Plumbing Van Organization: Maintenance Tips and Best Practices
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There’s one thing virtually every plumber can agree on: keeping your plumbing van setup properly organized is nearly impossible. Between a busy schedule and a stockpile of tools, it can be a major pain point that can really disrupt your productivity and even your safety. We interviewed industry leaders about their best plumbing van storage ideas. From the top-rated trucks to the tools every plumber must have, we’ve compiled it all into a best practice manualfor any plumber to keep in their back pocket. And it all starts with your truck!
How to Get Your Van Organized as a Plumber
It’s difficult to constantly maintain your plumbing truck organization. And if it’s not regularly addressed, it can pose some serious issues. In fact George Efird from Blue Planet Plumbing goes so far as to say, “A dirty truck is like a disease. The longer you let it go, the longer it will stay dirty.” Take these pro tips to avoid mayhem in the back of your work van.
Top Organizational Tips from Industry Peers:
Start with a good shelving system.
Place stock items in order.
Keep up with restocking needs.
Get bands and compartments on every sidewall.
Leave enough floor space for water heaters and appliances.
Unload and clean out your truck at the end of every single day.
Do daily, weekly, monthly clean-outs. (Do it with your team for extra support!)
Gather all of the parts you’ll need for a specific job into a box, so you only have to put away what’s in the box each day.
(Truck shelving and organization from Tiger Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, & Electrical Services)
There’s no right way to keep your van clean and organized. The most important thing is to find what works for you and make it something you can easily incorporate into your routine. Maybe it’s just remembering to put things back where they belong or taking a day out of every month to do a deep clean to save it from grime and build-up. Either way, a little effort saves you a world of pain in the future.
How to Maintain an Orderly Fleet as a Manager
A messy or dirty truck can reflect poorly on your entire company—not just the tech. That’s just bad for business. That’s why a clean truck is critical to appearing professional to the customer.
When we surveyed managers about this particular subject, you can imagine it provoked some strong feelings. If you’re a manager or owner trying to carrel your rogue plumbers, here are some of the best, tangible advice you can implement into your company. Some of the managers actually saw job times be reduced after they implemented their new system because it improved their team’s efficiency on the job.
Keep Your Fleet Clean Inside and Out.
“As a manager, I perform weekly inspections both inside and outside each truck [before it gets] on the road. If it’s dirty or messy, the tech has to wash and organize it before it can leave the parking lot.”
— Kevin Pearl, Dauenhauer Plumbing
(To the right, a Blue Planet Plumbing truck organized after a long day of installs)
Who Will Get the Lowest Grade?
“We hold our technicians 100% accountable for the organization and maintenance of the vehicle. They are graded on every single thing from the first aid kit being complete to the fire extinguisher’s location—we even grade down to the tire tread. Every 90 days, the employee with the lowest truck grade is now in charge of truck inspections for the next 90 days. We repeat this until everyone in the company understands the importance and relevance of an organized truck.”
— Georg Efird, Blue Planet Plumbing
Make Them Earn It.
"The most impactful thing we’ve implemented so far is a rewards programs. Techs earn points for truck cleanliness (Is it properly stocked? Is it clean? Is not covered in mud?). They can exchange their points for gift cards, cash, a day off work, or even a vacation. Our techs can accumulate these points month-over-month and can get even more points for stuff such as: being on time, improved efficiency, higher sales, positive reviews, and more. This rewards program even incentivizes techs who do installs… and those types of trucks get very dirty!"
"We also use Fleetio to maintain our trucks’ oil changes, tire rotations, maintenance, tags/renewals, and inspections. You even get alerts when it’s done!"
– Mike Hudson and Fredy Trinidad, Nice Home Services
Must-Have Tools for Every Plumbing Van
From your standard safety equipment to your must-have power tools, we’ve compiled a list of the tools you need to have in the back of your truck at all times. No matter how big or small the job is, you are bound to use at least one of these invaluable tools.
First Aid Kit
Right Angle Drill with Various Bits
Heavy-Duty Hammer Drill
Ridgid ProPress Gun
Uponor ProPEX® Gun
Viega MegaPress® Gun
Mini Tubing Cutters
Allen Wrench Set (Standard & Metric)
Top-Rated Cargo Vans for Plumbers
Plumbing truck organization is impossible if you don’t have the right vehicle. These are our customers’ most recommended cargo vans for shops of all shapes and sizes.
1. Maximum Storage Capacity: Ford® Transit-250 Cargo Van
“We're exclusively moving towards the Ford Transit-250s because we can store water heaters and furnaces with the taller roofs… [and it’s] the most economical way we can grow our fleet.”
— Dominic Durbin, Tiger Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, & Electrical Services
Dominic has gone through many different kinds of trucks over the years, but he ultimately found the Ford Transit-250 Medium Roof w/ 148" WB to have the best and most practical storage capacity for his 45-truck crew—especially for jobs that require bulky equipment.
This cargo van model recently won the 2019 Edmunds Best Retained Value Awards, which means it has achieved the highest projected residual value five years after its introduction. So you know it’s an investment worth making.
2. Cost-Effective & Practical: Nissan NV® CARGO
“They are the most cost-effective van on the market today… they’re 25% less than name-brand competitors and they come with a five-year bumper-to-bumper 100,000 mile warranty. They help us maintain our investments and have a better bottom line by not paying for fancy vehicles like Ford, Chevy, or Mercedes.”
— Georg Efird, Blue Planet Plumbing
One of the unexpected benefits of this vehicle is its multi-tasking lockable center console for those long days on the road where your front seat turns into your mobile office. It even has a fold-down passenger seat that creates a convenient work desk.
Georg’s one downside to the Nissan NV® is that you can only fit a 9‘6“ piece of pipe in it when the van has a pipe cage inside to protect the driver, and most of the pipes Georg’s team use come in 10-foot lengths.
3. Fuel-Efficient City Slicker: 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
This van is perfect for shops who service customers in cities that suffer from traffic and narrow roadways. It also has rear suspension specially designed to minimize any intrusion into the cargo space. It also has wide-swinging rear doors and dual-sliding side doors, which makes it easy to access every inch of its spacious cargo area.
However, it does fall short in regions heavily impacted by snow since it does not have the power and size of other cargo vans.
Don’t End Up in the ICU.
Whether you’re a plumber, manager, owner, or even an apprentice, it all begins and ends with your truck. You can have the best tools or the newest truck, but none of it really matters if it’s all in shambles. A messy truck is not only reflective of a tech’s work, but it’s also reflective of a company. Take the time to keep it clean and organized, so you don’t end up like this guy’s horror story:
“Before I was the manager, we had one guy that just throw everything onto the floor of his cargo space. One time, he tripped over stuff while trying to find a part in his truck and fell out of the back. He ended up in the ICU for a concussion…”
— Kevin Pearl, Dauenhauer Plumbing
The Only Solution for Digital Organization
Maybe you’ve been able to wrangle that mess of a van, but what about the chaotic pile of invoices and paperwork taking over your front seat? That’s where ServiceTitan comes in.
ServiceTitan is the only cloud-based mobile app that centralizes and streamlines everything you need to get the job done well. From a seamlessly integrated pricebook to an intuitively designed estimate builder, you can access everything you need right from your tablet. It also makes communication with the office staff a breeze!
“We've had ServiceTitan for about a year and a half and it’s already increased efficiency and tightened up our processes. Everything's better with ServiceTitan. We just love it.”
— Stephanie Hornyack, Accounting Supervisor for Earl’s Performance Plumbing
Your Pro Checklist
Here’s your go-to checklist to make sure you always stay organized while on-the-go:
Maximize interior space. From installing a strategic shelving system to leaving extra space for a water heater, make sure you are utilizing the back of your van or truck to its maximum capability while maintaining accessibility.
Keep ‘em accountable. If you manage an entire fleet, there’s a lot of equipment and techs you need to manage. Whether its competition or penalties, determine a motivational tactic that works for you and your team.
Never have another tool go missing. You can’t do your job without the right tools. Always check your inventory and dedicate specific locations in your van for each tool, so it’ll always be there whenever you reach for it.
Find the right van. If you don’t have enough space to fit all of the equipment you need to complete the job, you might need a better-equipped van or truck. Whether it’s height, length, or even just extra storage capacity, the right one is out there.
Whip your mobile office into shape. Remember: your company vans shouldn’t be a fleet of unkempt filing cabinets on wheels. The most efficient and organized home service businesses use ServiceTitan to stay digitally organized and manage their necessary onsite paperwork in real-time.
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive plumbing business software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000+ contractors across the country.Learn More