In 2003, we restructured our service trucks at McAfee Heating and Air Conditioning Company to make them more easily accessible. First, we sat down and discussed how lean we could go on our inventory per truck. We dissected one of our trucks: took everything out, lined the parts up on the ground, and color-coded part boxes and bins using stickers according to their area of purpose. For example, all gas items were red, air conditioning parts blue, and circuit boards black.
Next, we restocked the truck with convenience in mind; the most frequently used parts were placed closest to the door, making the truck far more tech-friendly. Once we had the stock in place and everything was organized and looked tidy, we created a truck map. The map was color-coded to match the stock, then laminated and hung on a ring inside the truck.
Next, we had to test the system we’d put in place. At the time, my son Travis was eight years old, and, although he was somewhat familiar with HVAC parts, he didn’t exactly work with them every day. We asked Travis to use the truck map to find four particular parts, and we timed him on his attempt. Within sixty seconds, Travis — just a kid — came out of the back of the van with all four parts. We knew our re-organization system was a success. If an eight-year-old could do it, certainly our qualified technicians could, too!
Here are three reasons why you should take physical inventory and organize your service vans:
Do you think your company is immune to employee embezzlement and theft? Think again. According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), “Security experts say that as many as 30 percent of the average company’s employees do steal, and another 60 percent will steal if given a motive and opportunity. Some estimates indicate that more than $600 billion is stolen annually, roughly $4,500 per employee. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce about a third of all business failures each year trace back to employee theft and other employee crime.”
Keeping a better count on truck inventory and allowing one person to be in charge of the truck will make a big difference in accurate counts.
2. Inventory Control.
Having too much inventory can cost money and has been known to put companies out of business. Not enough inventory, on the other hand, can cause customer dissatisfaction and too many wasted trips to supply houses. Inventory control starts by measuring and knowing how much you’ve sold of a product over the past few years. For instance, if we sold fifty hot surface ignitors in October, we should have sixty-plus available the following October. A physical inventory count allows the company to correctly determine inventory quantities, identify necessary inventory adjustments, and investigate variances.
When a regular item is in stock, whether on a truck or in a company warehouse, techs can more easily do their jobs and, thus, keep customers happy. Imagine running out of paper, paper clips and staples in your office on a regular basis. How long would you allow that to happen? Hopefully, not often. The same concept applies to service and installation inventory. Techs need to have items on hand, or at least quickly retrievable, at all times so they can provide the efficient, fast customer service our customers deserve.
Without inventory management, it would be difficult for any company to maintain control and effectively and efficiently handle the needs of their customers. Remember, your customers don’t care how you do it, they just want you to have what they need available when they need it.