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Myth 20: service technicians can wear or drive just about anything they want on job. (Gauging The Truth).


In the burgeoning days of the pool industry, many young service technicians were untrained and undisciplined, and it was reflected in their vehicles and the way they dressed


Many people still hold a stereotype of techs as slovenly pool boys, mindlessly laboring away at minimum wage jobs

In this security-conscious world, nothing draws the concern of a neighborhood more quickly than a scruffy stranger with a beat-up truck parked on the block.

Steve Bludsworth, owner of All Pool Service and Spa in Orlando, Fla., says that these days, homeowners are very concerned about what type of people are working in and around their homes.

"It's awfully easy to stereotype people," Bludsworth says. "A grubby guy in a heavy metal T-shirt won't get the same reception as someone who looks better."

John Kraker agrees. "Your appearance represents the company and your kind of work," says the vice president of Lenny's Pool Service in Buffer, Wis. "If you show up in dirty clothes and a ratty vehicle, even if you're the best technician in the world, the customer won't see that."

One easy way to reassure consumers is to present a professional appearance. Uniforms are "a major advantage," says Barbara Stem, who chairs the marketing department at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. She adds, "The person in the uniform is not only immediately identifiable, but is also a representative of the company. The uniform contributes to the marketing communication of the company. It makes you different from all others."

Even if uniforms aren't for you, a neat appearance and some clear identification are important.

"My techs don't wear uniforms, but all of them wear a golf shirt or a T-shirt with the name of the company on it," Bludsworth says.

Sometimes uniforms actually can be used as a recruitment perk. The fact that a job comes with a work wardrobe as well as a paycheck can be enticing. "They don't have to worry about putting money into their own clothing," Kraker says. "It's a fringe benefit that saves them at least a hundred dollars a year."

Besides his staff's appearance, Bludsworth also has upgraded all of the service vans. He says this has really paid off for his firm.

"All our vans are new, and they are all visibly marked with the company logo and information about what we do," Bludsworth says. "We get a lot of calls from neighbors of our customers, who see the trucks parked. We get a lot of business from those calls."


Keep your trucks clean and well-serviced.

Don't drive damaged vehicles that have crushed fenders and bumpers and partial repairs. Keep the chemicals, equipment and parts in the truck neat and orderly. Don't let hoses and poles hang out all over the place.

Be sure to prominently display on the vehicles your company name and logo, including phone number, and Web site address, if applicable. Now, you've created a rolling billboard for your business.

Savvy service-business owners recommend using magnetic signs that will adhere to the side of the truck without harming the paint. That way, if you move or get a new phone number or Web site, only the sign needs to be changed--not an entire truck repainted. These signs also will immediately identify who you are to customers and potential customers when the vehicle pulls up in their driveways.

Consider uniforms for service and maintenance employees.

Like the truck signs, uniforms bearing your company name and logo act as mobile marketing tools and will help you cut back on promotional expenses.

"We've even cut back on our Yellow Pages advertising," Kraker says. "It's because of our uniforms and the logo on our trucks. We get word-of-mouth [referrals] going, and it just snowballs."

Look into which is better for your business: buying or renting the uniforms.

Most uniform suppliers have an array of options from which to choose, including a pickup and delivery service. You can even make the uniforms part of employees' pay, thus saving on payroll tax.

If you don't opt for uniforms, at least set a company dress policy. For example, require employees to wear golf or polo shirts with khaki pants. Be sure they wear the appropriate footwear, too. Don't allow open-toe sandals, which look unprofessional and invite injuries. Workers who perform service repairs should be required to wear OSHA-approved footwear, usually steel-toed boots.

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Publication:Pool & Spa News
Date:Oct 30, 2002
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