Acceptible Estimating Vehicle

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Gr8WhiteNorth, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. Gr8WhiteNorth

    Gr8WhiteNorth LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 463

    I've been giving a lot of thought to what kind of vehicle I should be using for estimates lately.

    What does a Homeowner want to see a landscaper/hardscaper pull up to their house in? What fits the profile? Does it really matter?

    For me, a truck has been the norm since I started. I've varied the "truck" from a half ton, to mini truck, to 3/4 ton, and presently a 1 ton.

    Customers have told me they like the clean image we portray and it is a factor in their selection process. The truck tells a person that I am here to work and this is the tool of my trade. Am i right?

    Would switching to a more practical car or SUV for this task be a bad idea?

    I'm at the point of disbelief in our annual fuel costs and vehicle maintenance and want to change some things.
     
  2. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,740

    I think that you are right in how you believe that customers see your image. I'm not sure, but some potential customers may see you as a salesman if you are driving something disconnected from your work ... at the same time, a more sophisticated person might see you as controlling your overhead. .... a tough call. A mini truck might be the best call.
     
  3. LindblomRJ

    LindblomRJ LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,570

    Something not connected but lettered would show salesman IMO. Keeping your current work truck clean or have a half ton with the company information on it might be the way to keep the image.
     
  4. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    I was originally using an S-10 and all my clients liked that truck.

    Unfortunately it got the same gas mileage as my current F-150 and I needed to upgrade to a shade bit heavier truck.

    If we expand enough to where I need a dedicated gopher/estimating vehicle then it will probably be a small truck of some sort again with the most efficient engine possible.

    I'd love to use a car, but then it's just a car and doesn't do much else.

    I'm also seriously thinking about converting my vehicles over to natural gas, or propane to help keep costs down.

    It's a conundrum none-the-less.

    .....
     
  5. LindblomRJ

    LindblomRJ LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,570

    A new F150 with the ecoboost might be something to look at.
     
  6. txirrigation

    txirrigation LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 977

    I have thought a lot about this, and I do agree that an eco car with lettering all over it screams salesman.

    -BUT-

    You could mention it while you are talking prices and show that you do everything possible to keep operating costs down to keep your prices as competitive as possible.

    It is a double edged sword where I am. You are just as likely to pull up to a Big Oil man rough neck millionaires house, as you are to pull up to an eco freak millionaires house. Both would look at it differently.

    I would go with a small truck and call it a compromise.
     
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,830

    Well, first of all, I don't think your average customer really cares a whole helluva lot whether we pull up in a pickup or eco car. I think most of them expect a contractor to pull up in some sort of truck. But one of my biggest competitors in town has these little Prius cars for all their salesmen/estimators. They grew by 18% last year and broke the $5Mil. in annual sales mark for the first time. So I'd have to say that just because they pulled up in a car rather than a truck didn't seem to effect their ability to land jobs at all.

    I drive a full-size truck because I need a full size truck. With 28 employees, I'm obviously not the one out there installing landscapes or mowing lawns very often. But I am the one checking on jobs in progress. And often times I need a certain tool or a 12" sprinkler head, or a SAM head, some planting fertilizer bags, or any number of tools or parts that the crew may have run out of or forgot to bring. So having a lot of tools and parts in the back of my truck makes my company run a lot more efficiently. I also have a fair amount of gear like measuring wheels, material samples, etc. in the back. All this stuff wouldn't fit in anything else.

    As long as you look professional and have a reason for driving what you pull up in, I don't think the customer really cares or thinks about it too much.

    Now, if you pull up riding a Moped or Scooter, I think you may notice your % of sales decreasing. That would be because you would just look too odd. Similarly, if you pulled up in a Corvette, Mercedes, Hummer, etc. I think you'd also lose jobs. For one, they'd think you are definitely making too much. And for two, you'd come off like a pompous braggart. Same goes for some of these gigantic F-350, lifted, loud exhaust, dually, quad cab, mini monster trucks that I've seen a couple of landscapers in my area driving. I don't think that gets you too much respect. It makes you look like you are wanting attention a little too much.

    Just keep it normal and professional and something close to what the client expects to see you in. Other than that, doesn't really matter.
     
  8. SoCalLandscapeMgmt

    SoCalLandscapeMgmt LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,702

    I don't think that what you show up in to give an estimate is as big as deal as many would think, for the most part. Out here in So Cal I am starting to see more and more of the bigger companies putting their sales people and supervisors in small cars and hybrids. I think as long as you're rolling around in a modest vehicle and not a BMW or a Mercedes there isn't really an issue. When fuel prices were up around $4 a gallon last spring I went out and bought a Chevy Cruze to roll around in. It sure as hell gets better mileage than my truck does. On days when I know I need the truck I will drive it but on the days where I know I will spend most of the day driving and on the freeway I'll take the car. At 38 mpg on the highway it sure uses a lot less fuel than my truck does. Fuel prices are only going to increase so eventually I think that for most of us the issue will be forced and we'll all have to seriously consider smaller more fuel effeicent vehicles for wherever they fit into our fleets. In the year that I have been driving my Cruze around none of my clients have said anything. I had one who just causally asked in conversation and after I explained the reasoning to him he agreed that it made a lot of sense. Most people are smart enough to understand what makes for good business sense. As long as what you are driving isn't flashy or looks too expensive I think you can get away with it.
     
  9. Glenn Lawn Care

    Glenn Lawn Care LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,647

    Maybe a hybrid is more suitable for you since your gas bill is fairly large.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  10. txirrigation

    txirrigation LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 977

    Very similar to what I do. I have a few of everything in my truck.

    I keep waiting for them to roll out a eco el camino... now that would be the real deal.
     

Share This Page