Through the Eyes Of the Bold, Part 4

If you knew me at all, you would know that this subject is coming up again, but you know that I have no choice--I'm driven and can't help myself. It's the C-word, the dreaded C-word, the off-despised C-word: It's color!

I'll tell you a little story. When I started my first commercial truck operation in Santa Rosa, CA in 1989, I started with zero trucks. I bought one service body on a single rear wheel truck and never looked back. In the process, I became ultra observant of the commercial trucks on the road. I was driving 55 miles each way to work and got to see a 3 county mix of commercial vehicles 5 days a week for 4 years. What I saw was interesting. I saw many colored trucks. Then I thought, 'well, that's cool, but how do I know what colors to stock?' So, I started keeping tallies of what I saw. That helped me not only decide to start stocking color, but to know which ones to start with and move on from there.

Even just a year ago, I was going to Santa Rosa to do some training and I thought, 'I'll just keep track on my way over and see how many colored commercial trucks I see.' There were plenty. This was at 7am and I counted 28 upfitted commercial trucks including service bodies (the largest number by far), flatbeds, dump bodies and many others. Of that 28, 17 were colored. Seventeen! I didn't graduate from Harvard, but I know a pattern when I see it. Do your own math.

Some contractors and other companies have company colors, so that is part of it, but if you look closely, you will see the vast majority of the colored ones are small contractors or service providers. Service bodies account for approximately 70% of the colored upfits. A lot of contractors are individuals who are a one person company and they want something that not only looks good, but feels good too.

Frankly, I'm telling you this strategy because it was one of my best strategies: To stock colored trucks. In the last operation I had in Fairfield, we stocked approximately 40-60% colored trucks depending on the promotions or deals I would get and so on. I stocked all colors. Red, green, blue, silver, tan, and many more. They all sold. Here's the best part: I had and still have (if I were doing this at the dealer level) NO COMPETITION. How cool is that? If you crave conformity, this won't make any sense to you. If you crave profits and fun and sales, color will help you get more of that.

So, maybe you're thinking about it (hypothetically, of course) and you ask, 'what colors should I stock?' I say, eventually, all of them. But first, let's build up your confidence level. Red is a relatively easy color because there are a lot of companies with red as a company color. If you just stock red though, that won't work very well. Get a silver or gray service body on a nice super cab XLT or similar type of truck with nice aluminum wheels. Sweet. Get a black one too. And a red one. Next get a black dually 350 or 450 and put a Contractor body on it. Very nice. Next, try a light blue one on a Service body or Combo body. Show your prospects that you are serious about it. Do it or don't do it, but don't dribble with it, or you will likely sit on that piece for a long time.

This area is really for the eyes of the bold. But, truly, it is just logic in action. I told you the story of how I got started. I started watching the road and counting the trucks. It's just logical reasoning. They are driving colored Service bodies, I should stock them. Pretty simple. It's just fear that keeps people away from doing it. Afraid they will get criticized. Afraid they will be stuck with them and get criticized. Of course, you could also sell them and make considerably more on the colored ones than the white ones and you could be praised and paid handsomely! Fear, success, fear, success. It is a choice driven world, after all. You get to choose your path. Really. It is frankly, that simple. Courage and faith. Two lovely words. Fear and conformity. Two other words.

If you are committed to building a strong, growth-oriented commercial truck department, you will do well to consider what I have said carefully. Or not. It may be only for the Eyes of the Bold.

(Look for a post this weekend on the special ways you can handle having color on your lot and especially how to present them to customers and deal with any special issues.)

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