The Big Picture - January/February 2014 - (Page 11)
graphics on the go
Subbing, Not Snubbing, Installers
By Jared Smith
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 (uasg.org) or the Professional Decal
Application Alliance (pdaa.com). 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
(bluemedia.com), a leading provider of
design and printing for use in vehicle,
large-format, and environmental applications,
in Tempe, Arizona.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Big Picture - January/February 2014
The Big Picture - January/February 2014
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