Service Vehicles – Your Mobile Billboards
While driving around town the other day and watching traffic, as you do, something occurred to me about all of those service vehicles. And more importantly the “wide range” of service vehicles – and yes, I do use that term loosely. I wondered to myself how many people form an impression of a business based on the company’s vehicle(s) and employees? I’m willing to bet the vast majority – whether or not they will truly admit it.
Is it a generational thing I hear you ask? Well maybe for some but looking deeper, I believe the public (without a direct referral) tends to choose the business that seems most qualififed & capable to do the job.
I once worked with an operations manager (2IC) of a plumbing company in the UK and one of his responsibilities was staffing. One of the best things the company did was strictly enforce a professional dress code. There was many a morning where he took the job seriously enough to send workers home who had not yet taken the time to shave, or with scuffed shoes, unkempt uniforms. They were told in no uncertain terms that if they showed up for work and did not meet the expected quality standards of the company, they would not get paid until they did so. Not their friend, but their employer first.
First Impressions are Everything
Now obviously, that approach ruffled some feathers no doubt. But think about it, this was a plumbing company and their staff were being, as a matter of course, regularly invited into the homes of their clients, many for the first time! If we stop and consider first impressions for a second, this makes total sense. Which company looks better to the client? If an employee arrives at the door, professional looking and respectful of the homeowner, this reflects favourably on the company. What about your home? What if someone turned up unshaven, in baggy jeans, crazy hair and stains all over their uniform. Hmm, not so favourable of an impression right?
Mobile Billboards (not outside of Ebbing, MO)
So let’s return to service vehicles again for a second. While I totally appreciate the wish to drive a mega raised-up pickup with chrome plated “adornments” hanging from your trailer hitch, how do you honestly think this represents your business? What if you handed out business cards that were all smeared with jam or worse? Your service vehicle is your mobile billboard – be wise in how you choose to use it!
Last & Sometimes Only Impressions
I recently had cause to hire a service company for something at my home and after research found two likely candidates in town. One of them drove a professional service vehicle, a smaller van complete with decals and the driver in uniform. This company looked both respectable and capable to me. The other drove a black, half-monster truck with an afterthought window decal stuck on the back glass, various stickers all over like a well travelled suitcase and yes, you guessed it, the driver fit this scene perfectly. So which company did I hire? Really?? Which would you?
I know of at least five service vehicles roaming around town with blatant mispellings on their vehicle signage. How does that reflect on the business? Either 1) they don’t yet know the words (key words of their business, mind you!!) are in fact mispelled, 2) They do know of the error and simply don’t care (let’s hire THAT guy!) or can’t yet afford to fix the issue (fair enough). 3) Hired one doozy of a graphic designer / sign guy (again, let’s hire THOSE guys!)- Wow, that’s all I’m going to say about that.
It’s Okay to Disagree!
Now some of you will be clamoring to state “first impressions aren’t everything” and on principle, I fully agree. But with a business, that fleeting glimpse through traffic of the service vehicle, it’s driver and how it’s driven, may be your only chance to make a favourable impression. In this age of social media anonymity, the social “overreaction” can be devastating. Food for thought right?
Be cool on your own time, in fact I recommend it absolutely! But be business, in everything you do when the time comes.
No Service Vehicles = Doesn’t Apply? Think Again!
Actually, you couldn’t be more wrong! Lets look at a small e-commerce business that’s great on the phone or in email, chat etc.. but doesn’t back it up with their product packaging. With so many items bought online these days, the ONLY tangible customer contact you will ever get is that little brown box upon delivery. If the box is half assed wrapped, re-used from something else or arrives damaged, how does that reflect on your business?
Your foodie instagram feed is just “wonderful dahling” and you’ve grown 10K followers. Woo hoo, now you’ve got it made right? Well, what if when I come in for that long anticipated and much hyped dinner, the food pairing just doesn’t hold up? The chef has one of those “off nights”? What if the service is slow, moody or worse! Seeing any trends yet?
Professionalism Starts and Ends With You
Ultimately, your professionalism starts and ends with you. Your business is represented by yourself, your staff, your establishment, your business cards, your emails, your phone messages, your vehicles and your conduct. They call it professionalism for a reason – anything else is just a hobby! So how does your business stand up?
Thanks for reading!
Also published on Medium.