Time is Money

Well-organized, well-stocked and well-recognized — these service trucks get the job done in more ways than one.
Time is Money
George Brazil Home Services operates a fleet of 25 Hino, Isuzu and Mitsubishi box trucks completely stocked and outfitted with everything technicians need on the job. Inside each truck, a shelf-and-bin storage system keeps approximately 700 different parts meticulously organized.

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It’s unlikely that service technicians at George Brazil Home Services know the guys at parts warehouses around Phoenix, Ariz., very well. That’s because the company’s well-stocked box trucks, which carry about $10,000 worth of parts painstakingly organized into storage bins, dramatically minimize the need for daily parts runs.

“We operate under the theory that there’s a place for everything, and everything in its place,” says Daryl Bingham, operations manager at Brazil, which is named for the late founder of the 58-year-old company. “George was very meticulous and put a lot of thought into how to increase productivity through better organization.”

The company owns a fleet of 25 Hino, Isuzu and Mitsubishi box trucks, which feature sleek cab-over chassis and 12-foot-long, orange-and-white aluminum box bodies made by Grumann Olson Industries Inc. and HIVCO. Inside each truck, a shelf-and-bin storage system — available through Cal-Plastics — keeps approximately 700 different parts — everything from fittings to repair parts for water heaters, toilets and faucets — meticulously organized.

“To fit all those parts in one truck, we’ve developed a very organized system that allows our technicians to find parts quickly,” Bingham explains. “We’re always re-evaluating the system and moving inventory around so that the most frequently used parts are located at the easiest access spots.”

The trucks save time and money by preventing technicians from wasting precious minutes looking for parts. But more importantly, these “warehouses on wheels” keep technicians on job sites as much as possible, as opposed to easily spending more than an hour traveling to and from a parts warehouse for an inexpensive part or two, Bingham says.

Bingham says his technicians typically make three to four service calls per day. Under that scenario, poorly stocked trucks would provide ample opportunities for wasteful supply-house runs. Financially, that might mean hundreds of thousands of dollars lost annually in actual costs such as fuel, labor and vehicle wear and tear, and lost opportunity cost — the revenue technicians could have been generating had they spent more time on jobs.

“Technicians are the most valuable asset we have,” he notes. “To have them spend even 45 minutes procuring a part is the worst allocation of resources, in my opinion. Productivity is the key to profitability … unproductive time spent running to parts depots adds up. You could literally spend $300 to fetch a $3 part, when you look at the lost opportunity cost per hour.”

Of course, even the best-organized and nicest-looking service truck is of little use if it isn’t restocked with parts regularly. To that end, Brazil technicians record all the parts they use on a daily basis, then hand off that list to a clerk who inputs the information and orders the parts. After the parts get delivered, they’re labeled so technicians know exactly where to put each part in the storage system.

“To hold the technicians accountable for properly storing parts, we inventory the trucks every two months,” Bingham explains. “It’s costly and time consuming, but it ensures that the process we put in place works, and makes the technicians more conscientious.”

Each truck also carries two or three drain-cleaning machines, mostly made by RIDGID, as well as a RIDGID SeeSnake pipeline-inspection camera and a RIDGID NaviTrack Scout line locator.

Of course, the nicely lettered white trucks, accented with bold orange trim and featuring a uniformed Brazil employee on both sides, make an eye-catching marketing statement that generates service calls and dramatically boosts brand awareness. The letters are made of a reflective material that “lights up like freeway signs” when the trucks are driven at night, Bingham says.

“They’re billboards on wheels that we park in communities and neighborhoods every day,” Bingham says. “In addition, our technicians take their trucks home, so the trucks are out there 24/7, advertising the company.”

Bingham also lauds the trucks’ compact wheelbase, which makes them very maneuverable.

“You can easily flip a U-turn on a residential street,” Bingham says. “And they’re simple to drive, so our technicians don’t also have to learn how to be truck drivers.”


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