So, what is the high cost of dirty fleet vehicles? Fleet vehicles, whether they are cars used in urban areas or 53-foot trailers traveling the highways across America, send a message about your business. And a dirty vehicle doesn’t say anything good. Unclean and poor conditioned fleet vehicles cost your business far more than a car wash or repair – they cost your business its reputation. Do you think I’m exaggerating? Okay, try this. On your way home tonight from work, look at the vehicles sharing the road with you, and when you find a dirty fleet vehicle, especially if it has graphics, tell me what your impression of the business is.
1. A Dirty Car or Truck Sends a Bad Brand Message
“Recently, while commuting to work, I was stopped behind a local retailer’s delivery truck. The retailers’ market is an upscale niche, and their brick and mortar outlets are well designed, tastefully decorated, and impeccably maintained. They offer excellent service, customer follow-up, and after-market training. The dirty and damaged box truck I was stopped behind sent a different message. It shouted, “WE ARE SECOND-RATE!” When it comes to vehicle graphics, a bad message is worse than none.” — Vehicle Graphics a Bad Message is Worse Than No Message
“Clean, well-maintained equipment makes an immediate impression and shows pride. People assume pride carries over into other areas of an organization. The opposite is also true. Equipment in need of attention can and will impact your business negatively.” — What Does Your Truck Say About You?
“Is your fleet one of the thousands of trailers and box trucks traveling the highways and byways of America? If so, is your message being received by your target audience? Your fleet vehicles shouldn’t only deliver your product, but they should also deliver your message. What message do you want to deliver? Keep in mind that consumers only have seconds to view your fleet graphics. So, what’s the most important takeaway you want to share? ” — Does Your Rolling Billboard Tell a Story? I don’t think the message you want to share is that you don’t care, and that’s what a dirty fleet vehicle says to most consumers.
2. Unclean Surfaces Can Damage Vinyl Vehicle Graphics
Contaminants such as bird droppings, tree sap, road salt, petroleum products, and environmental hazards can all permanently damage adhesive vinyl graphics. Fleet graphics are an investment that has proven to bring a return. So, take proper care of your vehicle branding so it lasts and sends the right message.
Let it soak in
“Soften difficult contaminants such as bug splatter, bird droppings, tree sap, and similar contaminants by soaking them for several minutes with hot, soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and dry. If further cleaning is needed, test one of these products in an inconspicuous area to ensure no damage to the graphics: Meguiar’s Gold Class™ Bug and Tar Remover or 3M™ Citrus Base Cleaner. Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) (two parts IPA to 1-part water) or denatured alcohol may also help. Spot clean the contaminants. Do not use rough scrubbing or abrasive tools, which will scratch the film. Wash and rinse off all residue immediately.” — 3M Caring for your Vehicle Graphics.
Get rid of the salt
Don’t wait! Get the salt off the vehicle as soon as possible. Road salt left to its own devices causes corrosion, which can lead to all sorts of havoc. A complete cleaning should include washing the salt from beneath the vehicle before it develops into rust. Adhesive vinyl graphics don’t stick well to rust.
“Don’t let salt accumulate on your vehicle. Adhesive vinyl resists salt. However, when exposed to salt over a long period; damage could occur. Salt is extremely corrosive, and even vinyl protected with clear coat could eventually show signs of wear from extended exposure to salt.” — FAQ: Will Road Salt Damage my Vehicle Graphics?
Using recommended cleaning methods will extend the life of your vehicle graphics. “Wash Regularly and whenever the car appears dirty. Contaminants allowed to remain on the graphic may be more difficult to remove during cleaning. Rinse off as much dirt and grit as possible with a spray of water. See “Difficult Contaminants” on page 1, for spot cleaning bird droppings, tar, etc. Use a wet, non-abrasive detergent such as 3M™ Car Wash Soap 39000 or Meguiar’s NXT Generation® Car Wash or Deep Crystal® Car. Wash and a soft, clean cloth or sponge.
Rinse thoroughly with clean water. To reduce water spotting, immediately use a silicone squeegee to remove water and finish with a clean, soft rag.” — Caring for Your Vehicle Graphics and Wraps [PDF].
Why can’t I just take through a car wash?
“Can you take your wrapped vehicle through a car wash? If the car wash uses brushes, we wouldn’t recommend it. However, keeping your wrapped car or truck clean is important. The longer dirt, road debris, and other contaminants stay on your vehicle, the harder they are to remove, and the more likely they are to damage the finish of your vehicle.” — FAQ: Can I Take my Wrapped Vehicle Through a Car Wash?
3. Dirty Fleet Vehicles are Hard to Drive
Wait what? Dirt on a truck doesn’t affect how it drives, does it? No, it doesn’t. However, it can and does affect the driver. Dirty fleet graphics not only send negative messages to consumers but also to the employees in the vehicle. If you want happy customers, you need happy employees to help and serve those customers. A dirty or damaged vehicle doesn’t make employees happy.
Dirty and damaged fleet vehicles send a bad message and create a poor brand image. They look unprofessional, which can lead to lost business. A prospect who may have been interested in your service or product may decide not to call, and they might not even know why. A customer may have second thoughts, and wonder if your business doesn’t care about your vehicles what else don’t you care about?
Do Not Pass Go!
“Is it time to replace your vehicle graphics? Before you answer this question, go outside, walk to your parking lot and take a close look at your vehicles. Check out your vehicles the way a customer might. Look at them the way you’d look at another company’s cars and trucks. If your vehicle was sitting in your driveway at home, there to complete a service, would the appearance and condition of the vehicle inspire confidence?” — Is it Time to Replace Your Vehicle Graphics? Use this Checklist to find out
Are You Paying the High Cost of Dirty Fleet Vehicles?
So, the next time you notice one of your company cars or trucks has “clean me” written on the back window, don’t put off cleaning it. It’s easy to say we were too busy to clean it. But ask yourself, are you really too busy to stop sending a bad message?