Posted on Tuesday, December 8th, 2020
We recently asked Trade Secrets readers what they would charge to letter the doors on a double-cab pickup like the ones shown here. Nearly 400 sign pros shared their selling prices for a job, assuming the customer provided the logo,
and also a price for the design if the customer didn’t have one already. Many thanks to all of you who took the time to help out!
Let’s start with the prices. The average selling price was $447 for both sides of the pickup and the tailgate. As you can see, there was a wide range of prices, but about 70% fell between $300 and $600.
For reference, if you estimated this job using our web app, SignQuote Pro, with an hourly shop rate of $85, the price would be $502. ($377.50 for the doors and $124.50 for the tailgate.) If you don’t already use SignQuote Pro, be sure to give it a try using your own shop rate.
The average selling price of a basic design for a customer who didn’t have a logo already was $300. About 70% came in at $400 or less.
Along with these two selling prices, we also asked some basic information about the sign maker’s business, market and experience.
Most of those who participated were owners of sign businesses. Over half, 58%, were owners of commercial sign shops (primarily non-electric signs) and nearly a third (29%) owned full-service sign shops (both electric and non-electric signs).
They were experienced. Almost 80% had been involved in the sign business for 11 years or more:
Almost 70% letter three or more trucks per month:
Every type of market was represented. Here’s how they described their markets:
Two-thirds have employees. About half have 1 to 3 employees, and about a third work alone:
Digging a little deeper into the prices
Interestingly, the average selling price for the truck using the customer-provided logo increased as the shops did more trucks per month. For a shop that does 3 to 5 trucks per month, the average was $416. For shops that did 6 to 8 trucks per month, the average was $455. For shops that did 9 or more, the average was $500.
Less experienced sign makers tended to charge less. The average selling price of those with under two years in the industry was $382. With two to five years in the industry, the average rose to $410. At 11 or more years in the industry, the average was up to $456. These averages were all assuming the customer provided their logo.
Market size mattered, too. In large urban areas, the average selling price of a truck done with the customer-provided logo was $490. Among shops in suburban areas or mid-sized towns, the average was $446. For those in rural areas, the average dropped to $421.
What they had to say
Many of the respondents shared their comments on the subject of pricing, and we wish we had room to share them all here. (Thanks, too, for the suggestions on survey improvements. We’ll put them to work on the next one.) Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:
“Truck design and logo development should be seen as two different products. A nice design could be $250 to $500 plus any graphics. Logo development, which is creating a design for long-term use company-wide, would involve a marketing discussion to be able to design with the client’s target customer and goals in mind.”
“I included a little sales, admin, production, art time and a good half-day for production. Our ‘basic design’ is a few rough ideas and two refinements.”
“I used the Signcraft Sign Pricing Guide, adjusted for our area.”
“This is my estimate, but as you and all your readers know, there are always variables that come into play to determine final price.”
“Each truck had different difficulty levels so each needed different pricing. I would price the white truck at $400 and the red one at $550. For a logo, I charge $65 per hour for computer time, plus $200 to $500 if they choose to buy the copyright for the design from me.”
“We just did one of these trucks. It was a little more involved and included contact info on the utility boxes, the tailgate and a panel with lettering across the bottom of the two doors. I charged $670 for that job.”
“The white truck uses two colors. The red truck uses three colors and smaller dimensions. If color matching on both these trucks can be served with cut vinyl, we would produce it that way. Otherwise, we would print, laminate, and contour-cut film which would increase material cost, but decrease the installation labor.”
“These two truck designs involve different labor and processes. Reimer is very forgiving with two-color registration and likely cut solid color vinyl. Reese is tightly registered three-color work and is better produced with a contour-cut digital print. That makes the results of the survey variable and likely full of errors as we can’t define the difference for each design. For me, Reimer would be $750 and Reese would be $950 digital print or $1050 in cut vinyl.
“This is more complex than it looks! If the Reimer file is ready-to-cut, that’s great, but are they stock vinyl colors? The SolarLight logo on the box would likely be a digital print, with contour cut, which is a whole ‘nuther job! But okay, you said doors and tailgate only, right?
“Reese Electrical could be a three-color vinyl job or a digital print with a tight contour cut. My machine won’t reliably do that, so I’d have to farm that one out.
“Logo design has always been a tough sell here. We’re lucky to get a couple hours for an art charge rolled into a job. Then a year later, the guy goes to some printer and pays $500 for a new logo that is impossible to reproduce as a sign, then gives you artwork done for the brochure in InDesign, which takes hours to unmask and make cuttable for us. Ahhhh, after 37 years, some things never change!”