A Nice Van Can Boost Your Brand

Making a great impression is a lot easier with a clean, well-stocked service van.
A Nice Van Can Boost Your Brand
Facebook.com (Dickenschrauf Plumbing, Heating & Cooling)

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Building a recognizable brand with a positive image is important. It’s often the difference between a new customer calling you or your competitor when they need sewer or drain cleaning work. 

Dickenschrauf Plumbing Solutions co-owner Ryan Schraufnagel was well aware of this when he made the decision to buy a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter service van, and it’s worked out well for the Milwaukee-based plumbing and drain cleaning business. 

Not only has the Sprinter reduced the company’s operating costs through better gas mileage and reduced repairs and downtime, the van’s sleek, eye-catching design presents a professional image that gives the company’s branding/marketing efforts a shot in the arm, Schraufnagel says. 

“It’s nice to pull up to someone’s house in a really nice vehicle,” Schraufnagel says of the company’s Sprinter, which replaced an older 1-ton cargo van with 120,000 miles on it. “Nowadays, it’s all about how you present yourself. 

“At first, we were concerned that people would think we charge too much because we drive a Mercedes-Benz,” he says. “But the opposite happened — it just represents us a lot better than our older cargo vans. There’s nothing wrong with them, but it’s different when you pull up with a 10- or 15-year-old rusted van with dings and dents.” 

Initially, Schraufnagel and his partner, Rich Woyak, looked at the Sprinter more out of curiosity than anything else. But when they did the math in terms of long-term expenses, the Sprinter made more and more sense. The used cargo van they also were thinking about buying got 9 miles per gallon, compared to 20 mpg for the Sprinter, thanks to its six-cylinder, 185 hp diesel engine. And it required oil changes every 3,000 miles, compared to every 10,000 miles for the Sprinter. 

Moreover, the cargo vans the company had been buying usually needed expensive repairs after they hit 100,000 miles. “But with the Sprinter, we could get 500,000 miles out of it if we take care of it,” he notes. “You can own it for 10 to 15 years and it won’t nickel-and-dime you to death. By the time we worked out the numbers, it really doesn’t cost as much to own this as it does to own a used cargo van.” 

Schraufnagel also lauds the Sprinter’s more expansive interior headroom — 6 feet, 6 inches, compared to 4 feet, 6 inches for the company’s old cargo van. That extra space improves productivity because he doesn’t have to crawl through the van trying to find tools or repair parts. That might sound like a minor advantage until he explains that it’s not unusual to make 10 to 20 stops a day. 

In addition, the Sprinter is big enough to carry all the tools and parts Schraufnagel needs to make most common repairs. He outfitted the van with a plywood platform that allows for convenient pipe storage underneath, as well as metal shelving and plastic bins to keep fittings and parts organized. Even with all that, the van still has enough space to accommodate as much as three toilets, a water heater, a RIDGID K-7500 drum cable drain cleaning machine and a RIDGID K-40 sink drain cleaning machine. 

“I rarely have to tell a customer that I’ll be back in 45 minutes because I have to go and get parts before I can make a repair,” he notes. “That’s huge, because the customer pays for that time. Instead, I’m able to get in and out in an hour instead of, say, two hours, because I have all the parts I need in the truck. The customer doesn’t have to pay as much and we can get to more jobs per week.”


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