Tips for Managing Service Trucks

The service vehicle is essentially a heavy-duty A/C shop on wheels. Managed right, a well-stocked truck can generate substantial revenue and be a real competitive advantage.

NVB Equipment in Fresno, Calif., has 10 service trucks covering the entire state of California. More than 65% of the company’s revenue comes from field service.

“Each vehicle carries $30,000 to $45,000 worth of inventory and has all the tools for just about any A/C job,” says NVB’s Mike Oddo, “whether it’s emergency service in the middle of nowhere or a system hose-up and charge at an OE.”

He offers these tips for keeping field service trucks productive and profitable:

TIP 1: Bigger Isn’t Always Better

NVB’s vehicles are medium-duty Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks. Rated at 26,000 lbs. GVW, they’re big enough to handle tools and inventory but just below the threshold where technicians need a CDL to drive them.

“A bigger truck gives you more options with body size, but it’s more involved in terms of licensing, maintenance, and operations,” Mike says. “You have to balance size with added complexity and cost.” 

TIP 2: One Truck, One Tech 

NVB assigns one technician to each truck. He’s responsible for managing its tools and inventory, and functions as his own service writer.

“When you slip-seat, you have keep the trucks absolutely uniform when it comes to organization and stocking levels,” Mike says. “We’d rather make one person accountable and keep it simple.”

TIP 3: Spec for Power and Water

Powering welders, air compressors, recovery machines, lights, and other equipment in the field is a challenge in California where emissions from idling and APUs are tightly controlled. “We power everything through inverters and isolated deep-cycle batteries,” says Mike. 

Another key spec: water tanks and electric pumps. If the technician has to wash out an evaporator coil or a condenser, he can do it without an external water source.

TIP 4: Digitize

“We live by iPhones and Google Docs,” says Mike. “We take every opportunity to communicate digitally and eliminate handwriting. There are great fleet man- agement programs out there, but for us, the reliability and simplicity of the iPhone plus the ability to share documents online makes it easier to manage a mobile operation.”

TIP 5: Put E-Z Clip on the Truck

Time and fuel are expensive, so eliminate out-of-route trips by stocking your field service trucks with our AeroQuip E-Z Clip Starter Kit (70R9903). It has everything you need to make hose assemblies in the field, including 50 feet of each hose size, hose-cutting and connection tools, and a carrying case.