How To Set Up and Organize Your Plumbing Truck

How To Set Up and Organize Your Plumbing Truck

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Posted by Kindra K.

May 9, 2019

Your Guide to Plumbing Service Truck Storage and Organization Success

As a plumber, it’s important to have a reliable, well-organized plumbing vehicle so you have everything you need within arms’ reach. It won’t look professional if you pull up to a job and spend twenty minutes searching for the right part or tool to complete a job. Plus, if you’re dealing with an emergency, every second counts to avoid disasters like water damage and other expensive repairs.

The key to making your work truck complement the daily requirements of your job is by building in flexibility and using some strategic plumbing van storage ideas. You may think your short-term solution of throwing all of your tools in a box works just fine, but trust us, this method will come back to haunt you. Disorganization can mean you accidentally re-order tools or supplies buried under a mess, for example.

An expertly organized plumbing truck, on the other hand, means you can focus on the job at hand instead of wondering where that wrench ran off to...

Below, we’ve assembled a comprehensive guide to help you with your work truck organization ideas and setup. From choosing the right plumbing vehicle to plumbing van storage ideas, we have a slew of helpful tips to make your plumbing business better, more efficient, and well-organized.

What makes and models are good choices for a plumbing work van?

First thing’s first—are you using a vehicle that actually serves your needs? Look, we understand that your 1995 Toyota Corolla has been with you forever, but it’s time to say goodbye to your trusty beater and upgrade to look like a real professional.

The right plumbing van can make all of the difference for your business. After all, you’re going to need dependable transportation to get to and from jobs as well as a mobile place to store all of your tools.

What to look for plumbing vehicles:

  1. Fuel economy: 

    You’re going to be out and about on jobs, you don’t want to hurt your bottom line by choosing a total gas guzzler. Look for a work van that will keep operational expenses down. You might even want to consider an electric or hybrid vehicle—while that may cost more upfront, it may save you money in

    fuel costs later.

  2. Cargo space: As a plumber, you have a lot of tools to bring on jobs. Make sure the van you choose has adequate space for your equipment.

  3. Outfitting capacity: Does it look like you can easily alter the interior of the van to fit your needs? If not, you’ll need to continue on in your search. The ability to customize your van is crucial. Take this impressive plumbing van example to see the possibilities for yourself.

  4. Security: You’re going to have a ton of expensive tools locked up in your van—don’t make it easy pickin’s for the petty thief looking to make a quick buck. Consider investing in slam locks or cameras to prevent easy access, and better protect your equipment and help prevent theft.

  5. Goldilocks rule: You don’t need a semi-truck but you need more a sedan—it’s time to find that Goldilocks vehicle size that fits your purposes. Too big, and you’ll have wasted your money on something that has tons of wasted space; too small, and you’ll find yourself having to prioritize what tools to bring instead of transporting everything you need.

  6. Marketing capabilities: After you’ve invested in a reliable service van, you may want to take it a step further with a vinyl car wrap. It’s one of the most cost-efficient ways to advertise. You can also use Housecall Pro’s truck grader service to evaluate your design for branding effectiveness so you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Here are our top picks for work vans:

Ford Transit

Ford Transit

If you need a comfortable work van for your plumbing business, you can’t go wrong with the Ford Transit. A standard 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 engine gives you an incredible 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. You can also opt for the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 that has a best-in-class gas torque rating of 400 lb-ft. It’s a reliable vehicle that will keep you and your team members safe and comfortable as you run around your city fixing your customers’ plumbing issues.

Highlights

  • A power inverter makes it easy for you to be productive while you’re heading to jobs or out on the road. You can plug in your computer, smartphone, or even a portable printer so nothing stands in your way of checking off your to-do list.

  • High-capacity upfitter switches are available so it’s not necessary to cut into the electrical system when you’re adding accessories like lights or two-way radio to keep in touch with HQ.

  • Integrated technology continually monitors the van’s position and warns you if you accidentally leave your lane.

  • Your employees can use the Sync 3 touchscreen to navigate to their next job, use the voice-command capability for hands-free communication, and cut down on any learning curves thanks to its user-friendly interface.

  • Customizable body lengths and roof options make this an ideal plumbing van for all of your job requirements.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

One of the most classic work vans is the dependable Sprinter model from Mercedes-Benz. It combines performance, a low cost of ownership, connectivity options, and performance in one capable package. Sprinters are trusted, high-quality vehicles with tons of customizable options that will complement any trade business. There’s a reason why you see so many Sprinters out on the roads!

Highlights

  • Safety features like Active Brake Assist, Blind Spot Assist, and a 360-degree camera will give you and your team members peace-of-mind as you drive from job to job. When you’re focused on getting to your next location, you won’t have to worry about getting out of those tight parking spots or missing a rogue garbage can when you’re in reverse. And one less thing to worry about is a win in our book.

  • Choose between a 2L 4-Cylinder Turbo Gasoline engine with 9-speed transmission and the 3L V6 Turbo Diesel engine with a 7-speed transmission depending on your particular needs.

  • With Mercedes PRO connect, a smart dashboard system available in Sprinter models, you can increase the overall efficiency of your fleet, control vans from remote locations, log trips, optimize maintenance schedules, and improve navigation. PRO connect streamlines your virtual work requirements so you have everything you need to manage in one convenient place.

Nissan NV3500 HD S

Nissan NV3500 HD S

The Nissan NV is backed by a bumper-to-bumper 5-year/100,000-mile warranty, one of the best commercial van warranties on the market. After all, when you’re traveling from job site to job site, the last thing you want to worry about is whether your work van will hold up while you’re dealing with tons of other responsibilities. Wide-opening doors and low floors make this an incredibly practical choice.

Highlights

  • Experience performance you can count on with a 261-horsepower, 4.0L V6 engine. Water-repellent front seats with vinyl wear patches mean no matter how messy a job is, you’ll be able to easily wipe up.

  • Multiple interior configurations mean your van can fit the needs of your business. You can expect up to 218.9 feet of cargo space for anything you need in your work truck. Pipes, tools, and safety equipment can be easily stored in this spacious vehicle.

  • A rearview monitor makes backing up into tight spots a breeze—you’ll never have to get out of the vehicle to double check just how close you are to that nice red sports car parked behind you.

  • The included Bluetooth hands-free phone system means you can communicate with your team members when they’re on the road without compromising their safety.

Ram ProMaster

Ram ProMaster

460 cubic feet of cargo capacity makes this the perfect workhorse for your day-to-day work needs. Plus, you’ll enjoy a best-in-class cargo height of 66.3 inches and the widest maximum cargo width of 75.6 inches.

Highlights:

  • Flexible seating arrangements with 180-degree swivel, a front airbag system, and optional ParkSense Rear Park Assist System delivers both safety and functionality.

  • An award-winning engine, the 3.6L Pentastar V6, will get you where you need to go, reliably.

  • Customize your graphics, customize your vehicle interior, and experience the functionality of a van that can carry over 4,000 pounds when properly equipped.

These are just a few popular models that you might want to consider when you’re in the market for a new plumbing vehicle. While it’s tempting to simply invest in a used cargo van, or box truck you’ll want to keep maintenance costs in mind—which might be higher with an older vehicle. Shop and compare, just as you would with any other product, to get the best deal.

What should be included inside my plumbing van?

No plumbing van is complete without the right tools to get the job done right. Here are some of the tools you shouldn’t leave HQ without. Your specific tools might be different but the suggestions below serve as a jumping off point and basic checklist:

Wrenches

  • Pipe wrench set

  • Telescoping basin wrench

  • Adjustable wrench

  • Faucet key

Pipework supplies

  • Hacksaw

  • Tube and plastic pipe cutters

  • Close quarters tubing cutter

  • Plumber’s torch

  • Thread sealing tape (aka plumber’s tape)

  • Pliers

  • Plumbers’ 4-in-1 tube and fitting brush

  • Copper pipe tube expander

  • Flaring tool

Clearing clogs

  • Plungers

  • Hand auger

  • Snake machine

  • Double-ended tub drain wrench

Safety items

  • Goggles

  • Gloves

  • Heat shields and pads

Miscellaneous essentials

  • PEX pipe expander and fittings

  • Borescope

  • Metal file

What are the best organizational tips to keep my vehicle neat?

Service truck organization is the key to running a profitable business because efficient van organization means less time wasted looking for tools and eliminating inefficient restocking methods. Instead, you can focus on getting more jobs done with all the extra time you’ll have!

There are tons of plumbing van storage ideas you can use in your own van, here are a few you might want to consider when outfitting your vehicle for work.

  • Pipe rack: to hold long, skinny tools like shovels and digging bars

  • Hooks: for holding coiled tubing and extension cords

  • Pipe vise: mounted on bumper for mobile workstation purposes

  • Boxes: opt for boxes that will hold up and can withstand the weight of plumbing tools

  • Rear-mounted, pull-out shelving: to store any number of tools and supplies

  • Partition for driver: this prevents items being flung to the front after a sudden braking maneuver

  • Ladder rack: place on the roof of your van to take advantage of unused space

  • Passenger-side compartments: to hold repair parts

  • Dividers in drawers: keep parts organized by size and type

  • List of supplies: keep a clipboard with parts that need to be restocked

  • Storage cabinet: use to store bigger tools

  • Wall and ceiling liners: to keep the integrity of your van’s interior and dampen the noise of rattling tools

  • Anti-slip floors: choose a floor that can withstand lots of use and helps prevent slippage

  • Paper holders and binders: keep receipts and other important papers organized and tidy

    plumbing truck quote

General plumbing van storage ideas to keep in mind:

  1. Start with the foundation: Store bigger objects on the floor or in lower parts of your van to leave room in the upper areas for smaller items. For example, drain cleaning machines and generators should be secured low to the ground. Not only will this help you maximize your vertical space, it will also save your back from grabbing heavy items from high above. In addition, if you place heavy items in upper storage areas without being properly secured, they could slide out of their storage container and get damaged or cause injury.

  2. Vertical integration: The key to your organizational success is going to be dependent on stackability.  From large to small, you should stack from the floor to the ceiling. You may want to consider installing a  pegboard with hooks; this is a great way to use interior wall space to hang hand tools and power tools.

    1. Pro tip: Place labels on storage bins so you know exactly what’s inside without opening them. You can also save time on inventory checks by adding barcodes to the labels. When you’re close to running out of something, simply use a SKU scanner app so you can easily reorder more.

  3. Pick smart locations for all of your items: For example, if there’s a piece of equipment you use frequently, put it in a place that is easy to get to. You’ll also want to keep the health of your back in mind — don’t place extremely heavy tools up high where you’re more likely to strain yourself.

  4. Doors: The doors are an oft-forgotten area where you can store items. You can add magnetized stripping to hang tools like hammers, tape measures, and pliers.

    1. Pro tip: Install a hand truck next to the interior side of the doors with cargo straps to make it easier to lift heavy tools onto and off the van.

  5. Lights: Consider adding tap-activated lights on the interior of your van doors so you can see during inclement weather or during the night. And don’t forget about task lighting—a lantern or worklight in the dark corners of your van will help you find the tools you need.

  6. Avoid messes: Your van is your mobile workspace, so it’s important that it stays organized. Dirt is going to get tracked in and, as you eat on the road, you’ll likely have some trash build up as well. To reduce the clutter, install a low-profile trash can, trash bags, sanitizer wipes, and a duster. This way, you can manage any messes as they occur instead of having to dedicate an entire day to organizing and cleaning.

Need some inspiration? Pinterest is full of plumbing truck organization pictures and plumbing truck designs to get you started on your organization journey.

plumbing truck organize

What are the best ways to keep my business organized digitally?

After you’ve gotten your van dialed in, you might take a look at that pile of papers on your desk and wonder how you to organize the rest of your business. Well, according to the Mobile Technology Product Mobile Technology Product, using tools like mobile apps for plumbers can improve your time management by 38%. Pushing papers isn’t fun—so why not modernize your company and start digitizing your workflow?

For example, if you take advantage of plumbing business software by Housecall Pro, you can set yourself up for success. Here are a few of the features you can expect that will help streamline your business:

  1. Online booking: Allow your customers the convenience of booking whenever they’d like. Instead of forcing your customers to call into your main office to book a service, they can easily set an appointment on their mobile device.

  2. Custom texts: Constant communication is the cornerstone to creating strong relationships with your clients and team members. With Housecall Pro’s software, you can easily send texts to clients to update them on job progress or giving them a head’s up when you’re on the way to their home.

  3. Dispatch made simple: Once a job has been booked, the assigned employee will get a notification sent directly to them with important information like the place, time, and details of the job.

  4. Invoicing: Create an estimate, send invoices with line items, and eliminate the busy work and clutter of paper forever.

  5. Simple payment: After a job is completed, clients can pay on the spot with multiple options for payments. Scan the card without needing a card reader.

  6. Follow-ups: Remind your clients of upcoming jobs after a job has been created or send thank-yous for their business after with emails or postcards.

Grow your plumbing service with the ultimate plumbing software by Housecall Pro. Easily manage jobs, workflow and get more jobs booked online. Sign up today for a free 14-day trial.

Other virtual tips to improve your plumbing business

Another tip to increase your revenue and make your business competitive in the local market? SEO. Using SEO for plumbing companies can help get more qualified leads to your site. What’s SEO? It simply stands for Search Engine Optimization.

The main goal of SEO is to get your website to rank on the first page of Google. Statistically, most people only click on those first three links - so one of them being yours over a competitor’s could be the difference between a customer going to your site for plumbing service. Practicing SEO for plumbing businesses is important for increasing your brand visibility.

plumbing infographic

Plumbing truck organization—the right way

Organization doesn’t just make you feel less stressed during a busy work day, it also saves you tons of time. We spend 8,700 hours of our lives looking for lost items! If you can shave off a few of those precious hours, you’ll be calmer and can keep your focus on business-critical tasks like fixing a broken task or unclogging a drain.

Here’s a quick summary of all the organizational tips in this article you can use to enhance your plumbing business:

  • Choose the right van: Keep in mind your cargo space needs, customizability, fuel economy, and performance specs.

  • Know what tools to bring: Carry all your essential tools with you in your work van and keep a running inventory so you’ll never be out of something you need.

  • Smart interior planning: Plan from the ground up, the heaviest items should be located on the floor and the smallest, lightest objects should be up top.

  • Stay safe: Build out a partition to protect the driver from unsecured items during sudden stops and protect your back by keeping the heaviest items close to the van floor.

  • Don’t forget about digital organization: Use business management technology from Housecall Pro so you can dispatch your team, schedule jobs, send invoices, process payments and more with a few simple clicks.

With these organizational tips, you’ll be one step closer to running an efficient plumbing business with a professional work van that fulfills your work needs.

Housecall Pro is rated the #1 software to run your HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Carpet Cleaning and other home service businesses. Our features allow you to schedule and dispatch jobs, get booked online, send invoice and receive payment within minutes whether if you are in the office or out in the field. This comprehensive software can help you grow revenue by 30% in one year and save up to 500 hours a year. Join all the other successful home service businesses who have already started and try Housecall Pro for 14 days free today.

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