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How to Effectively Price & Produce Fleet Projects

Getting a fleet account is a home-run sale, but fulfilling bigger jobs requires good planning

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Most of us are always looking for the next wrap, the next project, or the next job to keep our doors open, pay our employees, and earn a profit. At Digital EFX Wraps, we have been in business for 14 years, and every day we continue to learn something new. In our first five years of business, we were completing one-off wraps that each took time to price, design, and install. Although these jobs seemed time consuming for just one vehicle, they are what helped set the foundation for return customers, as the customer’s business began to grow and word spread of our craftsmanship.

Dealing with a company that has one vehicle is a walk in the park job. It’s also the first vehicle that drives around town showing off what services they offer and how to get in contact with them.

Dealing with a company with 50 vehicles that need to be wrapped is a home run sale, but a much larger project to complete. One of our most gratifying experiences is to be able to work with a company for over decade and watch their business grow from one vehicle to a fleet of 30, 40 or 50 vehicles. Wrapping a fleet for a customer not only plays a huge part in the success of their business from a marketing and advertising standpoint, but also makes you a profit. Being able to see each other’s business grow over the years is what makes being in business so rewarding. Everyone wins!

Key Questions to Ask

When we have clients that come in for pricing or information on wraps that deal with fleet projects, budget is key for everyone, not just the customer. One of your main goals is to determine what the client considers a fleet project. Is it five vehicles, 10 vehicles, or more?

Is the same design going on every vehicle that your client owns? Is your client requesting different designs on different vehicles that give you a large fleet to deal with, but individual wraps that may take more time in design, produce, and install? Will the fleet of van wraps be completed in a short time or is it based off of a full year or two of work? These are some important questions to define before moving forward with a fleet project.

I tell most of my clients that doing two to three wraps at a time is not considered a fleet, but we will be more than happy to give a discount for providing our company with three units instead of just one.

At the end of the day keep in mind that wrapping each of three vans still takes the same amount of material, ink, laminate, and labor to complete as would one van. You don’t save any money on film and ink by doing three vans. Your installers will be able to shave off some time after the third van, but you are still dealing with the same amount of square feet, material, and quality that you demand that comes out of your shop. If you or your installers are already skilled wrappers, then your time is already calculated and you know how long it will take to fully wrap a 14′ box truck vs. a sprinter van.

Basic Numbers

Now, let’s take some basic numbers that may or may not reflect what you or your company charges on a regular basis to determine how you should price your fleets. Let’s say I charge $3,000 to print, laminate, and install a Ford Econoline van for regular customers, or a client that has a one-vehicle fleet. I will let them know what our one-off price is. If my client has five Ford vans that need to be wrapped, then I will set up a different pricing sheet that shows them the discounts they will receive.

As I said in the beginning, we all learn something every day. I used to have clients who would say, “We have five vans to be wrapped, what kind of discount will you give us?” Instead of giving them our normal price of $3,000 I would give them a price of $2,750 since it was for five van wraps. What ended up happening is they would only get one van wrapped (at a discount) and then would never come back to have anything else wrapped.

It took me a few jobs to realize this was my issue. Not my clients. We now handle pricing and payment of fleet wraps a little differently than we did when our business was young. If your client wants to wrap five vans and would like a discount, we give them two different options.

With the first option we create an invoice (with discount built in) for all five van wraps together and ask for a 50 percent deposit on the entire project. We then get collect the balance when the entire fleet is completed.

I like the second option where I tell the client that producing five vans is more work for us (which we are happy and fortunate to have), but still requires the same amount of ink, film, laminate, and labor per van regardless if we are wrapping five vans or fifty vans. I then set up a pricing structure for them to view and approve.

With this option we discount fleet wraps as they come in! This way it makes the client bring in the vehicles that they promised to be wrapped. In my opinion, it’s the only way to secure work without a contract to confirm the work that you both agreed on.

Now, let’s go back to the $3,000 per unit price. I quote the first van at $3,000, the second van $3,000, the third van $2,800, the fourth van $2,700, and the fifth van would run $2,600.

This allows them to see what kind of discount you are giving and hopefully makes them bring all the vehicles that they promised you. Unfortunately, some companies will dangle carrots in front of us to get the cheapest price. It’s no different than them telling you they will send so much business your way if you give them a deal. It usually never works out that way.

Also, having your client give you a 50 percent deposit on every vehicle before work begins will protect your company and cash flow. Some of our good clients will pay for each vehicle when they pick up and then swap out with the next van wrap. Landing fleet projects are fantastic. They are even better when you get paid on time or in advance for the hard work your company has provided and produced.

Design Considerations

Design and production time needs to be calculated as well. If the same design is going on 15 identical box trucks then once the first vehicle is completed and installed you have the blueprint to complete the next 14 units. The same file, prints, production, and installation time will be repeated. This is where you can be very profitable.

When you have to deal with 15 different vans, box trucks, sedans, and pickup trucks the design needs to be modified, your production/print time changes, and your installation times will change based off the complexity and time each vehicle requires. I realize this is common knowledge to most of those reading this, but it’s very important to step back and double check all of your working parts required to pull off a fleet project.

Another sales tip is to discount some of your design time if you are dealing with large fleet projects. This makes the client feel like they are getting a better deal since artwork and design of any wrap are just as important as any other component. The message and design are what will give your client his or her return on their investment and what makes them keep coming back to your company.

Installation Considerations

Installation of any wrap takes time, precision, and craftsmanship. We truly believe that design, quality of materials, and pride are very important in our business, but high-end installation will set you apart from your competition. I make an effort to discount our design time, ink, media, and lamination before discounting our installation rates. This allows us to also give our installers bonuses for taking care of large fleet projects that usually require time sensitive deadlines.

If you can sell a fleet project without discounting your labor, it’s a win-win for sure. When we get into twenty to fifty vehicles in a fleet we will discount the installation rate depending on the scope of the project and variances of each vehicle required to be wrapped. If you are doing the exact same vehicle wrap for the entire fleet it’s also very important to complete the entire wrap, let the client approve the overall work so that you can move forward with the remaining units. Once again, always have your colors, design, and installation approved on one unit before printing and installing the rest of the fleet.

Check List

Here is a check list that we try to follow when dealing with fleet projects. These are just some basic questions to ask yourself and client before you provide them with your quote and pricing. We all want to be profitable without losing out on a potential fleet project that was quoted too low or too high. I know one of people’s biggest fears is losing out on business, but don’t be afraid to charge what you are worth. Once you lower your pricing it’s very hard to go back up. Sometimes we would rather bail then fail! I tell our potential clients that we don’t want to lose a job over a couple hundred dollars, but also want to be profitable so we can stay in business. As I said earlier, we want to grow with every one of our wrap clients. Regardless if they have one van, or 50!

Here’s a handy checklist our shop has developed for when a fleet wrap job arises:

  • How many vehicles are in the fleet being quoted?
  • Are all of the vehicles the same make and model?
  • Will the entire fleet be the same design/color scheme?
  • What is the time frame of completing the entire fleet?
  • Have all the vehicles been photographed, measured, and inspected?
  • Get a signed contract for the project or discount the vehicles as them come.
  • Complete 1 vehicle out of the fleet so that your client can approve the work before moving forward.
  • Make sure your payment requirements are approved by your client.
  • Set your clients expectations on timeline to execute the entire fleet project.
  • Put your company’s logo small on each unit wrapped. These projects will bring you more fleet work.
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Matt Richart

Matt Richart is one of the co-founders of Digital EFX Wraps in Louisville, Ky. He is an expert installer and Roland University instructor. For more information on training, visit www.digitalefxwraps.com.

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