It’s nearly mid-2019. Another trip around the sun has just begun. How did your business treat you in 2018? How did you treat it? Now’s a good time to look back and see where you can make improvements. If you’re in the service industry, consider the impression your vehicle fleet makes on the members of your community.
“A high-quality truck wrap is one of the cheapest, most effective forms of marketing available to heating and cooling contractors,” said Gary Nolt, president of Cassel, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based sign and vinyl shop with 18 employees. “If you break down the number of impressions a vehicle wrap provides, divided by the cost and lifespan of the wrap, the average cost per one thousand impressions is $.15. Compare that to $5.92 for radio advertising, $11.66 for a quarter-page newspaper ad, or $20.54 for a prime time TV spot.”
Cassel wraps or letters roughly 500 service vans each year—it makes of 35 percent of their business. The company was founded in 1945, and has progressed from hand-lettering furniture and trucks to become a one-stop-shop branding, design and display company. Custom vinyl vehicle wraps are what they specialize in, from Smart Cars to semi-trailers.
“My father in law started in the family business when he was 15 years old,” said Nolt. “I’ve been here for 22 years. As a matter of fact, my very first project here was the Burnham Racing trailer. That was in the spring of 1996 I purchased the company in 2012, and we recently opened a second location.”
During his two decades with the company, one of the biggest changes Cassel has witnessed is the marketing mindset of service contractors. It’s one of the reasons that Cassel has made a strong shift from sign production to vehicle wraps.
“Everyone is busy right now, so it would almost make sense to think companies would be trimming their marketing budgets a little,” said Nolt. “But the opposite is true. It’s a branding war out there, and nobody can afford to give up an inch. This is the prevailing mindset today.”
After providing truck wraps for a company that hasn’t used them in the past, Cassel gets the same kind of feedback regularly. First and foremost, business owners say that the phone rings more often.
“Contractors tell me that their customers comment on how frequently they notice their wrapped trucks around town,” said Nolt. “They own one or two vans and customers think they own five or 10.”
He explained that trucks with a fresh wrap also go a long way to boost the driver’s pride and professionalism. Most employees tend to take better care of a nice looking vehicle.
“Many contractors come to us because they want to increase their brand awareness, so branding is where we start,” said Nolt. “If a new logo is needed, we can help. If they have a good logo, or if they want to update an existing image, we can work with that, too. There’s really no limit to the process, but we want to help them achieve consistency across all platforms. The message they deliver visually should be current and forward thinking.”
“If you’re going to market yourself, you ought to do it well,” he continued. “If the service you provide is good, shouldn’t your image convey as much?”
The designers at Cassel are excellent at creating a look and scaling it to fit a canvas, whether that canvas be a business card or a brand new box van. But it helps if the customer already have an idea of what they would like to accomplish. At the very least, the service company should know what they don’t like.
“If you’re grasping at straws and starting out fresh, spend some time on Google,” explained Nolt. “What catches your eye? Or, on the flip side of the coin, what makes you cringe? Then identify what it is about those designs that makes you feel the way you do. When you come to a shop like ours, it will help if you already have some direction in mind, even if it’s a vague concept.”
While budget is obviously a consideration, it’s not a limiting factor. Cassel insists that there’s a solution for every budget, from small lettering panels to massive, fully wrapped fleets.
“We really try to over-serve customers, even when the budget is small,” said Nolt. “If we provide a good product, and they go out and succeed with it, they’ll be back for more later on.”
To keep things simple, truck lettering and wrapping options are broken into packages: lettering packages, partial wraps & full wraps. Based on the color of the vehicle and the design of the wrap, the appearance of a full wrap can sometimes be achieved without the full cost.
“If the simplest of designs and a small budget will help you grow your brand, we want to help,” said Nolt. “That might only be the company name and number in a nice font. The only thing we discourage is magnets. We can and do make magnets, when requested, but we feel as though magnets tell the world that you’re in this business temporarily. And that’s not a message you want to convey.”
Modern truck wraps are made of specialized vinyl, 2mm thick with a 1.3mm UV laminate over top. Cassel has a large format printer that can print up to 64” wide. The state-of-the-art printer can produce almost any color at all. A paint reader is used to match vehicle colors, if needed.
Once a design is created and the customer signs the project, the physical work begins.
“A full wrap typically takes a week or two, start to finish,” said Nolt. “Customers will often buy new trucks or vans and bring them directly here from the lot. But in a situation where the van is needed immediately, we can make it happen a lot more quickly.”
Before installation, vehicles are meticulously washed. Door handles and lights are removed, and the whole exterior is wiped down with alcohol. Only then is vinyl applied. After the material is adhered to the body of the vehicle, heat is applied to the edges and stretched areas.
“Like all technologies and products, vinyl has progressed rapidly in the past decade,” explained Nolt. “The material we use requires a 24 to 48 hour bonding period. When first installed, the bond between vinyl and truck exterior is mild, so it’s easier to work with. After settling for a day or two, that bond becomes much stronger.”
The vinyl used today also has microscopic air channels on the backside, allowing the installer to push air bubbles out without much trouble.
In an effort to provide value to the customer, Cassel has done a lot of research on which ink products last the longest. How long a truck wrap lasts will depend on a number of factors, primarily how the vehicle is cared for and the number of miles it’s driven.”
“High pressure washing a wrapped vehicle is fine, but it should be done carefully and sparingly,” explained Nolt. “Generally keeping the truck clean protects the wrap, but that’s something you should be doing anyway, for the sake of the company image.”
A quality, well-installed truck wrap will last roughly the service life of the vehicle, up to 10 years. Wraps look very good for easily five to seven years. Imagine how many customers see your vehicle in a seven year period.
“I like to think that Cassel has grown for the same reason a lot of our customers have grown: we provide an excellent product at a great value,” said Nolt. “But there’s another part of the equation. I’m surrounded by a lot of really bright, ambitious, trustworthy people. I credit Cassel’s success to the team of people that work here. We are a big family. I’m grateful for them, and I’m grateful for the solid business-to-business heritage here in Lancaster.”