing 10x the amount of work I’m doing, some of it I’ve lost to them on price, they’re wildly cheaper, but good luck to them – I earn more doing a lot less, and just doing what I do well.

    My only real issue with freelancers…

    When they do their own jobs… they still only charge £160 or so for a days work, they never mark up the material properly, and as a result, undercharge massively. This means that if they’re advertising locally, even if only word of mouth, they stop being a tool in my effort to offer premium wraps and become competition.. lines will blur and squeegees will get thrown!

    Also, Insurance, typically they have the cheapest liability insurance there is. Go compare or whatever and it’s probably not covering them in any proper way. I am discussing with my insurance company now, how we address this with the freelancers we use, to ensure they’re covered properly.

    Anyway, I’m rambling, and giving away all my secrets 🤣

  • David Hammond

    September 29, 2021 at 7:34 pm

    Cheers for the reply Hugh.

    £1200 for 3 days work sounds good.

    It’s 3 days on one customer, where you could perhaps do 3 £700 vans, and earn the similar but with 3 customers to spread the word.

    I can see the benefit of subbies, if you’re entirely free to do other stuff, and agree some do skimp on their insurance.

    I had a smashing week last week, install, then prep for the next, most of the week, one in, one out.

    I’m comfortable doing partial wraps, but I just don’t enjoy it, increasingly so.

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