Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How Should I Letter My Cleaning Vans?

One huge mistake cleaners make with wraps is they put too much on their vehicle

commercial carpet cleaning manHi Steve,

Our three extensively signed vans have been around our city of 200,000 people for almost 15 years now and people “recognize” them. Our current van designs are, in my opinion, just OK. They tell people who we are, what we do and how to get in touch with us.

But we now have two new vans to decorate up. Thanks to Bill Yeadon’s help, we have been overhauling our overall marketing image to be more “emotional” in nature. Photos of kids, pets and happy families - stuff like that. 

Everything else in our company now reflects this new marketing emphasis and customer response has been very positive. And yes, we are getting phone calls just on our marketing pieces alone. Items like our Lifetime Free Spotter program, newsletters, direct mail, business cards, referral cards and website all reflect this new image. So the last “piece in our marketing puzzle” is our vans.

So Steve, would you make an entire change of how the new vans look or just add some “emotional photos” with largely the same design so the new vehicles are still recognizable as us? (Our old vans will continue to be on the road as well.)

Thanks for your insight ahead of time!

-Advancing in Atlanta


Hey Advancing,

Great to hear you are growing and are focused on your marketing. Too many carpet cleaners aren’t doing either one!

However, remember I don’t know your market or the image you are trying to project. (And both of these need to be clearly defined before you proceed.) However, here are a few basic marketing ideas/suggestions for you to meditate on:

1. Enlist the help of one or, even better, two graphic artists: It’s true, this will cost you. But how much do you already have invested in these trucks? Remember that you will amortize the cost of this van signage over many years and over the many jobs this very effective type of marketing will produce.

2. Try to find a tagline: Ours was “Superb carpet and upholstery cleaning ... ONLY from (the name of our company)!” This went on our trucks, was included in our newspaper ads and on our website and was the closing line on our radio commercials that we traded cleaning work out for with local radio stations.

3. Keep your logo and message very simple and very large: All you want to do is make an impression of your name or website and then your prospects can easily find you again on the Internet.

4. Consider “wrapping” your trucks: This can be very eye-catching and especially so if other carpet cleaners in your area are not doing it yet. This is where you have an emotional picture of a delighted customer, etc. applied on your van. However, this is where you really need professional advice.

One huge mistake cleaners make with wraps is they put too much on their vehicle. Just because you can add an infinite number of design elements doesn’t mean you should! Remember that customers are going to see your “moving billboard” passing them at 60 mph! So keep the basics such as your company name, what you do, phone number and website clearly legible.

In other words, take your time and choose wisely when designing a wrap. You’ll be running around with this lady, family, dog or baby plastered on your truck for a long time!

So here’s my cut-to-the-chase tough love advice Advancing - you need help! Hire a professional graphic designer, preferably someone who specializes in service companies, to analyze your entire marketing program and especially your van signage. Retain veto power but listen to what they say.

NOTE: All carpet cleaners should tap into Bill Yeadon’s “Hub Marketing” techniques. For Bill’s free (and very detailed) marketing instructions, just write me at and put the phrase “ICS Hub Marketing” in the subject line.

Oh, and by the way, once you have come up with your new van signage scheme I would definitely convert over your older vans. This way you will have a much greater impact on your market!

P.S. An SFS member once told me he put his logo, website and phone number on top of his van and booked one or two jobs a week from people in skyscrapers looking down who saw his logo. Something to think about!

 Steve and ICS want to consult for you! For a personal reply write Steve HERE with your questions, problems, struggles and challenges! Your help is on the way! A new “Ask Steve” will appear every Thursday in the eNews. To register to receive it, click here

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