Fleet vehicles remain the main source of advertising for many service companies, and standing out is becoming more and more competitive. Gone are the days of simply relying on word of mouth. Today’s HVACR contractor has to put forth an image that is both professional and memorable.
Fleet vehicles are the main — if not only — investment many contractors make in marketing. It’s an important line item in the budget to leave to chance, and smart contractors know how to make the most of their rolling billboards.
I spoke with Brian Stack recently for this month’s 20 Questions. When Stack Heating, Cooling & Electric changed their business from a hydronic and radiant heat focus to a more traditional forced air heating and cooling, they didn’t put a lot of money toward advertising.
Stack grew the business organically over time, but one thing he did from an advertising perspective was to invest significantly in his fleet. A runner-up in our inaugural Tops in Trucks Fleet Design Contest in 2007, the Stack Heating, Cooling & Electric vans remain the top source for leads.
Stack is a company that serves my local area, so I can attest at just how prominent these trucks
are … I see them all the time. The graphics are big and bold and stand out from all other vehicles on the road.
It’s no wonder Stack has seen more than $5 million growth in the past 10 years.
In a survey done by Service Nation Alliance of it’s members’ customers, a large percentage of respondents say your company stands out when your trucks are frequently in their neighborhood. That’s true, but only if your truck catches their attention.
It can’t look like all the other white vans in the neighborhood. White vans blend in. They might as well be invisible to consumers.
Throughout the past decade, service vehicles have continued to evolve from the boring, white van with black lettering into the attention-grabbing mobile billboards you see driving around city streets every day.
Savvy HVACR contractors are moving away from the tired old sunshine and snowflake designs that have long been associated with heating and cooling, opting instead to spice things up with a fleet design that will leave a memorable impression with customers and potential new business.
This is evident each and every year when we showcase the best of the best in our annual Tops in Trucks Fleet Design Contest.
Since its inception, the submissions have gotten more sophisticated — which shows that the industry is paying attention and getting better at taking advantage of this prime advertising real estate.
At the heart of it, the Tops in Trucks Fleet Design Contest is a celebration of branding excellence in HVACR.
The process of branding requires the integration of many things: vision, mission, message, image, differentiation, advertising, logo, name recognition, customer service, training and teamwork. These factors come together to produce a consistent and unique company service model.
A great truck design is more than simply good looks — it’s a communications tool that emphasizes the company’s brand.
Whenever I interview the Tops in Trucks Fleet Design Contest winners, the number one thing they tell me is they wish they’d made this investment sooner. Not one has expressed any regret over spending the money on branding their vehicles.
The point of branding is to have the customer view you as the only solution to their problem. To do that, you have to get their attention and communicate in a clear and concise way.
Over the years, our winners have showcased their understanding of what it means to communicate who they are using the biggest asset they have; their fleet.
You’ve invested a lot of money in your fleet and making sure it represents your company and generates business. Now is your chance to gain some recognition for all that effort.
I personally invite you to show off your pride and joy. There’s still time to enter this year’s Tops in Trucks Fleet Design Contest. Entry deadline is April 15 ... so get your trucks to the car wash and take some photos!
So, grab your camera and take some hi-resolution photos of your fleet, then head to hvacrbusiness.com/topsintrucks to fill out an entry form. I’m counting on you to make the judges’ job even more difficult this year.
Pete is the editor of HVACR Business magazine. He has spent his career working in and with trade media, both as a public relations practitioner and as an editor. He gained a great deal of expertise in the B2B arena, within large and medium sized advertising agencies. Be sure to follow Pete on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn!