Fleet image important, but company must deliver

I’ve done business recently with a couple of companies that I didn’t know anything about, but I liked the look of their trucks and took a chance. Image isn’t everything, but when you’re a local business you’re missing opportunities if the fleet doesn’t carry your brand into the streets.Van graphic

Since we’ve been talking about fleet graphics here on HWT recently, I’ve been paying a little more attention around town to how some of the area’s businesses present themselves through their trucks.

I don’t anticipate needing to do serious construction work anytime soon, but if I needed a dump truck I’d certainly make a call to a business just down the road: the fleet of bright red Pete 379 dump trucks are always clean and shiny, and lined up impressively. That’s a company that takes pride in its equipment, so I’d bet it takes pride in its work as well.

And that’s why, just last week, when a man knocked at my door wanting to talk about removing some limbs, I didn’t immediately go to my default response: “My wife makes all those decisions and she’s not here.” Of course, most often, this is guy knocking at the door drives an old pickup, dragging along a ratty utility trailer with a hand-lettered business name on the truck door. But this time I saw a well cared-for medium-duty truck equipped with a bucket lift and serious winch, and with the company name and contractor’s license info plainly displayed.

Turns out, he was driving of one the two trucks in the family company and they’re not afraid to get out and hustle-up new business at the end of the day. His pitch was pretty good, too: Did we lose trees in last December’s freak 10-inch snowfall? And would we like to get ahead of the mess this winter? Yes and yes. We got an estimate and references and he got a contract.

Likewise, my wife signed up for a home energy audit, based on a flyer she received. Because we have an older house, our audit would be “free,” my wife explained – and I likely rolled my eyes. Of course it’s free: Our house is an energy inefficiency poster child and our heating bills are affordable only because we don’t mind being able to see our breath as we huddle around the kitchen stove. This free audit was going to end up with a list of recommendations that would keep the company warm and profitable through the winter.

So while the crew was inside hooking up all sort of equipment to measure how well our house heats the atmosphere, I went outside and checked out their vehicle. The two-man team arrived in a neat little Ford Transit Connect, covered with slick professional graphics. But what really impressed me was the way the micro-van was set up to carry the tools of their trade. A lot of thought had gone into the system.

I was impressed enough to think this might be a reputable company after all, even if they’re resorting to the oldest door-to-door sales technique in the book: offering the lady of the house a free demonstration. I came to find out the company is a new one, but it’s also a well-funded spin-off led by a group with ties with a large energy utility. I haven’t seen the estimate yet, but I’ll take it seriously – and not because of the truck, but because of what the truck told me about the guys doing the work.

And just this weekend while I was out doing some yard work (well, thinking about what yard work I needed my teenage sons to complain about and not do), a neighbor walked across the street and asked: “What did you think of the energy audit company? I saw the truck, and might give them a call.”

Again, your company still has to deliver the goods – but having a fleet you’re proud of and that represents you well is a great first step.

Not sure how to get started? Well, we’ve talked to an award-winning fleet design specialist and HWT will walk you through the process in our final part of the fleet graphics series this week.