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How can I get my techs to restock service vehicle after use?

Hi Steve,

restock service vehicleThanks to attending SFS (and implementing Value Added Service) my business has exploded over the last two years.  But now I’m hitting the wall with keeping our vans repaired and stocked.  My techs are exhausted when they come in and just want to go home.  So they restock service vehicle with their main stuff like the emulsifier (sometimes!) and then sneak away. Meanwhile, ongoing mechanical problems and the little stuff like clean entrance mats and our FREE Spotter for Life bottles aren’t getting replaced.  Is there a checklist in the SFS manuals (or on the SFS website) that we can give to the technicians so they can restock service vehicle with all the equipment, chemicals, etc?

All Worn Out in Portland

Dear Worn Out,

First, congratulations on your growth.  It makes your SFS team “proud as punch” to be a big part of your success.  But as you are learning, growth (and especially rapid growth) brings other issues- such as staying on top of truck maintenance and restocking.

When I was an owner-operator my truck was METICULOUS! After all, it was MINE!  And my future (and my family’s financial welfare) depended on it functioning well.  But then I hired employees and I learned that even the best employee- DIDN’T REALLY CARE!  Employees tend to have short horizons.  In fact, if you do find a worker that takes the long view they will ether become your manager OR your competition!

So the short answer is we do have a simple Daily Maintenance Checklist in the SFS Operations Manual.  However, it will need to be customized to your operation simply because each company is so very different.  You can download it by going to the SFS Members Only “Blue Door Access” area (look in the Equipment systems).

For our readers who aren’t SFS members (and if you aren’t you really should be!) here’s some items to include in a checklist:

Cleaning of van and equipment:

  • Wash van (special attention to wheels, tires and ledge in front of truck mount.)
  • Clean interior, throw away trash and especially clean front dash.  Wash windshield inside and out.
  • Dump waste tank and clean filters.
  • Add disinfectant/deodorizer to waste tank.
  • Clean “Clear View” filter.
  • Clean rotary extraction cleaning head (special attention to underneath cleaning of head). Also hook up to truck mount and turn on to check no tips are clogged.
  • Clean and polish scrub wand.  Hook up and check spray pattern of tip.
  • Check vac and solution hoses and clean if necessary.
  • Wipe down truck mount and vacuum tank. (Special attention to instrument panel and other “customer visible” areas.)
  • Wipe down pressure sprayers.
  • Clean out spotting kit.

Restock Service Vehicle of all chemicals and supplies:

  • Refill all chemicals.  (Check amount in inventory.  Need to re-order?)
  • Check and refill spotter kit.
  • Restock “block bin” and furniture tab holder.
  • Restock entrance “walk off” mats (Large bath mats) and Free Lifetime spotter bottles. (Minimum of 10 each on each van.)

Truck and equipment maintenance:

  • Check all fluids in van.  (Oil, water, battery, windshield fluid, air in tires.)
  • Check truck mount fluid levels. (Oil, pump oil, etc.)
  • Lubricate blower.
  • Check all belt tensions.
  • Lubricate rotary extraction tool.
  • Oil pressure pump sprayers w/ super lube.

So work these points into a restock service vehicle checklist that your employees mark off and then turn in at the end of the day. Adding structure and  “Employee Accountability” to your company is always a good thing.

HOWEVER, Worn Out, here’s the problem with any checklist.  Very quickly your tired and demotivated techs will just zoom through things, check everything off “click-click-click” on the checklist and they are out of there.  I fought this too.  Then I got smart in my 3 ½ truck mount company.  (One van was a backup.)

The best idea I ever had on techs restocking trucks was … give up! Say what?? That’s right- I recognized I was fighting a losing battle. Once again, your techs are tired and want a cold beer when they come in – the very last thing they want to do is go through a boring check list.

So we had our techs pull any broken or damaged equipment off the truck and turn in their Production Day Sheet with the repairs needed written down (along with their checks for the day attached) and they were OFF the clock!  It was Miller Time!

Meanwhile, I hired a high school kid to come in around 7 PM or so to do general restocking and repairs.  I paid him better than he could get at McDonald’s to go through every van, restock them and clean them up perfect. (He also learned to do minor mechanical repairs such as rebuild cleaning wand valves and work on sprayers, etc.)  The kid loved the work instead of the techs resenting it and did a much better job.

Even better, the high school kid was working for a 1/3 of what I was paying my techs. With all the cleaning work we did, my employees were invariably pushed into overtime so in effect they would restock service vehicle at time and a half!

Seriously, Worn Out, think on this idea and let me know what you decide.

Steve Toburen

PS  “Big Billy” Yeadon reminded me that our good friend and SFS member John Mapes does the same thing with a separate “restocker” in his cleaning company and it works perfectly for him. The techs feel like NASCAR drivers because they get in their vans and go to work. When they are done they step out and go home.

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