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Unwrapping Profits

Part Two: Is there money to be made in building wraps?

by Thomas Franklin

Building wraps are notorious for delivering an eyeful for advertisers, but do they deliver eye-popping results for your bottom line?

The short answer: yes. Of course, there’s a caveat. Proper execution and an intimate understanding of your client’s needs are essential; experience doesn’t hurt either.

The key to making money on building wraps is not selling sheer square footage, but selling a service, notes Marco Perez, assistant marketing manager, Point Imaging. There are multiple elements to a building wrap beyond simple production; there is finishing, installation, maintenance, and removal. Factored together, the whole must be sold as more than the sum of its parts. "You sell a service, not a commodity, and not just square footage," says Perez.

How do you put a price on experience? On being confident that when the wind builds to 50mph gusts, your wrap will hold; on knowing not only that the colors will pop, but will keep popping long after its been drenched with sun and rain for months on end.

"We sell a total solution," says Jon Zinsmeyer, founder and president, The Big Print, LLC. "Many clients have never done a building wrap before, or maybe they’ve done one five years ago and that account rep has moved on, so we do a lot of hand-holding." Zinsmeyer says that since his firm handles the job from soup-to-nuts, with an experienced install team, the response from clients has been excellent, and has catalyzed more sales.

Wraps are a profitable offering for the printers selling them, but they don’t always start out that way. If you don’t have a grand format printer and the equipment to finish the graphic, let alone the space, the initial investment is steep, easily reaching close to half a million dollars. Mesh vinyl is also expensive.

"When you start, wraps are not profitable. It takes a while to ramp up profitability," explains Josh Bevans, chief technology officer, dtpExpress. "It took us six months to go through our first roll of mesh vinyl." Bevans’ Utah-based business has been at it for ten years, growing to serve a nationwide network of accounts.

Point Imaging has grown quickly, to 50 employees and a 33,000 square foot facility over three years, Perez notes. Over the same time, the company’s building wraps business, fueled by the purchase of a 16-foot Vutek 5330 EC, has blossomed from one to five percent of its business. "We are now marketing the service heavily," Perez adds.

For The Big Print, building wraps account for 20 to 30 percent of the company’s grand format business. "The profitability advantage comes in how quickly you can produce your square footage," Zinsmeyer says. "The margins may not be as good, but if you can fabricate and assemble quickly, then that turnaround time helps the bottom line."

Assembly is difficult. Building wraps are a manpower-intensive production and, "it does slow down work at that facility," when work is in progress, Zinsmeyer adds. "It can take up to eight people to fold, and they can weigh hundreds of pounds."

This is the second part of our exclusive editorial series on building wraps. Look for more coverage in the coming weeks and a full article in our July 2006 print issue of Digital Output magazine.

Apr2006Q, Digital Output

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