The last thing you need to be doing in these uncertain times is to stock your trucks too heavily. You don’t need to be paying for excess inventory, for things that get damaged, or go out of warranty sitting on a shelf.
Just as bad, however, are trucks that aren’t stocked well enough to give your Techs a good chance to make an immediate sale and do the work. Always needing to chase parts is a waste of time which damages billable hour efficiency and can lead to lost sales.
My Service Manager at my company told me, “You can’t sell from an empty wagon.”
I replied, “What?”
He said, “If you don’t have it onboard, you’re unlikely to stop and go hunting for it.”
The goal should be for your Techs to pull up to 80% of the homes you serve with a truck that has the stock that will give them an 80% chance that they’ll have what they need to get the job done today.
To achieve this, you may need to make some adjustments, not just to what’s in your trucks, but to the type of trucks you’re buying. To maximize the interior space and the ability to keep things organized, consider buying trucks that a Tech can stand up in, such as a Sprinter, a Mini-Box or a full-sized Box Truck.
While I’m on that subject, know that I’m a huge fan of leasing over buying trucks these days. Why? Because good leasing companies are paying attention and will help you keep your fleet on the road and making you money. They've got checklists and other resources that can assist you. It’s a lot better than owning your own trucks and driving them into the ground. Each one of your trucks is a rolling cash register and every time one goes out of service, your ability to generate revenue for your business goes with it. Food for thought.
That said, if you are still operating out of a standard van, that’s OK, the following steps can be applied to any truck style. The styles noted above will just make it a lot easier for the Tech to find what they need and stay organized. Also, they’re much better at being a rolling billboard, especially with a great looking truck design.
To create “trucks that work” do the following 7 steps:
- Create a truck stocking template which is a list of the 80% of parts that need to be on the truck to give the Tech the best chance of success.
- Customize the template/list to fit what you do by committing to one or more of the following:
- To determine what should be on the list, pull two months worth of invoices (peak season or seasons) that list what materials that Tech used, what the computer tracked as being used by that truck, or that Tech.
- You can also call your primary Vendor and ask them for help.
- If you own my Signature Operating Manuals System (SOMS), use the Task List in the Table of Contents in the Operations Manual for the Trade or Trades you do to also guide you.
- Ask your Model Tech (the Tech you love and want everyone to emulate) for their input so they don’t feel like they got stuck with your design decision. Load their truck with the parts on your list and then have them test drive it for two weeks so you can both agree on SLIGHT modifications.
- Now that you have the customized list, lay out all the materials behind the vehicle on the floor first. Then, prioritize what absolutely needs to be on the truck and what would be a “nice to have.”
- Build the shelving on the floor of the warehouse first. You do that because it makes it easier to locate where you want to put the stuff first and you can adjust the shelving and bin locations more easily.
- Once you like it, TAKE PHOTOS! The tech can use these to make sure they are restocking the truck properly, and you can use them as reference to check that it’s actually happening.
- Install the shelving in the truck and load it with the items you’ve decided must be there and then add the rest as there is room.
- Note: If the shelving is already in the truck, you can simulate the shelving on the floor of the warehouse and then you’ll end up with a shelving configuration that’s ready to go when you put the next truck on the road.
10 tips and tricks to ensure a smooth installation:
- Keep the heaviest stuff closest to the floor.
- Try to keep the biggest movers between eye- and hip-level.
- Think about how the Tech will get heavy items off the truck and what that does to their stopping and safe operation of the vehicle.
- Commit to which bins you’ll use whether they be 24” deep or 18” or 12.” They must be plastic bins to stand up.
- Buy shelving that’s rugged enough to stand up to the beating and make sure it’s adjustable metal shelving not wood because no matter how much you try to figure it out you will want to readjust the configuration.
- Build the bins and take photos of each of them because you’ll be doing this again and again. Hopefully, you’ll build them two at a time so you can put the next truck on the road quickly.
- Install the racking and move the bins into place only after you’ve marked each column and each row with a marking pen or better yet a professional label.
- Example: Column A Row 2 or Column C Row 1
- Note: This will be the quick reminder system that’s part of the truck stocking form.
- Consider access to power tools and how they’ll be both protected and secured for easy on and off loading.
- Make sure there is a clipboard with the specific number truck stock list at the back of the truck where Techs jump on and off and have a pen or pencil attached by chain if you’re still doing this manually vs. using new technology.
- Note: Train them not to jump off with any parts in their hands that haven’t been added to that list. No more waiting till the job is over to figure it out. Worse yet is a day later trying to figure out what they used.
- Take a picture of the Tech inside the clean truck in a clean uniform and let them know this is what they’ll be held accountable for maintaining.
Trucks that work enable your Techs to sell more because they are confident they have the parts they need to do the job that day.
Combined with proper warehouse and materials management, implementing this advice will not just make you money, it will save you a ton of money. I say that because there will be accountability for what goes in and comes out of that truck every day. Finally, a well-stocked truck that is neat and clean sends a great message to the customer about the quality and care of the service you’re about to provide.