Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

Reimagine Fleet Vehicles for Less

May 2014, by Amy Winter

Canine Company went with vinal decals instead of a full vinyl wrap on its fleet vehicles.
Canine Company went with vinal decals instead of a full vinyl wrap on its fleet vehicles.

Embarking on a campaign to rebrand a company image can help create a new look and feel for lackluster fleet vehicles, one of a company’s most visible marketing platforms.

Best known as the Northeast distributor of the Invisible Fence Brand pet containment product, Canine Company offers a wide range of pet products and dog obedience training programs.

“There was brand confusion about who we were — Invisible Fence Brand or Canine Company?” said Gregg Watson, creative director, explaining the rationale behind the rebranding program. “We needed to create one master brand.”

While Watson designed the new logos in house, an outside consulting company helped bring the branding into all of its operations. Canine Company turned to Signazon, an online digital printing and custom design company, to produce its vehicle graphics. While Signazon produces full vehicle wraps, the company also creates vinyl decals, which “gives [companies] the ability to still have that ‘pop’ and ‘punch’ in their vehicle branding as well as saving about 80 percent on overall cost,” said Joel Johnson, vice president of marketing for Signazon.

Watson said the company never considered a full wrap. “Our look and feel was cleaner and simpler,” he said, noting the previous designs were very “cookie cutter.”

Before Signazon, the company ordered decals through the manufacturer of Invisible Fence Brand and contracted locally to apply them.

Most of the interaction with Signazon happened online. “Signazon is a very technically driven company; the customer can upload files and the system is able to automatically prep that work and have it ready for print,” Johnson said.

Canine Company’s Watson then worked with Signazon to determine the layout on the vehicle and did a couple of tests before ordering decals for the fleet.

The decals were cut to fit moldings and even gas caps. They run from solid panels across windows using perforated window film that allows visibility from the inside. Nonetheless, “It was a challenge to create decals for a vehicle with all the moldings and different specs,” Watson explained.

The company is replacing the previous branding with the new decals on the company’s 45 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans and 34 Toyota Prius sedans.

Creating a Cross-Trained Fleet

Canine Company reps provide at-home consultations, installations, services, and dog training to customers. The Sprinter vans are geared toward the initial product installations, said John Kaminski, senior manager of field operations.

Field reps are cross-trained to do at least three things, Kaminski said. The reps in the Sprinters install and service the Invisible Fence Brand systems and train the dogs, while the reps in the sedans perform consultations, Invisible Fence Brand training, obedience training, and light service work.

About seven years ago, the company began migrating from 3/4-ton pickups to the more economical Sprinters. At that time, the company was also in the midst of switching from Honda Civics to the Prius.

“In 2004 and 2005, we purchased approximately 190,000 gallons of fuel; last year we purchased 83,000 gallons,” Kaminski said.

Although the fleet is managed through the company’s service control development, the reps take their vehicles home at night. The company uses a telematics system from NexTraq to keep tabs on the fleet.

Kaminski said the vans run to about 165,000 miles and each vehicle averages about 20,000 to 25,000 miles per year. When it’s time to sell, Kaminski usually puts up a “for sale” sign in front of the headquarters, though recently he has been selling through a wholesaler.

In terms of the rebranding initiative, the next step is to integrate images of different breeds into the decals. “We are using our actual clients’ dogs of different breeds,” said Jesse Rosenschein, marketing communications manager. “We are showcasing the dogs that our product keeps safe every day.”

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