When seeking out a vehicle wrap company, the details and associated costs will vary dramatically. If keeping costs down is your primary concern, the lowest price for the job might seem like the obvious choice. Or is it? As with most things in life, the term “you get what you pay for” is very true in the vehicle wrap industry. To paint a clear picture of what to expect, here are a few things to consider.

1. Quality of design

If you’re just going for a color change, this won’t matter to you. Commercial vehicle wraps require a design, even if the actual design elements already exist. Can you remember seeing a commercial vehicle on the road with a wrap that really stood out, grabbed your attention, and screamed PROFESSIONAL? That vehicle wrap was most definitely created by a professional wrap designer. Can you recall seeing the opposite scenario? A vehicle wrap that looks like a 3rd grade art project? Maybe a dozen low rez pictures and five paragraphs worth of information no one will ever read? You get the idea. Unfortunately, professional WRAP DESIGNERS are few and far between. Most wrap shops employ production staff who lack the in-depth knowledge and experience of a professional wrap designer. That lack of experience becomes apparent in the finished wrap. From a marketing standpoint, vehicle wraps are hard to beat. A poorly executed design can result in damaged company image, costing you clients and your reputation.

2. Print quality

Large format printing technology is NOT all created equally. The imaging and color quality can vary greatly, and longevity can be compromised depending on the ink systems employed. 3M MCS Warranty certified shops run the best materials and inks available, on select equipment deemed suitable to produce an exceptional result. By using 3M premium grade vinyls, inks, and laminates, a “matched component system” is created. This means all 3 materials have been scientifically developed to work together for the best possible results and long term durability. These materials, in conjunction with certified printing equipment ensure the best results possible. 

3. Quality of installation

Another unfortunate reality of the vehicle wrap industry is the lack of regulation. That means anyone can technically call themselves a wrap installer, regardless of skills, knowledge or experience. To help establish professionalism and standards, 3m developed it’s Certified Installers program. This has become the industry standard- 3M Certified installers are required to demonstrate a high level of skill and knowledge of all aspects of the wrap process. To receive certification, the shop itself must be well established in the industry and meet strict criteria to qualify. These shops are also expected to maintain high standards in the way they conduct business to retain the certification. Seeking out 3M Certified wrap shops is by far the best way to start off on the right foot. Please note- 3M Preferred is not the same as 3M Certified.

4. Wrap removal

It might sound crazy, but it’s possible to end up in a situation where the removal of your vehicle wrap costs more than the actual install! How can this be possible? There are several factors affecting wrap removability:

-Film & Lamination products

-Age of the wrap

-Geographic location (exposure) of the vehicle

-Care and maintenance

Film and lamination products are not all created equally. There are several brands which look and perform quite well. The difference is in the performance of the adhesive 4-5 years later. Wrap films are designed to be removable without leaving glue behind for a period of time. Cheaper films can actually damage a vehicle’s paint over time.The industry standard life expectancy (average) is 5 years, less for horizontal surfaces.

5. Logistics and scheduling

It’s rarely a “good time” to have a commercial vehicle off the road. The wrap process requires some down time, no getting around it. The key is working with an established commercial vehicle wrap provider that understands how to coordinate the process as quickly and efficiently as possible. This requires a company with staff dedicated to scheduling and coordinating wrap projects. Many smaller shops don’t have the luxury of dedicated account managers or project management. In most cases you, the client, will pay for it with your time. Overbooking, miscommunication, overworked installers- all these factors add up to delays and more down time. This can be a serious expense, depending on the situation. 

Going with one of the big “print house” companies might seem like the logical choice. Truth is, when it comes to installation the big guys are using the same network of independent installers as everyone else. The typical process involves contacting installers in the required area, getting a few quotes and going with the cheapest installers. As we all know, cheap isn’t always good. To further complicate the issue, the big guys have office staff in charge of setting up installations. In most cases, these employees have no direct knowledge or experience with vehicle wrap installs. This makes it impossible for them to properly vett a qualified installer. 

When it comes to coordinating the install, someone who doesn’t understand the process can’t make informed decisions. This leads to miscommunication, delays, and added expenses.


When looking into wrapping your next vehicle, please take the above into consideration and do your research. You’ll be glad you did down the road.

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