20 Questions with Wesley Holm, Owner of Tops in Trucks winner Thompson Plumbing, Heating and Cooling.
Originally published: 06.01.11 by Terry Tanker
For this special fleet issue, Publisher Terry Tanker interviewed Wesley Holm, owner of Tops in Trucks winner Thompson Plumbing, Heating and Cooling. They talked about the company’s fleet-marketing strategy, exceptional customer service, and how to write six blogs a week.
1. How did you get started in this business?
I got involved in HVAC by way of an accounting degree from the University of Cincinnati. After those four years, I knew one thing for certain: There was no way in hell I wanted to be an accountant. My father had retired but purchased a tiny HVAC business. The company was doing gross sales of $183,000. My dad learned in a very short time that this business wasn’t for him.
2. How long were you partners?
Not long, I bought him out in less than two years.
3. How much has the business changed since then?
We’ve grown from a one-room heating company and two employees to a 19,000-square-foot, world-class heating, cooling, plumbing, and drain company with 83 employees.
4. How many vehicles are in your fleet?
5. How did you come up with the design?
We needed a design that could be seen from a distance, so I created the sun with rays because when people think of the sun, they smile. The background color [blue] makes the colors from the sun and rays stand out.
6. Did you think much about making the design investment?
Really, it was a no brainer. Our trucks are usually the only image of our company that a client sees, so they must stand out.
7. Have you seen a return on investment from your fleet-marketing campaign?
Most definitely! Our fleet vehicles are in the top 10 of all of our marketing programs for leads and appointments. Our trucks are very effective billboards — on the streets every single day of the year, all day long.
8. How do customers respond to your vehicle design?
Simply, WOW!!! Our fleet is always spotless and makes a great impression. They are one of our strongest brand assets.
9. How do you manage and maintain that big of a fleet?
Our fleet manager has been with us for over 20 years. His service garage is at our headquarters, and he is able to work on three trucks at a time. Our turnover is within one to two days, and normal maintenance is done in one day. We do our scheduled maintenance on time and
perform normal weekly checks on all of the vehicles. We own our entire fleet.
10. What is the most important element of your fleet design?
Actually, it’s a combination of elements. No other fleet in town is similar in color, so the combination of the dark blue, red sun, and yellow rays stands out very well. Our services are easy to read. And, our branded phone number (333-HELP) really stands out.
11. What is your business mix?
HVAC — 80%. Plumbing — 20%.
12. Your website is one of the better sites I’ve visited. How has it evolved?
We are guided by the principle that a website needs to answer three questions: Why should I call you for the service I want? How do I contact you? And, is there a compelling reason that
I should do that now? Also, a website should constantly be changing.
13. What is the Energy Saving Club?
It’s a membership that pays for itself in free services, discounted repairs and energy savings. Members enjoy exclusive benefits such as discount prices on parts and services, free Comfort System Check-Ups, and much more.
14. How many customers take advantage of your Energy Savings Club?
Ten percent of our clients are Energy Savings Club Members. We have 5,283 Energy Savings Club Members.
15. How many customers subscribe to your newsletter?
We touch 57,161 homeowners with our newsletter.
16. You make great use of video on your website. What’s your strategy?
We post both our T.V. commercials and service demonstrations on our website and YouTube. Information is key to our clients’ understanding of why we do what we do and why they need to choose us. Seeing our commercials on our Specials page increases the frequency and recognition of our T.V./radio marketing.
17. Blogging is a big part of your marketing. Can you elaborate?
We have six blogs: Dean of Green, Unclog Blog, Pipe Gripes, Home Is Where the Health Is, Temperature Talk, and Making Cents of Energy. Information is updated and posted weekly on all six. Blogging is very important to pushing information out so that we can build a relationship with clients.
18. Do you maintain the blogs internally?
No, we hire it out. Updating the six blogs weekly is a lot of work, but we feel it is well worth the investment.
19. Let’s switch gears for a moment to customer service. Do you have a memorable story you can share?
One of our service techs, Troy Harris, performed a furnace tune-up for an elderly couple this winter. The customer was in the basement during the tune-up, and fell when he was walking up the stairs. He was unconscious for several minutes and bleeding heavily. Troy immediately called 911 and treated our client as instructed by the 911 operator. Troy waited for EMS to arrive and helped carry the stretcher up the narrow stairs, then had the distraught wife follow him to the hospital because she did not know the way. Once at the hospital, he walked her inside to make sure she was attended.
20. How would you sum up your leadership philosophy?
Thompson has a Win-Win-Win philosophy! First, clients win because our technicians always do what is in their best interest and ensure that their system is operating safely. Our employees win
because they know they will be able to pay the bills and provide a better life for their
families. When both the client and our team members win, Thompson wins as well!
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