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#156367 04/18/05 09:43 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 3
Dave_D Offline OP
Junior Member
Hello to the group. I am currently writing up a business plan and planning my move into self employment in the Electrical Service field. I have a few questions however so that I can more accurately approximate what my true stock and overhead might be for my business.

I plan to start a flat rate residential service business. What I am wondering is what items you stock and how many on your trucks? Can some of you give me some ideas of what and how many of each you carry?

Also, I plan on using a 3/4 ton pickup truck with a construction type topper with side doors etc... inside is a slide out floor so that I don't actually have to climb into the truck bed all the time.

For ladders I intend on carrying with me a 3' step ladder, 6' ladder, 10' ladder and possible a smaller type of extension ladder. Is that wrong or does it sound about right for the typical day in the field. What are your thoughts and ideas.

As for my experience. I have 5 years of commercial experince including holding the title of foreman running 1.5 million electrical jobs. On the other end, I have done everything from track homes, to multi million dollar custom homes to service calls in residences.

So any insight to the above questions, plus anything that you may thing is important for me to think about would be apprciated.



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#156368 04/18/05 10:54 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,143
Welcome to ECN. Hope you like it here!

Consider a 24' fiberglass extension ladder - depending on your size, you might be able to get away with a 250lb rated one.

As far as supplies and such, are you in cable country (romex ok) or pipetown? That'll determine some of your stock right there.

[This message has been edited by DougW (edited 04-18-2005).]

#156369 04/18/05 11:40 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 687
I know some work out of a PU but for residential service calls I would recomend something bigger like a 12' box truck or step van. You never know what you need so it's good to have a good inventory.

There are so many electrical items that cost less then $1. If you don't have it you can waist an hour or more for that 1 thing. Or you find it but pay dearly for it. Things like trim plates, devices, garvins, finish blanks, fittings, screws, bolts, lags, togals, & cauck.

We cary togal / duplex and decora in ivory and white.
GFI's, dimmers, fan controls,
combo switches.
Light bulbs - many types
6" cans 6 New construction / 6 Remodel & trims
Pipe 300'+ 1/2, 100+ 3/4, few of other sizes
Small Garbage can
Dust pan & 2 types of brooms
Most types of steel boxes
Fan boxes 4 pan cake, 2 easy brace, 4 bar hanger
Phone / CATV tools, wire, plates, etc
4',6',8',10' step ladder
Many types of breakers
We use Siemens panels so at least a case each of 15a & 20a, one of each 2 pole, and some minis
Pullchains, keyless
Lugs, split bolts
underground splice kits
grounding fittings
100-200' 3/8 & >100' 1/2 Flex & fittings
>50'1/2 & 3/4 sealtite & fittings

In the shop we keep:
metal stud / steel beam things
1 1/4, - 2 1/2" Nipples, & fittings (mostly 2")
Other residential service stuff
More cans
Larger wire
extra stock


#156370 04/20/05 10:55 PM
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 259
I don't see the point of having all this stock in your truck idea. I keep a general assortment of items for service calls that I don't use for regular jobs.
A service call to me is a job that is not planned out and needs quick attention.
Bad breakers, plugs or switches or just a something not working call.
I worked out of a pick up for years and now out of a van. The van just makes me carry more stuff I don't need.
Now if I was working out in the boon docks I may have a different opinion but a supply house is a stones throw away for me.

#156371 04/21/05 01:05 PM
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 615
The other thing to keep in mind is that if you don't know you have it, or you don't know where it is, it's worthless. I can't tell you how many times I go for my annual van cleaning and pull out all the stuff I didn't know I had, or the stuff I thought I had but never would have looked there.

Keep your truck clean, and once you use a part replace it right away. that way you can memorize your working stock and not have to wonder the codition of you device bin, or your plate bin. Nothing profound, but I find I need to remind myself of it all the time.

#156372 04/21/05 03:13 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 687
We keep the truck full for a few reasons:

Trips to our supply houses are a big waist of time. Today I lost 45 min for a will call order that could not be located.

Drive time & fuel. We work all over the place. Might not be many miles but with traffic the way it is you can burn a lot of time. Even if I'm on the way back to the shop to go a bit out of the way to the supplier I could be sitting in traffic an extra 30 min just by hitting rush hour.

Supply house closes at 5:00.

Going to a home center is hit & miss when it comes to them having what you need. I had to go to a few places not long ago just to get 1/2 EMT and it's pipe world here.

We buy quanities during specials. Extra inventory does more good in the truck than in the shop. Don't know how many times we had to buy someting again because it was not worth the hour drive each way to get it at the shop.

Customers add work when you come out. They tell you 2 fans and you end up adding 4. Same with cans.

Customers don't describe what they need very well. Over the phone it sounds like an entire different set-up.

GC have a habbit of calling and wanting something small done ASAP like new construction cans, switches or outlets. Or some kind of kaoss because a customers phone line was hit by a carpenter.

I hate trying to figure out in the morning what I think I'll need to take for the day. You never allways know what you need.

I could make an order of what I might need later to find I'm shorted some 2" lock nuts or a ground acorn.


#156373 04/24/05 03:00 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 156
I read somewhere about stocking an item if you use it more than four times in a year. The more I practice this the profitable it becomes. Most clients are looking for alot more but only call you when they really need your services. Everyone has a "list" of itmes they would like to do but forget about it themselves or don't want to trouble you. It is nice when you can talk with them about the "list" and not only give them pricing but also finish the work without ever leaving the jobsite.

#156374 12/17/05 09:01 PM
Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 12
we keep a stocked truck. we carry items for the usuall wiring methods used. we have box trucks that have a white fpr type of build, it allows us to use a dry erase marker on the side wall. we generally know what we will have scheduled for the next day and we call in supply orders at 4:00 PM. These orders are delivered to the shop that night and the trucks are stocked in about 10 minutes. We carry classified breakers and a large assortment of wiring devices. Generally "supply house runs" don't take place with the small exception of a funky item, but the initial call usually prepares us for what we will need.


#156375 12/18/05 09:24 AM
Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 8
Junior Member
I carry, pretty much, the same stuff that Tom (active 1) carries, minus the 6' cans. Some amounts get adjusted by season. During the summer I triple the amoung of fan boxes and in the fall I stock up on bell boxes, GFI's, timers and WIU covers for the Christmas light recepticles. PVC and fittings in the spring for pools. I've definately outgrown my van. I'm looking at a new van with utility box. Being able to grab power tools and service equipment from outside the truck will make my life a LOT easier.

#156376 12/18/05 12:49 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,460
Likes: 3
Cat Servant
I'd like to suggest a slightly diferent approach to the ladders you carry.

Werner makes a 2-ft "mechanics" type ladder- the type with steps on both sides. Not only does this ladder come in handy for climbing on my truck- the side rails form a "v-block" when open, making it real handy for cutting strut or pipe.

Werner also makes a 300# rated ladder that is either a 7 ft stepladder, or extension ladder to 14 ft. You probably have seen this ladder in use by your local cable or phone company. This ladder is my real workhorse.

For a real extension ladder, a 20 ft (or 24 ft) is used pretty often.

Finally, I use my 10 ft stepladder more often that I ever expected.

For getting on to sloped roofs, my 16 ft "4-way" ladder is a dream. By having the top portion horizontal, the base of the ladder rests against the roof, and not the gutter.

The last three ladders are not usually on the truck- but are well worth having.

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