“Complete customer satisfaction is more than a mission statement, it’s my mantra,” says Kirk Nash, CEO and president of On The Move Inc., the nation’s fourth largest truck-rental company. Nash and Maury Westerdale, partner and chairman, formed the business in 1991 after seeing the difficulty self-storage owners had when attempting to lease trucks for tenant use. Today, Boerne, Texas-based On The Move supplies the industry with trucks and insurance as part of a turnkey program.
Nash and Westerdale’s first-hand experience as facility owners gave them special insight into the industry. Westerdale, a storage pioneer, built his sites in Michigan in the '70s. Nash’s store, which opened in San Antonio four years ago, was full within a year. As purveyors of rental trucks, they’re experiencing phenomenal growth. “Our minimum growth was 20 percent in one year,” Nash says. As they abhor the hard-sell approach, the majority of their business comes from customer referrals.
“The idea of offering trucks for sale or lease with insurance and promotional graphics just took off,” Nash says. In 1992, the partners introduced their venture at a Self Storage Association tradeshow and took nearly 30 orders. Now, 5,400 of the company’s trucks can be found in facilities throughout Canada and the United States. There are even two in Russia.
“Approximately 20 percent of storage facilities in this country offer trucks. Those that offer truck rental have higher occupancy than equal facilities without them,” asserts Nash.
On The Move’s truck leasing costs $720 per month, plus a monthly insurance premium of $170 to $230, depending on location. The 48-month contract, which includes unlimited mileage, comes with $5 million in rental insurance ($1 million in New York). Also part of the package are a hand truck, furniture pads, storage products, marketing and training materials, rental forms, truck-condition reports, first-aid kits and fire extinguishers.
Access Self Storage in Dallas uses its trucks for self-promotion.
“We offer a guarantee that makes us different,” Nash says. “If an owner needs an early lease cancellation, it only costs him $2,500, which covers the cost of preparing the truck to re-enter the market.”
It gets even better: Trucks can be custom painted with a company logo and other graphics to serve as rolling billboards. On The Move can recommend a graphics company to handle the work, or owners can choose their own. Facilities can use the sides of the truck for self-promotion or “rent” the space to other companies for a fee.
“A rental truck is a profit center for a facility,” Nash says. “If you comp a customer one month of rent, you never recoup that cash.” Instead, operators can offer free truck use. When vehicles aren’t being used by tenants, they can be lent to out to charities for events. As they travel about town, the trucks advertise the facility and position it as a contributor to the community.
Finally, owners build equity with the lease program, Nash says. Depreciation schedules on trucks still favor businesses. “We expect our trucks to have approximately 60,000 miles after four years of service and be valued somewhere between $10,000 and $12,000.” An owner can sell the vehicle for a profit over the residual value or extend the lease and retain the insurance.
Nash figures if you’ve got an idea, you might as well bring it to life. Westerdale used his 30 years of experience as an engineer for Ford Motor Co. to design an aerodynamic body style for one truck model. In October, the company introduced a rear door that descends over the loading ramp and prevents truck theft. Another innovation is an automatic rear door that opens with a remote control. “This door helps eliminate injuries that occur with manual doors,” Nash says.
Last January, the company introduced its one-way rental program. A license defines a specific market determined by the number of trucks leased and dedicated to On The Move. Licensees receive 50 percent of each local or one-way rental, and sending dealers receive 20 percent. “What makes our one-way plan different is receiving dealers get 5 percent of the rental, something no other truck rental company offers,” Nash says. Vehicles are supported with Ford roadside assistance and warranty protection. An online reservation system allows dealers to function via the Internet.
As it becomes more sophisticated, the industry could become impersonal, Nash says. “The challenge is to find more needs for storage, to offer superior service yet make the storage experience personal for the tenant.” By fulfilling its goal of complete customer satisfaction, On The Move provides a product that allows owners to enhance customer service and provide that personal touch. For more information, call 800.645.9949; visit www.onthemovetrucks.com.