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Opinion of marketing idea


Dec 6, 2007
Salem, OR
If the financials come through as I think they will, I will be making an offer on a mid sized electrical contractor in the next couple of weeks. I don't intend to make many if any changes to the business for at least 6-8 months to allow time to gain a strong working knowledge of the business. Having previously owned a business, I know how many traditional forms of advertising can be a black hole that consumes money. I have been contemplating using restored and updated 1947-1953 GMC pick ups and trucks (think Old Navy) for company vehicles. They should be far more noticeable with the business name on the side than the traditional white Ford vans that every other business uses and one can be put in service for 30-50% of the price of a new vehicle.

Would potential customers view these vehicles favorably or would they send the wrong message?

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Bronze Contributor
Jan 23, 2008
I have (personally) never called any company based on the company car I see around town. Not sure if that means anything except that the one-person "demographic" of myself would not respond to this use of ad dollars.


Aug 13, 2007
The Woodlands, TX
I don't think there's anything wrong with the old Ford pickups. Might even be a neat idea to make you memorable. I think the reason everyone uses the typical white van is because they need room to haul all the parts and junk. On top of that it's more difficult to steal bales of wire out of a van than the back of a pickup truck. Not every neighborhood you visit will be full of honest and law abiding citizens. Lots of sticky fingers out there. Even in good neighborhoods.

The van just gives the more storage capacity and it's the most secure. A pickup truck has less space and your parts are open to the elements.

MJ DeMarco

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Jul 23, 2007
Fountain Hills, AZ
I think giving your business an easily recognized identity is a great idea ... just not one that costs more than average. For example, Truly Nolan (Exterminators) is known for those ugly yellow service cars ... it gives them an identity and is great for branding.

Personally, I don't like the idea of using 50 year old trucks and here's why:

1) Higher cost to maintain
2) Replacement cost and inability to maintain the brand image.


3) Whenever I frequent a business that has a homogeneous product, for example, Travertine Tile, Bathroom Fixtures, etc, I don't care about the showroom being lavishly appointed with expensive tile and gaudy statuettes ... as I business owner, I know this *appearance* costs money resulting in a higher cost to me.

Conversely, the unassuming shop that stacks their products on a warehouse floor is more appealing because I know their costs are lower than their rival who showcases their products in a "well-appointed" showroom.

In the end, I get the same product by the same manufacturer cheaper by bypassing the "hoity-toity" stores that have higher warehousing costs.

If I saw a 60 year old truck performing a contracting service, I'd immediately think "Wow, the upkeep on those must be a fortune" ... with my next conclusion being "Their prices must be higher than average" therefore I won't use them.

However, I think like a business owner.


Dec 6, 2007
Salem, OR
The memorability and branding was my goal. My plan is to use pick ups for estimators and a 1 ton box van version for the actual electricians.

Some of the additional benefits I see:

1) The availability of inexpensive restorable trucks is good.
2) A much more modern donor vehicle is available with low mileage for very low prices
3) I have someone who will do the restoration work for a reasonable price
4) The trucks are build of heavy materials so it would be more resilient to fleet use
5) The systems are simple therefor maintenance costs should be lower
6) I've had business vehicles used by employees and hate to see new $15-20k vehicles destroyed

"If I saw a 60 year old truck performing a contracting service, I'd immediately think "Wow, the upkeep on those must be a fortune" ... with my next conclusion being "Their prices must be higher than average" therefore I won't use them."

Good feedback. I had thought of three reactions:

1) Must be expensive
2) Interesting truck. I'll remember them
3) Must be low end if they can't buy new trucks


Jan 30, 2008
I think there is something to be said for your idea. It certainly gives your brand an identity. As a investor I'm always using contractors. It might just intrigue me if I noticed your vehicles driving around town. One thing for sure is that the more I notice a contractor vehicle the better the chance that I will call them. Part of that is that they look busy, which in turn makes me think that others like their service, which ultimately leads to me calling them. Are they really busier or is there something about the vehicles that gets my attention. I will never really know for sure but I know I've done it.

On the other hand I agree with phxmj about the maintenance and replacement problems. I think you are on the right track but you may want to look at something that you can sustain as you grow.
Another option might be to use the white vans but buy them used and have a graphic artist wrap them. Im not sure about the cost but they would sure stick out!

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