HVAC Van Organization: Tips & Strategies for Better Efficiency
When your techs are out in the field servicing customers, their truck or van serves as their home base. It stores all the tools and resources your team needs—but still needs to be kept organized and tidy to keep them efficient and ready for the next job.
ServiceTitan knows this, which is why we spoke to various HVAC pros about service van organization and HVAC truck storage ideas and tips they regularly use to stay on top of their game. Let's take a look...
The Basics of HVAC Van Organization
One key to maintaining a van or truck organization policy that employees can adhere to is zeroing in on an overall philosophy your team can get behind. For example, at Nice Home Services in Springfield, VA, management wanted their technicians to not only feel pride in their truck organization but know that a rigorous practice of tidiness and efficiency was tied directly to how well they could do their job.
"We make our team treat their truck, you know, like it's their office," says Fredy Trinidad, Training Manager at Nice Home Services. "And if you want to get work done in an office, it can't be a cluttered, dirty office."
Foundational practices of good van/truck upkeep include:
- Create a numbered rack and bin system
- Check tire pressure and odometer readings on a weekly basis
- Encourage regularly scheduled clean-outs to keep vehicles tidy
- Keep an inventory list on each individual truck
- Conduct regular (weekly) truck inspections
- Complete weekly spot inventories on all trucks
- Do a thorough, quarterly inventory on all trucks
(Truck shelving from Tiger Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, & Electrical Services)
Of course, every shop is different and you should tailor your van and truck upkeep policies to meet the specific needs and goals of your business. Adopting vigilant practices like the one above, however, will help keep your fleet of vans and trucks operational and your team ready to service customers.
Motivating Your Team to Stay Organized
Even when you put policies in place, it’ll still be up to your team of technicians to take responsibility for the organization, tidiness, and inventory of their HVAC box truck setup. But how do you make sure that they’ll do that? When technicians know that an optimized setup and upkeep of their vehicle will help make for a more efficient performance and better business, is that enough to motivate your techs to keep their vehicles in tip-top shape?
According to the pros we talked to… not always. Instead, they take other measures to ensure that their technicians stay invested in keeping their vehicle ready for whatever job comes their way. Let’s take a look at a few different strategies…
Billboards on Wheels
"I think what really changed our technicians' mindset is the idea that their truck is a marketing tool. So they know that when… they have their doors open in a neighborhood when they're working on a job and a lot of people are walking their dog or walking by and they see a truck full of trash, that's not a good image for the company."
--Dominic Durbin, Tiger Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning & Electrical Service
Racking Up the Points
“We have a scoring system so that different stuff technicians do, they get points, and then get rewards from the points... and keeping their trucks clean and organized is one of the ways you can earn the points. So we'll give out gift cards and different stuff. Sometimes it might be a day off work. Employees can just accumulate the points and later cash them in for wherever they want.”
— Mike Hudson, Nice Home Services
If It Ain’t Broke...
"I have three [technicians] that are sixty-two years old. So, they've been doing this a long time and it's very hard to get them to change the way they do things. They say, 'You know I like my truck this way,' or 'I like having all these parts,' or 'I like having stuff organized this way,' you know? But they do provide their own inventory lists to our warehouse person to restock before they go out every morning but, no, we do not have our own formal system for that."
— Chris Hill, Dick Hill and Son Heating & Air
A Closer Look at HVAC Truck Inventory
Every shop, every tech, every job has its own, specific needs and will call for different onsite tools to best serve the customer. That said, there are some tried-and-true tools that every HVAC professional keeps on their truck at all times to not only to be prepared for the unexpected but to keep themselves safe out in the field, as well.
HVAC Personal Protection Equipment (PPE):
- Hard hat
- Arm protectors
- Knee pads
- First aid kit
- Torch sets
- Wrench sets
- Wire strippers
- Battery operated drills
- Caulk gun
Professional HVAC Essentials:
- Vacuum gauge
- Clamp meter
- Vacuum pumps
- Refrigerant scales
- Recovery machines
- Recovery cylinders
- Leak detector
Other odds & ends:
- Extension cords
- Digital multimeter
- Electrical testers
Top-Rated Cargo Vans for HVAC Professionals
All the best HVAC service van setup and organization tips in the world won't matter if you don't have the right vehicle for your team. Let's look at some of the trucks and vans our customers trust to get their technicians where they need to be.
Fitting in Tight Places: The Nissan NV200® COMPACT CARGO
“Nissan NV200s are very efficient on gas and ideal for the city because they’re smaller.”
—Mike Hudson and Fredy Trinidad, Nice Home Services
The Nice Home Services squad serves customers throughout Springfield, VA and its surrounding communities just outside Washington DC. That means their trucks need to be ready for all kinds of driving and parking situations—from sleepy suburban areas, to busier urban centers were major highways converge, and the Nissan NV200® COMPACT CARGO does the job.
One drawback? The NV200 may be great for smart, efficient city driving and parking, but it’s reduced size means it doesn’t have the horsepower to deal with unfriendly weather. Fortunately, Virginia doesn’t get (too many) snowstorms.
Customized for Comfort: The Ford Transit Cargo Van
"We put special bodies on the back that have lift gates so that way... we save on back injuries and things like that. We're the only (HVAC business) I've ever seen around here that have them."
— Chris Hill, Dick Hill and Son Heating & Air
Dick Hill and Son Heating & Air uses a combination of traditional vans and high-roof Ford Transit Cargo Vans—the latter of which they use specifically for installs. However, they also install lift gates on the back to help technicians load and unload heavy pieces of equipment.
The high-roof models also allow techs to stand up straight while in the back, which means they don’t need to hunch or crawl around when accessing tools and keeping things organized. According to Chris, the wraps they put on their vehicles also serve as roaming billboards for the company, which the team enjoys.
Reliability and Savings: The Ford® Transit-250 Cargo Van
"Why not GMC or Mercedes or whatever other types of cargo vans out there? Well, primarily because of the rebates and incentives we get through our distributors through our best practices groups. And, of course, the long-standing relationship we have with Ford."
— Dominic Durbin, Tiger Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, & Electrical Services
Dominic Durbin and his team at Tiger Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, & Electrical Services have tried a number of different truck models over the years, but is now currently relying heavily on Ford’s Transit-250 Cargo Van—the mid-roof model, specifically. This gives his team the proper amount of space to store and transport furnaces and water heaters to customer homes.
The other reason? The financial advantage of working with a van that comes approved by industry organizations and distributors. By sticking with the Ford brand, Tiger sees savings and perks from Service Nation, Trane, Goodman, and other organizations they rely on to do business.
Digital Clean-Up & Your HVAC Trucks
Remember what Fredy Trinidad at Nice Home Services said about encouraging his team to think about their trucks as their offices—the place they come every day to get work done? Well, what office isn't complete without paperwork? If you've been working in this industry for any amount of time, you know that the front seat of a van can quickly become littered with work orders, receipts, estimates, order forms, and other important documents your team uses to complete jobs and keep your records accurate.
With ServiceTitan Mobile, HVAC professionals can say goodbye to treating their vehicle like a filing cabinet. Instead, ServiceTitan Mobile allows shops to upload custom forms—anything from work orders to inspection checklists—so that techs can access them with a simple tap or swipe on their tablet. If needed, managers can even have certain job types trigger specific forms, prompting forgetful techs and eliminating missing paperwork.
When it comes to payment, ServiceTitan has that handled, too. With point-of-sale payment and signature capture, everything from your invoices to customer check and credit card information becomes digital, secure, and definitely not crumpled up under the seat of one of your vans.
And of course, because the ServiceTitan platform is cloud-based, everything is always saved and retrievable... even if something unfortunate happens to your technician's tablet out in the field.
Your HVAC Van Setup Checklist
To wrap-up, let’s break everything down into one, handy HVAC van organization checklist:
- Establish a philosophy. Your team will better adhere to helpful van setup and organization practices if they know those practices can lead to improved performance. Enforce policies that make sense for your business—and consider rewarding team members who set the standard.
- Stay stocked up and ready. Every shop has a different way of maintaining their HVAC van inventory list and making sure their team is equipped with what they need. Do regular checks for all the essentials and make techs accountable for organization and restocking.
- Choose the right vehicle. There are strengths and weaknesses to every truck or van—what features will benefit your team and business the most? Choose a van or truck that not only meets the needs of our technicians but also represents a valuable, long-term investment for your company.
- Find a paperless solution. The right field service software platform can transform how your team stays organized—including your techs in their vans. ServiceTitan Mobile was designed for HVAC professionals to cut down on mess and securely capture and store necessary documentation.
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How do potential customers find your HVAC, plumbing, or electrical company when their furnace sputters out in the middle of the night or when their toilet springs a leak right before a big party? Customers aren't checking the phone book or asking a neighbor for recommendations for a local home service provider. They're reading online reviews.
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Plumbers are consistently in high demand. Nearly every plumbing job is an emergency and needs to be fixed right away, and most plumbing companies stay busy year-round with no downtime or slow season to clear their own drains. Help your trained plumbing technicians manage the demand overflow from customers out in the field by creating a plumbing pricebook guide they can easily understand.