I was visiting a big heating renovation job our company was in the process of doing many years ago. On Long Island, which is where our company continues to provide service, people often buy homes that cost a fortune and then gut them to the bare walls. They do this so they can rebuild it the way they want. Having money is nice. And that was fine by me since we were a big part of doing that big new work. I sold a lot and loved it!
Working on jobs like this often meant we’d be working side-by-side with other contractors from other trades. And I found it both great and annoying as all heck. It could be great because it was an opportunity to network for more business that often proved mutually beneficial. It could be great if they’re on the job to help you complete your work in a timely and professional way. I can’t install the hot tub if the carpenter hasn’t installed the proper wooden framework needed to support it properly.
Or, these jobs could meltdown to a test of wills. Pretty darn annoying when you drill holes for the heating and plumbing pipes you need to run and then another contractor on the job comes along and fills them up with their own stuff. Unfortunately, rarely does the home builder or general contractor care. They leave it to us, the contractors, to police ourselves.
But I digress.
When I would be out supervising the work on these bigger jobs, I got an opportunity to come to appreciate the craftsmanship of many of these tradespeople. It’s a special treat for me to watch a carpenter ply their craft. Mitering corners is still a wonder to me. Knowing how to provide proper support through beams and columns for spanning a given distance and weight so the whole area or home doesn’t come tumbling down is mighty impressive.
Way back then my company wasn’t yet in the electrical trade (Today, my brothers and nephew are now also in the electrical business). One job I was particularly lucky enough to be working on allowed me to watch one of the truly great electricians show off his mastery. Nothing was crooked. Everything fit perfectly. Level and plumb was what he was all about.
So, I was chatting with him as I followed him to his truck and my jaw dropped.
His truck was immaculate! And this was during the day while he was working. Everything had a place and everything was in its place. The floor, I kid you not, you could have eaten off. He had even added special lighting inside his truck that made working in it easy.
Intrigued, I walked around to the front and peered through the windshield figuring this will be the test. It was totally empty of the normal things contractors like to stash up there. Not just clear it was shiny. I swear he must have used Armor All® that morning.
That’s when I said to Eddie, the electrician, “How do you find the time to keep your truck so neat and tidy?”
He replied, “I don’t have the extra time to be a slob and work around the mound of junk in the bay that I see other electricians and trades people seem to do. I need to know what I have onboard, where it is and that whatever I pull off the shelf will work. I’ve got to do this not just for me but for my apprentice. He’s got to jump in here and get what he needs the first time and quickly. And I drive him nuts about keeping it spotless.
Here’s what I’ve also found…that my truck being washed, shiny, neat, clean and well lit on the inside….it wows customers and general contractors. I firmly believe it brings me more business.”
Skip ahead in this story. Based on what I saw on that job and just as much if not more on how he maintained his truck, I hired Eddie when it came time to do work at my own home. I had no doubt in my mind who I was going to use. It had to be Eddie and I knew he wouldn’t be the cheapest. I didn’t want the cheapest. I wanted someone I could trust to do it right and someone I wouldn’t have to clean up after when I’d come home.”
So, what’s your unwashed truck, with a windshield filled with odds and ends, messy floors and garbage strewn to the point that when the back door opens things are poised to just fall out….like screws….that can flatten a customer’s tires?
It’s saying tons! And it’s saying all the wrong things.
If you too think you don’t have time to keep your truck clean and tidy, think again. You don’t have extra time to work around the mess you created or the mess you’re letting the techs create.
You’re truck is a rolling billboard either in a good way or a bad way.
It can be in a very good way if you’ve correctly invested in trucks that you can stand up in so you can carry the right amount of materials to the job site and that you can more easily keep in tip top shape when it comes to storing that inventory and accessing it.
Not preaching here. I too was guilty of thinking I didn’t have time to keep my vehicle neat while I was working. It was when I was young and first starting out. Just like a lot of you, I was always in a big hurry. I found out the hard way too many times that I’d arrive at a job, diagnose the problem, only to find out that I hadn’t taken the time to write down what I had used or made sure to replenish it.
Off to the supply house or back to the shop I’d go which was a labor killer. Also, I’d spend time carefully stepping over the job debris I had conveniently stuck in the middle of the vehicle and now I’d have to dance around it and still I’d need time to clean it up.
Finally, I got religious about making sure that me and the whole company got good at keeping our trucks stocked right, looking clean and neat. It all helped to improve our productivity as well as sending the right message that we’re not like the rest of the sloppy contractors out there.
Clean up and enjoy some bright and the shiny profits!