First question is what is you particular demographic. $275k homes are completely different things in different ares. Is that higher in your area? Or is that what a blue collar worker lives in? In my main service area, 275k won't buy you a 4k sq ft lot to build a house on, yet with a 25minute drive a young couple could get a nice starter home for 275.
Either way though, I put a high value on vehicle and equipment appearance. Are trucks that get the most use are all 06 or newer, one that sees less use is an 04 and the I international dump is a 98. Fords are all xlt or higher, Chevys are lt or higher package. No base/work truck models. Interior and exterior of trucks are cleaned once a week, if they start to get dirty sooner than that then the get cleaned more often. Equipment is all kept clean and newer as well.
No, new clean equipment does not mean that you do a better job. But I am a firm believer that it shows pride in your business. I am also a firm believer that newer cleaner equipment is more reliable, thus they are more profitable to run. I believe customers see it this way as well. If I hire a contractor to work on my home and he shows up in a new truck, my thought is not that he over charges. My thought is that he has enough work to justify the purchase. If a guy shows up in a 20 yr old beater, than more than likely he won't get the job, I'll think that if he is good at what he does then he should be able to afford a reliable automobile
Why do people not respect us as they do other tradesmen? Because every Tom, Dick, and Harry doesn't think he can be a plumber or electrician!