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upping_the_anteWhen transportation industry vet Maury Westerdale retired from Ford in the early ’90s, he invested in a storage facility and discovered the benefit of having a rental truck program as part of his business.

The need for a turnkey truck rental program inspired Westerdale to found On The Move, Inc., in 1992. The Dearborn, Mich.-based company allows a truck owner/operator to set their own rates and advertise their company with eye-catching graphics installed on the side of the truck, creating a personalized moving billboard.

Although the original target market for leased rental trucks was the self-storage industry, real estate agents for more than 15 years now, have reaped the benefits of having a moving billboard for their business.

“The real estate industry is the textbook definition of a referral business,” says CJ Steen, On The Move’s marketing director. “Not only do agents seek referrals, but numerous businesses seek agents to refer business to them. This is an ideal way to get the word out.”

Practically everyone needs a moving truck when going through a move, and On The Move’s philosophy allows real estate agents to loan a moving truck out to their clients, advertising the “buy or sell with me, use this truck for free” concept.

“Not only are agents offering a huge benefit for their clients who will then spread the word about the benefit of having a truck at their disposal, they’ll be driving the truck around,” Steen says. “Clients will be advertising for the real estate agent as they roll through town.”

Advertising on Wheels
Brian Molisse, broker/owner of Molisse Realty Group in Plymouth, Mass., first learned about On The Move at a National Association of REALTORS® tradeshow and saw it as a value-added service he could provide his clients.

“The moving truck offering has been very well-received by our clients. While most people hire professional movers, the On The Move truck is perfect for the client to move smaller items, valuables and incidentals,” says Molisse. “The truck acts as a ‘moving billboard’ and we’ve received a great many calls from people who are contacting us after seeing the truck on the road, in front of a house, in their neighborhood or at an event.”

Molisse goes on to explain that his firm also promotes the use of its moving truck to potential sellers as a value-added item, as well as a marketing tool that promotes the company, its website and, therefore, its listings.

“Many times, this is a factor that tips the scale in our favor as it sets our company apart from the rest,” says Molisse. “The truck advertises for us constantly, anywhere and everywhere it happens to be, day and night, 24/7. The truck is large and visible, and even when it’s parked in the lot of our office, it’s a constant advertiser for our business.”

Mickie Cioccia, a real estate broker with Mickie C. and Company Realty in Katy, Texas, says the firm’s buyers, sellers and past clients are allowed to use the truck.

“For those people that want to move themselves, they love it, and wherever it is, people are reading it,” she says. “People always tell us they see us all over, and that’s been great for business.”

Betty Osborn, senior vice president, homecare administrator of Coldwell Banker Gosslee in Shreveport, La., says the real estate agency began offering a free moving truck in 2005 and chose to lease its trucks from On The Move.

“I found them to be extremely easy to work with, and if there’s ever a question, I do not hesitate to call,” she says. “With our program, we offer the trucks for a 24-hour period to buyers and sellers free of charge. Our company graphics and information are shown on the sides and back of the moving trucks, so every time they’re being used or even on the road, we have 24 hours of advertising for us.”

Benefits Abound
Osborn notes that when the trucks aren’t being used by clients, real estate professionals themselves are able to take advantage of them. Not only does this help them get around, it keeps the trucks on the road and in front of people.

Another great use of the truck is for community goodwill. Donating the truck to local charities is a great way to get a real estate company’s name positioned in a positive light, something that Mickie C. and Company Realty has taken advantage of.

“We let special groups like our Chamber of Commerce use it for free,” says Cioccia. “It’s nice to drive up to an event and see yourself advertising. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts use it a lot too.”

Molisse also saw the truck lease as an opportunity to give back to the community, lending out the truck to assist local charities and community groups.

“Molisse Realty Group receives a lot of free promotion on social media sites from its many clients, community groups and charities that use the truck,” says Molisse. “They’re excited to be able to use the truck for free and love taking photos of the truck in action during their move or at their charitable/community event.”

Steen mentions another way for real estate professionals to utilize their customized graphics is to have other companies advertise on the back door to offset some of the cost of the truck. She says, “The visual impact of a mobile billboard with the power to place your message where your clients are can be accomplished now with the lowest cost per impression of any major advertising medium.”

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