Design & Price: Graphics for a small fleet of dump trucks

By signcraft

Posted on Friday, November 19th, 2021

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In every issue, SignCraft gives a few sign makers an imaginary project. We ask them to do a sketch of the sign they might have produced, and to quote a price for the job. Most of the details are left to the designer’s imagination. The object is to see how different sign makers approach the same project. Here’s the scenario these sign makers were given:

A local hauling company is expanding its fleet from one truck to four. Their old truck had basic vinyl lettering, but now they’d like “something nicer”. Make a sketch of what you might suggest and quote a price.

This appeared in the July/August 2007 issue of SignCraft. The prices have been adjusted for inflation.

Jack Keith, Keith Signs and Graphics, Cabool, Missouri

I approached this design with the customer’s likes and dislikes in mind. The owner is a “retro” type of person, with a leaning toward an almost nostalgia look. I established this by having the owner go over portfolio samples until I could determine colors and look. I priced the design phase, got a deposit, then returned to my design station and developed a sample I believed would suit their taste. The first showing was successful, which is fairly typical since I try to establish what the customer wants before I design.

I then determined pricing based on square footage for the graphic print and individual vinyl lettering. The pricing breakdown is as follows:

Design (flat fee, includes CD with image files): $667

Graphic Print $163 per door, for four trucks: $1304

Vinyl Lettering $62 per door, for four trucks: $496

Labor to install $34 per door, for four trucks: $272

Total: $2763 for four trucks

(Installation cost is based on work performed at our shop. Traveling to customer’s site would require an additional $65 per truck.)


Lane Walker, Solo Signs, Reno, Nevada

This is the type of sketch I do at my counter when I’m going over details with the truck owner. They enjoy watching it quickly appear on paper, and it gives them an idea of how it will look once it’s finished. But it’s rough enough that I can fine-tune it as I see fit.

The first truck would be around $750.

Three more would be around $600 each.


John Deaton, Deaton Designs, Harlan, Kentucky

Whenever a truck lettering customer comes in, my mind starts thinking, “Oooooo! Three, four colors! Some artwork! Maybe even a cartoon…” I really enjoy doing trucks and making them stand out. On this design, which was for a red truck, I would use premium vinyl for all the lettering, and a digital print for the cartoon. Sometimes I paint the cartoons or other artwork, but lately I’ve been using more digital prints.

I like using bright colors, without being too flashy or gaudy—the idea is to make the truck noticeable. Graphics bring even more attention to the layout, which in turn brings more attention to the truck, and as a result, to the business. Most truck owners are interested in making their vehicles stand out, so selling this type of job usually isn’t too difficult. The price for this layout, done in premium Oracal 751 vinyl and a digital print with laminate is as follows:

Two doors including DOT number: $600


Jeff Devey, Jeff’s Graphics, Twin Falls, Idaho

I usually start off by talking with the customer about his needs and making a few suggestions. Then I’ll do a quick sketch while they’re standing there at the front counter—just something rough to get the point across and still leave room for changes in the design.

For custom airbrushed truck lettering like the two examples above, we charge $475 per truck, so the total price for these four trucks (either design) would be $1900.The phone number would appear on the front fender, and the USDOT number would be at the bottom of the door.

Our per-vehicle pricing for truck lettering falls into four groups, and includes unit numbers, legal numbers, city, and phone numbers:

Single color vinyl, basic layout: $220

Two-color vinyl, basic layout: $260

Four-color custom vinyl, with fades, double outlines, shadow, etc.: $335

Airbrushed, hand-painted custom: $635




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