Walter Anderson Plumbing Inc. tracks its advertising dollars closely. Every customer that calls in is asked, “How did you hear about our company?” and that information is logged carefully.
But it is no surprise that “I saw your truck on the road” has had a dramatic increase in responses from customers for the past year.
The uncommonly pink Isuzu box van with the caricature of a knight with a plunger on its rear doors is hard to miss, and company President Mary Jean Anderson wouldn't have it any other way.
“We have seen a tremendous increase in revenues since the trucks hit the road,” says Anderson. “Their marketing value has just exceeded all my expectations.”
To illustrate, Anderson informed PM that the company tracking of customer responses posted “I-saw-your-truck-on-the-road” annual revenues of $11,000 for the year prior to the pink knight trucks; after the six trucks were on the move, that same amount of revenue was reached in only four months.
Initially a nurse by trade, Anderson joined now ex-husband Walter in 1985 after the company removed itself from the new construction market it had been based in since 1978. Now a licensed plumber, she recently bought Walter's share of the business when he retired, and continued to run the operation. It was then that she started a marketing campaign geared toward women. “Most of the service call decisions in a household are made by women,” Anderson explains.
With the colors of the company logo already pink and black, and taking a cue from Walter Anderson's on-hold message song (“Help! I need a plumber!” featuring unique lyrics to The Beatles' “Help!”), “We're your knight in shining armor with a plunger” was added to six of the company's 21 vehicles.
At first none of the 51 employees wanted to drive the pink trucks because, let's face it, you'd have to be pretty sure of your masculinity to park at your supply house with a pink service van.
But with such a wave of positive customer feedback and the incredible increase in profits, the technicians now are fighting over who gets the next repainted van.
“This is usually our slow time, but we've been pretty steady,” Anderson says. “Though our increase in work has been a growing trend, I believe the new trucks have played a big part.
“The vans are all over town, and they're entertaining,” Anderson beams. And though the cost per vehicle to be repainted was high, it becomes a permanent marketing tool with a clear return on investment. Compare that to the cost of Yellow Pages advertising, which needs yearly renewing, maintenance and tracking.
Anderson believes you can't afford not to take the plunge and update the trucks. “It's one of the smartest things we've done.”