Managing a Fleet in a Growing Business
The VW Beetle is one of several different types of vehicles in Bug Doctor's fleet. Each white-colored fleet vehicle includes several company logos.
For New Jersey-based Bug Doctor Termite & Pest Control, expanding its services to new states means growth in employees as well as fleet. With 32 vehicles and counting, Bug Doctor now serves customers in five pest control divisions, each with specific fleet needs.
Stuart Aust, owner and president, started Bug Doctor Termite & Pest Control with his wife as a mom-and-pop operation in Paramus, N.J., in 1992.
As the business grew, Aust expanded his company’s reach into other pest control divisions. In 1996, Bird Doctor was born. Three divisions soon followed: Mosquito Doctor, Animal Doctor (trapping of skunks, raccoons, squirrels) and Bedbug Doctor.
In 2009, Bug Doctor took one of its divisions nationwide. With its other pest control divisions mainly serving customers in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, Bird Doctor Nationwide now has customers as far as Texas and California.
Currently, Bug Doctor is averaging a revenue increase of 10% to 12% each year, says Aust. In December, the company was up about 16% in revenue. In the face of such growth, how does Bug Doctor manage the challenges of fleet?
A Diverse and Customized Fleet
With an expanding reach, Bug Doctor needs a reliable and up-to-date fleet. Aust decided to start leasing his vehicles instead of buying them. Cycling fleet every three years not only keeps maintenance costs in check, “We found that gives our brand a clean and fresh look,” he says.
Each field service truck is equipped with a customized commerical cap that features a toolbox on the driver's side and port windows on the passenger side to eliminate a blind spot while driving.
Although each fleet vehicle wears the color white, Bug Doctor’s fleet is made up of several different types of vehicles. The trucks are broken down by division: 13 trucks for Bug Doctor, 10 trucks for Bird Doctor Nationwide, one for Animal Doctor and one for Bedbug Doctor.
Of the 32 vehicles, the fleet includes several field service trucks — a mix of Ford F-150s, Ford Rangers, Toyota Tacomas and Chevrolet Silverados — along with four Ford Transit Connect vans used by the sales team for inspections, two Nissan Maximas and one VW Beetle for the management team.
By cycling fleet every three years, Bug Doctor has the flexibility to choose vehicles that work best for each division at that time.
When Beetle production went dormant for a year and the color white wasn’t available, Aust switched to Ford Transit Connect vans for the sales team. The vans’ interiors are upfitted with shelving and storage. “They look like a mini office,” Aust says.
However, the company is looking to go back to the Beetles. “The Transit Connects have been great for advertising and storage space, but the sales team would prefer to go back to Beetles, especially with parking in New York,” says Tim Periard, the branch manager in charge of fleet operations.
Additionally, four new Tacoma trucks will be added to the fleet this year to replace the Ford Rangers, which are no longer available. Many of the drivers wanted more legroom. “We have learned that it’s important to involve the employees in choosing the types of vehicles,” says Aust.
Each truck gets a customized commercial cap and a toolbox on the driver’s side. Job-specific equipment includes bird deterrent products, ladders, power tools and safety equipment for the area lifts. The termite truck needs specific tools, including heavy hammer drills to drill through cement slabs and shovels to dig around the property.