If you’re a car enthusiast, you’ll probably remember Pimp my ride, a classic MTV show where Xzibit and his team take worn-out cars to a garage that we’ve all wanted to visit, and transform them into real beasts.
And it’s no wonder ! Real car lovers know that any car can be transformed to a masterpiece with a little bit of care.
And car wrappers know one of the quickest way to transform a car is with car wrapping!
As we often do at Vital Dollar, we think through and research profitable business models that can be amazing side hustles… that can even sometimes turn into full time jobs!
Starting a car wrapping business puts you in the driver’s seat of your own version of Pimp my ride. In this article we are going to teach you how to start a car wrapping business including: how to research and learn, how to plan your business, and how to execute.
What’s car wrapping?
Vehicle wrapping refers to the process of covering the exterior of a car, van, box truck or even Formula 1 race cars with large sheet of vinyl wrap which particularly protects the original paintwork while aiming for promotional and aesthetic purposes.
There are full or partial wraps allowing customizations in various areas including dashboard, console, windows, or even door handles.
It can last from 3 to 5 years depending on the quality of the wrap used and particularly the clean and precise application.
Is car wrapping a profitable business?
Statistics prove that a car wrapping business is one of the largest fast-growing businesses with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.2% from 2022 to 2030.
The profit margins for your car wrap business are approximately around 40%, allowing for healthy return on investment.
Leading companies in vehicle wrap business Avery Dennison, Arlon Graphics, LLC, or Vvivid Vinyl, compete on factors such as quality, sustainability, and technology used to produce car wraps to foster their brand identity and win a dominant market position.
Market size rate
The global automotive wrap films market size was estimated at $4.76 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $5.81 billion in 2023
Market growth potential
The global automotive wrap industry growth rate is expected to grow 22.2% from 2022 to 2023 to reach $28.89 billion by 2030.
How to start a car wrapping business?
First, learn how to use vehicle wraps
start window tinting
Before you launch, take your time to build your wrapping skills. You can start in your own garage with window tinting.
The application process is very similar but on a smaller surface.
Both window tinting and car wrapping require surface preparation before application, precise material cutting to properly fit the surface dimension along with the use of adhesive to attach the tint or wrap to the car.
The goal is to get proper training and familiarize yourself with the process because a big part of car wrapping depends on the application quality. So if you adapt to the exercise you can achieve good results with a more challenging application.
Every skill needs nurture to improve. And so does car wrapping.
Before jumping to your garage, invest some time in researching the latest techniques and application skills. It will get on the right path.
Many professional car wrappers spread their knowledge and experience through tutorials and YouTube videos. You can learn from that and bring it to your own business.
practice on your own car
Start on your car or that of your friend and ask for his opinion. You can even go for an edgy design to get more confidence in your skills. Just as we learned on Pimp my ride the great cars come from the most creative garages.
Strategize your car wrapping business & business plan
Setting up a car wrapping business requires careful planning and execution. Making a business plan makes it clearer from start-up to expansion and will give you the right path on how to your vehicle wrap business.
It serves as a roadmap which defines financial, marketing and operational key points, strategies and potential challenges of your business.
A well written business plan includes market research, financial projections, marketing strategy as well as business licenses.
It’s a great ideas to get a website going as well.
This step is major to understand the industry and identify your target market.
As you research, you’ll have a clearer vision of your competitors’ practices, strengths and weaknesses. Also focus on gathering information about demand for car wrapping services in your area. Sometimes it’s good to focus on a specific type of car (like Jeeps or BMWs etc)
Connecting with your potential customers will help you through this, you can ask questions like “have you ever considered getting your car wrapped?” “What would make you prefer a car wrapping service over another?”
The answers you’ll get will help you build a strategy on how to make your business stand out.
This stage of a business plan should include financial and budgeting details such as start up costs, operating expenses, balance sheet, revenue forecasts and cash flow projections.
It’s simply about identifying the amount of money invested in the business entity and how you’re planning to generate revenue to cover them.
You should be objective and realistic about your expectations because you can’t really know how it’s going to work.
Any business model should answer this question: How to attract customers?
The answer lies in a solid marketing plans. It may include building a digital presence, advertising, prospecting in car shows. This part of the business plan is strategic, we’ll explain its execution further on.
Business license AND LIABILITY INSURANCE
Licenses and permits required for starting a car wrapping business may vary depending on your location.
Generally, it includes a contractor’s license to start a customization service like car wrapping. You should check with the local offices in your state to find out what’s exactly required and don’t forget to renew it !
Also consider getting a liability insurance to protect yourself against damages or accidents that could pop up through the business process.
Find your car wrapping garage, location doesn’t matter
Your garage is your business platform and where you showcase your skills. It needs as much care as your client’s vehicles.
Don’t worry too much about the location!
As long as you master wrapping, clients will find you. It doesn’t have to be close to an urban area or insanely costly because it’s two levels. Know that the quality work and reputation you build will make your business stands out genuinely.
Make sure its clean, well-lit and spacious to accommodate all your client vehicles.
Also, make sure you decorate it and display examples of previous work (before and after pictures for example) and options of equipment and vinyl materials to gain authenticity and clients trust.
Find vinyl wrap suppliers and related accessories
VINYL WRAP SUPPLIERS
Choosing high-quality vinyl wrap material is 50% of your business, the other half is your quality application .
You want to choose a material that is durable and long-lasting, but also that has good adhesive properties so it stays on without peeling or lifting. Look for trustworthy suppliers who specialize in vinyl wrap materials.
Be particularly cautious of suppliers who offer very low prices compared to competitors – this could be an indication of lower quality material.
Vinyl wrap comes in various colors and finishes including glossy, matte, satin or metallic in addition of carbon fiber wraps. Don’t try to stack all these types, consider what your target customers might prefer and make your choice.
Also, as you’re starting avoid vinyl chrome which application is 5x harder than matte because it tears off very easily.
The wrapping process is divided into phases that require different materials.
You’ll need cleaning supplies to clean the car surface before application, cutting tools to trim the vinyl wrap according to the correct size and shape of the vehicle, a heat gun to soften and stretch it around the curve and edges of the vehicle and a squeegee to smooth out air bubbles and wrinkles under the vinyl wrap.
Think of other related accessories like tape and adhesives to hold the wrap in place during application, a ladder to access higher parts of the car and also a protective film for laminator to protect the vinyl wrap from scratches and fading.
Once everything is there focus on installation.
Optimize your garage workflow with a clean equipment and lighting installation as well as a proper maintenance to save the quality and lifespan of your resources.
Organize your equipment in suitable locations for easy access, keep your printer and lamination equipment covered and protected from dust and debris and store your vinyl wrap in safe and dry areas away from heat and sunlight to prevent fading and adhesive degradation.
Also, note that your competitors take particular care of their garage aesthetic, so don’t overlook lighting and decoration.
Market your business
This part of the process will particularly get your business model to life.
In today’s digital era, there’s various ways to stand out.
You can go for advertising using platforms like google or social media. However establishing a brand takes a lot more effort and time but it will get you sustainable results.
To create a brand identity, expose your work through digital platforms and develop a brand message that resonates with your target market.
Make a website where you show your garage and your before and after car wrapping pictures. Present your team and make your “About” section credible and trustworthy.
You can also use LinkedIn sales navigator to find potential prospects and seek for connections to expand your networking base.
Through the process you’ll be able to find strategic partnerships and collaboration opportunities with local businesses such as car accessories stores or car dealerships or even multinational companies.
Also, track relevant events in the vehicle industry like local auto shows or trade fairs. This will help you engage with a community of interest and increase brand awareness.
Always train your car wrapping skills
Vehicle wrap industry is constantly evolving with new material, technologies and trends emerging.
So, by investing in ongoing training you can adapt to changes and bring out the latest practices. Also, regular training optimizes efficiency and speed in project execution which helps take on more customers and increase profitability.
As you improve your work quality, you enhance your competitive potential and gain more trust and reputation.
Provide advice on car wrap care
If you want to stand out, you should attract clients’ attention. And it’s not only about wrapping cars, even the attitude matters.
Have a genuine will to help your clients and provide them with advice over vinyl wrap care. Connection gives a seamless and comfortable flow.
Talk about the importance of washing a wrapped vehicle regularly and using soft or microfiber material to avoid wrap damage.
Warn clients about parking in direct sunlight for extended periods as UV rays can cause color fading, or about using wax or polish that can damage the wrap.
Listening to clients and sharing your knowledge and honest thoughts, helps build authentic bonds that will make you memorable.
Final thoughts: is this business for you ?
Now that you know the process, it’s your turn to execute!
Dig inside you and seek answers, what does your gut say? Can you envision yourself 2 years from now in your garage wrapping cars? Does that idea excite you enough ?
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. and the only way to do great work is to love what you do” That’s what Steve jobs says.
The vehicle wrapping industry rewards those with a keen eye for design, attention to detail and a passion for turning vehicles into unique works of art. And you might be the one for it. So take a step ahead and