Mobile Billboards


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Recently, a man in Alton, Texas, called Atlas Electrical & Air Conditioning Services, Inc. “I see your van in my neighbor’s driveway,” he said. “My air conditioning company is three hours late. When your technician is finished across the street, would you send him over here?”

“We’ve gotten a couple regular customers that way,” says Roy Sagredo, vice president of Atlas.

Sagredo attributes a lot of new business to the vehicle wraps that transformed his company’s nine installation and service vehicles into mobile billboards.

Vehicle wraps helped Atlas weather the recession. “Business was slow in 2007,” Sagredo says. “I wondered if wraps would help.”

He and a designer developed a wrap with the firm’s name, phone number, product line logos, NATE logo, and the tag line: Whatever It Takes.

They selected colors — gold and blue — and used the mythical Atlas, the powerful being that holds up the earth, as a mnemonic, a device that aids memory.

Sagredo wrapped one truck immediately and told the driver to drive around after finishing each day’s work. Finish in five hours; drive around advertising the business for three.

The phone began to ring. It’s been ringing ever since.

Improved Service Quality

Because the trucks stand out, people remember and call. Noticeable trucks makes driving etiquette and job performance more important than ever, Sagredo says. People will remember the billboard like truck that delivers lousy service or careens recklessly down the road.

“We do more training with installers and techs now,” Sagredo says. “We also emphasize careful driving. If you do something wrong on the road or on the job, you could ruin a successful marketing program.”

Creating Buzz Bee

How important is a mnemonic? Rick Busby once hired a service to pressure-wash his house  Busby liked the service. Years later, he wanted another wash, but couldn’t remember who to call.

“That made me realize we needed something to make people remember us,” says Busby, president and owner of Augusta, Ga.-based Busby’s, Inc. Heating and Air Conditioning Company.

He created a cartoon-like bee named Buzz. Wearing a red shirt with Buzz emblazoned on it. Buzz Bee appears in all Busby’s advertising including the vehicle wraps on the company’s 34 vehicles.

The bright red wrap has a black band along the bottom. The name, Busby’s, appears above a short bulleted list of services. The door has a “Team BUSBY” logo. The black band features the web address and phone number. Just above the black band is the phrase: Bee Comfortable.

Busby credits marketing with television, radio, direct mail, newspaper, and vehicle wrap signage for steady growth over the years. “It’s hard to rate just one part of a program,” he says. “But the wrap definitely helps with name recognition.”

Comfort Doctor

Effingham, Ill.-based Jansen’s Heating & Air uses a red, white, and blue wrap with the company’s name, phone, website, a list of services, and a tagline: Your Comfort Specialist. The wrap also promises 24 Hour Service With a Smile.

The mnemonic is a character, a smiling doctor wielding a stethoscope. “We wanted a character that could deliver our comfort message in any kind of advertising,” says Tom Jansen, the firm’s owner and general manager. “That’s Dr. Comfort.”

While many companies go slow and wrap new trucks as they replace old ones, Jansen decided to wrap the company’s 16 vehicles all at once.

Big decision. Van wraps cost from $2,500 to $4,000, with wraps for large trucks running twice that.

But it worked. “The message got through,” Jansen chuckles. “People began calling me Dr. Comfort.”

Vinyl Lettering Works, Too

You don’t need an expensive wrap to make a mobile billboard. Gabrilson Indoor Climate Solutions in Davenport, Iowa, has found success with bright yellow vans sporting red and blue vinyl lettering and images. The cost is $900 per truck.

“Wraps are expensive,” says Tom Gabrilson, the firm’s president. “I pay about $500 extra for the special yellow color — it’s been our identifying color since the 1950s. The reflective vinyl costs about  400 per truck.”

The mnemonic is the yellow color and the red vinyl lettering combined with the image of a flame. The red vinyl is reflective. At night, it reflects light and looks like a yellow flame on the sides of the trucks.

Gabrilson installers and service techs wear yellow shirts and hats. “It works,” Gabrilson says. “Our top-of-mind awareness beats our nearest competitor by three-and-one half times.”


Posted In: ACCA Now, Vehicles & Fleets

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