The Big Picture - January/February 2014 - (Page 11)

graphics on the go Subbing, Not Snubbing, Installers By Jared Smith A t our shop, we outsource approximately 10 percent of our vehicle-wrap installs. Yes, for the most part we rely upon our in-house install crew of about 30 installers around the country - after all, they've all but spoiled us with their record-setting speed and quality work. But there are some instances when it just makes more sense to outsource and use a subcontractor. In fact, subcontracted installers can become a pretty vital component of the wrap game. An outsourced install solution, when it's successfully managed, can definitely make or break a shop. I'm all for giving new installers a shot at our business, but to ensure we have the best possible experience when using a subcontractor, we've assembled a fourstep process. If we have a subcontracted install go wrong along the way, we've found that we can almost always trace it back to skipping at least one of these steps. Criteria and qualifications Our first step is to have set criteria of just when we should use a sub in the first place. These criteria will likely be different for every shop - but having it agreed upon and documented to your team is something all shops should certainly do. Our general rule of thumb: If the job is local, we'll use our own crew unless the current workload is bigger than we can handle. If the job is not local, but it's big enough or important enough, we'll also send our own crew. By "big enough," we usually mean multiple vehicles, all in one spot, that we can send a crew for at least three days. These jobs typically entail four to 50 vehicles; this generally seems to be the breaking point where it's more profitable to cover travel costs and still send our crew. By "important enough," we mean that the job is very high profile, or the price for failure is too high - as with a super-rushed NHRA vehicle. But even though sending one of our own installers might make us feel safer as it relates to cost and performance, it's sometimes just not practical. We'll almost always turn to a subcontractor on standard (easy) jobs that are remote, or even challenging jobs in a remote market where we have already-established relationships with talented and dependable contacts. The second step in our process is qualifying the subcontractor we're considering. There are many ways to get an opinion about the quality of your subcontractor. One starting point is to determine what associations or qualifications they have, via groups like United Application Standards Group ( or the Professional Decal Application Alliance ( I should point out that I have used installers that have one or more certifications, but I've also come across installers who have more certifications than skill; and I've used many installers - some who have turned out to be among the best in the industry - who don't belong to any associations or have any certifications whatsoever. So, again, this is just a good starting point. We then like to look at the installer's portfolio, their personal/company website, and consider their overall professionalism. We look at the format of the estimate they provide; is it hand written or in the body of an e-mail, or do they use a pro system to generate and track their quotes? At the end of the day, don't forget, you're hiring a company not an installer. This company needs to have a good track record, be fully insured, and be professional. They should be prepared to send you a certificate of insurance (COI) naming you as the additional insured, as well as forward to you a signed W9 form so they can be entered into your system as a vendor. Another checkmark in the plus column for a subcontractor is a personal referral from someone you trust. We've had a select few subs that have been on our favorites list for a long time and I don't see that changing any time soon. I gladly refer their names, and it's not because we have never had an issue with them - it's because they are pros. >46 Jared Smith is president of bluemedia (, a leading provider of design and printing for use in vehicle, large-format, and environmental applications, in Tempe, Arizona. 11

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Big Picture - January/February 2014

The Big Picture - January/February 2014
Wide Angle
Up Front
Graphics on the Go
Dynamic Signage: The Importance of Location and Content
Special Section: FOCUS 2014
From the Show Floor: SGIA and Print13

The Big Picture - January/February 2014