Winners of the 2008 HVACR Business, ACCA fleet design contest.
You have roughly five seconds to grab a consumer’s attention and brand your identity into their memory. It’s a tall order for many contractors, especially where fleet designs are concerned. Too much information and nothing stands out, too little information and folks don’t know how to contact you. And what about graphics? Consumers need to immediately understand what you sell by simply glancing at your vehicles. Confuse them and you will lose them as potential customers.
This marks the second year of the HVACR Business annual fleet design contest. We partnered with the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) on our quest to find the 2008 Tops In Trucks winners.
The contest recognizes contractors who are on the leading edge of marketing efforts to increase sales, competitiveness, and brand recognition. By highlighting their award-winning efforts, we hope to encourage other contractors to emulate the honorees by adopting stellar marketing and branding techniques.
HVACR Business and ACCA opened the contest Dec. 1, 2007. Deadline for entries was April 1, 2008. Contractors were asked to complete and submit an application as well as digital and hard-copy photos of the nominated fleet.
A panel of judges including HVACR Business executives, editors and artists along with Washington, D.C.- based ACCA representatives and last year’s winner Carmine Galletta, owner of GallettAir Inc., carefully examined each entry looking for evidence of overall graphic appeal, creativity, legibility of contact information, and organization of design elements.
Contractors could enter their fleets in one of three categories: Full Wrap, Lettering, or Manufacturer- Sponsored Fleets.
Aladdin Air Conditioning & Heating Inc., Newbury Park, Calif.
Vehicles in fleet: 17
Design Firm: Eyedentity Graphics
“Works Like Magic” is a tagline that Wayne Beck, president of Aladdin Air Conditioning & Heating Inc., feels best represents what his company does. Not only do customers adjust a box on the wall and their homes and businesses are magically made comfortable, but it also plays into how the work gets done.
Add to that a strong graphic and a pleasing color scheme — Tequila Sunrise — and this year’s winner in the full-wrap category enjoys easy recognition.
“I knew I needed a graphic that people don’t have to read to recognize. And we had a consultant, Al Levi of Appleseed Business Inc., tell us to keep the design simple: Who we are, what we do and how to contact us,” explains Beck.
And contact the company is what customers do— some even call while they are driving past one of the company vehicles.
“I had a customer call while he was in his car to tell me that anyone that can maintain a truck like ours will surely do a quality job in his home,” says Beck.
And for Aladdin’s 25 employees, the vehicles instill pride. “Our trucks are our identity. Our employees are very proud to know that the company they work for stands for quality. And they know that they get more work because our vehicles are highly recognizable,” says Beck.
For Beck, the ultimate test of an effective fleet vehicle is the 8-year-old test: Can an 8 year old see your vehicle and know what you do and how to contact you? Keeping it simple will help you achieve success.
Atlas Electrical & Air Conditioning Services Inc., Mission, Texas
Vehicles in fleet: 12
Design Firm: The Sign Depot
Knowing he had to do something about the wornout decals on his fleet vehicles, Roy Sagredo Jr. of Atlas Electrical & Air Conditioning Services decided to visit his friend at The Sign Depot to talk about vehicle wraps.
“We realized that Bryant had been using the Bryant Man as a mascot and thought that using this artwork would be a great way to draw attention to promote our company,” explains Sagredo.
Indeed, the vehicles are so noticeable that one customer, who was waiting for another company to come to his home to perform a service repair, saw the Atlas vehicle at his neighbor’s house and called the phone number on the van and cancelled his call with the competition.
“This made me realize we were doing the right thing especially when my office staff quoted him as saying, ‘I knew that a company with that type of vehicle would be able to get to me sooner.’ ”
Sagredo also attributes his company’s success in the down economy to the newly designed vehicles. “There’s a lot more competition and times are tight. The best thing we can do is get our name out there. Now we have people approaching our employees and telling them how cool our trucks are. Even the UPS
guys and other box-truck drivers beep at our trucks as they pass us on the street.”
The important thing is to have vehicles that appeal to consumers. “They may know the company name, but they also need to know what we do. And I think customers feel comfortable when a professional looking truck pulls in the driveway.”
Busby’s Inc., Augusta, Ga.
Vehicles in fleet: 38
Design Firm: Lowen Color Graphics
A clean look, an appropriate mascot and a subtle tagline (“Bee Comfortable”) show that Busby’s is thinking about consumer recall. In fact, owner Rick Busby started the “bee theme” after he had trouble remembering the name of a company he had used in the past.
“I came to this realization after hiring a pressure washing company at my home. I didn’t need the service again for several years, and I couldn’t remember the name even though they did a great job. I went to the Yellow Pages and all the ads looked the same — I couldn’t pick out the company I had used before. We started the bee theme so people would remember us even if we were not servicing their system regularly. We also wanted to stand out from the competition and create something that our competitors couldn’t copy,” says Busby.
As for the simplistic design, Busby notes that he didn’t want to have a cluttered look that would make it difficult for people to figure out what his company does.
“If there’s too much stuff, it isn’t effective. You have to realize this is a rolling billboard — you need to grab attention and have your message easily remembered.”
The company’s fleet is just part of its branding efforts. The bee theme runs through all marketing. Busby even had a bee suit created by the same company that makes all of the sports team mascots and the Busby Bee marches in local parades and events. And of course, the company sponsors the local spelling bee.
Gabrilson Indoor Climate Solutions, Davenport, Iowa
Gabrilson wins the award for most unique and useful design for its use of reflective lettering, which makes these vehicles stand out at night. The overall design follows the keep-it-simple method, which makes it effective standing still and at 35 mph.
Vanderford Mechanical, League City, Texas
This design is held together by choosing similar type faces. The use of the red and blue ribbon to show both heating and cooling expertise and the “ghost” snowflakes offer a good visual ID.
Ace Mechanical Heating and Air Conditioning, Los Angeles, Calif.
An eye-catching color scheme and large print touting Heating and Air Conditioning makes it easy for people to know exactly what Ace does.
Comfort Matters Heating & Cooling Inc., Hanover, Minn.
A unique logo that incorporates air, hot and cold along with a baby on the tailgate creates a positive image for the company. The yellow vehicle makes it stand out of a crowd.
Traci Purdum is a former editor of HVACR Business.