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Uber driver at wheel

3 Marketing Lessons from an Uber Driver

Feb. 14, 2019
At the AHR Show in Atlanta, we traveled several times by Uber. One driver in particular stood out. Here are three marketing lessons he taught.

Market Through Uber Drivers
When we loaded into his car, we were confronted by advertisements he created for a cleaning service.  This caught everyone’s attention.  When we asked him about it, he said that it was a service he was starting and until he got if off the ground, he was driving for Uber.
Apparently, the homemade ads were effective.  About half of his passengers in the busy Atlanta area were locals.  The ads started the conversation with many, much as they had with us.  The driver claimed this led directly to business.  In fact, it had led to so much business that he was about to forego driving for Uber.
“Does Uber know you’re advertising in your car?” he was asked.
He said he didn’t know, but it wouldn’t matter if they did.  “It’s my car,” he said.  “I can do what I want.”
In truth, part of the reason the ads worked was the Uber driver’s personality.  He had a good story and was the type of kid you wanted to root for.  I kept wondering how this could apply to HVAC.
I remembered a ploy used by Joe Girard.  Girard was the car salesperson who was listed in the Guinness Book of World Recordsas the “world’s greatest salesman.” Girard specialized in sales from self-generated leads.  To be more precise, he specialized in leads generated from referrals.  Girard leveraged referrals.
One of Girard’s techniques was to make up small pop-up placards to be placed in barbershops. The message on the placards was to ask how to save money on the purchase of a new car.  If one of the barbershop patrons bit, the barber would place a call to Girard to tell him to expect the patron and then, give the patron Girard’s card. Girard called the barbers his birddogs and paid them a spiff for the leads they generated.
The same approach could work with Uber drivers.  Start riding Uber in your area.  If you have a pleasant experience with a personable driver, ask if he would like to make some extra money.  He puts the discreet signage you create in his car and follows the same approach Girard used with barbers.
The Advertising Value of Your Vehicle
I asked the Uber driver if anyone asked to advertise with him.  He said no, but that he had been offered money to wrap his car.  When I asked how much, he said the offer was $1,500. He was driving a Ford Focus.
Think about this for a second.  Someone was willing to pay an Uber driver $1,500 if he could wrap his Ford Focus.  That’s the advertising value of a Ford Focus. How much more is your much larger truck worth?  All you have to pay is the cost of the wrap.  Have you taken advantage of it?
Is your fleet comprised of boring, white, look-alikes?  If so, you will not believe how much business a good vehicle wrap will generate.  Your trucks are seen 30 to 70 THOUSAND times a day.  Boring white trucks fade into the background.  Be different.  Stand out. Be remembered.
Do you advertise for manufacturers?  Are these the same manufacturers who sell products through your competitors?  There’s nothing wrong with helping a supplier, but help them by buying and selling more yourself.  You don’t want to help prospects look for the brands you sell unless you have an exclusive.  You want them to look for your brand, yours alone.
Can You Walk Dogs?
The Uber driver continued to talk about his fledgling cleaning company.  One of the ways he differentiated himself was by walking his customers’ dogs.  After he would clean the house, with the homeowner’s permission, he would walk the homeowner’s dogs. He said that his customers absolutely loved it and it was one of the ways he stood out from all of the other cleaning services.
So are your technicians going to walk dogs?  Probably not. But is there something extra you they can do?  Think outside of the box.  Wearing shoe covers is expected today.  It lacks the wow factor it once had.  How can you wow your customer?
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About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable ( The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.