Contractor Marketing 101: Perception

Nothing is ever what it seems right? But in the very haze of misperception lies lost opportunity. OK, enough of the big words. It was about 2:30 yesterday afternoon that I was driving to meet with a client and traffic was at a standstill. I live in the burbs of Philly and Route 309 was jam-packed due to construction.

So there I sat among the soccer moms and sales reps trying to get through their day 3 feet at a time. With nothing else to do I started looking around to see what was happening in the parking lots and side streets next to me. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a local bar with a work truck in it.

I know what you’re thinking, so what, maybe they were having lunch. Well, I thought of that too. But this wasn’t the sort of place you go to eat…anything. You go there to drink your lunch. As I sat there I remembered a story a client (who has since gone on to become a good friend) told me once that if he ever takes his crew (he has 9 trucks today) out for lunch he will make them all park in neighborhoods away from the restaurant they are going to. He explained it this way:

Why would I want anyone thinking my trucks aren’t busy all day and why in the world would I want any of my trucks parked at a bar anytime of the day? Made sense to me, but too often I will see work vans parked right in front of bars.

Then a few more blocks up the street I noticed not one, but two different work trucks (both with the owner’s names slapped all over them!) parked in an adult bookstore parking lot. Once again being stuck in gridlock I looked around to see who else might be taking in this sight, and sure enough there were a few soccer moms and grandmothers stuck in traffic too. I thought to myself, what could the potential perception be of these companies to the people staring at them for minutes at a time?

Not good right?

No amount of advertising is going to offset the perception these passers-by now have of these two companies. And here is the worst part, one of the shops I never heard of, the other one is a major player in the HVAC space here in the Philly area, and I am sure the owner had no idea one of his guys was spending his lunch looking at boobies while HIS van with HIS NAME sat in the parking lot ruining his reputation with each passing red light.