What’s it cost to letter this vehicle?
Use experience to guide the estimating process
Posted on Saturday, August 22nd, 2020
Two yards of black intermediate vinyl film, with application tape: $6 CDN
6 sq. ft. of digital prints, with laminate: $54 CDN
Total materials: $60 CDN (or about $45 in US dollars)
Discuss project, design and prep file: 1 hour
Print/cut/weed: 1 hour
Clean/prep vehicle apply graphics: 1 ½ hours
Travel time: ½ hour
Total time: 4 hours
This vehicle belongs to a long-term client of mine. He has a growing company with a fleet of at least 20 trucks in their fleet. I’ve lettered them all, done their storefront signs and a lot of other work for them over the years. He’s a great customer. He knows what he likes and he appreciates good work.
Their logo was done probably 20 years ago, when the swoosh was popular. For this car, I modified the swoosh, making it heavier and bolder to update things a bit. Their name is long and the letter style is somewhat extended, so it makes a long graphic.
From a production standpoint, this is a very typical job. You work out the design, print and cut the graphics and do the application. In a shop like mine, these are the jobs you do every day.
Pricing your work is a challenge, but the first price you have to determine is your value—the value of your skills and experience. That factors into your hourly rate.
After 30 years in the business, I’ve arrived at a fairly simple estimating approach. I look at the job and decide if it’s a full day, half day or quarter day project. That translates to eight hours, four hours or two hours of labor.
Then I multiply that by my hourly rate to get my labor cost. I mark up the materials and add that. For a markup of digital prints, for example, I multiply my actual cost times five. So if digital print media and ink cost me about $1.80 per square foot, I mark that up to $9 per square foot for estimating purposes.