How to start a vehicle wrap & graphics business

Written by wendy roltgen
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Vehicle advertising has become a cost-effective way for businesses to promote their brand and products. Cars work as moving billboards and are wrapped with graphic images printed on a vinyl film and applied to the car. Whether you decide to utilise one of the turnkey franchises available or start a vehicle wrap and graphics business of your own, discover some of the steps required to get started in this growing industry.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Graphic design software
  • Internet access
  • Office with storage space
  • Large-format vinyl printer
  • Internet domain name (optional)
  • Vinyl graphics laminator

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Research the vehicle wrap market. Attend vehicle shows and seek out vendors specialising in vehicle wraps. Find the competition in your local marketplace and what options customers are using to wrap cars with advertising graphics. Take note of cars and buses with vehicle wraps and ask the owners where they had the graphics printed and applied. Research available franchises and investment requirements and compare the costs associated with starting a vehicle wrap business of your own.

  2. 2

    Learn about how vehicle wraps and graphics work. Find out about the different types of printers, printing techniques, vinyl and application techniques used. If investing in a franchise, training materials are often supplied. Learn proper techniques for printing and installing vehicle wraps.

  3. 3

    Determine whether you will invest in a vehicle wrap franchise or start a vehicle wrap business of your own.

  4. 4

    Seek a location for your vehicle wrap and graphics business. Since vehicle graphics are quite large, you will need adequate space for printers, work tables and laminating equipment. If graphics will be installed in your facility, plan to have a large auto bay with drive-in access. Find a location that is easy for your customers to access. The location should provide you with enough space to store inventory and offer a display area for vehicle wraps.

  5. 5

    Decide on the type of legal structure for your vehicle wrap business. Research the different types of legal structures to find one that is right for you. Consult a lawyer or your local Score office for additional legal structure advice and information.

  6. 6

    Put together a detailed business plan for your business. Outline a comprehensive list of your long-term and short-term goals for the vehicle wrap business. Put together anticipated financial requirements. Break complex objectives down into achievable steps. Consider developing a vision and mission statement for the business to keep you focused on the key aspects of the business.

  7. 7

    Determine a business name for your vehicle wrap business if you are not investing in a franchise. If you are investing in a vehicle wrap franchise, you will use the franchise business name (skip to the next step). Generate a list of possible business names and complete an Internet search on each of the names you have developed. Eliminate names that are in use. Search the Federal Trademark Database (USPTO.gov) for names that are available. Secure the domain name for the business name you decide upon.

  8. 8

    Obtain financing for your vehicle wrap business. Some franchises offer financial assistance. Research the type of loans available from the federal government, local banks and state governments to help get your business started.

  9. 9

    Obtain the appropriate business license and tax identification number for your vehicle wrap and graphics business.

  10. 10

    Invest in printing equipment and supplies if you are starting a vehicle wrap of your own instead of investing in a turnkey franchise solution.

  11. 11

    Hire and train employees and begin to market your vehicle wrap business.

Tips and warnings

  • Set reasonable expectations for your business.
  • Complete a comparison of the costs associated with buying into a franchise versus starting a vehicle wrap business of your own.

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