Humans use tools. Or at least we do when we can FIND THEM! So nothing ticked me off more than a phone call like this: “Steve, don’t yell at me. But I can’t change out a plugged jet on my carpet wand because there is no wrench on this van.” GRRRR! (I HATE and DESPISE “inefficiency!”)
The root of the problem? My workers were not being “held accountable!” So my “loose cannon employees” could lose, leave, “borrow” and sadly … even steal company tools with impunity! Here is how I solved my “missing tool” problem…
Assign each technician their very own well-stocked toolbox and then hold them accountable!
So I bought a full set of mechanical and carpet repair tools for each employee along with a heavy duty plastic 18″ tool box. (You want plastic because metal toolboxes rust and a 22″ tool box if you want each tech to have their own knee kicker.) All tools were inscribed with our company name and the toolbox number they belonged in. (Harbor Freight sells adequate mechanic’s tools for occasional use.)
The employee then put their name and their own combination lock on “their” toolbox. (The office kept a record of the combination for emergencies.) Each day the technician retrieved their toolbox from their locker and it traveled with them wherever they went.
All good but where did the “Employee Accountability” come in? The employee signed an Inventory List upon receipt of the toolbox and then we would perform a monthly “tool inventory.” Any missing tools would be replaced and the worker held responsible for the cost of the replacement. (Check out my employee’s Personal Equipment Inventory List HERE.)
When I started holding my employee’s feet to the fire by “charging” for lost items my “lost tool replacement budget” went down by 90%! More importantly, we became a much more efficient (and happier) company because each worker always had their “own tools” with them! (And my blood pressure dropped by thirty points!)
P.S. Remember, it is illegal to withhold an employee’s wages for breakage or loss. (No matter how much they deserve it!) HOWEVER, you usually can deduct lost tools (and other “acts of stupidity”) from a worker’s Employee Efficiency Bonus. Or on the positive side you add funds to their EEB for superb performance! Your goal should be to reward your employees, not punish them. (And don’t forget the value of Public Recognition!) But even so all of us need to be held accountable!
NOTE: Always check with a local attorney or your state’s Department of Labor before making major changes to your employee compensation policy. (What may appear totally fair and logical to you may be illegal!)