Remodelers are always looking for ways to find new business. I know that’s certainly true of my small company, Legal Eagle Contractors Co., in Houston. In the past three years we have expanded our territory far beyond where I used to travel to look at projects. We used to do 80 percent of our projects within a 5-mile radius. Those days are gone! We now will go 30 miles out — farther if it is a large project with an attractive margin. We have experimented with a wide variety of online search engine services from Yelp to Google AdWords, upgraded our yard signs and even religiously sent out monthly e-newsletters, all with mixed results.
At the beginning of this year, we had an uptick in business, so I decided to try something new: A vehicle wrap. But would it produce results? As it happened, it was time to buy a new 15-passenger van, my vehicle of choice for my business. These extended vans are more than 21 feet long. After taking out all the seats except the driver and passenger seats, and one bench seat behind those, it leaves me with about 13 linear feet of cargo space behind my seat. I have always built a plywood deck in that back area of these vans for my buckets of tools and materials. This platform is over 4 feet wide, over 8 feet deep and 8 inches high, so I can carry sheet goods (like expensive cabinet plywood) under my tools. The platform is covered with sturdy commercial carpet for transporting fragile items, like company signs, client fixtures, etc., without damaging them.
I can haul other large materials, such as paneling and drywall, too — even in the rain if necessary. My tools and equipment are much more secure than they would be if I were traveling from job to job in a traditional pickup truck. A cargo van (one without the rear windows) would be even more secure and a little bit cheaper, but good luck finding one that is not battered and dilapidated.
A 15-passenger van provides quite a “canvas” on which to put graphics for your company. It is literally a rolling billboard. I checked around in my market and found that pretty much everyone charged the same amount to do a full vehicle wrap like the one that I was looking for. The cost was about $3,000 for a big van, including tax. You can also do partial wraps on any vehicle for less than that.
A good friend and worthy competitor of mine, Wayne Ball, owner of Houston-based Lone Star Construction has had full wraps on four of his company vehicles for seven years. He is my wrap mentor. He paid about $2,000 for a full wrap on his truck. He originally expected his wraps to last five years. He did the value-math (Wayne actually likes math) and concluded each of his rolling billboards would cost about a dollar a day. Because his wraps are in year seven and going strong, it’s an even better value than that! Wayne also noted that wraps are repairable. One of his trucks was in a wreck. The sign company still had the artwork on their computer. They just printed out a new film section, applied it and it was good as new.
Designing the Wraps
After interviewing a couple of our trade partners, I chose one called “Houston Signs.” I highly recommend them. I began the design process and was very pleased at the way it unfolded. The first thing I did was to meet with my small staff to discuss our priorities in terms of graphics and message. It very quickly became clear we had way too many ideas and not enough space, even on this very large van. As I drove around town I looked at other vehicle wraps. I noticed there were no other remodelers who had done anything quite like this (other than maybe Wayne), so that was good.
Next, I noticed most vehicle wraps were difficult to read — too cluttered, the writing was too small, the text was all the same size or it was boring — nothing jumped out at you. Because of our focus on remodeling, my team and I decided the word “remodeling” should be a prominent feature on all sides of the vehicle, including the hood. To give it more visual impact and cut down on the amount of text, I decided to show the type of projects that we do by putting favorite job photos on instead of text.