The team at Blair Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, based in British Columbia, and owned by Blair and Barb Husak, is doing all it can to take residential HVAC out of the ordinary. Adding fuel to the fire has been a recent rebranding of the company’s image.
Rebranding a service business is not a new concept, but neither has it lost any of its luster, thanks to the possibilities presented by modern graphics techniques and resources, and truck wrapping technology.
Blair Husak had been thinking bout rebranding for two years prior to getting it done, when he decided it was time for a brand image facelift.
“I tried to get the design work done locally, but I was not able to finalize any designs. Frustrated, I decided to look elsewhere to get this task accomplished. It took me a while to find a designing company I could identify with and who could meet my needs.”
Husak discovered KickCharge® Creative, a Washington, NJ-based branding team that has become popular in service industry circles, for the wondrous changes they can bring to a company's image.
“KickCharge exceeded my expectations, Husak said. “Our new branding and logo is bright, distinct, and highly visible. I am proud to stand out as a unique leader in the Okanagan Valley. We have switched over all aspects of our business to the new branding, which I’ve found to be more time consuming and difficult than initially expected. That means letterhead envelopes, stationary, yard signs, website, uniforms, price book, brochures and other countless areas of the business where we discover the old branding appearing now and then.”
The company started working with KickCharge in November of 2018, and is still in the process of making over the entire fleet. The rebranded vehicles are seen across a territory with a population of about 200,000.
"It's not a super large market, but it's large enough and growing People keep moving in, and we want to get them to know us as their first choice service provider. About 4,000 people move here each year," he said..
A rebranding certainly will make a business “look good,” But there is a higher purpose to keep in mind. Blair wanted its new look to bring about other big results, including increased brand recognition, a unique competitive advantage, more dominant market share with younger home buyers in the Okanagan Valley, and a sales increase of 25%.
Husak wants to be cautious in attributing increased revenue solely to the rebranding. Although it’s difficult to track revenue changes directly back to the rebranding, sales from 2018 to the present are up 37.4%. Plus, many customers calling in take the time to say they love the rebranding, and that it is definitely a noticeable change.
Husak said the rebranding provided him with another challenge, that of venturing out of a comfort zone of sameness. It’s a shock of sorts to put away one “identity” and pick up another.
“It’s like taking the first leap; it’s risky and it’s very costly. As I was leaning toward an updated version of an existing logo, KickCharge redirected me to consider a completely different and brand-new design. We are very glad we made the switch,” Husak said.
Husak is showing off the new branding in both traditional and digital marketing strategies, and said the results have been amazing.
“Customers have responded very positively to the change. Employees love to represent and be a part of our fantastic look. The new, vibrant colors and owl image have made us the talk of the town, and sales are definitely growing beyond earlier expected goals, and it hasn’t even been a year.”
The new look includes a new tagline to go with the owl image: “The Home Wise Choice.” It replaces an image of the Blair name in large, slanted yellow letters.
“Our technicians love the new look on their trucks because they are so distinct, colorful and they truly differentiate us from our competition,” Husak said.
A new truck wrapping campaign requires a significant investment. There are a lot of things to consider, such as the design, truck wraps, building wraps, stationery and solidifying the new look into the company’s social media, direct mail, and Internet presence.
Additionally, the new company service proposition goes beyond plumbing and HVAC. The team now prefers to be known as home solutions experts.
“We decided to raise the bar in our area. We are no longer just a plumbing, heating and air conditioning company. We are a company that is serious about showing off who we are. We have our new image, our technicians in the field and our office staff organizing and running the show. We care about our customers’ experience. We are colorful, unique, and, ‘The Home Wise Choice.’ All that we are is embodied in our excellence, and in our KickCharge-designed brand,” Husak said.
From Construction Specialists to Service Experts
Prior to owning an HVAC business, Blair Husak paid his dues as a certified plumber and gas fitter. In 1993, he and Barb moved inland from Vancouver, to the Okanagan Valley in Northwestern Canada, to start work on their dream.
“It was just the right time to open a business. We’ve certainly seen many companies come and go. Through hard work and advice from our best practice group Nexstar, and thanks to our talented, exceptional staff, our company has achieved longevity as a leader in our industry. We made the switch to be exclusively a plumbing, heating and air conditioning service company about 10 years ago. By focusing on service, we’ve grown to be one of the top service companies in our area,” he said.
The business was initially grounded in HVAC and plumbing for new home construction.
Training and Customer Care
Husak understands the value of seeking training and business management instruction. He’s been a member of the Nexstar Network since 2014.
“It’s not easy to join Nexstar. You just don’t say, ‘Hey I want to join'. They do their homework before accepting a company. We send our staff to Nexstar training, too. For instance, the three-day course for our Customer Service Representative (focused on answering phone scripts for building empathy and understanding what the customer says). Everybody gets training, one-by-one. I take training as a business owner, to learn how to help my staff be as great as they can be and provide the tools they need.
“Everybody knows, when they come to work here, that they must embrace training and learning or we will not accept them to be part of our team. We don’t have that kind of time,” he shared.
Husak said the business has grown and remained successful because of smart hiring practices and a cadre of hard working employees.
“We try to hand-pick our technicians and office staff so they have that sort of skill set, or at least want to learn it. We won’t hire anybody off the street that just says they’re a plumber.”
Weekly training is provided to all technicians, to keep them current with new ideas and products, as well as information related to building codes and improving skills.
"Then, we go over how to approach the customer, how to offer 'Customer Care'," Husak said. "The key point with the company is to train, train, train — try to get the very best staff we can, treat them right, and they’ll tak care of our customers. We’re not without problems, but we respond to every single one of them. We try not to leave anything undone."
Support for sports teams reaches includes the British Columbia junior football and basedball leagues.
Blair Plumbing, Heating and Cooling's charity and community involvement operates on multiple levels, and includes providing funding for sports teams and furnace and air conditioning for people in need. It also offers monetary awards to non-profit organizations. Non-profits each receive a cash donation based on the number of votes received through social media. Husak said 12 non-profit organizations will receive donations in 2019.