A few weeks ago on one of the rare days I wasn’t traveling for work, I was driving into the office and came to a stop at a red light behind a plumbing company’s vehicle. Having been writing about the HVAC and now plumbing industry for the past five years, I always take note of contractor’s vehicles — both wrapped and not.

Back to the red light — this van was plain white with red and blue lettering. It listed the company name, services, phone number and website, in a mix of fonts. (These two items happen to be on Service Roundtable CEO Matt Michel’s list of 12 mistakes plumbing contractors frequently make on their vehicles. If you want to learn more on what mistakes to avoid when wrapping your truck, turn to Michel’s column on page 34). But perhaps the most noticeable thing about the van was that it was badly rusted, and in more than one area. All I could think was I wouldn’t want this van pulling up at my house because it did not seem very professional.

Plumbers already have an uphill battle to climb when it comes to making a good first impression. They have to combat the stereotypes in consumers’ minds that plumbers are dirty, dishonest, untrustworthy and uneducated. (Those of us in the industry know the latter couldn’t be further from the truth). Therefore, it’s important that anything branded with your company name be kept clean, orderly and in top condition.

Let’s look at this month’s Truck of the Month (Read more on page 54) as an example. When Yuda Best wanted to rebrand his company as Oasis Plumbing, he shopped around like most smart businessmen.

“I was blown away by Kickcharge Creative’s vehicle wraps, but I couldn’t afford to start from scratch and rebrand,” Best says. “But the more I searched, I found there are not many companies that compare to them. After a few months, I called them back and decided to make the investment for the future. I didn’t want to look back in 10 years and wish I had made the wise decision from day one. 

“We wanted to get brand recognition and a better image of our company from our customers,” he continues. “Our image and our high quality of service goes hand-in-hand. We look respectable in clean uniforms with our trucks wrapped. I’m proud of our brand.”

And it has worked! Best says people tell him all the time how his van sticks out from afar because it’s eye- catching and memorable.

However, while your truck may be the first thing a customer sees when a technician arrives to their home, it’s also important to keep in mind that a good wrap is not the only thing to note when it comes to making a good first impression. Consumers also take note of the technician — is he or she presentable, is the tech in a clean uniform, does he or she make eye contact, speak clearly, wear protective shoe covers when entering the home and so on down the line.

Remember, your employees reflect on your company. If the tech makes a bad first impression, the customer will associate that bad experience with your company — much like I did with that van I sat behind at the red light. First impressions stick with people, whether they are good or bad, and there are no second chances. Make sure your company is sending the right message the first time, and every time after that.