I see them everywhere. No, not dead people … HVAC service vehicles. Having previously worked in the industry for more than nine years, I became keenly aware of all things HVAC. Fast forward five years, and not only am I back at my desk, but I never stopped noticing industry elements, especially HVAC service vehicles.
While driving into work after rejoining The NEWS team, I was formulating story ideas when suddenly I noticed an HVAC truck in front of me — basically white with simple information. I snapped a photo and continued driving to the office. (Please don’t send me letters about distracted driving; I was stopped at a light.) Further down the road, I saw a second service truck. I was more impressed with this truck. It looked like a service vehicle wrapped in an American flag. It had my attention.
Many times, getting people’s attention is half the battle of getting their business. There are thousands of white trucks with company names, contact information, and a logo or two on the side. To be honest, I couldn’t tell you the name of one to save my life. In fact, as impressed as I was with that American flag-wrapped service vehicle, I can’t remember the name of that company, either. Most people don’t remember details, even when they are trying to. For example, there is a duct-cleaning company in my area that has a fleet of bright red trucks. The name rarely comes to mind quickly, but when someone asks me about having their ductwork cleaned, I instantly remember the company with the bright red trucks. I search, “red trucks, duct cleaning, Michigan” and then click on the images tab of the search engine. There it is — Safety King. I recognize the truck photo, remember the name, and I am halfway to a phone number to provide to the information seeker. It takes just a few seconds on my smartphone, and that company gets a possible lead because their truck stood out.
Why do your service vehicles stand out in traffic? Is it the loud thump of a radio or perhaps the work boots of your employee resting on the passenger side dashboard? I’ve seen both of those scenarios. I tried not to judge, but I wondered: What kind of company allows its employees to treat their trucks that way? Then, I wondered how they would treat my HVAC equipment if that is how they are treating their boss’ equipment. I saw one HVAC truck broken down on a blistering summer day and felt bad for the driver and passenger of the vehicle. I hoped that their employer was sending help quickly and that the vehicle was equipped to help its occupants survive the heat until assistance came. In each of these instances, my brain made a subconscious mental note about the company itself, not about the driver. It is important that you address with your employees the tremendous responsibility they possess as brand ambassadors while driving your trucks and making service calls. The messages their actions send vary and can often be controlled by the choices they make. The key to remember is that their actions and mannerisms while driving that truck directly reflect on your business.
TRAIN THE REFLECTION
If you do decide to pull your fleet in and paint all of them hot purple with yellow pin striping, please send me pictures. It will be memorable, and in a world of white trucks, you will stand out amongst the rest. Now if everyone gets into painting their trucks in super color fashion, we might end up with the NASCAR of HVAC service trucks. At that point, the white truck might be the new differentiator — go figure. At the end of the day, no matter what color your service truck is, it is your people who are truly the front-line brand ambassadors of your company. Invest time in training them to behave in ways and make choices that accurately reflect the values of your company. That’s how you make better employees and how you protect your brand. While you do that, I’ll keep my eyes on the road for that hot purple truck.
Publication date: 9/17/2018