Vinyl Wraps Offer Big Way to Advertise

An attention-grabbing service vehicle builds invaluable brand recognition.

Vinyl Wraps Offer Big Way to Advertise

  A typical vinyl wrap for a service van comes in pieces that fit a vehicle’s quarter panels, two rear “barn” doors, the middle side sections and the hood. Plumbers that operate in big cities with tall buildings should also consider extending the wrap design onto the roof of their vehicles for aerial-view exposure.

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For plumbers who think that vinyl wraps are too expensive, Kathy Haffly offers a flip-side perspective: Poor brand recognition leads to lost revenue.

“We’ve always had all of our trucks wrapped,” says Haffly, the former marketing manager for Signature Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The company recently was acquired by Granite Comfort, where Haffly now is the director of integration.

“It’s the least expensive tool you can use to get the greatest amount of exposure,” she says. “Wrapped trucks are moving billboards that advertise your company wherever they go, and they get people’s attention. It may not benefit you right then and there. But it’ll keep you top of mind when those people need a contractor.”

Nancy O’Hare-Zika, the owner of Yellow Dog Creative in Marquette, Michigan, a marketing firm that specifically caters to contractors, agrees. Yellow Dog designed Signature’s vinyl wraps.

“In the world of contractor marketing, vinyl wraps are your best form of visual advertising,” she says.

In fact, vinyl wraps can make a small plumbing company with, say, three trucks, seem like a much larger business, which is attractive to customers who view size as a sign of success. Call it the multiplier effect; just four identically branded vans driving hundreds of miles a day while making six to eight or so service calls translates into a lot of exposure, O’Hare-Zika explains.

“Customers tell us all the time that their customers say, ‘I see your vans everywhere,” she notes.

CATCHING EYEBALLS

Founded in 2008, Signature runs about 30 service vehicles of various sizes. The wraps cost roughly $2,200 on the low end for cars, about $4,200 for service vans and around $5,000 for larger box trucks. During the last 13 years, the company has invested roughly $100,000 in wraps — and they’re worth every penny, Haffly says.

The company tracks where customer leads come from by using unique phone numbers for different advertising mediums. For example, all the service trucks have the same phone number on their wraps, so when a customer calls that number, staff members can attribute the lead to the vehicle wraps, she says.

On average, the company’s vehicles rack up about 400,000 miles on the road a year, so the wraps enable Signature to reach a broad target audience for minimal cost, Haffly notes.

“That’s huge for us,” she says. “Our trucks are constantly moving around town, seven days a week, 365 days a year, plus they’re parked on jobs in the neighborhoods they service, which provides additional exposure, especially with more customers working from home.

“Millions of people a year see our trucks.”

LESS IS MORE

The keys to a successful, eye-catching wrap are bold colors, a great logo and a simple design, O’Hare-Zika says.

“If it’s easily readable, quickly tells a story and gets the name and brand across to the viewer, then it has done its job,” she says. “Overall, less is more.”

O’Hare-Zika doesn’t think it’s imperative to include a phone number. Instead, she believes the biggest value is the name recognition the wrap generates. She also advises listing all of a company’s services if they’re not obvious in the name of the company.

Clients typically want to include their company’s phone number and/or their website address. But most people aren’t in a position to write down that information while they’re driving, she adds.

“All you need is a wrap that makes people remember your company’s name,” she explains. “If you must include a phone number, put it on the back door, because only people who are stopped behind you will have time to write it down.”

FIND A REPUTABLE DESIGNER

It’s important to use a designer with a good reputation as well as a company that’s experienced at printing and installing wraps. A typical Yellow Dog client will pay about $1,000 for design services and $6,000 to $8,000 to have the wrap printed and installed by a third-party vendor, she says.

At Yellow Dog, it typically takes about six weeks to go from design to installation. Designers can input a customer’s vehicle identification number into a software program and get detailed specifications for the vehicle — things such as the size of various vehicle panels, the exact location of side mirrors and the gas-tank cover and so forth, she notes.

“That way we don’t end up with a gas-cap lid in the middle of, say, someone’s face,’ O’Hare-Zika says.

A typical vinyl wrap for a service van, for example, comes in pieces that fit a vehicle’s quarter panels, two rear “barn” doors, the middle side sections and the hood. But plumbers that operate in big cities with tall buildings should also consider extending the wrap design onto the roof of their vehicles for aerial-view exposure, she advises.

“Only a small percentage of our clients do it, but for an extra $700 or so, it provides an added benefit,” O’Hare-Zika says.

In addition, wraps are removable if necessary, she adds.

PAY FOR VIEW

While some plumbers won’t invest in wraps because of the cost, O’Hare-Zika says there’s a way to defray some of the expense: Ask a plumbing distributor or the manufacturers of items you use and endorse — think toilets, water heaters and the like — if they provide what’s known as co-op dollars.

“Almost every manufacturer will pay for a portion of the wrap’s cost if their name or a picture of their product is on the wrap,” she explains. “Every manufacturer has different co-op requirements regarding the size of the displayed name or photos. It never hurts to ask if co-op money is available.”

While it may be difficult to quantify the revenue gained from vinyl wraps, O’Hare-Zika says the best return on investment is brand recognition.

“Plumbing, heating and cooling are not call-to-action industries,” she points out. “People don’t just wake up one day and decide to install a new water heater or a furnace. So it’s important to professionally brand your company so when those people do need your service, there’s no question about who they’re going to call. That makes a vinyl wrap an investment in future sales.”

For Haffly, vinyl wraps are a no-brainer.

“They’re the heart and soul of our marketing efforts — they’re what people see first,” she says. “If someone would tell me they can’t afford them, I’d tell them they can’t afford not to have them.”  



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