I was talking with Gary Meunier — one of our national account managers — about a bid we made to remove graphics from a fleet of vehicles, which a company was preparing to return at the end of a lease agreement. We didn’t install the graphics, but we are one of the few companies trained and prepared to properly remove the lowest bid decals they had purchased. Unfortunately, it would cost as much to remove the decals as what they paid to have them installed. The reason the removal was so costly is the provider didn’t use the correct adhesive vinyl material for the job.

The wrong material

They used a less expensive material. The vinyl was manufactured with a more permanent adhesive, which is difficult, labor intensive, and time consuming to remove. The company didn’t know, at the time of purchase, that the decals would need to be removed chemically or sanded off. These methods can cause so much surface damage that repainting becomes necessary.

The Dark Side of Vehicle Graphics 

“It’s a sad event when anyone or anything turns to the dark side. When short cuts are taken instead of projects given the due diligence needed to achieve the best results. When best practices are pushed aside for expediency, or experience and know-how are down played and ignored; that’s when the dark side looms. Okay, I might be a little melodramatic. Maybe. But there are amateurs as well as vehicle graphics providers that live on the dark side. They only thing they provide is disappointment.” — Vehicle Graphics Gone Bad

It’s Not the First Time We’ve Heard this Story

Unfortunately, we hear this story time and time again. Such as in this video from Terry Wells, the transportation manager for Knott’s Fine Foods  “We choose TKO Graphix for our trailer wraps because the work another provider did three years ago is coming apart. See these rivets; the other people didn’t do a professional job like this (TKO Graphix work)” Here’s video of what Terry had to say, Knott’s Wholesale Foods Trailer Wrap. “

“I was chatting with a new customer, Jeff Moody, from Paris Illinois. His family farms more than 5,000 acres, and among other things, they own and operate a trucking company with more than a half-dozen trucks, trailers, and dedicated drivers. My point is they stay busy. So, I asked Jeff, why they’d driven their 53-foot trailers all the way to Indianapolis from Paris, Ill. Jeff told me he came to us because it was better to have it done right the first time. He had heard of us from friends who had used us. He wanted to avoid costly vehicle graphics mistakes.

His story was something I’ve heard often in my nine years with TKO Graphix; he shared that another provider had wrapped his fleet vehicles with an inferior product and it was coming off. Not only was it bubbling, ripping, and pulling away, but adhesive and pieces of vinyl were stuck to the trailers. It was difficult to remove without damaging the vehicle’s finish. (They found a citrus-based cleaning product that helped.)

Scott told me the provider had previously installed decals for Moody Farms and they were fine. However, although the wraps looked good, they started coming apart at the seams. I took an educated guess that a noncompliant material designed for flat decals was used on the wrap. A full wrap requires compliant material that can be heated and formed around curves. Noncompliant material is less expensive, but if used for the wrong application costs the customer more in the long run.” — How to Avoid Costly Vehicle Graphics Mistakes

What’s the Point? 

My point is take your time and do your research. The lowest bid is not necessarily the best. Here are some additional points to consider:

  • How will this vehicle be used?
  • Is it for promotional purposes?
  • Is it for daily use?
  • Will it be part of a fleet?
  • What is the lease agreement/obligations at the end of the lease?
  • How long will the graphic be needed?
  • What will happen to the vehicles at the end of the lease?
  • Who will remove the graphic at the end of the lease?

Using the Right Material?

There are two primary types of adhesive vehicle wrap material. One, calendared, is for short term use the other called cast is more flexible for multiple uses. “The term “cast” refers to the manufacturing process of this type of vinyl. Making a cast vinyl film is a lot like baking a cake. The vinyl begins with a “recipe” calling for a list of ingredients known as the formulation.

  • Shrinkage is the lowest of all vinyl films because the “casting sheet,” not the film itself, is pulled through the machine. Since the film has not had any stress applied during the manufacturing process it does not try to resume or shrink back to its original form.
  • Durability of cast films is generally higher than that of other vinyl films due to the manufacturing method and the raw materials used.
  • Cast films can be made very thin, which produces a conformable product that allows application over substrates with rivets, corrugations, and complex curves. Also, once applied, this low caliper makes the graphic less vulnerable to abrasive forces.
  • Cast films also maintain their color and other properties better than other vinyl films. This results in better performance of pigments and UV absorbers.
  • The manufacturing process of cast films makes it easy to run small productions of special colors to match. It is relatively easy to change color during production making color matching in small batches possible.” — Sign Industry.com — Cast vs. Calendered Vinyl 

Wait, There’s More! 

The low bid mistake not only affects the removal of the adhesive vinyl, but cheap material doesn’t hold up to the rigors of harsh road conditions, inclement weather, and everyday use like a quality material will.

“Recently while commuting to work, I was stopped behind a local retailer’s delivery truck. The retailer  markets to an upscale niche, and their brick and mortar outlets are well-designed, tastefully decorated, and impeccably maintained. They offer excellent service, customer follow-up, and after-market training. However, the box truck sent another message. It shouted, “WE ARE SECOND-RATE!” When it comes to vehicle graphics a bad message is worse than no message. 

Wait, what’s the phone number? 

The back of the truck originally had the company’s name, web address, and phone number. I say, “originally,” because that’s not what I saw. The phone number was missing a digit and other numbers were loose or scratched. Two characters were missing from the web address.

This did not speak of quality. It spoke of disregard. So why would an upscale retailer with outstanding professionalism let this truck reflect adversely on their image? My guess is they see the vehicle as “just” a delivery truck, and not the rolling billboard it is.” — Vehicle Graphics a Bad Message is Worse Than No Message

Don’t Make the Low Bid Mistake

Don’t be one of the customers that come to us because of making the low bid mistake. Cheapest isn’t always the best way to go. I’ll take it even further, the cheapest is almost never the best value. And if you value your organizations’ image you’ll avoid the low bid mistake. If we can be of any assistance or if you’d like a bid Contact Us.  And just so you know, we might not be be the cheapest.