How Long Do Vehicle Graphics Take?

Well, that’s a good question because a lot of people are looking for the answer, but instead of giving you a generic answer, let’s dive deeper into this question.

I recently asked our sales staff, “What’s on the minds of our customers?” I learned a few of the most asked questions from customers are…

However, according to our staff, the number one question our customers ask is, “How long do vehicle graphics take?” That’s a really good question since time is money for your commercial fleet of vehicles, but custom products such as vehicle wraps and graphics take time for consultation and design, production and finishing, and finally installation of your graphics. It’s not a one size fits all product.

“Just Answer the Question, Already!”

How Long Do Vehicle Graphics Take?

Typically, it takes two to three weeks to design, produce, and install custom vehicle graphics; however, it depends on several factors. Here are some of the things that will affect the time of completion.

  • Is it a full wrap, partial wrap, or decals?
  • Are there old adhesive vinyl vehicle graphics that need to be removed?
  • Does it require any repair work?
  • Do you have print ready artwork or will you need graphic design services?
  • How many vehicles are receiving graphics?
  • Where are the vehicles located? Are they all in one location?
  • When will the vehicles be available for vehicle graphics installation?

All of these factors affect the process and timeline. For instance, a large fleet rebrand project we completed for a transportation company took eight months to complete. However, it was more than 17,000 pieces of semi-trailers and tractors that needed old graphics removed, new graphics applied, and the vehicles were scattered across North America.

Rushing the Project

Sometimes customers will come to us with a rush job. And I have to say overall, we’re really good at accommodating customer’s needs, but we never rush so fast as to affect the quality of our product. Yes, time is money, but poor quality can cause problems for customers and for us.

Rushing your project is not always the best way of getting your projects done. Have you noticed graphics on the road such as vehicle wraps, signs, and billboards, that looked rushed? Think about this, is a rushed, poorly executed, fleet graphic how you want your organization represented and remembered?

For example, on my way home from work, there’s a bench by a bus stop with advertising. The phone number is one digit short — it looks rushed!

I remember seeing a yard sign in my neighborhood for a home remodeling company with a very small font. It couldn’t be read from ten feet away, let alone while driving by it. Was it rushed?

As I look out my window onto the busy road, I see far too many vehicles that have no clear message on their graphics. Should you rush something consumers will be looking at for several years?

You may want to know how long do vehicle graphics take, but how long does it take to do it right?

What Variables Affect the Time Needed for Vehicle Graphics?

Raw Materials
Material procurement can slow the process; however, if a specific material will do a better job, or is more cost effective, is it worth the wait? Yes, because there are different vinyl graphics materials used for specific purposes. Having an experienced graphics manufacturer choose the correct material for your specific project is imperative.

Here’s an example of some of the many Adhesive Vinyl Graphics Products available from 3M, the leading adhesive vinyl manufacturer.

Here are a few questions to answer before the vehicle graphics design process begins.

  • Who will create the design?
  • Are there brand guidelines?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is your USP (Unique Sales Position)?
  • What is your CTA (Call to Action)?

Designing a three-dimensional graphic takes forethought, precision, and attention to detail. Remember, your vehicles are not flat surfaces, and there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration so the final installation of the graphics fit properly on the vehicle and avoid obstacles like trim, door handles, and gas cap covers.

Vehicle Preparation

Vehicle prep includes thoroughly cleaning the vehicle so that no debris, dirt, solvents, or contaminants remain. Prepping a vehicle for graphics installation is a critical step in installing vehicle graphics and should never be rushed or short cut. Here’s a short explanation of the vehicle preparation process.

Clean the vehicle using a 50/50 mixture of water and Isopropyl Alcohol and be sure to use lint-free rags. Use one rag to apply the alcohol, and another to dry. If the vehicle is really dirty, you might consider washing the car first with soap and water, then cleaning with the 50/50 mix. If old graphics were removed from the vehicle, some residual adhesive will remain on the surface. Use a citrus based cleaner to remove the adhesive, then follow up with Isopropyl Alcohol to eliminate the citrus. Before applying the decal, inspect the surface for debris, lint, or moisture.

What Else Can Slow Down the Vehicle Graphics Process?

  • Missing information, such as complete details of the vehicle model, year, trim package, and after-market equipment, can certainly delay the project.
  • Order changes can slow the process.
  • Unsuitable artwork that needs to be cleaned up before using.

What Can Customers Do to Shorten the Time Needed?

  • Do your homework and have a design or message in mind before the process begins. Multiple design changes, while acceptable, may add cost and time to the project.
  • Make your expectations clear.
  • Share complete and accurate information about your vehicle(s).

Taking the Time to Do It Right

When asked about TKO’s philosophy on setting up realistic customer expectations, Denny Smith, COO of TKO Graphix said, “We process 600-800 orders per month, and all of them are custom (produced), and none of them can be used for another. Our salespeople try to communicate what is realistic, and not what they think the customer wants to hear. Telling someone what they want to hear, and not the truth, only leads to empty promises and damaged relationships every time.”

If we can answer any questions, let us know, and if you need help with design, print, or installation, Contact Us, or you can request a quote today!

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TKO Graphix is a national fleet and vehicle graphics company helping customers since 1985. We provide full-service graphics solutions such as design, digital printing, screen printing, installation and removal of fleet graphics, vehicle graphics, and commercial graphics.