Making It Personal

Sparkling-clean vehicles put a public face on a California drain cleaner and speak volumes to customers about high-quality, professional service

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Remember those Andre Agassi commercials for Canon cameras with the tagline, “Image is everything?”

Mark Bonney agrees, and that’s why the 22 service trucks owned by Bonney Plumbing, Heating, Air and Rooter Service look as neat and clean as their drivers. “It’s all about image,” says Bonney, vice president of operations for the company, which operates from Sacramento, Calif.

“From image, you get perceived value, and that can take any customer’s price objections right off the table. We encourage customers to come out and look inside our trucks to see how clean and well-organized they are.”

Well stocked

Most of the service vehicles are Chevrolet 3500 and 4500 cab-over trucks with P2000 service bodies from Hackney USA. “We really like the fact that the Hackney bodies come with the shelves and racks inside and are basically infinitely adjustable,” Bonney says. Each truck has 68 bins, 34 on each side. The bins are labeled L1 through L34 on the left and R1 through R34 on the right. An index tells which parts go where.

“All the trucks are set up identically, so if a technician goes on vacation, someone filling in can jump in the truck and still work efficiently and effectively,” Bonney says.

Each truck carries $15,000 worth of parts inventory so that technicians have everything they need to do a job. “They can work out of the trucks for a couple days before they need to resupply,” Bonney says.

Each truck carries GO 68 (larger) and GO 380 (smaller) cable machines from Gorlitz Sewer & Drain Inc., a J-1450-C mini-jetter (2,000 psi/12 gpm) from General Pipe Cleaners, and a Vivax push camera system from Vivax-Metrotech Corp.

The company keeps about $500,000 worth of parts in its warehouse. After using a part, the technician writes it down on an inventory replenishment sheet. Every night, the technicians send those sheets from home to the warehouse manager on company-issued fax machines. The manager fills the orders, and on Mondays and Wednesdays, each technician picks up the parts to restock.

Always clean

“Having that kind of inventory on hand helps with two things,” Bonney says. “We get better pricing with volume buying, and our guys don’t waste time waiting in line at a supply house.”

The odds of seeing a dirty Bonney truck are about as good as seeing a Bonney technician who isn’t neatly groomed and wearing a clean uniform. One-third of the trucks are inspected each week for cleanliness, organization and proper inventory, and technicians can’t leave the lot until their trucks pass muster.

The trucks have plenty of marketing muscle. About 45 percent of the service calls come straight from people who see the trucks in neighborhoods and on freeways. “We let our technicians take their trucks home,” says Bonney. “They’re dispatched from home every morning, and that further increases the trucks’ exposure.”

Bonney has another strong vested interest in keeping the trucks spotless: a vinyl wrap shows him and Candace larger than life on the sides. He started using the wraps in 2003 to add a personal, approachable touch.

“We can’t go anywhere without people saying, ‘Hey, you’re the Bonneys,’” he says. “It’s almost like celebrity status, except unlike movie stars, we have to pay for it.” But it’s worth every penny.


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