How to Start a Car Wrapping Business

The global car wrap industry reached nearly $6 billion in value in 2022. Most wraps were served to passenger cars, but buses and trucks almost make up a sizable percentage. Are you curious about how to start a car wrapping business? This article will examine the necessary steps like proper car wrapping business insurance, hiring employees, and calculating the business costs.

How Much Do Car Wrapping Businesses Make?

Car wrapping businesses make between $10,000 and $50,000 per month. You will charge around $3,000 to wrap a car for the customer. This cost includes the wrap materials and the labor. The amount you charge for a wrap will also depend on the make and model of the vehicle.

You will have an estimated 30% profit margin on your wraps. If you can maintain a busy shop, you can easily reach an annual salary between $30,000 and $60,000. The median salary in the US for a vehicle wrapper is $34,426. This number will vary by state.

State Average Annual Salary Average Hourly Rate
Alabama $30,530 $14.68
Alaska $38,449 $18.49
Arizona $32,603 $15.67
Arkansas $36,718 $17.65
California $36,071 $17.34
Colorado $36,447 $17.52
Connecticut $36,013 $17.31
Delaware $35,954 $17.29
Florida $29,917 $14.38
Georgia $31,187 $14.99
Hawaii $32,857 $15.80
Idaho $35,034 $16.84
Illinois $38,302 $18.41
Indiana $35,658 $17.14
Iowa $38,709 $18.61
Kansas $33,926 $16.31
Kentucky $37,173 $17.87
Louisiana $25,391 $12.21
Maine $37,653 $18.10
Maryland $40,080 $19.27
Massachusetts $37,392 $17.98
Michigan $36,198 $17.40
Minnesota $39,960 $19.08
Mississippi $30,469 $14.65
Missouri $34,894 $16.78
Montana $37,650 $18.06
Nebraska $37,830 $18.19
Nevada $34,545 $16.61
New Hampshire $35,223 $16.93
New Jersey $37,743 $18.15
New Mexico $32,155 $15.46
New York $36,826 $17.70
North Carolina $32,214 $15.49
North Dakota $33,959 $16.33
Ohio $34,465 $16.57
Oklahoma $28,281 $13.60
Oregon $35,648 $17.14
Pennsylvania $34,817 $16.74
Rhode Island $32,859 $15.80
South Carolina $33,735 $16.22
South Dakota $33,530 $16.12
Tennessee $32,787 $15.76
Texas $29,865 $14.36
Utah $37,124 $17.85
Vermont $35,806 $17.21
Virginia $32,067 $15.42
Washington $39,046 $18.77
West Virginia $30,749 $14.78
Wisconsin $38,056 $18.30
Wyoming $39,036 $18.77


How Much to Start a Car Wrapping Business?

Before you start the purchase process, the first step in learning how to start a vinyl wrap business is figuring out how much it costs. Starting your business will cost between $2,000 and $30,000, depending on how much you need to invest. Below are some example costs you should remember when starting your business.

Car Wrapper Business Expense Estimated Cost
Garage rental $1,500-$15,000
Equipment $1,500-$25,000
Employee wages $20,000 to $40,000 
Insurance coverage $700-$3,000
Business registration fees $0-1,000
Creating a website $100-$10,000

An auto worker heating the wrap of a vehicle.

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How to Start a Car Wrapping Business

You need a solid plan when researching how to start your car wrapping business. You should follow actionable steps like choosing a name, creating a website, registering your business, and more.


Choose a Name

The name for your business is a decision to take seriously. Once chosen, you are often stuck with your name because changing it is time-consuming. Some tips for choosing a name include:

  • Appeal to your brand: Your name should remind people of the brand angle you want your business to have. You could choose a name like “Custom Wraps” to emphasize the uniqueness of your business brand.

  • Make it searchable: Many customers will do research online before they choose to purchase business services. Your name should be easy to spell and unique enough that someone can easily find information about your business online.

  • Easy to pronounce: To make your business name memorable, you will want to choose a name that sounds good when spoken aloud. Customers will more likely recall the name when recommending you or telling a friend a story about their experience.

Create a Website

In modern times, a website is essentially required for most businesses. A survey by PR Newswire found that 76% of customers search companies online before they visit their business location. The steps to create a website include:

  • Purchase a domain: You can buy a domain name from services like Godaddy or Google domains. This is the address where customers can reach your site.

  • Pay for web hosting: Next, you must pay a company for hosting your website online. A web host stores your website data and manages the ability for web traffic to access your site.

  • Design your site: By using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace, you can design and build an attractive-looking website and include features like search pages and social media integration.

  • Add content: To increase your ranking on search engines, you will want to fill your website with content relevant to your customers. For example, you can include FAQs about your car wrapping business or produce blog posts covering common car wrapping topics.

Decide Your Target Customer

Your car wrapping business shouldn’t try to appeal to everyone. A smart business decision is to find a group of customers with similar interests and appeal to them with your brand. You will want to position yourself to meet these customers’ needs and be their number-one choice for car wrapping. Some customer types you should consider include:

  • Car enthusiasts: A car enthusiast takes pride in the vehicle they drive around in. They will seek out car wrapping services to get a customized vinyl wrap for their car that outwardly signals their uniqueness to other drivers.

  • Local businesses: A business will often employ a car wrapper to put their business branding on vehicles they use. For example, a pizza company will wrap delivery vehicles with their logo and slogans for making deliveries.

  • Business professionals: A business professional takes the look of their vehicle seriously because it is part of the first impression they make on clients. They will contact your car wrapping business for a durable vehicle wrap that resists scrapes and other vehicle damage while looking great.

Register Your Business

Once you use your business name instead of your personal name for services, you must register it as a legal entity. Some options for registering your business include:

  • Sole proprietorship: A sole proprietorship has low starting costs and keeps you as the business’s sole owner. Unlike a corporate structure, you will have pass-through taxation. This means you don’t have to worry about being double-taxed on business income. The downside of a sole proprietorship is that you are liable for business debts and lawsuits personally.

  • Corporation: A corporation is a separate legal entity owned by shareholders. By forming a corporation, you are protected from business liability and can raise money by issuing stocks. The downsides of corporations include stricter rules and being taxed on a corporate level.

  • Limited liability company: A limited liability company (LLC) retains pass-through taxation but also protects you from business liability like a corporation. Forming one is more expensive than a sole proprietorship but can have unlimited owners. Compared to corporations, LLCs can’t go public. This means they can’t issue stocks.

Get an EIN

For business activities like opening a business bank account and hiring employees; you must register your company with the IRS and obtain an employer identification number (EIN). To obtain an EIN, you must:

  1. Visit the IRS website and select your method of application. You can apply online, by fax, or by mail.

  2. Your business must already be registered as a legal entity to apply for an EIN.

  3. Apply by filling out a form asking questions about your business’s legal status, address, and the types of activities your business does.

  4. Submit your application. If you apply online, you will obtain your nine-digit EIN instantly. If you didn’t, you will likely wait a few weeks before receiving your confirmation form.

  5. File your EIN confirmation form away in your business documents.

Open a Business Bank Account

A benefit of starting an officially recognized business is that banks allow you to open a business bank account. You can use these accounts to apply for loans. Below are some common types of business bank accounts.

Business bank account Advantages Disadvantages
Business Checking Pay bills for your business in a separate account, track income, and have a professional-sounding account for customers to write checks to. Extra fees compared to personal checking accounts, monthly fees.
Business Savings Earn interest on deposited business income, risk-free investment. Hard to access funds, must maintain a minimum balance.
Money Market Easier access to funds than a savings account, potentially better interest rates than a savings account. Withdrawal limits, monthly fees, must maintain a minimum balance, interest rates fluctuate.
Merchant Services Process credit and debit cards for customers, can avoid processing checks. Transaction fees, have to use an ATM.


Hire Employees

Once your business expands, you will need help to do all the work. Set yourself up for success by employing capable workers to help with various tasks. Some employees to consider hiring include:

  • Bookkeepers: Your bookkeepers will manage the payments your business has to make. They can assist you with financial reports so you can make intelligent business decisions and balance the books. Bookkeepers can also manage payroll for your other employees.

  • Business assistants: A business assistant covers daily tasks like ordering office supplies, creating a business schedule, and supporting other employees. Your business assistants can also talk to customers and answer phone calls.

  • Wrap installers: Wrap installers clean the car before the installation process. They also help you apply vehicle wrap and other vehicle graphics to customer vehicles.

New businesses can put themselves out there and garner a first impression from their potential customers. Take advantage of this opportunity by investing in marketing and advertising strategies. You can use the following:

Advertisement Strategy Benefits Drawbacks
Influencer marketing Build trust with a social media influencer built-in audience Business reputation suffers if your influencer gets into a scandal.
Pay-per-click advertising Instantly expands your audience, and it is easy to change your message mid-campaign It can be costly as more people click; some users use ad-blocking programs to avoid getting served ads.
Search engine ranking Easy to target natural customers who are likely to buy, don’t need to buy ads Takes time to start benefitting your business, can be fierce competition for your keywords.
Email marketing High return on investment, create personalized messages A spam filter may catch emails
Television/video advertising Instant credibility and visibility to customers in your area or wider It can be expensive to buy ad-time. Some video sites only allow video ads to run for a few seconds before they can be skipped.


What Equipment Do Car Wrapping Businesses Need?

To provide wrapping services to customers, you must invest in certain types of equipment. Below are some common equipment types you need.

Equipment Use Estimated Cost
Wrap pole Used to create tension when wrapping a vehicle. $50-$100
Adhesive promoter This tool makes it easier to make vinyl stick to low-energy surfaces $50-$500
Lamination machines Adds durability by thickening vehicle graphics $100-$7,000
Car buffers Protects your vehicle wraps from wear and scratches $30-$200
Printer cutter Cuts heat transfer vinyl $300-$14,000
Cleaning equipment Used to prep vehicles for vinyl wrapping. Includes air compressors, steamers, and power washers $300-$1,000
Application gloves Used to firmly set your vinyl wrap to the vehicle and smooth out curves without transferring the oil from your skin. $10-$30
Heat gun Warms vehicle surface to make vinyl transfer easier $30-300
Knives Cut vinyl to fit vehicles $10-$30
Lights Clearly illuminates the workshop area $100-$600
Riveting tools Car wrappers use tools like rivet brushes to help apply film around certain objects easier. $15-$50
Lifts Elevates a vehicle above the ground to help apply vinyl wrap easier $500-$1,000
Squeegees Applies film to a vehicle surface $10-$50
Vinyl cutting tape Trims excess film wrap without having to use a knife $10-$60
Wrap tweezers Necessary for installing film in hard-to-reach places $20-$50
Air release equipment Used to get rid of air bubbles and trapped air under vinyl $20-$100

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Insurance Requirements for Boosting Income

Choosing the right insurance policies is critical for your car wrapping business. You never know when an unexpected event will cause you massive financial loss. The following policies protect your business income from lawsuits, employee injuries, and physical damage to vehicles and property.


General Liability Insurance

Your general liability policy protects you from third-party claims related to bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage. For general liability coverage, we recommend Thimble. They make it easy to purchase through a simplified buying process. You can buy short-term general liability insurance set down to the month, day, or hour. Thimble has represented over $150 billion in coverage since being founded in 2016. They have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.


Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance will protect your business against negligence claims and other related claims due to business mistakes or omissions. An excellent provider of professional liability insurance is Hiscox. The company offers specialized protection for risks in your field. Their professional liability policy may also cover claims that arose before your policy was purchased. You may purchase coverage with a retroactive date as long as another carrier insured you before.


Commercial Property Insurance

Commercial property insurance protects your business building and equipment from physical damage events. The events covered typically include fire, theft, vandalism, wind, lightning, and explosions. CoverWallet is our recommended choice for commercial property insurance. They are a digital insurance platform with a selection of over ten top insurance names. CoverWallet sells policies from insurers like Hiscox, Progressive, Markel, Chubb, and more. The company has an A+ score from the Better Business Bureau.


Commercial Auto Insurance

Your commercial auto insurance covers your vehicles from damage and your business from accident liability. Commercial auto insurance typically has higher coverage limits than a personal auto policy. Personal auto policies also don’t cover the majority of work-related activities.

Tivly is an excellent insurance platform for buying commercial auto insurance. They match you with the right policy from over 200 insurance partner options. Tivly has over 20 years of experience in the online insurance industry.


Workers’ Compensation Insurance

A workers’ compensation policy is required in most states for businesses that hire employees. This policy protects your employees when they get injured or ill. It covers medical expenses and pays income when their working capacity is lessened due to injury. For workers’ compensation insurance, we recommend The Hartford. The company has been underwriting insurance for over 200 years and is highly trusted. Their workers’ comp policy grants your employees access to over 65,000 pharmacies and experienced nurse policy managers. These policy managers help coordinate your employee’s care to get them back to work quickly.


Business Owner’s Policy

A business owner’s policy is the most comprehensive option on the list. It combines the coverage of general liability and commercial property insurance. A BOP often includes business interruption insurance, which helps supplement income after your business shuts down or is interrupted due to an event like property damage. NEXT offers competitive rates for their business owner’s policy. Their BOPs offer the same protection you get from their general liability policy but are more convenient. They allow you to save money by bundling policies and get instant access to your online insurance certificates. NEXT has an A- rating from AM Best.

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