Rolling to a job with a well-organized complement of materials will help your bottom line in the end.

The last thing you need in this economy is to have a truck stocked too heavily and pay for excess inventory or stuff that gets damaged or goes out of warranty while sitting on a shelf. What’s just as bad is a truck stocked without enough to make it a surefire opportunity to secure an immediate sale and complete the work. Time wasted chasing parts is a killer and can result in a lost sale!

Your goal for a properly stocked model truck is this: Pull up to 80 percent of the homes you serve with a truck and truck stock that will give the tech an 80 percent chance of having what he needs to get the job done today.

The First Seven Steps To Implementation

1. Buy a truck that techs can stand up in such as a Sprinter, a mini box or a full-size box truck. If they can’t stand up, they tend to get messy. Plus, you’ll have a tough time spot-checking. The slightly bigger trucks are also rolling billboards, provided you create an eye-catching design. More importantly, it’s the greatest chance you’ll have to meet the first goal, which is arriving to the job with 80 percent of what you need 80 percent of the time.

2. Create a truck-stocking template of parts and materials and then customize it to fit what you do by pulling, during peak season, either two months’ worth of invoices that list what materials that tech used or what the computer tracked by that truck or that tech. You can also call the primary vendor and get help, use the task list in the table of contents in the operations manual for the trade or trades you do or use the flat-rate book.

3. Get help with the stocking list and layout from your model or missionary tech(s) so they don’t feel they’re getting stuck with your design. Have them test-drive it for two weeks so everyone can agree on any slight modifications that may be needed.

4. With the customized list, lay out the materials behind the vehicle on the floor and then prioritize what absolutely needs to be on the truck and what would fall into the “nice to have” category.

5. Build the shelving on the floor of the warehouse first. It makes it easier to locate where you want to put the stuff. You can then easily adjust the shelving and bin locations.

6. Once you like it,take photos!

7.Install the shelving in the truck and begin. Note: If the shelving is already in the truck, you can simulate the shelving on the floor of the warehouse. You’ll end up with a shelving configuration that’s ready to go when you put the next truck on the road.

Ten Advanced Stocking Steps

1. Keep the heaviest stuff closest to the floor for safety and stability.

2. Try to keep the biggest movers at eye to hip level. Note: Supermarkets do this. They know it’s where we tend to look first.

3. Think about how you’d get heavy items off the truck and what that does to your stopping and safe operation of the vehicle.

4. Commit to which bins you’ll use whether they are 12-, 18- or 24-inches deep, and make sure they are made of a good-quality plastic so they stand up to the abuse from being in the field.

5. Buy shelving that’s rugged enough to stand up to the beating. Make sure it’s adjustable metal shelving and not wood because no matter how much you try to figure it out, you will want to readjust the configuration.

6. Build the bins and take digital photos of each of them because you’ll be doing this again and again. And build them two at a time so you can put the next truck on the road quickly.

7. Install the racking (shelving) and move the bins into place only after you’ve marked each column and each row with a marking pen. For example, “Column A Row 2” or “Column C Row 1.” Note: This will be the “quick remember” system that’s part of the truck’s stocking form.

8. Consider access to power tools and how they’ll be both protected and secured for easy on and off loading.

9. Make sure there is a clipboard with the specific-numbered truck stock list (with pen or pencil attached by chain) at the back of the truck where techs jump on and off. Train them to not jump off with any parts in their hands that haven’t been added to that list. That way there’s no more waiting until the job is over to figure it out or, worse yet, attempting to do so a day later.

10. Take a picture of the tech inside the clean truck in a clean uniform and let him know this is what he’ll be held accountable to.

The trick is to make sure the customer knows why you stock the trucks the way you do by saying something like this:

“It doesn’t matter how good a technician I am if I don’t have the parts I need whether it’s night, weekend or holiday. That’s why my company goes the extra mile to make sure we have a rolling warehouse with pretty much all I’ll need to help you out of a bind no matter when you call.”

Well-stocked trucks are a sales and marketing advantage because they separate you from your competition.