Tips for Buying a Moving Truck for Your Home Staging BusinessOct 15, 2021
Many home staging companies are experiencing rapid growth and are looking for ways to scale their processes. There comes a point where you need to forgo the moving company and buy your own box truck or cargo van to transport your staging furniture.
When you are doing multiple vacant staging jobs each week, it is much more convenient, and possibly less expensive, to have your truck and crew in-house. Plus, as you will learn that it can be a great marketing tool for your business! Instead of advertising for U-Haul, why not be advertising your own staging business as you drive around town?
Purchasing a Moving Truck
There are so many factors to consider when buying a moving truck for your staging business. We have gone through this process many times since starting our own staging business in 2007, so we are going to walk you through the do’s and don’ts of shopping for a moving truck for your staging business.
New vs. Used Box Truck or Cargo Van
While new trucks are more expensive up front, they do usually come with a warranty for the first 3-5 years, which can offset the hefty repair bills that often come with used equipment. Those repairs are usually considerably more expensive than a comparable repair on your personal car. Keep in mind that every staging day that your truck is in the shop is a day that you will have to rent a replacement.
Invest in a thorough inspection by a trusted mechanic before committing to a pre-owned truck. Have them run scan tools and take it for a test drive.
Plan repairs and maintenance into your budget.
Even new box trucks require maintenance, especially when they are out working hard for you on the road every day. And dependability is key since
Your moving truck is part of the branding and marketing strategy of your staging business.
Your truck can be a traveling billboard for your staging business and needs to be recognizable as part of your staging business’s brand. We highly recommend that you invest in a truck wrap to add your logo to the side of the box. At a minimum, place magnetic signs with your phone number on the truck doors. A bonus of new vehicles is that they are often already a generic white, while a used one may bear the colors and logo of another company. For example, large truck rental companies rotate their fleet and may be a great source for a well-maintained used truck. However, there is a good chance that a used truck may be painted a bright yellow or another color that doesn’t work with your branding. Get a quote for painting both the cab and the box.
When we bought our first truck for staging, we made some BIG mistakes on branding. We had it wrapped in red and used photos from stages. The problem is that we quickly fell out of love with the red and went to all black and white branding for a fresher, more sophisticated look.
Even worse than the red, though, was the pictures of the stages. Even though our staging inventory has always been neutral and as timeless as possible, photos of staged homes will look dated pretty quickly. Not what you want for your staging and design business!
Features to look for in your staging truck:
Go with a Cummins engine over an International engine. There may be geographic or climate factors, such as steep or icy roads, that may impact your engine choice, though. Do your research and talk to other truck owners in your area.
Look for a box truck that has rails or, even better, an E-track ratchet strap system. Strapping your load at intervals will save you from a series of unfortunate events.
An air lift suspension system will allow an adjustment of a few precious inches that can be critical to getting under a low hanging limb or matching the level of a dock. Very handy. Pay attention to and make a note of the exact height of your truck. You can’t tell how low the tree limbs are but clearances of bridges and overpasses, etc are usually clearly marked.
The length of your truck will determine how much you can cram in there. If you are staging large homes with more than one living or dining area, you may want one that is 26 ft. Our old truck was 24’ and the extra two feet does make a difference. On the other hand, if you mainly stage small cottages or lofts, a Sprinter van may serve your needs. Plus, a van is a lot easier to navigate and find parking.
A ramp is better than a lift gate. Certain features can have a huge impact on your efficiency. Some of those choices may seem counter-intuitive. For example, it may sound like a lift gate on the back would make loading easier. While it might make one load at a time less work, it takes a ridiculous amount of time for each load to lower and then raise the platform again to get the next one. A dolly on a ramp will cut that load time in half.
For more help building a successful and profitable home staging business from the ground up, check out our online and in-person training for home stagers.
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