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Should Techs Take Trucks Home?

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There is one thing contractors just can’t seem to agree on and that is if it is better for your technicians to take their company owned vehicles home or have them return to the shop on a daily basis. There are several concerns that either choice raise: What will they do with my truck aft er hours? How long will they spend at the shop in the morning before they head out to the job?

Having been in the industry for 25 years, I have experienced both scenarios and understand how and why both work for different companies.

In my experience, the single largest difference between the companies I worked for were number of vehicles. The smaller of the companies I worked for has approximately 15 vehicles that where returned to the shop each night. The larger company has approximately 40 vehicles that went home with the field personnel each night.

The Case for Sending the Trucks Home

With a larger number of employees, and vehicles, the larger company could service a larger area. It  idn’t make sense to have all the technicians come to the shop to pick up trucks when we could get to the majority of our clients in less than 30 minute with dispatching them from home.

Besides being able to provide faster service to our customers, we decreased out fuel costs by 50 percent. The larger company’s fleet of trucks consists of all full size vans, so it is easy to see where the fuel cost would add up as we had technicians that live as far as 40 miles from our headquarters.

We also made a choice to have each vehicle equipped with a GPS tracking system. We’ve had these devices for six years now and wouldn’t be without them. Having the GPS has many advantages that can help ease some of the anxiety that contractors may have over sending their trucks home with their technicians. We set pre-determined times the trucks should be in use and areas where they should be through our GPS systems. No one sees this as spying, because our employees understand that it is a safety precaution for them and the company. And, when we have had the misfortune of a truck being stolen we have been able to recover them each time.

Overcoming Obstacles

Sending trucks home with employees wasn’t an easy decision and it came with a few obstacles. First, we had to figure out how to get the technicians’ trucks restocked and second, we needed to tackle how to get their invoices with payment back to the office.

This took a little bit of trial and error. We first tried having the technicians mail their invoices in daily, it was less than effective and amazingly we only received invoices mailed in when time cards were needed or payroll. Needless to say that program was abandoned quite quickly.

However, we soon learned we could set each truck up as a warehouse in our dispatch soft ware, therefore when a call is closed out the parts are attached to that technician’s truck and a report is printed daily so we are able to restock each truck within one day.

We also found that the most effective way to get the parts to them and get their paperwork to us was to hire a full time service parts driver whose responsibility is to get a restock list from our parts manager and deliver the items to each technician’s home on a daily basis. Each technician is supplied with a rubber made tub that is left in a secure place at their home and daily they put the service invoices in the tub and the driver picks those up as he delivers the parts required to replenish the techs truck stock. As an added bonus to this process, we learned it is a great way to introduce entry level techs to our industry; our last three drivers are now service technicians for the company.

Having techs take trucks home works for us. But the truth is, this issue will continue to go on and there is no “right” answer. Each company will have a reason why one system works better than the other, and the best part is we are all right!

Online Extras

[tabs names=”IE3 Audio,Frequently Asked Questions”]
[t]Join us for a special audioconference with Matt Marsiglio of Flame Furnace on March 20 at 2pm: “Taking Trucks Home (Or Not)?” Learn more and sign up.[/t]
[t]ACCA members can read answers to frequently asked questions about labor issues, including overtime, at the ACCA website here. You can also submit your own general questions for our experts to answer![/t]

Posted In: ACCA Now, Vehicles & Fleets

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