Your Profits May Be in Your Trucks

February 28, 2008

Your Profits May Be In Your Trucks
By Jeff Kuhn, President, PHCC of Wisconsin

Did you ever wonder where your profits go?  It looks like you have passed a decent amount of revenue through your business this year, but you are wondering, “Where did it all go?”

If you’re like me, you cringe when you look inside some of your trucks.  Some of your technicians are neat as a pin and take pride in their trucks, while others couldn’t find the floor.  Recently we switched trucks around and when I went inside one of them, I found some of our profit (or what could have been profits).  It’s enough to make a grown man cry.

Given the opportunity, your technicians can stockpile an enormous amount of excess material on his or her truck.  It starts out innocently enough, with a fully-stocked truck, a service order, and the additional parts that the technician needs for the job in a separate container. When the job is completed, those extra materials that you thought were going to make it back into stock don’t make it out of the truck. They are now “extra” stock.  A valve here or a flush valve there, a few copper fittings, a faucet, another valve, some supply tubes….  You get the routine.  Pretty soon you have more in the truck than you have in the shop, and you can guess where your profit went. Thousands of dollars are left on trucks, unavailable to others and often to be damaged or lost simply by riding around town day after day.

Many materials are left behind on new construction jobs as well.  Chances are your thought those materials were picked and returned to stock too, but often they are not.  Did you ever go back on a call-back after a job was finished only to find some of your finish materials that were left in the basement?  There is your profit sitting on the floor!  It’s not a pretty picture, especially if you are the one paying for these materials.

So what can you do about it? Well there are several steps that can be taken to limit your losses.  First, your service trucks can be stocked and inventoried so that you can hold your tech responsible for the stock he or she has on board.  Next, you can develop a system whereby the technician would hand in a ticket indicating what was used, and then receive replenishment stock for the truck.  Frequent inspections of trucks can also help to limit the losses.  Stocking systems for your shop are available and can make it easier on you as well as providing you with a better tracking system for your shop stock.  Being in business is enough of a challenge in today’s world without adding a few self-inflicted headaches.

Your trucks should be the assets you use to make a profit, not the place where your assets are stored. Who knows, you may even find enough recovered profit to join the PHCC (if you haven’t done that already)!  PHCC can be one of your greatest business investments, so why not put that “lost” profit to work for your company.  Now go digging for some of that gold in your trucks!


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