Acceptible Estimating Vehicle

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

  1. all ferris

    all ferris LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,309

    I have 4 vehicles to pick from and I just drive what I feel like driving. It's a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation. When I bought my last dump truck brand new I got lots of comments from clients that I service on a regular basis. All the comments were basically saying "you charge me too much if you drive a nice truck like that". So am I not supposed to buy new vehicles to grow my business? There were so many comments about the dump truck that I have a set of stainless wheel simulators setting in my shop but I won't put them on because I don't want to draw anymore attention.

    So I usually take my 02' 2500hd pick up. It has no modifications to it and is just a clean pick up. However, sometimes I take my Camaro (383 stroker and loud) and never get any comments about it.

    I think as long as you are not pulling up in a jalopy and have plenty of pictures to show your work, most people don't care what you pull up in for a bid. With that said, I make sure that my pictures show the jobs in progress and that way the potential client can see I have the equipment to do the job right.
  2. SoCalLandscapeMgmt

    SoCalLandscapeMgmt LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,156

    Yeah.... My attitude with people who say stuff like that is basically F%#& You! I work my ass off to be able to afford what I own and what I drive so if a potential client has that attitude then that tells me that they aren't the kind of person who I want to work for.
  3. sven1277

    sven1277 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 681

    I agree its a tough call. Like anything else, it depends on the customer. I mostly use my 1 ton dump truck. It is the business vehicle I always drive. The employees use the other trucks. We also have a blue '10 Yukon XL 2500 and a black '08 Acura TL-s. The TL is my personal car, but I never use it for customers because I don't like the image it sends. Too sporty and successful. I will use the Yukon. Even though more expensive, I do use it to tow equipment and feel because it is a rugged vehicle, its ok. I did have a customer who had the same TL I did, so it would have been a good conversation starter. Tough call.
  4. Gr8WhiteNorth

    Gr8WhiteNorth LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 465

    Ya its kind of funny pulling up in a $70k ford F350 Lariat and that's ok, but the car worth half is dicey.
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  5. 360ci

    360ci LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 998

    For me it depends where I am and what I'm doing when someone calls for a quote and I'm available to run over. If I'm at the office, I'll take my Durango R/T out after work, do up a quote, and head home after. If I'm at home and someone phones for a quote I like to do it as soon as I can in case I get busy with something. Then I'll take my '99 Taurus which is in optimal shape and no rust but has no markings on it.

    I find that most people who call me, do so from the website, or from a current customer (referral), so they won't judge by what I show up there with just to write up a quote. The car gets twice the mileage my 5.9L V8 does so I prefer to take it for purely running errands.
  6. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    I have debated this and havent been able to give up my fullsize truck. I think it is very important to show up in a wrapped or lettered vehicle. It shows a commitment to your business imo. A fullsize truck gets 15 mpg, a small truck gets 20 mpg. So i really don't see the advantage vs losing capability. I have been debating a used prius that is wrapped, but then i lose alot of capability. Like jim, i like to carry a host of irrigation parts and have capacity to throw a few plants in the truck. Around here brickman and a couple tree services use prius's. They look very professional. I have never thought about them looking like a salesman's car, but is there really that much difference between a ford ranger and a prius from that aspect? And isn't a salesman/estimator what people expext when they call mid to larger company? are these people really expecting a crew to show up to give a bid? I am still debating a prius though, the seats fold down and could be organized to have some work capacity. Could even have a fancy slid out like jim. I think i could save a grand a month in fuel... But i just lose some capacity.
  7. 360ci

    360ci LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 998

    For a large contractor it makes sense to use a full size vehicle. For smaller, or part time operators it's not very efficient or cost effective unless it's their one and only vehicle.
  8. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    How many miles are you putting on to do estimates? Will you save enough money is gas to pay for a dedicated estimate mobile?
  9. Gr8WhiteNorth

    Gr8WhiteNorth LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 465

    I put about 40-50,000 km per year on my truck. I estimate full time. About half of my week will be spent number crunching and designing in the office. Our service range is 100 miles or 160 km in each direction.

    Quick math- Prius @ 6 liters/100 km @ 40000km per year = 400 x 6 litres = 2400 litres
    2400 litres x $1.20/litre = $2,880 total fuel for the year.

    2008 F350 diesel = 21/litres/100km @ 40000km per year = 400 x 21 litres = 8400 litres
    8400 litres x $1.30/litre = $10,920

    Total savings would be $8,040 per year.

    wow. this is pretty significant savings. now if there was only a way to change the other 8 trucks out to prius fuel economy and without sacrificing utility.
  10. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    That should answer your question better than any of us can.

    I'm weighing a trade in for fuel efficiency as well.

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