Finding Continuing Success in the World of Wraps

Success doesn't happen by accident, as these wrap icons can attest.

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We all strive for success, both individually and organizationally. Whether the end goal is finishing first in a competitive race or becoming the company’s top salesperson, we work hard to obtain the best possible results. In some cases, a few obstacles will arise that attempt to trip us up along the way. And when we think there is no possible chance to achieve our objective, that’s when it is time to reach a little further.

The wrap professionals featured in this article understand this philosophy. From year to year they have found ways to ensure the success of their shops while staying above the ever-increasing competition. Is there a special formula for this success? Not necessarily. Could others learn from the experiences of these shops? You bet. But many will find that even just committing the required attentiveness and dedication to one’s business will begin to produce results.

When asked how his business has maintained staying power over the years, Road Rage Designs president Mike Grillo simply stated, “We do a great job and try to be better than the competition. We’re having fun.”

Film First

Wrap veterans such as Grillo have learned a thing or two about what will change or develop in the industry over time. “Improvement in materials to start,” he says, pointing to matte black and matte colors as styles on the rise.

Digital EFX Wraps owner Matt Richart concurs, stating that matte films-as well as carbon fiber-have “opened up a retail side of vehicle wraps. Wrap media has become easier to handle and work with.”

Digital EFX Wraps primarily prints and installs Avery Dennison supercast films; however the shop also uses Oracal and Arlon materials in the wrap training field.

“Most of these companies are producing and manufacturing matte colors, carbon fiber, and other colors that are repositionable wrap media. These films are ready to install right out of the box. It takes the design process completely out of the picture.”

As far as less experienced shop owners becoming more familiar with vinyl and all of its constant advancements, Richart suggests, “getting samples from all vendors to see which films you prefer if you have never used any wrap films.”

Focus on What’s Important

Even if you believe the customer is always right, he may know little to nothing about vinyl. To him, the final product is what makes him either reach for his wallet or search for a new wrap shop. Let’s face it; there are lots of businesses that claim to have excellent wrap services, but what is going to make yours the most attractive?

“Our customers come back to us because our quality can not be duplicated,” says Richart.  “That’s not to say there aren’t other top notch wrap companies out there. (But) we educate our customer base to inform them on what is a good wrap, and what is a bad wrap.”

The combination of quality design, layout, color coordination, printing, laminating and installation is something Richart continues to highlight by saying, “if one of those links is broken or weak, the end result will not be the industry standard.”

Rod Voegele, president of Gator Wraps, identifies quality and customer services as a huge element in gaining repeat business. 

“Our employees’ dedication to the customer keeps the customer coming back,” he says, “and keeps them recommending us to other people. That is our number one source for new business-referrals.”

Richart believes that new avenues in networking have also helped his business move forward. Social media, for one, has had a positive effect on Digital EFX Wraps’ business.

“We are also in networking groups, social networking, and we have joined numerous chambers in our local area,” Richart explains. “As well as wrapping in our region, we have been designing, shipping, and setting up installations across the country. This has helped with our cash flow during the rough times.”

For Grillo, it comes down to doing the things that got him here in the first place. Quality is number one, and he pushes it to the front.

“I haven’t dropped my prices,” he says. “I just keep the quality there. I’m not really competing on a price level. The guy down the street could be offering 50 percent off his wraps and we keep our prices stable.”

Grillo has seen more and more shops trying to exploit the limitless design side of wraps to the point of failure. To him, wrapping all comes back to its primary duty: advertising. And ultimately, that’s what the customer values.

“Lots of shops like to do big, flashy wraps,” he says, “but if I have to follow a car three miles down the road to see what the ad is, that’s not a good wrap. It’s all about adverting. Everyone wants to throw the kitchen sink at a wrap and that’s not an effective wrap.”

Voegele agrees that wrapping is an ally to businesses looking to increase their presence. He says, “More people are learning about wraps and how beneficial they are in the growth and branding of their business.”

Following a Trend

Voegele knows full well what kinds of business opportunities can exist with wrapping projects. Gator Wraps has been experiencing a period of growth, which has allowed Voegele to not only take on more jobs but more interesting jobs at that. A recent phone call, coupled with the exposure of his current shop vehicle wrap, presented him with a very unusual and exciting task. 

“I received a call from a guy wanting to wrap a submarine,” Voegele tells. “He wrote down my number after seeing my Escalade a couple times. Turns out, he was a partner with Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Group Limited.”

Virgin Group Limited had entered into a new program, Virgin Oceanic, which involved building a submarine to reach the deepest depth in all five oceans in the world. The secrecy of the wrap project had Gator Wraps working in stealth mode, all the while wrapping a 24-foot sub and decaling a 150-foot catamaran using a Mutoh Valuejet 1614s and Seal Laminator for the graphics.

“We had to do it all while keeping it from the public,” says Voegele, “which was hard since we were wrapping the catamaran on the water at a harbor in Newport Beach. We had to wrap it, and cover it at the same time, until the press release day.”

Grillo is no stranger to the open waters himself. One of his latest jobs afforded him the opportunity to wrap hydroplanes for Formula Racing. These high-speed vehicles are 32-feet by 15-feet and equipped with a full rig. They travel at 205 miles per hour, which can be problematic for keeping wrapped graphics intact.

“It’s like NASCAR on water,” says Grillo. “There’s a lot of water pressure involved so we had to make sure the seams ran correctly so as not to face the water and become damaged. It’s actually wrapped backward from the traditional style where you would be able to see the seams up close but when the boat’s going that fast, you don’t notice.” Grillo admits that with the challenges of the project, much testing and examining of the installation process had to be conducted. He warned that if the boats were to cross in the water, the graphics could be ripped away from the hydroplane’s surface.   

Both Gator Wraps and Road Rage Designs seem to be picking up on the latest trend. Grillo confirms that “boats are a huge market now that it’s summer.” And noticing which parts of the market are growing is yet another way these companies stay on top.

Pieces of Advice

It’s true, not everyone will be able to go out and win that monster project that would make the shop’s year an instant success. It certainly takes time to build up and grow in the wraps industry, but there are resources and data available to help you along.

Maybe you prefer to leverage the electronic network like Richart who utilizes Facebook and Twitter to promote specials and updates, such as “We have a new Roland 64-inch Silver metallic VS in our shop.”

Or perhaps you’re evaluating all of the moving pieces of your business like Voegele who says he has “streamlined every aspect of our business model from technology to training to production. We look at every expense to the penny, and have really dialed in our controls, better than we thought possible.”

When you really get down to it, there is a definite need for wraps out there. Grillo says he has noticed a lot of new businesses in his area trying to use wrapping as a primary source of advertising due to the poor economy. 

Most wrap shops just need to put forth more effort to start realizing results. According to Richart, the Digital EFX Wraps sales staff has found that one to two clients out of 10 have needed their services but had not called them.

Your objectives can be achieved if you’re willing to reach out for them.

Ryan Fugler

Ryan N. Fugler is a former editor of WRAPS magazine and has been covering the signage industry since 2006.

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