The U.S. automotive wrap films market size is expected to be valued at $4.3 billion by 2028, a compound annual growth rate of over 18% since 2021, driven by rising consumer spend on automobile customization. Find all you need to know on how to open a car wrapping business below.
What is a car wrapping business?
Car wrapping is when you cover a car, either fully or partially, in a special vinyl film. It’s designed to help people change the look of their car without having to pay huge sums of money for a full respray.
With vinyl wrapping, you can change how your car looks, either with a new color, new design or a new texture, like matt or gloss. Car wrapping also allows for a lot of the colors, textures and designs that couldn’t be replicated with a traditional respray and its associated costs.
A car wrapping business charges a car owner a fee to complete this tricky procedure and ensure the wrap is perfectly fitted and weather tight to avoid rusting. Car wraps can start as low as $2,000 for a small two-door car to $3,500 for larger coupes and SUVs to $10,000 for more exotic wraps.
Training needed to open a car wrapping business?
Starting a vehicle wrap business involves the use of a number of tools including a plotter, printer and lamination equipment with all of the related accessories. You can become a certified vehicle wrapping expert for about $1,000 depending on the materials included in the class.
Most of the instruction is hands-on with expert installers who train you with computer programs along with cutting and installation techniques. Contact a reputable car wrap or graphics dealer to discuss training options.
In addition to learning how to actually apply vinyl truck signs, wraps and decals, you’ll need to learn how to design them. This requires some knowledge of design and design software. You’ll probably need to get acquainted with software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
The former is most popular because it creates vector files, which means the files can be easily scaled to be large enough to fit on the side of a tour bus without pixelation.
Apart from the above, having knowledge of automotive detailing or auto repair experience is a plus, but not a necessity. General carpentry, seamless siding and sheet metal skills are helpful as well, thus undertaking a course in your local college or school will certainly grow your skill set.
5 tips for opening a car wrapping business business
1 – Find a location
You must take the time to study where you want to open up your car wrapping business, who you will be targeting, why vehicles do they drive and more.
The building needs to be large enough to house vehicles being worked on, plus at least 14 feet in height to allow for tall vehicles like trucks that you could potentially wrap. The building needs good cross-ventilation because of the fumes emitted from the lamination machine and adhesives being used and climate controlled for the best results using vinyl materials.
To save money and improve profits, you may want to work from your own garage. However, that will limit the number of vehicles you can work on, slowing down profit opportunity.
If you’re not ready to rent a commercial space, you can launch this sort of business out of a garage or spare bedroom and travel to customers. Once you make enough money, you can upgrade.
2 – Purchase your equipment
Automotive wrap films are of two types: cast vinyl films and calendered vinyl films. The raw materials used for manufacturing wrap films include PVC and other added ingredients such as plasticizers, pigments, and UV absorbers, which you’ll need to purchase sufficient amounts of.
PVC is generally a very rigid polymer and requires plasticizers to make it flexible for use. Plasticizers can be classified as monomeric and polymeric. Pigments and UV absorbers are used to improve films’ resistance and against UV radiation.
When starting a car-wrapping business, you can either:
- Design the graphics on your own & hire a third party to print them
- Buy your own equipment and print them yourself
Plenty of artists order out prints, but launching a full-fledged print shop can be more lucrative if you have enough business. This also opens up an additional revenue stream: printing vinyl truck signs and vehicle wraps for other artists who don’t have the equipment.
If you are planning to make your own car decals and print them on-site, you’ll need to invest in a plotter, printer and lamination equipment (all of which require training to operate). A laminator large enough for wraps can cost more than $2,000 depending on the model.
An entry-level sign printer can cost more than $15,000. Your business will not be able to survive long term with entry-level equipment.Make sure to invest in quality equipment to stand out from your competitors.
3 – Work on your finances
Your project is developing now but you’ll need to firm up on the figures. For this, you’ll need to develop a business plan for your car wrapping business project and its financial plan. This is an essential step to ensure the success of your business.
It lists all your expenses and allows you to estimate your revenues. The business plan will allow you to validate the profitability of your project. This is when you can decide if you need to use financing solutions and which particular options would work best: Bank loan, crowdfunding, investors or something different.
The business plan is generally required by the banks or other financial partners from which you apply for financing and therefore should be clear, precise and complete. You may need a business starter loan from your local bank, Credit Union or avail or start your business with loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration.
Good to know: The budget needed to open a car wrapping business depends on the investments needed for the premises and its layout, the equipment, the cash requirement at launch and more. Prospective owners should budget an estimate of at least $50,000 depending on the above items.
4 – Equip yourself with the right business tools
To ensure your business runs smoothly, it’s in your best interest to equip yourself with powerful and efficient tools. In particular, you’ll need to:
- Open a business bank account
- Obtain a POS system to allow customers to pay with card
- Use accounting software to record day-to-day financial transactions and/or use an online accountant
- Choose a cash register software
From an inventory point of view, you should consider your:
- Garage – Layout and rental
- Equipment – Purchase of a plotter, printer, lamination equipment, accessories
- Personnel – number of staff required and training costs
5 – Market your business
As your established business or your new car wrapping business gets ready to open the doors, you will want to invest in marketing your car wrapping business like crazy! Marketing like crazy doesn’t have to be expensive however but it should be well-thought-through.
Take care of the basics like developing your logo and brand, build your car wrapping website with a web design service like Fiverr, open your social media accounts, and reach out to bloggers and local media.
Communicating about your activity and collecting the opinions of your customers is a good solution to engage your customers in your project and to improve yourself, always with the pursuit of customer satisfaction.
A Google Business page and a presence on social networks are good ways to talk about your car wrap business, attract new customers, retain them and create a community around your activity.
Choose a couple of platforms and learn them in and out. For a car wrapping business, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook are excellent. If you spend time on social media, be sure to post content for when your followers are most active to maximize the engagement.
Ensure your images that you post on Instagram are eye-catching, photos that will make your audience stop scrolling and click onto your profile to see more.
Your car wrapping business Grand Opening
Having a “grand opening” weekend or month will drive community awareness, buzz, and excitement. Your grand opening should be the start of your year-long marketing plan to introduce yourself to your automotive community and your customers. Hook them in with deals, referrals fees and benefits and stay laser-focused on building relationships.
Partner with window tinting service providers and car detail shops, or add these services yourself as they are natural additions to your product line. Seek body shops and customer car dealers for leads and offer a referral bonus for finding clients for your business.
Regulations for opening a car wrapping business?
To open a car wrapping business, you’ll need to pay attention to certain business obligations and requirements. Obtain education and training from a certified trade school or apprenticeship program.
Your state’s department of licensure or local electrical union representative can advise you on training and education requirements in your area. Obtain your state electrician’s license by taking the exam and filing necessary paperwork.
Contact your state’s department of licensure for specific information. Take business and accounting courses at a local continuing education school to learn about running a business to ensure you stay on the right side of the law
Business structure for opening a car wrapping business?
When setting up a car wrapping business, you’ll need to think about what business structure will work best.
Many prospective business owners find themselves lost in the complexity of understanding and indeed choosing between an LLC, a sole proprietorship, a partnership or another alternative.
In the case of car wrapping business, we advise you to choose one of these legal forms:
- A Limited Liability Company (LLC) for one or multiple owners
- S-Corp, which is a tax choice made to have your business taxed according to Subchapter S of Chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Service Code.
LLC’s are often preferred as, unlike a sole proprietorship, their business structure in the U.S. protects its owners from personal responsibility for its debts or liabilities. You’ll also need to register for a federal tax ID and collection of sales tax.
An attorney or accountant can also explain to you how to open a car wrapping business or you can choose a professional company formation service. These services offer excellent legal advice and business formations at a fraction of the price of a traditional attorney.
Is the car wrapping business profitable?
Car wrapping is indeed a profitable business with wraps averaging between $2k – $10k and relatively low startup costs, the path to profitability is clear and an excellent business idea in an industry expected to be valued at $4.3 billion in the U.S. by 2028.
Is a car wrap good investment?
A vehicle wrap is a great investment for your business or personal use. It creates a more professional appearance for your company and can help generate new leads. For personal customers, it’s far cheaper than a respray, looks slick and preserves your paintwork.
How much can you make wrapping your car?
Drivers can earn between $100 to $450 from companies such as Carvertise and StickerRide for wrapping their car with a company advertisement. The amount can depend on how much you drive and how big of an ad you put on your vehicle.
Tom is the founder of Gottagrow.io. He reads the offers, deciphers the details including features, pricing, included services and more to find you the best products and services.