Truck Of The Month -- October 2006
Sandpiper Plumbing Inc., Cape Coral, Fla.
Logo Design - Just Another Day At The Beach
Sandpiper Plumbing Inc., owned and operated solely by Mark Simone and his wife Janice since August 2003, services the plumbing repair, remodel and renovation needs of Cape Coral, Fla., and its surrounding areas. But even as a small shop, they understand their truck is their largest marketing tool.
The Sandpiper truck is a 2001 Chevy 3500 commercial cutaway with a 10-ft. Spartan box in back, which features the image of a sandpiper bird (more on that later) and large identifying graphics. “I wanted my logo and phone number as large as possible so it could be read from longer distances,” Simone informs us.
A competitor of Simone's traded this particular van in to a local Ford dealer. But their loss was Sandpiper's gain. “We had been looking for a truck like this,” says Simone. “And when this one became available, we jumped right on it.”
There were existing steel-tubing shelving frames in the back, which the company took advantage of. But the wooden shelves were removed, replaced and modified with plastic bins, dividers and organizers so everything is laid out neatly. “Just a glance around the bins is all it takes to see if you're running low on any materials,” he says.
With home base located in southwest Florida, Sandpiper Plumbing encounters a few circumstances unique to its area. One being the more than 400 miles of canals, where many canal-front homes feature docks that Sandpiper helps install water lines to (docklines). The other being hurricanes.
“The last two years have taught us that when the hurricanes are heading our way, our customers forget all about their plumbing problems and concentrate on preservation of life and property,” Simone says. Since phones are dead the week before and after a storm, Sandpiper gets proactive and calls its customers for business. “We offer to help them protect their property; we offer to put up storm panels and put away outside items that could blow away. Our out-of-state homeowners really appreciate the call and are impressed by the fact that someone like their plumber is concerned about their home or rental property.”
When the wind's not blowing, Sandpiper offers the usual things one expects from a plumber - faucet repairs and replacements, toilet repairs and installations, as well as water heaters and disposals. It also strives to educate its customers about biological drain cleaning products and water and energy conservation. “We offer products like Bio-Clean and hot water recirculator systems.”
And since water lines are only buried about 12 inches deep in the ground, and “cold” water flows from the tap at around 80 degrees F, Simone tells us, Sandpiper talks up the benefits of tankless water heaters. “They're a good option for a lot of our customers as the heater doesn't need to raise the temperature of the water here as much as other parts of the country.”
Now back to the bird. What does a small, brown bug-eater have to do with plumbing? Not much. But it does love the beach, and so do many of Sandpiper Plumbing's customers.
“My wife and I came up with almost 200 names for the company before we started. We had pages and pages of names hanging on the fridge, and as we thought of a new one we would write it down,” Simone tells the story. After narrowing down the list, they decided to take it to the streets. “I took our list to the local mall and supermarket and asked women to pick a name they liked and thought they would remember and trust.” And while “Sandpiper Plumbing” was not Simone's first choice, it was overwhelmingly the public's choice. Seasonal visitors and non-native residents agreed, too, saying that Sandpiper gave them a comfortable, family-owned, small-town feel.
Still, even though the name's a hit with customers, Simone has some advice for others designing a logo for their businesses: Simpler is better.
“Find a simple logo that's easy to duplicate on signage and easily recognizable on your vehicle. And remember, it will be seen thousands and thousands of times a year, so don't penny-pinch on your lettering.”