Written by Chris Lambrinides
CHAPTER 17 - ON THE JOB SITE AND AROUND
You’re driving around all day from job to job. You park the company vehicle at swanky homes around town. Right? Right! Capitalize on this, and use it as a direct way to market your services.
In my company, vehicle lettering was responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in revenue. Think about that. Hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of appointments scheduled per year, all from vehicle lettering.
Keep in mind we had fifteen trucks on the road, but it’s all relative. If you have a lettered vehicle designed for response, you’re going to book jobs.
If you’re just starting out and testing the waters, this isn’t as important. If you do this full time or intend to make a career out of this, invest in professional lettering.
Professional vehicle lettering will usually pay for itself in the first six months or so of having it. From that point on, it’s all profit.
Your vehicle lettering should have your logo, phone number, and the services you offer. The logo is the least important part. Consider having the main service you offer and your phone number as the focal point.
In addition to lettering the sides of the vehicle, you should also do the back. When you are in traffic, potential customers sitting behind you will see it and take action.
Professional wraps are nice, but they can be expensive. You can get by with simple vinyl-cut lettering. You can also start out and test the waters with some simple magnetic lettering. My vehicle had magnetic lettering for years. The vehicle was mine personally, so I could just peel the letters off if I wanted to.
In the spring, I would coordinate our efforts each morning. The goal was to have all the trucks go to the gas station together in an attempt to get noticed. In certain towns, we would also try to fill up at certain gas stations at the same time. It delivered a powerful marketing message. Potential customers would see a fleet of lettered, neat, and clean vehicles all fill up simultaneously. This was even more powerful when we coordinated in our best and most profitable towns.
We didn’t do all that work in the same town as our office, so it wasn’t always easy to pull off. But when we could, it was powerful, and it got the phone ringing.
I’m sure you already have some company shirts made up. If not, get on it. They are an affordable way to add some professionalism to your company.
You can do a simple, standard T-shirt design in your company colors. Or you could step it up to some nice collared shirts. I would recommend this if you have employees. It’s a nice way to keep everyone looking neat and tidy.
If you have employees, and they are uniformed, you can bring in a lot of work just from getting seen around town. If they stop to do a quick storefront location or are even grabbing a bite to eat at a local deli, they will get noticed. And you will get calls from it.
Make sure your employees always have two shirts with them: a door shirt and a work shirt. This allows them to have one to work in and one to be presentable in.
Have them wear the door shirt when they introduce themselves to the customer, at the job site, and when wrapping up the job. Also, have them wear it when they are around town as they grab lunch or do an estimate.
Tip: Get a bunch of standard T-shirts printed with your company logo and contact info on the back. Give them out as gifts at local eateries to the counter help and servers. If they aren’t required to wear a uniform, they will love your free T-shirt. They will likely wear it to work, and your prospective customers will likely see it. This is especially effective when done in your absolute best towns. It’s an affordable way to give you great visibility to your target market.
You have seen them before; they’re everywhere! Jammed at the corner of busy intersections and around town on telephone posts—you can’t miss them. I’m not suggesting you do that and spam them all over the place. But I am recommending you make ten to twenty of them and use them strategically. When you pull up to a job site and unpack, make it standard operating procedure to put one out by the street. Of course, you should always ask the customer first. Over the years, I have had only one client tell me that she would prefer I didn’t put the sign out. I totally understood and said, “No problem.” Side note: It was the wife of the quarterback from the New York Giants. I get why she didn’t want the attention on her house. Be classy with yard signs. Don’t jam them all over the place, and they will bring you work.
Here is an example of a great yard sign:
And here is an example of a bad yard sign:
Think about how people will see the sign. Nobody is going to be walking by it. They are going to be driving by it, likely at a high rate of speed. There’s no space or time for your branding, just the service you offer and your phone number. You could also maybe squeeze your website URL in there if it’s short enough.
Tip: If you have an excellent customer whom you have a good relationship with, and they happen to love clean windows and live in a great location, consider a barter. We had three great customers over the years whom we worked out a sign deal with. We would do their windows quarterly for free. In exchange, we had a permanent advertising location on their lawn. The situation was just right; all three of them lived in a great location on a corner lot in one of our best towns. I never would have thought this would work. In fact, one of the customers had suggested it to us, and it did work. She got her free window cleaning every three months. We got prime-time advertising real estate in a desirable neighborhood. We even would change the sign out once a month to a different color variation and service. What we changed it to depended on the season. I would never have thought of this myself.
Always have them. It almost seems stupid to talk about, but never have fewer than fifty business cards in your possession. How many places can you hand them out and leave them behind? Make sure your employees are always well stocked with them, as well. If your vehicle is lettered up, or if you’re working in public, people are going to ask you for a card. It would be silly not to have a nice one to give them.
Make a game of it. How many can you give out in a day? Mathematically, the more that you put out there, the more leads and inquiries you’re going to get. Have them in your front pocket always.
Do you stop at the same deli every morning for coffee? Will they let you leave a neat little stack of business cards on the counter?
I bet they would. Do you have some storefront clients you do work for on a regular basis? I bet you 90% of them would let you leave a little pile on their counter, too.
Just finished a job? Great. Leave ten cards on the customer’s counter.
Aside from the basic contact info for your company, consider putting an offer or ad right on the card. A great one is X number of windows cleaned for X dollars. Give the customer a reason to call you over the competition. Make it easy.
These things are great. Consider having some printed. You have seen them before; they are thick cards made of hard plastic and kind of look like credit cards.
You can do something as simple as this:
I would recommend making them for at least $25 off any service. Note in small print that they are not combinable with any other offer you might be running. They look cool, customers appreciate them, and they have a great perceived value. We used to get these printed one thousand at a time and give them out all over the place. We would give a couple to customers upon job completion and also give them instead of business cards to people. And we would even leave them on the counter at delis and local eateries. Consider them a standard tool to use, and always have them with you, just like a business card. Be sure, however, that the $25 discount will be tolerable within your pricing structure.
The Five-around Concept
Have you heard of this? It’s straightforward, and it works. This is one of the absolute best things you and/or your crews can do. Here’s how it goes:
You complete a job in a neighborhood. Then, immediately advertise your services to the five homes to the right and the five homes to the left. You can use a flyer or a direct mail piece. I prefer the flyer in this case because it’s immediate.
Have it say something, such as the following:
“Hi there! We just completed some work right next door to you. Your neighbor is absolutely thrilled with her clean windows, and we think you will be, too. Go check them out! And by the way, here is a price for cleaning your home based upon what we are seeing from the street.” This is effective and works on many levels.
You have the keeping-up-with-the-Jones theory: “Oh, Mary got her windows cleaned? Dang. We have to get ours cleaned now.”
Social proof: “Mary used them, and I can walk over and see the results? They must be good!”
Here is a great example of an effective five-around flyer we used for years:
I like this one because it allows you to show right on the front how affordable it would be to get this work completed.
It’s not for me, but it does work. This ranks up there with putting a door hanger on someone’s house. I feel as if it’s an invasion of privacy and personal space because you’re selling something. I don’t mind if someone comes on my property for a religious presentation or to sell me Girl Scout cookies. But I would be annoyed if someone knocked on my door to sell me landscaping or window cleaning services. But hey, that’s just me, and I do know this is a viable method of gaining work, especially when you are just starting out. It’s completely free and costs you only your time.
You buy something, and you get a receipt. Flip that receipt over; sometimes it’s blank, sometimes it has a coupon, and sometimes it has a little ad on it.
This intrigued me early on, and I decided to give it a shot. I tested it out in a few of our best big-money towns for a six-month period. After the trial period, and after we crunched all the final numbers, I decided to pull all ads except for those in one town.
This one town was one of our best, and we had a strong foothold there. We had a lot of other coordinated marketing efforts go- ing on within that zip code. If we hadn’t, I can’t say for sure this strategy would have been as successful.
I suspect it went something like this: The potential customer gets our mailer and thinks about it. Then she sees our trucks driving around town and remembers our ad. She’s shopping for groceries, gets home, reviews her receipt, and sees our ad. It all comes together, and she calls us. It was effective because it helped tie together all our other activities in that town.
The key is also that the marketing message goes home with the potential customers. They take it out of the store environment and bring it into their homes. They put it on the counter and look it over. Perhaps they research it. Thus, this method could make sense for you.
A customer avatar will help you track down your most ideal customers. You will gain a better understanding of how they operate. The more you know about them, the better you can speak to them. That will help increase the effectiveness of all your marketing activities.
This is a no-brainer, and it’s free. Stick a flyer up whenever you can. You can also tack up some business cards and a brochure if you have them. Pro tip: Map out all the supermarkets in your area. Once a month, drive around and set up new flyers. Include delis and the like, as well. Map this out. See a more in-depth analysis of this in chapter 12, “Flyers and Door Hangers.”
Two Other Options at the Supermarket
Supermarkets have other paid advertising options, but I recommend skipping them all. I will give you a brief overview and some rationale on why I would consider skipping them.
I’ve never tried them and am not sure I would. I’m not sure why; I just don’t get a great feeling about them. Mainly, it seems to be a branding move as opposed to a way to make a direct offer.
With the register tape and the community board, the potential customer has an obvious way to take your info home. They can walk out with something tangible in hand.
Benches Out Front
I have the same thoughts about the benches. I don’t think I would try them out. I do, however, know of a local plumber who claims success with them. I’ve talked to him about it a few times over the years because I noticed he’s been running ads there for a long time. For him, it’s a branding and top-of-mind thing. There’s no offer, just a logo, a phone number, and a slogan. But he services one town and one city only. Everything he does is concentrated in one little area.
I believe it works for my plumber acquaintance because plumbing is a commodity, a distinct need at a particular time. Something breaks, gets clogged or stops working, and you need to call the plumber; you don’t want to call the plumber. You never really need to call a window cleaner; you want to call a window cleaner. Window cleaning is a luxury service, not a necessity like plumbing can sometimes be.