And you’re going to say, well, yeah.  I know what I use them for.  I send a guy out in a truck to do a job.

Maybe.  That’s seldom all you expect from your vehicles, and very often, that isn’t the function at all.  In my experience,  there are four potential ways that our customers might use their vehicles.  But often, either they don’t recognize the true usage, or they turn a blind eye and tell themselves a story to justify why Bob got the $20,000 truck, and Jim got the $45,000 truck.

Whether you know it or not, here are the roles your trucks are probably playing:

As a tool – sometimes, the only function in the world for a truck is to move people, products, and tools to a place that the work needs done, or the product needs delivered to.   But even if you think this is the sole usage, you’re probably wrong.  Did you put signs on that truck?  Did you get power windows, or air ride suspension, to make the driver happy? Admit it. You did.  Which means…

As a marketing/public relations platform – if you’re not using your vehicles as rolling billboards, you’re missing a bet.  Aside from the initial cost of the graphics, it is free advertising real estate.  Your trucks are viewed by thousands of people every day.  They get better exposure than almost any other outdoor advertising.  

And there’s where the public relations part comes in.  The condition and age of your trucks says a lot about your organization.  Old and tired isn’t necessarily bad; it may be that in your market, looking as cheap as possible may be better than looking prosperous.  But generally, customers are reassured by newer, clean, well-kept trucks. You probably don’t let your drivers show up in torn T-shirts and cutoffs, and you probably don’t want them to show up in a truck with a fender hanging off of it.

As a recruiting tool – Hiring the best people may be easier if they’re familiar with what your current people drive. And sometimes, a particular vehicle becomes a sweetener to top off a compensation package.  Because no matter how you view it, your people probably see their vehicle….

As compensation – Most managers, supervisors, and salespeople are going to view a company provided vehicle as a part of their compensation package.  And if you don’t recognize that, you’re asking for trouble.  We see your managers (because they’ll talk to us about it before they talk to you about it) and employees jockeying for “vehicle pecking order position” almost every day of the week.  And we watch you making unspoken trade offs – allowing this guy to have 22” chrome wheels, but not that other guy, for reasons that even you may not understand.  And guess what.  They are going to compare.  And draw conclusions that maybe you didn’t intend.

A company vehicle as part of a compensation package is perfectly legit, but it doesn’t work very well to say that it’s “only a tool”, and then use the vehicle type or equipment level to reward or punish on an uneven basis.

Jack Cross
Commerce Lease Group, Inc.
Industry News After 20 years of being in business, we've seen it all. This is where we share a little bit of what we have picked up over the years.

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