Let’s Talk Shop: How to Create a Wrap Checklist that’s Perfect for your Shop

A checklist for each job will help you make sure you're not forgetting anything

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In our shop we use a Vehicle Wrap Checklist to guide us through the wrapping process. It’s intended to be a sales tool to aid in efficiency and is very useful in gathering needed information and avoiding missteps with any vehicle wrap job. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of what we’ve included in our checklist and why. There is no need to include everything related to wraps on this list-rather, keep the information succinct and use it as a guideline.

There are quite a few steps to our checklist, so before we get too far into the process with the customer we try to gauge the level of their interest. A customer who is just looking for a quick quote or seems vague may only want some general information. In these instances we discuss budget and pricing up front then walk out to the car to give them a general idea of coverage for that price range.

This requires some general estimating and knowledge of coverage for the price, but it comes with experience. If the customer is ready to proceed, then we’ll move through each step of the checklist.

Many manufacturers of wrap films have also created wrap checklists that you may find helpful in creating your own. Scan their checklists and to see if there is additional information you want to include.

Vehicle Outline

The first item we list on our checklist is to pull a template of the vehicle you’re quoting. We keep printed templates of commonly wrapped vehicles in a binder under the front counter, along with copies of our wrap checklist.

I typically pull a few copies out. We use one to note measurements of the vehicle. Using the template to mark the points you measure between is more accurate than simply sketching out the car.

The second copy of the template is used during the sketching process while brainstorming with the customer. If the vehicle has any existing body damage, we’ll use a third template during the vehicle walk-thru to note the problem areas.

On the checklist we also include lines to note the vehicle year, make, model, vehicle color and wrap coverage the customer is interested in. It’s a simple way to record vehicle information for reference.

If you don’t have a template for the vehicle-especially if it’s a unique vehicle-take a minute to snap a few straight-on photos of the vehicle and print them out. Use these images as your templates.

Vehicle Measurements

Because vehicles have so many options, and since aftermarket parts and various curves in a vehicle can often throw off measurements, I like to take my own reference measurements of each vehicle we wrap. These are noted on the template and then referenced during the quoting and designing process.

Taking multiple accurate measurements is important to properly scale the photo of the vehicle. Be sure the measurements you take are of areas that are easy to see in the photo-windows, width of door at a specific point or along a molding, etc.

Areas, like hoods, that are difficult to photograph, should be measured at multiple points. Measure the center of hood to the front edge; along the outer edge from the back point to the front; and then get width measurements at multiple spots. Always overprint hoods because the angle and taper of most hoods is easy to underestimate and could leave you short on material during installs.

I like to take top to bottom measurements of the vehicle to accurately note the height including the curve of the body. Drawing a curved arrow indicates that I’m including the areas that curve under the vehicle. Sounds simple, but it’s also important because this notation helps to ensure that my final print files will have the extra material to completely wrap around.

Another handy tool for getting the measurements for quoting is the Art Station Vehicle Templates Wrap Dimensions guide which features a large number of vehicles, complete with overall square footage for quick and easy quoting. The square footage is broken into sections of the vehicle with the window square footage figured separately for view-thru options. You can use this for the quote process, but once you have a go-ahead, be sure to take measurements and photos of the actual vehicle to double check the accuracy and account for the placement of any after-market parts that may be on the vehicle.

Quoting Graphics

We break down our wrap pricing into three areas-graphics, design and installation. Design and installation are labor and are not taxed, while the graphics are taxable.

We’ve created a per-square-foot charge for our graphics based on material and amount of coverage. Perforated window film with optically clear overlaminate is more expensive than regular wrap vinyl so wrapped windows are figured separately.

Our pricing is based on a sliding scale depending on coverage. This means that partial wraps with less coverage are figured at a higher per-square-foot charge; full wraps with more coverage are figured at a lower per-square-foot charge.

As incentive for fleets of vehicles, we offer the lower per-square-foot rate based on the total square footage for all vehicles. This discounted rate applies to vehicles ordered all at one time, and is not based on a “promise” of future work.

Because we wrap so many commercial vans we’ve created a quick reference guide that offers four different coverage options. The coverage is highlighted in yellow and pricing is broken down by graphics and installation. This helps to quickly determine the customer’s budget and provides customers with suggestions on various coverage options that meet their price range.

Quoting Design

Based on our shop’s hourly rate we’ve been able to estimate a base number of hours to work with the customer on sketching ideas, gathering digital artwork, creating a template of the vehicle, typesetting information and placing provided images. Based on this estimated time we’ve been able to create a base design rate.

Professional photos that need to be purchased would be extra, as would any excessive art setup including photo manipulation, creation of a new logo or recreation of an existing one when digital files aren’t available.

If the customer is also indecisive and makes excessive changes we do charge extra for the additional time. Usually after a couple changes we’ll try to reel the customer in by mentioning that we will need to charge more for the design setup if they need to make additional changes.

On the flip side, if we’re wrapping a simple box van or trailer and the customer can provide digital artwork we may charge less-especially on simpler layouts because fitting graphics to a flat trailer is a lot easier to do than fitting them around door handles, windows and other obstacles on a car.

Quoting Installation

Some sign shops base installation on the square footage of the job. Some companies base it on an estimation of the time it will take to wrap that particular vehicle. We base our installation on an estimation of time.

A large box van or trailer may have more square footage than a small car, but due to obstacles on the car, the box van or trailer will be a lot easier and faster to install. Trimming on a vehicle is also more time consuming than on a box or trailer.

Either method is fine as long as you’re covering all of the labor involved. The more you wrap the better you will become with your estimations of time.

If It’s a Go

At this point you’ve pulled templates of the vehicle and discussed coverage options with the customer. Based on a your quick reference measurements, you’ve also been able to give the customer an estimate.

This initial working with the customer is a fairly quick process, one that gets more efficient with the more wraps you do. These first steps are very important though as you build a rapport with the customer, building their confidence in your abilities as well as a chance for them to gauge your understanding of the project. Keep in mind that with each project you need to earn their business with your expertise and customer service. Often price is secondary to this.

Once we get the go-ahead from the customer we then take straight-on digital photos of all sides of the vehicle. Since we design our wraps on photos of the customer’s vehicle, getting good photos is important. You may have already taken photos earlier in the process if you needed to use them as a template.

Gather Artwork

The more information you can gather at the counter from the customer, the less time you’ll spend on designing. Using the vehicle template, and with coverage in mind, we do some quick sketching while talking with the customer.

This is the point in the process where we clarify the importance of different message elements on the wrap-who they are (company logo/name), what they do, and how to reach them (website preferably, otherwise one phone number).

Anything more than this needs to be moved to the back of the vehicle or eliminated if possible. If the customer really wants extra information, try to design it around the main elements, without detracting from them.

Collect any available digital artwork or remind the customer to email it to you. Be sure that you clarify that low-resolution artwork or photos will not work and may require an extra charge to reproduce or replace.

Collect Deposit

I like to discuss the artwork a bit, and do some sketching with the customer before I type up the invoice and collect the deposit. This gives me a chance to confirm coverage based on layout ideas. Every once in awhile the coverage will change, and therefore the price, once we start sketching out some ideas.

We collect a 50 percent deposit on all jobs prior to starting any design work on the computer. If the customer is hesitant to put down a deposit on the whole wrap because they’re just not ‘getting’ how it will look we’ll start with just the design fee.

Sometimes the customer just needs to see something before they will commit to the cost of a full wrap. In this case we have the customer pay the design fee up front and then we proceed with the design portion of the job. Once they commit to the wrap and installation, we collect a 50 percent deposit on the design and installation.

Review Proof

Basically this is a quick review with the customer on what they can expect during the proofing process. We let them know how soon they will receive a proof, how it will be presented ‘on’ their vehicle, as well as the number of revisions that are included in the design charge.

Vehicle Walk-Through

Go out and take a walk around the customer’s vehicle and review any problem areas. On a vehicle template note the location and type of problem for future warranty or liability coverage. Photos of the areas should also be kept on file.

Review the paint job and discuss liability with the customer. Make sure it is noted on your checklist that your company cannot be held liable for problems that arise due to paint in poor condition. For graphic removal jobs we have a separate paint liability form for customers to sign.

Washing of the vehicle prior to drop off should also be mentioned during the walk-thru, as well as reviewing the removal of emblems and mirrors. We ask the customer to remove anything they don’t want us to wrap over, otherwise they cannot hold us liable for any damage that arises when we remove these items.

Review Installation

Take a minute to review with the customer what they can expect the day of installation. On our worksheet we have a line for adding in the scheduled install date. The date and time of the installation is determined after the proofing process and noted as a reference.

For most wraps we need the vehicle for one or two days. We do like to give ourselves a little breathing room so we mention that we may need an additional day, especially on larger projects.

While we pride ourselves on the quality of our workmanship, each job is custom and each vehicle is different. Point out that they should expect seams and overlaps, possibly a few bubbles or creases in difficult areas (although we of course avoid this at all costs) as well as that the images will not be photographable up close. By and large, wraps are meant to be viewed at a distance.

We do note on the worksheet that final color may be slightly different than the proof the customer was e-mailed. To avoid confusion, and especially when colors are specified, on most of our wrap jobs we print out a sample color print prior to production for the customer to sign off on.


Having the customer sign the bottom of the wrap checklist is simply a way to confirm with them that you have reviewed everything that is involved in wrapping their vehicle, and by signing they understand and agree to what you’ve explained.

Charity Jackson

Charity Jackson is owner of Visual Horizons Custom signs, a full-service commercial sign company based in Modesto, Calif.  She has been in business since 1995 and specializes in vehicle wraps, design and project management and workflow. You can visit her Web site at www.vhsigns.com.

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