By Melissa Donovan
With the influx of wrap training and substantial growth in the market over the last ten years, print service providers (PSPs) continue to attend classes. The demand for wraps grows. New media and trends spark end user interest and consequently both inexperienced and experienced PSPs feel pressure to brush up on the latest information.
Most classes include a hands on element, which is something print providers respond to, as it allows them to get a true feeling for the process and media used. Choosing when and where to take a class shouldn’t be a light decision. There are considerations regarding travel, cost, and topic matter. In addition, more classes are going beyond install and instructing on how to sell the service, use the best tools, and design the most impactful wraps.
While vehicle wrapping is not a new application by any means. Many print providers are still looking to learn the trade or brush up on their current knowledge. Training classes continue to remain popular.
Demand for vehicle wraps is high as they move into automotive shops thanks to color change fi lms, which are more cost eff ective than painting. “Vehicle wraps are a standard tool in business marketing, as well as more popular for consumers, it’s no wonder there is a large spike for classes,” says Craig Campbell, market manager – graphic products, Orafol Americas.
With new market verticals being introduced, media portfolios consequently grow. Inexperienced and experienced PSPs are signing up for classes. “Because vehicle wrap designs must account for complex contours, curves, and rivets, there’s a level of complexity that constantly requires additional skill sets,” shares Jason Yard, marketing manager, Mactac Distributor Products.
Nate Place, technical service technologist, 3M Commercial Solutions, points out that the vehicle wrap community is very competitive. “The individuals who are truly committed and passionate about vehicle decoration and wrapping are continually trying to refi ne and polish their skills.”
Other reasons these classes have staying power, suggests Abby Monnot, marketing manager, Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions, are because they allow PSPs to network with other installers and share their experiences.
“Some attendees use these classes to learn how to better educate and train their apprentices as well,” adds Louie Calma, technical specialist – automotive, Arlon Graphics, LLC.
Hands-on classes are fairly common, but some classroom instruction is typical. Structure varies between course type and topic, as everyone learns differently. How long the class is held is also an important consideration. “Sign shops and installers respond best to hands-on classes. Graphic installation is a tactile, manual profession and improving upon technique requires plenty of physical practice,” says Monnot.
Campbell suggests a two day class as a healthy balance of classroom and handson training, especially for newer installers.
Robert Rundle, viscom market manager, Ritrama, says the company has had great success with small training groups set up for print providers who specifically want to master an application like car wrapping, fleet installs, wet apply window applications, or rough wall graphics.
“Most people look for a comprehensive class that hopefully doesn’t take them out of day-to-day work for too long,” adds Yard. That’s why Mactac set up an online community like Application Nation, where installers can visit 24/7 to learn about best practices and trends using either videos or reading frequently asked questions.
Weighing All Factors
Print providers need to consider travel, cost, and topic matter when choosing a training class. It’s important to look into a class’ description well before so you are prepared for whatever will be occurring during the time it is held.
“Skill level and business model should be considered when choosing a class. The area a PSP focuses their business on should direct them to the classes that best suit them,” suggests Marcio Oliveira, senior technical service engineer, 3M.
Calma points out just how large the range of classes are. “From basic to advanced to certification level; commercial, digital print wraps, or automotive restyling; and from manufacturers, industry organizations, or local distributors. Some classes cover multiple product lines and others are more focused on general signage, walls, vehicle wraps, or automotive restyling.”
Besides looking at the content of a class and how it will better serve the PSP and its business model, it’s also important to do a little research on who is holding the class, explains Campbell.
“I would say one of the main considerations is if the class is either provided by or at least supported by a media manufacturer. If you are considering a class offered by a third party that may feature several different media manufacturers, I would make sure to ask if they have gotten a blessing by the company whose material they are featuring,” he continues.
Beyond the Wrap
Besides the act of wrapping a vehicle, today’s classes also teach how to sell a service, trends, tool selection, and even design tips. These added topics really give the print provider incentive to take a class and gain a lot from it.
“Pricing and design are just as important as the installation skills. If a new print provider is just learning wraps, it’s important to consider how they are going to charge for and manage their offering to remain competitive in the market,” says Yard.
Understanding the product warranty is an important topic to cover in training classes, adds Rundle.
For example, in 3M’s classes, which include one and three day options, other things taught besides install include a background on the different tools used for application surfaces. “We talk about new products that are introduced to the market, as well as discuss the new trends in the paint industry and how the low volatile organic compounds affect the adhesive properties of products,” explains Oliveira.
Arlon’s WrapItRight training classes take a universal approach by discussing concepts beyond wrapping. “We demonstrate tools that significantly improve the efficiency and quality of projects. We also share some selling and upselling tips we learned from previous classes shared by attendees themselves. Since vehicles have curves, channels, and other obstructions, we always remind our attendees of the importance of the collaboration between the designer and the installer,” shares Calma.
Avery Dennison wrap classes cover pricing and promotion for shops and installers on the second day of each session. “In a labor intensive industry like graphic installation, pricing is important in keeping print shops profitable. Knowing how to sell services to customers can set print providers apart,” recommends Monnot.
In all of Orafol’s educational sessions, it strives to provide a thorough understanding of the overall market. This includes, according to Campbell, the approach to market from a business aspect, the materials used, the correct procedures in preparing the vehicle, and the application of the material to the vehicle.
Classes Pay Off
Based in Muskegon, MI, Graphiti Wraps has been business since 2006. The company employs one to five people at any given time, acting as a subcontracted installer for large format digital print shops. Chad Parrish, owner/operator, Graphiti Wraps, has attended several different training classes over the years including 3M Preferred Graphics Installer, Arlon WrapitRight Certified, Avery Dennison certified, Lowen Certified, and XPEL paint protective films certified.
Over the years he’s found he responds best to classes that involve hands-on, specialized training. “Being an installer, I learn best if I can physically play with film, not only will I get a feel for that particular material, its aggressiveness and tack level, but the longer I play with it I will then start to learn what its capable of by pushing and finding its limitations,” shares Parrish.
Understanding how various media reacts during the adhesion process is essential to expanding his installation technique. “Each and every vinyl installs differently, whether it has more initial tack than another or whether you have to use different finishing/install techniques, like a cold stretch versus a pre-stretch. Understanding how each film reacts makes you a better installer and provides the customer with a quality job,” continues Parrish.
While some of the more obvious benefits of attending a wrap training class include learning about new trends and tools, Parrish finds that one of the more stand out reasons to attend is the opportunity to talk shop with various other owners and installers from across the country. Just speaking with peers presents additional learning opportunities, whether in a discussion recounting a difficult wrap experience and how the challenges were overcome or simply catching up on skill levels.
When it comes time to choose a wrap training class, Parrish almost always books one that is 100 percent offsite from his shop. He believes this allows him to focus on the training with no distractions. In addition, he prefers classes that are held for two to five days, which provides the appropriate amount of class and hands-on time with instructors.
“When I look at a training class, I look at not only how I can benefit, but how my company will benefit as well. Travel and cost stay back of my mind. I know the money I put forth for the training will pay itself off in the future,” explains Parrish.
Businesses that invest the time and money in a wrap training class will almost always benefit from the experience. Today’s classes offer install and beyond to cater to all levels of professionals.
Sep2016, Digital Output