By Melissa Donovan
Fleet wraps are a large undertaking that not many print service providers (PSPs) are equipped to tackle. However, with the correct tools—from the media and printer to software and installer skills—adding the service can make for a great opportunity to capitalize on untapped profits.
“Fleet wraps can be lucrative for PSPs because the projects are larger and certain costs such as design and setup can be shared across multiple vehicles. There may also be efficiencies in installation depending on the type of vehicle and installation timeline,” advises Jessica Franklin, segment marketing manager, 3M Commercial Solutions.
Preparedness is key. Recognizing that a fleet job will be much larger than a traditional wrap project and having the means in place to combat that is important.
Above: 3M’s most popular media for wraps is 3M Controltac Graphic Film with Comply v3 Adhesive IJ180Cv3, which is suitable for most vehicle types from passenger cars to semi-trailers
The vehicle wrap market as a whole continues to grow, with its popularity as high as ever. Consumers continue to notice wrapped vehicles. The Nielsen Out-of-Home Advertising Study 2019 edition was conducted in March and April 2019, surveying 999 online participants. When asked the last time they noticed a wrapped vehicle advertisement, 64 percent said in the past month and 44 percent commented in the past week.
As a whole, Grand View Research predicts that the global automotive wrap film market size is anticipated to progress at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.2 percent from 2019 to 2025.
Cited in its market research report—Automotive Wrap Films Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Application (Heavy-, Medium-, Light-duty Vehicles), By Region (Central & South America, APAC, MEA, North America, Europe), And Segment Forecasts, 2019 – 2025—published in April 2019, “the growing sign and graphics industry, due to technological advancements in printing equipment, is expected to propel market growth. According to the Advertising Association of America, the outdoor advertising market is witnessing a significant growth in the economy.”
Per to the report, a large portion of this growth is due to growing consumer interest in color change films—both solid colors and textures—for personal vehicles. These vehicles are classified as light-duty vehicles. The study states that in 2018, this segment held the largest share of the global market and is expected to continue its dominance over the forecast period.
However, heavy-duty vehicles are also positively influenced. The heavy-duty vehicles segment also holds a significant share of the market and is expected to register a steady CAGR over the forecast period. “Large billboards are now replaced by mobile billboards using heavy-duty vehicle films, which not only leads to enhanced visibility but also provides a higher return on investment for consumers. In addition, increasing demand for vehicle branding coupled with rising sales of heavy-duty vehicles across the globe is further expected to boost segment growth over the forecast period,” cites the study.
Fleet wraps, which can be made up of many different makes and models of vehicles, primarily consist of heavy-duty vehicles such as freight trucks or buses. “Over the last couple of years, the heavy-duty market has experienced strong growth particularly with trailers, which is good for the fleet wrap industry. In a strong economy when freight demand is up, more investment is made in equipment, which opens up new opportunities for PSPs in the industry to be more successful,” explains Franklin.
It also opens up opportunities to all sizes of PSPs. “In the past, fleet wraps were usually printed by large graphic houses because the equipment needed was high output and expensive. But new technology has made it possible for smaller print providers to compete in this market and stay very profitable,” admits Ritchie Daize, technical solutions manager for fleet and OEM, Arlon Graphics, LLC.
“To me, offering fleet wraps is one of the most lucrative types of wraps in the industry. The main reason being that most businesses purchase multiple vehicles, either at once or on a regular basis throughout the year. Thus giving your shop steady work, not just a one and done,” suggests Dan Bulat, president, Element Graphics & Design, Inc. and head wrap trainer, ORAFOL Americas, Inc.
Franklin predicts more growth to come from the light- and medium-duty vehicle segment fueled by the rapid increase in e-commerce and delivery services.
Smaller fleets on a more local level such as box trucks are ripe with possibility. “The fleet wrap market is very competitive, but there are still excellent opportunities for businesses at the local level, such as grocery delivery vehicles, restaurants, and non-profits,” says Amanda Smith, associate product manager, Mactac.
Expanding into Fleet
PSPs looking to expand their vehicle wrapping services into bigger opportunities should consider fleet wraps, but must understand the differences when it comes to one-off vehicle wrap jobs. This includes the entire offering from design to print to install to customer management, man power, and cost.
“When getting into full fleets, they’re definitely looking at significantly more overhead in terms of time, people, and expenditures. They need to build a team, add capabilities, and invest in more equipment,” advises Shaun Jaycox, product manager, S-One Holdings Corporation.
Franklin says to keep coordination, capacity, and speed in mind. “Larger fleets may have existing assets that are geographically spread out and in the case of rebranding, they really look to providers who have a reliable network to execute field installations and deliver project management expertise. When it comes to capacity, serving larger fleets may require investment in new printer technology that allow for enhanced capabilities in throughput and speed. In general, fleet projects require a higher level of project management and communication than is required for one-off wraps.”
The time to print and install multiple wraps is much different when comparing a one-off wrap to a fleet. A PSP considering fleet wraps should consider this and other participating factors.
“Consider your printer capacity and installer network versus the project timeline. Do you have the ability to execute the project on the customer’s timeline? What are your backup plans if there is an unplanned equipment outage or your installer falls through? These contingencies can throw a wrench in a project. Careful planning and project management can help avoid some of these pitfalls,” advises Franklin.
According to Daize, PSPs should be prepared to manage some tricky logistics when it comes to installation. “Usually the vehicles being wrapped are spread over a large geographic region, which will require a solid network of applicators willing to work around the schedule of the fleet. Often your application of choice will need to travel between equipment yards, which often incurs an extra cost.”
Lastly, consider the scale of the design when wrapping a fleet with different vehicle types. “A design that works well for vans may not work well for large trailers,” adds Franklin.
In these types of scenarios, Bulat’s team takes the initial design and adapts it to each individual vehicle. “This is a much more cost-effective way to project manage instead of redesigning from scratch in each case. All of these factors take time and time is money.”
Focusing on Media
Media matters, it’s discussed time and time again for any application and fleet wraps are no exception. Certain substrates make more sense for fleet wraps, especially from an economic standpoint. Also, the media choice is determined based on the type of common fleet vehicles.
In general, Jaycox believes the evolution of media composition over the last couple of years directly effects fleet wraps. “In the past, print providers, for the most part, where only offering cast vinyl and laminate solutions for fleet wraps. In the last couple of years, this has started to shift with the enhancement of polymeric adhesive vinyl, which is the more cost-effective option where higher margins can be made. Polymeric calendared vinyl is more economical and delivers excellent performance.”
For Bulat, it all comes down to price point and ease of installation—both of which are factors that equate to making a profit. “As the film and adhesive technology continues to evolve, we’re pretty in tune to keeping up and offering our installers and customers the best product for the application.”
Franklin points out that even though people think fleets are made up of tractor trailers, many include Sprinter and transit vans, cargo vans, box trucks, and passenger vehicles. “For applications with grooves and curves, it’s important to make sure highly conformable films are used to improve installation efficiency as well as the aesthetics. For trailer wraps, a variety of rivet types can pose installation challenges that providers should consider when selecting films.”
“The key difference in choosing cast or calendared is certainly in the type of vehicle. A car with complex curves requires a cast vinyl and laminate solution. However, vehicles like box trucks or semi-trailers are basically flat with a few rivets here and there that are easily—and economically—wrapped with a calendared vinyl,” continues Jaycox.
Media removal is also a consideration. “It’s important to consider the removability of material. Just as fleets need films applied efficiently, they also need films removed efficiently during rebrand projects,” says Franklin.
Removability is more important now than ever. In the past, fleet wraps were seen as long-term applications, but Daize points out that with millennials as the targeted demographic of a majority of messaging these days, these advertisements are becoming more dynamic.
“Food and beverage fleets—who are among the largest fleets that are wrapped—are looking to rebrand their fleets every one to three years to keep their message current. New materials are becoming available that are economical, easy to apply, durable for up to three years, and easily removed,” shares Daize.
To take on fleet wrap work, PSPs should be ready to scale up their business, from man power to equipment. Logistics and planning when working with fleets is overwhelming, but with the right amount support, the possibilities are endless.
Mar2020, Digital Output