Business Trucks: Signage or No Signage?
I wanted to focus attention on one of the most important aspects of a NWCO’s business, his truck. Other than your own health, your truck is your business. You take it everywhere. Your truck is a part of you and your company. Your truck also tells customers something about the kind of business you run. Don’t make excuses. The fact is your customers will judge you by your truck and the condition they see it in. Question is, should your truck be covered is signage or not? Unfortunately, the debate over this question is not an easy one to solve. Let’s talk about the arguments in favor of truck signage first.
Argument #1. Low Cost
The strongest argument for signage is the low cost. Labeling your truck turns your vehicle into a moving billboard. Now instead of spending money on gas and repairs, you can know that some of this money is at least drawing new customers. We all know that marketing is one the most significant problems facing NWCO’s. The fact is people don’t know we exist. Truck signage changes this. Customers will call stating that they got your number from the truck rather than in a crowded Yellow Page Ad. Gary Storms of N.Y. said, “I’ve heard both sides of the issue. But I like driving my billboard. And I like it when a customer says that he saw “one of my trucks around town” this is my first time trying to post a photo so I don’t know how it will come out, but this is my truck.”
Argument #2 Customer Safety
A second argument for signage is the safety and security of your customers. I read a consumer protection type article that advised consumers to avoid hiring companies with unlabelled trucks or magnetic signs. The author argued that no signage or temporary magnetic signage meant that the owner wasn’t fully committed to the business. By failing to sign his truck, the owner was leaving his options open to get out of the business. The second aspect to signage is safety. Let’s face it. Most of the time we meet women or an elderly person alone at the house. Having proper signage means they can identify who is in the vehicle. It’s not fool-proof mind you, but it can put minds at greater ease. Paul Magnotta of Connecticut says puts a different spin on this. He contends that on more than one occasion his signs have stopped or slowed police involvement and calmed onlookers. He points out that NWCO’s work odd hours and in strange places. Truck signage, in his opinion, is safety equipment. Don LaFountain of Massachusetts states that police will often give a service truck a little leeway on speeding issues. He says, “I trained a guy that was a part-time cop. He told me that the police give a little more of a buffer on the speed end to service trucks. I noticed that to be very true. I’ve had the arm out the window of a cruiser giving me the slow down wave instead of pulling me over. (He would have been in the right too) Several other policemen I know said the same thing. They know we’re just trying to make a living. Don’t get me wrong I’m now saying speeding is right but after 5 miles in a no passing area, 10 miles an hour below the speed limit, behind a Sunday driver, we may try to make up the lost time.”
Arguments Against Truck Signage
However, the anti-signage crowd also has some good arguments. Stealth has its advantages. Occasionally, clients don’t want the neighbors to know there is a problem in their house. Their concern is especially high around the time they decide to sell their house. Stealth trucks can also help the NWCO work in high traffic areas with fewer protests and possibly less theft and vandalism. Let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t want to have to answer questions or explain what you are doing. Another problem with signage is getting it off when you sell the truck or take the truck out of your fleet. When I sold my company, it took several hours to get all the vinyl print off my service vehicle. Now some people may by pass this problem by putting signage on the truck cap only. This way, when they buy a new one, they simply move the cap to the new truck. Of course, this will require that you buy the same size bed truck all the time.
Some NWCO’s try to have the best of both worlds by using magnetic signs. Magnetic signs have the advantage of being removable. So if you are going to a job that requires anonymity, you just need to peel off the signs and you are all set. I know of one NWCO, that uses blank magnetic signs to cover his vinyl, permanent signs. Patrick Cassidy, however, warns that magnetic signs can mar the paint. While I don’t recall them damaging the paint of my vehicle, they can become sort of permanent if you don’t remove them regularly. Don LaFountain has this advice for would be magnetic sign users. He says, “Put several coats good paste wax on the truck as well as a coat on the back of the sign. This will protect the truck from damage.”
Should you put signage on your truck? I think Tim Julien, president of the National Wildlife Control Operator’s Association, said it best. He said, “I feel the signs on a truck are great advertising and add a touch of professionalism. Critter Control, Inc. has been in business for a long time and their trucks are well marked.”
Note: This article first appeared in Wildlife Control Technology magazine. I would like to thank members of the NWCO listserv for helping with the content of this article.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest book is the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. He can be contacted at stephenvantassel at Hotmail dot com.
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