Fleet-[fleet] noun-A large group of ships, airplanes, trucks, etc., operated by a single company or under the same ownership.
As defined by the dictionary a fleet is a group of vehicles operated by someone who needs to get a product or service delivered, that’s their job. Our job is to make them look professional and advertise them while doing it. Ewing Graphics has been doing this and doing it well for over 30 years.
My husband began in the industry by hand pin-striping cars at local dealerships and realized quickly he could do more and do it better so he made it happen. In March of 1982 he started our company Ewing Lettering & Graphics, Inc. Our sign shop started out by hand painting signs, and we did some fleet vehicles and box trucks for advertising on local companies like Louis Fishgold and John Greco’s fleets in the ’80s.
With new technology came new opportunities. As the industry grew and plotters became available, we moved to lettering trucks with layered and airbrushed vinyl. This kept us cutting edge and extremely competitive in the industry. At that point we employed five to eight employees.
We serviced several new fleets including KJ Transportation, which eventually flipped to Priority Transportation, and today is known as Leonard’s Transportation. The company has a fleet of hundreds of trailers all over the U.S. Isaac Heating & Cooling is another, with a van fleet of more than 200 vehicles. It was at this point we started working with Wegmans Food Market, who today has become our largest fleet and one of our longest-standing customers.
Around 2003 we started to move toward a higher number of fleet graphic contracts and that was when we bought our first large-format printer. It was then we made the conscious decision to take the next step into the fast growing industry of vehicle wraps, specifically large fleet wraps.
When considering fleet wraps, we look at the whole picture-from space requirements to equipment considerations. You need a lot of indoor space in order to be the most accommodating, efficient and competitive. Installation bays need to be able to accommodate semi-truck trailers for installation year round.
For added efficiency, consider using hydraulic lifts instead of cumbersome scaffolding; instead of a garden hose, use a power washer to clean vehicles.
The key is to think of better ways to expedite the process for your clients without sacrificing quality. Doing so can turn a good customer into a great one. And remember, a satisfied customer is the one that tells everyone else out there how awesome you are.
We also invested in our own yard tractor at our shop. This allows us to move trailers around when needed. It is crucial to move quickly through the whole process without jeopardizing the end product. Stocking material is also a unique demand, but doing so allows us to move a fleet through the entire process quickly. It is not uncommon for our shop to have 10 wrap kits in stock.
The market for fleet graphics continues to move at a rapid pace. One of the main reasons for this is because it’s not regulated. You don’t have to apply to the town for a permit to advertise on your vehicle. You must simply abide by the DMV laws.
Keep Customers Happy
The best way to stay in the fleet wraps market (like any other market) is to keep your customers happy. This may sound obvious, but it is totally key.
Again, we go back to stocking materials. This will reduce client wait time. Another huge way is to keep track of their fleets for them. As I mentioned earlier, we have been working with Wegmans for a long time. We have installed graphics on every type of trailer they have on the road.
Their current fleet consists of 800 trailers. We keep track of all of these as far as numbers, sizes, what graphics are on what trailers and when they were initially entered into the fleet. This builds a good trustworthy rapport with our customer. Finally, we have dedicated sales people for each individual fleet accounts. This way the customer is dealing with one person. If there are any issues this allows them to feel comfortable that it will get taken care of. If there are deadline issues, we make contact early enough for them to make other arrangements.
Remember, the key is to keep customers happy by meeting their deadlines and getting them a final product that they will forever be happy with at an advantageous cost for all involved. Working in the fleet world can be very demanding but very rewarding as well if you are good.
This means you need to exude confidence to your customers. You must be a company that can handle numbers and high volume jobs, and you must be able to do so at a quick turn-around pace, again, without compromising the quality of the final product.
Experience comes with time, and having a good reputation behind you will build a great confidence in your customer. Today we employ 22 people; we have dozens of fleet accounts and thousands of satisfied customers!
* From the 2013 issue of WRAPS magazine.