How does a mom and pop business compete against the leading national companies? Over the past 15 years, the Boerne, Texas-based On the Move Inc. has become a leading domestic truck rental company, the fourth largest in the nation with annual growth rates of 20 to 25 percent, thanks to a fleet of literally rolling promotions. What makes leasing an On the Move’s trucks decidedly different is the custom advertising displays prominently emblazoned on the vehicle. The result is a mobile billboard. According to Outdoor magazine, the official publication of the Association of National Advertisers, a moving billboard is more effective than a traditional stationary one. “Billboards stand still and require the audience pass and notice them. Mobile advertising moves. A truck with a message can go anywhere. With 16 million visual impressions in a year per truck and 600 visual impressions for every mile driven per truck, On the Move sees this as a coup for their advertisers. With ever increasing stringent demands by architectural committees on outdoor signs and billboards, mobile advertising has become a welcome alternative in outdoor advertising.”
On the Move Chairman Maury Westerdale founded the company in 1992, initially as an outgrowth of another business. “Maury is one of those idea-a-minute kind of guys,” says Mark Ulfig, president and CEO. “After he retired as design engineer at Ford Motors, he wanted to do something more entrepreneurial and opened a self-storage business in Dearborn, Mich. That led to offering rental trucks for customers to haul and retrieve what they were keeping in storage. Which led Maury to think that there was no better place to advertise his business but on the truck bodies that were coming in and out of his facility. What’s more, if a truck wasn’t in use, he could park it somewhere people could see it and it would advertise the self-storage business instead of just sitting in a garage not being put to productive use.”
The next idea Westerdale had was that if the increased visibility of a billboard on a truck could create awareness and new business for him, it should be able to do it for other self-storage facility companies, as well. The result was that On the Move got, well, on the move.
In addition to self-storage centers, the other major target market is real estate. “It’s the same situation as with self-storage: people need a truck to move stuff, the real estate agent can offer a truck to clients as a value-added service. He doesn’t even need to charge them for using it. Besides the good will generated by the loan of the truck, that vehicle is traveling back and forth with the agent’s face and contact numbers all over it. It’s no exaggeration that thousands of people are going to see it,” says Ulfig. He adds that commercial businesses, rental stores and apartments are segments that represent additional opportunities for such moving billboards. “If you need a truck, whether for you own business or as a service you offer to your customers, why not put it to double use to advertise your business? The cost over the course of the lease is minimal, and the results more than pay for themselves.”
Ulfig emphasizes, “We don’t just lease customers a truck and hope it works out for them. On the Move provides all of the necessary tools to attain the highest possible level of success and we guarantee the results.” Indeed, that isn’t a mere marketing slogan, either. If a truck doesn’t perform to expectations, On the Move will take back the vehicle at any point during the lease. “We never want our customers to feel they are ‘stuck’ with one of our trucks,” Ulfig says. “We can provide this guarantee because invariably the trucks pay for themselves by increasing customer name recognition without the added expenses of billboard advertising.”
There’s also another way the vehicle can pay for itself. On the Move offers a special package that provides up to six panels on the back of the truck for the lessee to sell advertising space to other businesses. “Selling advertising on your truck can literally pay for your lease,” Ulfig points out. “Not only do you get the use of a sizeable asset for free, but you also have your own big advertisement on the side of the truck along with the advertising space you’ve sold.”
On the Move employs 12, including an in-house graphics department that both designs and applies highly durable images protected by 3M film. It has about 6,000 trucks in service throughout 50 states, sold directly or through licensees. The average cost of the lease is usually less than $950 per month for the truck and insurance, excluding Graphics, tax, title, plates and delivery. “We also offer an option to buy at 20 percent of the residual value at the end of the 48 month lease period,” Ulfig notes. “Typically, most of our customers will take the option to buy. And we also sell used vehicles to customers where it’s better from their business standpoint to purchase outright, but don’t want to incur the higher cost of a brand new vehicle.”
Lead time to order a truck is about three to four weeks. “We mostly use Ford trucks, primarily because of Maury’s previous connection to them, though we do deal with other truck manufacturers, as well,” Ulfig explains. “We purchase the trucks when orders come in, and then we have a number of boxes we keep in inventory at our preferred suppliers, that are assembled onto the truck. Then the final step is to apply the graphics package.”
An additional benefit of On the Move vehicles is improved fuel efficiency. “The boxes are made of fiberglass, and the overall truck design is more aerodynamic,” Ulfig says. “A lighter, more aerodynamic truck means better mileage, which in these days of high fuel costs is a significant advantage.”
In addition to the vehicle itself, On the Move supplies hand trucks, furniture pads, rental forms, and a $5 million insurance policy that allows the licensee to hand over the keys with no worries. “That’s another key advantage we offer,” Ulfig notes. “Because the insurance is offered through us, and we have so many vehicles in service, we get a volume discount that an individual wouldn’t be able to negotiate.” On the Move also offers extended five year, 100,000 mile warranties. “A lot of our customers like that added peace of mind they can get from an extended warranty,” Ulfig notes.
On the Move earned $20 million in sales last year, and anticipates annual growths rate of 20 to 25 percent. In choosing to take a road less traveled by its competitors as an advertising vehicle, On the Move intends to keep on truckin’.