Uniforms, Wraps Bring Company New Life

A more uniform approach to branding helped Las Vegas plumbing company hit the marketing jackpot

Uniforms, Wraps Bring Company New Life

Members of the Atlas Plumbing team in Las Vegas wear their rebranded uniforms. From left are co-owner Rod Ray and technicians David Smith, Eliseo Banuelos, Brandon Bilyeu and Danny Lloyd.

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Some plumbers may scoff at the idea that a marketing makeover could dramatically amp up their service calls and revenue. Sunshine Ray, co-owner of Atlas Plumbing in Las Vegas, definitely is not one of them. After all, seeing is believing.

Shortly after the company implemented a new branding campaign in June 2018, centered on new vinyl wraps for service vehicles and retro-looking technician’s uniforms, revenue doubled compared to the same month a year before. The rebranding effort also included a redesigned website and company logo, Ray says.

The distinctive and dapper uniforms feature brown pants, light-gray shirts, brown suspenders, brown bow ties and brown flat caps (also called newsboy caps). The eye-catching vinyl wraps showcase a new company logo and mascot that both evoke the same vintage vibe as the uniforms.

“Our numbers started going up significantly the month we started the new marketing campaign,” says Ray, who co-owns the company with her brother, Rod Ray. The siblings assumed ownership of the company in July 2018 after their father, Bob Ray, who established the company in 1980, retired, she says.

“I’m not exaggerating: As soon as the new website launched and people saw the trucks and the uniforms, the year-over-year revenue comparison was crazy — absolutely nuts,” she says.

The upswing in service volume also yielded an unexpected benefit: a substantial increase in residential service and repair work. That decreased the company’s dependence on work for property management companies. It also increased cash flow because residential customers pay faster than companies, she adds.

Work related to property managers used to generate about 70% of the company’s annual gross revenue, while residential work generated the rest. “We felt that was too heavily weighted toward property management,” she says. “Now the percentage is flipped around, with 70% coming from residential work and 30% from property management.”

“We still like the property management work,” she says. “But with residential work, there’s better cash flow and less collection work.”

DIFFERENTIATION IS KEY

When Ray agreed to become a second-generation co-owner, she had just one caveat: She wanted to put her college degree in marketing to work by creating a new and distinctive image for the company. Even though their father had nurtured a successful business, the siblings felt they could build on the solid base he’d established.

Ray’s push for rebranding was sparked in part by a membership in Service Nation Alliance, a contractor coalition that teaches best business practices. “What I learned left me super inspired about branding and what it says about your company,” she recalls.

The point of marketing is to make a company stand out from the competition. And because so many plumbers who use uniforms look the same (if they use them at all) and many contractors drive bland-looking service vehicles, those two areas posed great opportunities for Atlas Plumbing to differentiate from competitors, she explains.

“My brother really likes to wear overalls, and I thought that old-fashioned look just feels good,” she notes. “It makes people remember a better era in which people were nicer and more polite and things were built better.”

Furthermore the company’s mascot — nicknamed “Bob” by the company’s 13 technicians in honor of Ray’s father — wears a similar garb. As such, the technician uniforms literally bring the mascot to life, she says.

Initially, there was a little reluctance from older technicians who didn’t see the point of the retro uniforms. “But now they love it — they’ve totally embraced it,” she says.

Customers love the look, too. “Everyone digs it,” she says. “Customers ask technicians if they can take pictures of them. It’s pretty exciting.” And plumbing competitors were wowed when they saw the Atlas Plumbing trucks parked at supply houses around the city, she adds.

GOOD RETURN ON INVESTMENT

What does Ray’s father think about the rebranding effort? “He loves it,” Ray says. “Sometimes he just laughs at my ideas and says I’m crazy. But he’s super proud of what we’re doing.”

Rebranding isn’t a low-cost endeavor, however. That’s especially true when it encompasses so many different components, ranging from a new play-on-words slogan — “Your trusted plumbing fixture since 1980” — all the way to new invoices and business cards.

“A fully integrated campaign is what branding is all about,” Ray explains. “If people see enough of something — the same colors, the same mascot and the same slogan, for example — it gets to the point where they recognize you as soon as they see those things. But it takes awhile before people start recognizing that and putting it all together.”

Ray points out another consideration: Even the best marketing campaign is useless if technicians provide lousy service. As such, comprehensive training and skilled technicians are critical. (On Google reviews, Atlas Plumbing earns an average rating of 4.8 out of five stars.)

The rebranding campaign represents about a $45,000 investment, Ray estimates. That cost includes the uniforms; the website-design branding and coordination with the different advertising mediums (performed by Scorpion, a digital marketing firm); the logo and truck wrap designs (created and developed by KickCharge Creative); and printing and applying the vehicle wraps (done by CL Visual and Wrapped LV, respectively).

“It was a lot of money, but it’s paid off by increasing revenue,” she says. “And I think it will continue to do so. As long as our service continues to match our image, we’re going to do great.”  



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