The biggest capital expense for most plumbing companies is the fleet of service vehicles. For something so valuable, it is surprising how many plumbing companies make mistakes with their fleets. Here are the six most common mistakes.


Mistake No. 1:  Trying to save money with smaller vehicles

A service vehicle has two functions. The first is to get your plumber and the stuff he needs to complete a service call to the customer’s location. When company owners limit their view to the first function, they think about economizing with the smallest, most fuel-efficient vehicles that will work. This is a mistake.

The second function of a service vehicle is advertising. The service fleet is literally the best advertising vehicle a plumbing company has. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, each service vehicle amasses between 30,000 and 80,000 advertising impressions a day. To be on the higher end of the range, get a larger service van, such as a Sprinter, Nissan NV cargo van or other high-cube van or truck.


Mistake No. 2: Lettering a white van

When plumbing company owners fail to recognize the tremendous advertising potential of a service vehicle, they are more likely to slap decals and lettering on the truck to save money. They buy white vans because that’s what the local car dealers stock. This is a mistake.

Wrap the vehicle. Use any color but white. Wrapping a truck is not an expense. It is an investment in company growth. According to the OAAA, to get a thousand impressions from television advertising costs more than $20. A thousand radio impressions costs more than $7. Getting a thousand impressions from a vehicle wrap is around 35 cents.

Moreover, many women refer to white vans as “abduction vans” and will not park next to one.  These are the people who call you for service. Do not make them uncomfortable.


Mistake No. 3: Failing to emphasize the brand

Vehicle wraps give designers a lot of capabilities. Just because you have them, does not mean you should use them. Hire professional graphic designers to design your wraps and instruct them to emphasize the brand. The vehicle makes lots of impressions, but does so quickly. You want the brand to pop. It needs to be the focus of the wrap, not some clever graphic or image.


Mistake No. 4: Making the phone number larger than the website

Unless you have an alpha number, no one is going to remember your phone number. If people dial the number on a truck, it will be when the truck is stationary, so the number does not need to take up a lot of space. It should be no bigger than your license number. Instead, give space to your website. People might remember that. Plus, you want the URL to look familiar if someone is conducting an internet search for plumbers.

The exception is the back of the vehicle. You can run promotions off the back of the vehicle since people will see it when they are stuck behind you at a traffic light. Give people a reason to call with a contest or special offer. You can use large magnets to test different ideas and to make seasonal promotions.


Mistake No. 5: Advertising for others

You have special status with a faucet or water heater manufacturer. Include it on your website for SEO purposes, but do not clutter your service vehicles with it unless you are getting paid (and even then, it is still a bad idea).  Every square inch on your vehicle is valuable. Do not give it away. Advertising a brand you do not own is like putting money in someone else’s bank account.  


Mistake No. 6: Omitting a USP

One of the rules of outdoor advertising is the message has to be brief. The rule of thumb for billboards is six to eight words. Follow that for vehicles if you can, though it is possible to use more words since you are in motion with other vehicles. The length should be just about right for your unique selling proposition or USP.

A USP is a short statement about why you are different from other plumbing companies. It should give consumers a reason to call you over your competitors. If you do not have a USP, make that the top of your project list. If you struggle to come up with something, invest in a marketing consultant to help you. It will be money well spent.

Your fleet may be one truck or one hundred. If you are making the mistakes cited here, start taking corrective action now. Your capital investment is too important to underutilize.