Multiplier Effect

Smartly branded trucks, a clever company name and marketing consistency boost a Texas drain cleaner’s business
Multiplier Effect
Hassell Free Plumbing’s eye-catching trucks testify to the power of effective branding. The clever name is the brainchild of owners Sandi and David Hassell. (Photos courtesy of Hassell Free Plumbing)

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Hassell Free Plumbing in Gun Barrel City, Texas, owns just four service vehicles. But people who live in and around the large, three-county area the company services in East Texas think the company owns a much larger fleet of trucks.

Why? Company co-owner Sandi Hassell credits what she calls the multiplier effect. It’s created by stamping each vehicle with the same strong brand identity through a smart-looking vinyl wrap that prominently features the company’s name – a clever, playful take on the Hassell name.

“People think we have 10 or 15 trucks on the road because they all look the same,” explains Sandi, who owns the company with her husband, David. “I get that all the time … people say, ‘I see your trucks everywhere.’ You don’t get that if you have two trucks that look completely different.”

In economic terms, a multiplier effect is defined as an increase in spending that spurs a boost in income greater than the initial investment. That definition fits the bill at Hassell Free, where an initial investment of about $20,000 for the four vinyl wraps has created a tidy return on investment.

“They’ve more than paid for themselves,” Sandi says of the wraps, which were designed by her son, Benjamin, and produced by Florida-based SignZoo. “I’ll do it for every truck we ever buy – they really get people to notice our vehicles. I’d estimate that 20 percent of our service calls come from people who say they know about us because they’ve noticed our trucks.”

Hassell Free owns a 2009 and 2011 Isuzu NPR HD, featuring sleek, cab-over design and spacious Hackney bodies. The other two vehicles are 2008 and 2009 Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks that each tow a cargo trailer: one a 16-footer made by Contract Manufacturer LLC and an 18-footer made by H&H Trailers LLC. The trailers carry equipment for residential plumbing installations.

The trucks’ eye-catching design testifies to the power of effective branding. First of all, there’s the clever name, the brainchild of Sandi and David. “We couldn’t use Hassell Plumbing, right?” she quips. “And to use a first name – say, David’s Plumbing –just sounded too ‘Bubba’ to us. We wanted something more professional and catchy.

“Consistency was important to us, too,” she continues. “If you see a company with business cards, letterheads, (refrigerator) magnets and trucks that all look the same –everything is consistent – people recognize your company more easily.

“Major corporations do it so people associate their product with their name, so why should plumbing be any different?” she asks. “It’s a good way to set yourself apart. Plus, people are more likely to call someone who looks like they have it all together.”

Because “hassle-free” is such a popular catch phrase, the Hassells took the extra step of obtaining registered trademarks for the company name and wrap design to protect against unauthorized copycat use.

“Even the little man on the trucks is registered, because everyone was using it after we put it on our old vehicles,” Sandi notes. “If something works, everyone wants to ride on your coattails.”

The two service vehicles also help the company increase productivity and profitability by keeping parts and equipment well organized and easy to access. Before, the company owned traditional cargo vans that couldn’t hold as much equipment and restricted access.

“We couldn’t carry a 50- or 60-gallon water heater tank upright, and we could only carry one, and we had to slide it in on the floor,” Sandi notes. “The Hackney storage system is made specifically for plumbing … all the drawers have dividers so every little fitting and parts aren’t just thrown together.

“There are specific places to store our sewer machine and video camera,” she adds. “And with the self-storing, slide-out ramp in back, one man can unload all of our equipment with just a dolly.”

Sandi also points out that the ability to carry a full array of repair parts has increased the company’s net profitability by about 40 percent. That’s because sprawling Cedar Creek Lake – a 32,623-acre, 18-mile-long body of water that’s the fourth-largest lake in Texas, with 320 miles of shoreline – makes back-and-forth trips to a supply house a daunting, time-consuming proposition.

“I’d say we’re 90 percent more efficient than before,” she says. “If you’re on one side of the lake and the supply house is on the other side, you’re looking at an hour to an hour-and-a-half round trip to go get parts and then come back and do a job.

“Having everything right there saves a lot of gas and a lot of drive time – and time in general,” she notes. “We might get in one or two more service calls per day in the time we otherwise would’ve spent running for parts.”

More service calls in the same amount of time: It all adds up to another nice, Hassell Free multiplier effect.



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