KURT: In a pest management company with a growing fleet, there are many things to consider, such as:
- What image do we want to project?
- How often should we replace vehicles?
- Should we put GPS in everyone’s vehicles?
ERIC: These topics are hotly debated throughout most service businesses. When looking at designs for our vehicles, I’ve always pushed for the big, flashy wraps to use as an ongoing marketing tool. I mean, what better canvas than the side of a van that drives around town? We could feature catchy graphics of insects, talk about why we are the customer’s best choice, and rotate them.
KURT: Good points. But when we look at our fleet, we want a clean, crisp and consistent look. We want to let the customer focus on an image they’ve come to trust. We don’t want to put images all over the van that would distract from our branding. Show customers how we take pride in the appearance of our vehicles, and give them an easy avenue to see how to contact us.
ERIC: All right, I agree we should keep a consistent look in the field. But speaking of a consistent look, why don’t we replace our fleet more often? I mean, you mentioned keeping a nice clean look, so shouldn’t we turn about 25 percent or more of our fleet each year to keep the vehicles fresh?
KURT: To turn that many vehicles would take quite a bit of capital. Plus, there’s additional preparation work behind the scenes that occurs with building out our vehicles to make them ready for our employees to use. A good number to turn, we found, is about 10 percent of our fleet. Sometimes you can “freshen up” a van with a new paint job or new graphics, if it still has a good life, mechanically. It looks like new at that point, and you won’t incur the cost of a new vehicle. At the very least, it can be used as a backup or for a route that requires little driving.
ERIC: That makes sense. I like that we pay attention to make sure we freshen up our fleet. That helps me with branding from the sales and marketing side. I guess I didn’t realize there was work behind the scenes to get our vehicles up and rolling. I’ve also often wondered: Why do we have GPS in every vehicle? Isn’t it a pain to track and follow that many vehicles?
KURT: There were some road bumps with the early systems, which were quite labor-intensive to manage. With the new systems out in today’s market, however, we can schedule various reports and alerts that have helped our insurance premium because we are able to track trends with different drivers. GPS is a vital tool every service organization should have, but you need to make sure you set up the system to get the information you need. Our employees have come to accept the use of GPS as the norm. Many times, GPS allows us to route our employees more efficiently and verify to customers the length of calls, should they come into question.
ERIC: Good point. I didn’t think of it from that angle. You will have to show me how to schedule those reports. It sounds like we have a strong understanding of our fleet, and are constantly thinking of what needs to be done to project the look we want.
Brothers Eric and Kurt Scherzinger are sales and marketing manager, and general manager, respectively, for Scherzinger Termite & Pest Control, Cincinnati. The fourth-generation pest management professionals can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.