What are some tips for storing things in vans/trucks to keep things organized for easy access?
Running out of space in your van is a common occurrence. Especially if you have a standard length cargo van and you happen to have a fresh water tank, slide-in truckmount, chemical shelf, hose reel, etc. We typically run extended length vans and order the skinny, tall hose reels instead of the wide ones. This is an advantage in being able to simply get in and out of the van for equipment. Keep your vehicles organized! Not only will it save you time in finding stuff, it is better for your stress level, and if a customer sees inside one of your service vehicles, organization shows you are serious about what you do. Finding ways to keep the tools you use most often most accessible will benefit you each day. You can always look into getting one of the larger vans or box trucks, too. With upwards of 300 cubic feet of cargo capacity, you can store almost all of your goodies and stand up straight!
Dustin Hunt | President of Sierra Steamer Reno, NV
After seeing a video on how Duane Oxley of Atlanta, who builds truckmounts, installs the vacuum hose reel to the roof of the van, I have done that also. It opens up a nice little piece of real estate to hold a wand, stair tool and groomer. It’s a very affordable alteration from the norm and also makes it easier to keep the floor area clean under the hose reel. I highly recommend this modification to anyone.
Brian Asher | Owner/Operator of Friendly Cleaning Services Kansas City, MO
We label the shelving units in the van. This way everything always goes in the same place and stays organized. If there is a hole, it’s easy to look and know what needs to be replaced.
We also utilize daily truck-inventory sheets that must be filled out at the end of each day. It ensures that nothing is missing, low or damaged and everything is ready to go for the next day. Even if we run out to do an estimate and use nothing, that form has to be completed. If you get out of the habit or completing it, or begin to let it slide, that is when problems pop up.
The biggest issue we struggle with is space, especially since we offer multiple services. We can’t possibly fit all the supplies, tools and machines on the truck each day for all the services we offer. We have production bins for each service. They are large totes that have everything in them needed for that service, even if it’s something already on the truck, like a measuring cup. We don’t want something from the truck to end up in the bin because we had to take it and use it for that service and then we don’t have it when we need it.
Each bin has its own inventory sheet that is in a plastic sleeve which is zip tied through the lid of the bin. When the guys return to the shop and restock the bin, the person who did so has to check off that all items are there and filled, date the paper and then zip tie the bin shut with the inventory sheet attached.
When it’s time to load the bin on the van for service, if the zip tie is not in place, then we know something may be missing and we need to recheck the box before leaving. Organizing this way has really increased our efficiency. In the past, with so many individual things to grab/remember for a particular service, inevitably something was left behind and a trip into the field to drop it off had to be made.
We have bins for hardwood floor cleaning, encapsulation, dry cleaning, water damage, etc. We also stock our trucks the night before for the next day. This means we check the schedule, see what services we will be doing and load the corresponding bins and equipment. This way it doesn’t have to be done in the morning in case someone is running late or calls out.
Meg Burdick | Owner of Burdick’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning Warrington, PA
When it comes to carpet cleaning van organization, we have one overarching goal to make our technicians as productive as possible: At all costs, keep the floor clear.
We use every kind of organizational tool, container, hook and shelf we can find that will get tools and supplies off the floor of the van. We recently purchased our first ProMaster van and absolutely love it! The high roof allows our technicians to stand up-right and actually work in the van, and the additional height turbo charges our ability to get things off the floor. We are always working on this and have not come to the perfect solution or configuration for every tool or accessory we use. The key is to have that big picture goal and keep iterating until you get it dialed in.
Bob Shupe | Principal at CleanerGuys.com Mt Vernon, WA
We have recently made the shift from trailers to vans and this has caused some space-crunch issues. From here on, we plan on buying the more expensive fresh water tanks that fit under the machine to free up more space in the vans rather than the 80 gallon tank that sits in the middle of our cargo area.
We have a three-shelf, shelving unit for the solutions. We have a routine of taking the partially used bottles from the vans in the morning and replacing them with full ones. We then combine the partially used bottles at the shop so the vans always have full bottles (rather than having second bottles there is no room for).
Plastic bins with lids are helpful to hold delicate or water-sensitive supplies. Small 5×12-inch waterproof cases are used to hold small things like fittings, hose washers, etc. Extended vans are obviously helpful but harder to find if you’re looking for used vans.
We plan on installing hanging shelves for rakes, brushes and anything with a handle, but for now they are stowed between the suction-reel and van wall along with our tile spinner. The pressure hose reel and freshwater hose reel are mounted to the rear doors (great ingenuity from my friends at Crown Cleaning Supplies).
We also employ a 6×12-foot, enclosed utility trailer (labeled) for hauling rugs and all air duct cleaning equipment, including ladders. This is a must in order not to have an empty van just for those cases.
Dan Richard | Owner of Dan Dan the Carpet Man! Lake Mary, FL
Arrange your main carpet hose reel so that it is accessed through the back of the truck rather than the side. You cannot always easily park the truck lengthwise to face the left or right, depending on the building access, but you can back the truck into place, especially in more narrow access points. This way, technicians can maximize the full length of the hose without interrupting their workflow.
Tom Stewart | Owner of Castle Keepers Charleston, SC
At ECOPRO Carpet Care™ we keep our vans in specific order by utilizing shelving systems, tool mounting brackets as well as systematic placement of every tool and cleaning solution. Not only does this help with loss prevention. It also serves as a safety measure.
Every cleaning company, large or small, will find what works best for them. For us at ECOPRO, it begins with a clean floor, if we are a floor care company but fail to keep our vans clean, what does that say? Residential customers do look at how a company maintains their fleet. That’s why we keep a consistent system of order.
We also perform an inventory checklist of all tools used on the job, as stated above. Not only does this prevent loss, but also serves as a safety measure. Imagine leaving a strong cleaning solution behind that a toddler or pet had access to. The extra time and energy definitely pays off, whether you see it or not.
Joe “Eco” Torrez • Owner of ECOPRO Carpet Care Beaumont, CA
MANUFACTURERS & DISTRIBUTORS
Similar to a 5S System (a system to reduce waste and optimize productivity through maintaining an orderly workplace and using visual cues to achieve more consistent operational results), we color code our van shelves. Red shelves are for restoration chemicals like disinfectants, pet chemicals, etc. Yellow shelves are for presprays and deodorizes. Blue shelves are for tile and grout chemicals. This makes it easier to locate the product you need and also alerts you if something is missing. We also make sure all equipment is secured to the walls of the van. We don’t want stuff rolling around damaging things.
Tools go into a separate toolbox. We buy air movers that are stackable to make the most of the space in our trucks. All van interiors are spray coated with a bed liner material versus the old rubber mats for cleanability and to avoid those little dents in the metal from equipment bumping the walls. MSDS sheets are put into a three-ring binder and placed in the driver’s door pocket. A list is taped to the back door to remind our guys of the standard contents to help reduce the chances of equipment being left behind on a job. We run cargo vans that are typically two seaters, but we have a jump seat professionally installed between the driver and passenger seats so we can safely transport a third worker if needed.
Marty Jollette | Vice president of operations and training Renue Systems
When configuring your truckmount installation, be mindful of frequently accessed service points. The better the access, the easier you can service your equipment and get back to making money! And it’s important to let your truckmount breathe — air-cooled engines need free-flowing air — and lots of it — to keep them at the proper operating temperature. If there is clutter or obstructions, that could shorten your truckmount’s life.
Try to build your van configuration around your specialty. If you primarily do restoration, you need lots of room for drying equipment. With our small truckmount footprint, you can consider placing the hose reel out the side door giving you the entire rear of the vehicle for drying equipment storage.
Consider purchasing integrated storage systems that maximize use of vehicle space — a comprehensive system of shelving, tanks, work surfaces and cabinets. These systems focus on utilizing vertical space to keep the floors clear for safety and easier access.
Rick Aranda, • Truckmount specialist Sapphire Scientific
Professional cleaners and restorers often agonize for months about which are the right truckmounts for them. Part of this decision should always include some thoughts about how they want to lay out the rest of their van to best meet their operational goals. The first thing to consider is whether you want to carry your own fresh water for cleaning. There are several varieties of freshwater tanks — each makes for a different fit and weight distribution. Whether you want an over-the-wheel tank or a submount tank that fits under the machine is an important consideration. Obviously vacuum and solution hose handling also has to come into play. Does your machine allow for a side-mount setup of your hose reels or will you need to take them out the back? Many of our customers prefer a freshwater tank and electric hose reel with a live hook-up to maximize space, increase efficiency and reduce set-up and tear down times. Finally, consider the fact you need a place to store everything, especially your hand tools and cleaning solutions. Consider the best shelving or bracket combinations.
Bruce Daw • VP of sales HydraMaster
When setting up a truck with a truckmount, I feel it is best to go out and see how the cleaner operates. Every cleaner operates a little differently, so one install does not fit all. I prefer to spend the time to learn what the operator’s needs are.
If an installer takes the time to work with the operator, they will understand why they are requesting the truckmount be installed a certain way. The installer will also have a better understanding of why they want the hose reels where they do, as well as why a custom bracket or two may be needed to make the install work.
I understand as an installer we tend to set the truck up to make servicing the system easier. However, we do not service the system every day, whereas the cleaner does run the system every day. Let’s set it up to make their day a little easier!
Tim DuPont • National service and training manager Prochem Kärcher Group