How to Start a Mobile Billboard Business in 7 Easy Steps

Did you know that billboards are now mobile?

That means you can buy a truck that has billboards on the side and sell that advertising space to companies. 

This is a big deal because one of the hurdles in getting into the billboard business is finding a location that allows billboards. Most municipalities have very strict laws around this.  

But with mobile billboards, you just need to buy a truck with the right equipment, find interested clients, and drive your truck around in high traffic areas to get maximum exposure for your clients’ ads.  

This article is going to cover how to get started in the mobile billboard advertising business

We will go through each part of the process, step-by-step. Here’s a list of what we’ll cover:

Before we dive into the steps, we will cover some introductory questions you may have about the mobile billboard advertising business, including how much it costs to get started, how much you can make, and what type of mobile billboards are available. 

If you want to skip the introductory stuff and jump ahead to the seven steps, click here

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy or invest, and it is not financial, investment, legal, or tax advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any investment or other decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.

Table of Contents

How Much Does a Mobile Billboard Cost?

The price of a new, fully outfitted truck with static billboards on the side can start at $24,000. If you want a top-of-the-line digital option, a new truck with state-of-the-art LED screens can cost $135,000. Source

Of course, prices for these mobile billboard trucks can cover a broad range, with used models being substantially more affordable. Unsurprisingly, when I searched on eBay there were plenty of new and used mobile billboard trucks for sale.

Might be a good place to start if you want to get a broad view of the market.

What Type of Mobile Billboard Should I Get?

As we just covered, there are two types of mobile billboards: static vinyl billboards and digital billboards that use LED technology.  

Which is right for you?

You should get a vinyl mobile billboard if you don’t have a huge budget because they are significantly cheaper than mobile billboards with LED displays. If you have the money, buying a mobile billboard with LED displays can be a great way to generate more income because they will command higher rents from advertisers.

How Much Can I Make with a Mobile Billboard Business?

Based on calculations provided by LED Truck Sales, you may be able to make $290,000 per year with a single mobile billboard advertising truck. The actual profit you generate will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of truck you own, your marketing and sales efforts, and your operational efficiency. 

As I am sure you know, profit is revenue minus expenses.   So we’ll take a look at both pieces of the equation to get a better understanding of how much you can expect to make running a mobile billboard business.

Revenue

Here are some guidelines on how much you may be able to charge your customers:

  • Mobile Billboard Truck, Static/Print: Between $800 to $2,400 per truck per 8 hour period
  • Mobile Billboard Truck, Digital/LED/Video: Between $1,250-$3,600 per truck per 8 week period

Information courtesy of Blueline Media

Based on these numbers, you can make some incredible revenue if you can fully book your trucks throughout the year. But that’s going to take some work.  You need to have a great marketing plan and be a boss at closing deals with customers.  

Now let’s turn to the other side of the equation and find out what you can expect to spend running your mobile billboard business.

Expenses

The costs of running a mobile billboard advertising business include wages for your drivers, gas, insurance, repair and maintenance costs for your trucks and equipment, GPS tracking services, and marketing expenses.

If you have financed the purchase of your mobile billboard vehicle and equipment, then you will need to factor in the loan payments as well.

According to LED Truck Sales, you can see expenses of $77,000 per truck.

Some other interesting statistics that they cite:  They show gross revenue of $367,119.96. This leads to gross operating profit of around $290,000 per truck, with a 79% gross margin and a 21% break-even ratio.  Those numbers are pretty compelling.

Source

So, now that we’ve covered some of the introductory questions, let’s jump into how you can get started with this business.

How to Start Your Mobile Billboard Business in 7 Steps

Step 1: Establish Your Mobile Billboard Business

The first thing you need to do is set up your mobile billboard advertising business.  

This includes selecting a name and logo that you like and creating a website (if you want your business to have an online presence). The site does not have to be incredibly fancy or cost a lot of money to set up. There are a lot of resources available to help you with this. 

In fact, Google allows you to build your first business website for free

It is also important to get your new mobile billboard advertising business on Google. You can do this by listing it on Google My Business. This way, people who are searching for mobile billboard advertising services in your area can find you. 

If you want to learn more about how to do this, check out this tutorial from Google.

If your business is going to be a corporation, LLC, or some other business entity, you should establish that as well. You can hire a lawyer to help you or you can use many of the online resources that can help you set up your business entity.

You should consult with your accountant and lawyer before taking this step, so you understand the tax and legal consequences of setting up this type of organization for your business.

Step 2: Create a Business Plan

A business plan is essentially a roadmap for your business. 

It is important because it organizes your thoughts relating to your business into an actionable plan. Some things to include are budgeting, identifying your target market and competition, pricing strategy, marketing strategy, operational plans (how you plan to run your mobile billboard business), and growth projections.

Don’t stress too much about getting it perfect. I would use it more as an organizational tool at this point.

Another benefit of having a business plan is that it can help you raise money from banks and investors. These folks will want to see a professional-looking business plan as part of their lending or investing process.  

Don’t know how to get started? The Small Business Administration has a great tool to help you write your business plan

Step 3: Buy Your Mobile Billboard Truck

Buying your mobile billboard truck is probably the most important step in the process.  

As we covered above, there are really two options. You can buy a truck that has static print advertising or you can get a truck with digital display advertising.  

The cost difference between these two options is significant, but so is the potential revenue. Hopefully, you have already made the decision on which type of truck to buy when you created your business plan (if not, you absolutely need to run the analysis on which truck makes sense based on your strategy).

So, assuming you know what type of truck you want, where can you buy your mobile billboard truck?

Here are some companies that offer mobile billboard trucks for sale:

If you have an existing truck and want to retrofit it, there are companies that specialize in that. You can check out Ad Runner Trucks. This could be a nice way to save on some of the start-up costs for this business.  

Install GPS in Your Trucks to Build Client Confidence

Once you have bought your truck, you will want to outfit it with GPS trackers.

As we covered, you operate this business by driving around areas with high traffic and during times when that traffic is greatest, so you can maximize the exposure that your ads receive. 

Clients may be concerned that you just park your truck somewhere and call it a day.  

You can put that concern to bed by providing verification reports to your clients based on these GPS trackers. These reports will prove that your mobile billboard trucks are out on the road in the right places and during the right times to provide maximum ad exposure.  

Make Your Mobile Billboard Business Passive

Another great benefit of GPS trackers is that you can easily outsource the driving of your trucks and make this a passive income business. You don’t need to hire a highly-skilled driver to make deliveries or perform other complex functions. They just need to be in the right place at the right time. 

Training should be minimal and, thanks to the GPS, you can easily confirm that your drivers are doing what they should be doing at all times.

Step 4: Financing Your Mobile Billboard Business

Unless you have a ton of cash lying around, you will probably want some help getting the cash to pay for your mobile billboard truck. Fortunately, financing is available. Some companies, like Legion Digital can connect you with equipment financing companies that specialize in these types of vehicles.

You can also shop around and do your own research. SBA loans or traditional bank financing may be available. Or you can simply run a google search for equipment financing companies and see what’s out there.

Of course, you can finance through non-traditional means too, such as through peer-to-peer lending, using a home equity line of credit, or withdrawing contributions from your Roth IRA (be careful of tax and penalty implications).

You can even “finance” your costs by partnering with someone who will front you the money in exchange for a share of the profits.

Step 5: Create a Marketing Plan

If you want a successful business, developing a good marketing strategy is key. You need to make sure that people know about your business when you launch.  But you also need to maintain a strong marketing program so you can keep getting clients and growing your business.

So how do you do this?

Here are some marketing strategies you can use for your mobile billboard advertising business.

For online marketing, you can do the following:

  • Set up a Google My Business, so that people looking to advertise their business on mobile billboards can find you
  • Get a great website that draws traffic to your business (you can hire an SEO expert to help you do this)
  • Buy online ads that target your demographic

If you want to go old school, you can also advertise in your local newspapers, circulars, or through direct mail, flyers, etc.

Or you can do the most obvious thing ever:

Try experimenting with various marketing strategies – you may be surprised at what works best.

Step 6: Obtain Insurance, Licenses, Permits, Etc.

This step is about getting your legal and risk issues squared away.

First, you should get insurance for your mobile billboard advertising business. You will want to look into the following:

  • General liability coverage
  • Workers compensation insurance for your employees
  • Commercial auto insurance for your vehicles
  • Commercial property insurance for your equipment.

In addition to getting the right insurance coverages, you will need to check with your state and local municipalities to see if they permit mobile billboard advertising and what restrictions apply. Finally, make sure you get appropriate licenses and permits to operate your business.

If you need help, you should hire a qualified lawyer to guide you through this process.  While you are at it, you will want to ask you lawyer to draft up some solid contracts that you can use with customers who want to use your mobile billboard advertising services.

Step 7: Launch Your Mobile Billboard Business

Now that you’ve got everything in place, you should prepare to launch your mobile billboard business. 

  • Begin your marketing efforts – reach out to local businesses and get the word out, advertise online and in print, and follow the other marketing strategies we outlined earlier.  
  • Hire your workers and get payroll set up.
  • Get your presentations ready for sales meetings with potential clients.

It’s a lot of prep work, but once you do it, you will be ready to launch your brand new mobile billboard advertising business!

Conclusion

So, there you have it – seven simple steps to starting your mobile billboard business. Like any business, your mobile billboard business will take some planning, effort, and skill to succeed, but the rewards may be more than worth it. Best of luck!

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