Some interesting comments from Darrin Thornton, PolySteel Alternative Building Systems, caused me to think about paving and pavement maintenance crews and how they look in the field. Thornton decided several years ago to use his vehicles as "mobile billboards" by for his local ready-mix supplier. The result, not surprising to many marketing pros, is increased recognition throughout the market and increased sales. This sounds simple, but it's amazing how many contractors do little or nothing to help themselves make an impression as they work on a job or even drive down a street to a job. Take a look at the next crew you see working. Can you see the company name? A logo? A phone number? An address? Does the equipment look like it all belongs together - like it's part of a fleet - or does it look like juts a motley collection of pieces? How much better, how much more professional, would that crew look if all the equipment matched? And what impact would that matching equipment have on the customer who takes a look out his window and sees an actual fleet on his job? And what about a future customer driving by, seeing a fleet on a job, with a big easy-to-read logo to remember? Your reaction as you look at this jobsite will be much like the reaction of a customer or potential customer who sees the same crew at work. Then, think about how your crew looks on the job - or better yet take a drive by one of your jobs, then ask yourself the same questions. If your reaction is a positive one, good for you. But if it's not, fixes are not that difficult or expensive. Logos, complete with phone numbers, should be on all your trucks and equipment. You can use magnetic signs, which you can easily switch from one truck to another, but applied or painted-on logos look even better. And consider painting your equipment so it looks like it belongs together. Select a color none of your competitors use, then paint all your equipment that color. You can tie everything together using the color as a focal point of your direct-mail marketing efforts. Then when a direct-mail piece lands on a prospect's desk, flashing the same color and logo, the connection is made: "This is a professional operation and if I'm going to get that type of work done I'm certainly going to give them a call." As the offseason approaches now is a good time to consider taking this step. Your equipment will soon be in the shop for maintenance and repair, so what better time to consider painting it? This is not to say that contractors without matching equipment or without logos don't do quality work or aren't professional operations. That is certainly not the case. But all things being equal, assuming most contractors know how to get the job done, you're selling professionalism, reliability, security, quality, peace of mind - in a word, integrity. And making sure your on-the-job crew looks like it guarantees that is a first step to getting the job.