Discussion:
Road techs that take their service vans home, how far is too far?

Our road techs take their vans home every night. Non of them live farther out than about a 20 mile radius from our shop. Occasionally we have a tech apply that lives twice that far away.
Any opinions on how their pay should be structured to accommodate the additional cost of that vehicle being driven twice the amount of what we already have built in to our service rates and pay rates?
  • Posted 18 Oct 2013 22:35
  • Discussion started by colleen_b
  • Florida, United States
Showing items 1 - 15 of 33 results.
BrewCrew if it is going to take two people to do a job, we show it in total hours billed for both techs instead of showing a higher labor rate. If they have a helper or trainee, the customer is only charged for actual productive time for that person, the rest of the trainee/helpers time is charged off to an internal training expense.
  • Posted 30 Dec 2013 21:55
  • Reply by colleen_b
  • Florida, United States
Quick topic change back to billing. If more than one tec is required to do a job then is the hourly rate doubled or would it depend if it is a tec , apprentice.
Are apprentices billed out at a lower rate, if so, how much less and what are there limitations in this industry.
  • Posted 30 Dec 2013 13:32
  • Reply by BrewCrew
  • Ontario, Canada
We`re here for a good time
The drive units on reach trucks need to be removed from the truck when the play exceeds.120 thou (measured with a dial gauge)
This can be as low as 3000 hrs or as high as 8000, depending on the wear and greasing the trans gets. The radial can be removed after all 70 ball bearings are taken out, then the fixed plate will detach from the main drive unit. All the weight of the truck is riding on the radial rings, so they wear along with the ****. If you let it go too long. the fixed hub will rub against the rotating drive unit. loss of steering will occur...especially on electric steer reach trucks! Order pickers are sensitive too...you jack them up to do steer learn and the radial ring play is so excessive that the prox no longer senses the rail! I find many lift techs cannot diag a worn drive unit. If takes about 5-7 hours rebuilding a drive unit for radial rings. You cannot just change the ****. It`s real heavy and often requires a second person to lift. This job can be easily done at the customer.
Someone asked about the clusters...the 3 lift cylinders welded together wieghing about 400 lbs. Another lift truck firm said this was a shop job, $1000 in pick up and delivery fees extra
I went in and used a heavy chain fall to remove the cyls, change the seals and packing. No problem. Customer was happy to get the job done in one day. We eliminated the shop tech job, do all we can now to keep busy. Work we used to turn away is now accepted. Nice cushy job inside on all electric trucks is a thing of the past now.....just spent 2 days under a huge Toyota changing the complete exhaust `y`pipe, flex, muffler....and i remembered what it was like to be an Auto mechanic!
  • Posted 16 Dec 2013 00:49
  • Reply by EasiTek
  • Ontario, Canada
Thanks Edward T for the explanation- sounds like a very challenging repair. I have never been involved on anything like this.
  • Posted 16 Dec 2013 00:39
  • Reply by Forkliftt
  • Louisiana, United States
Steve
steve at forkliftt dot com
Ray tech can correct me if I am mistaken, but in narrow aisle and 3 wheel trucks, the "radial ring" is the support bearing races* and/or the large support bearing the drive unit rides upon (in 3 wheel trucks think 'the steering support bearing') and "cluster cylinder" are the multi-cylinder packs that do the lifting.

I say the races, since the ball bearings themselves can often be replaced without removing the race (but _I_ almost never do it that way, if the **** fell out, something else is wrong too), and removing the race requires lifting the truck off the drive unit, which safety dictates requires something to stabilize the top of the truck on reach and order pickers, since the max permitted height to jack up the truck without support for the upright is only about 2 inches, if you read the manual.
  • Posted 15 Dec 2013 23:27
  • Reply by edward_t
  • South Carolina, United States
"it's not rocket surgery"
RayTech, What are radial rings and cylinder clusters??
  • Posted 15 Dec 2013 09:33
  • Reply by Forkliftt
  • Louisiana, United States
Steve
steve at forkliftt dot com
Wow, you get to mail in the work orders? We are live billing,,,so drop your tools at a given time frame and call dispatch with your bill. Each and every day. Management rule numero uno!
We cant bill travel time for fixed maintenance contracts, no matter how far. Overtime is at manager's discretion. If not approved, you just took one for the team. Our van can be used for personal use 30 miles a day and 100 miles a weekend. Wife can even drive it!
We are supposed to arrive at the customer for 8 am, on our own time, but it seems like no one enforces that rule...just like GPS tracks us and our speed, but driving 80 MPH seems to fly with management.
We are on call several times a year, and get 8 hrs minimum pay each call.,,,even if the customer pays for actual time door to door. We have no shop tech, as most work is done on site. I do radial rings and cylinder clusters at the customer site...anything that a chainfall can support. A lot of customers are going live as well...big box stores want work order closed ASAP, with pic taken and sent in to dispatch for immediate processing. We cant bill over the agreed SM work order. Over and above has to be on a separate work order, and manager has to get approval from head office
All this takes time, and the Tech is spending more time with work order closing than actually fixing the truck!
  • Posted 13 Dec 2013 15:11
  • Reply by EasiTek
  • Ontario, Canada
I admit, I didn't read the entire thread, but this is how my company does it. All road techs take their vans home. Shop techs drive their personal vehicles. Road techs "clock in" 30 minutes after leaving home and "clock out" 30 minutes before getting home. Most techs live in their assigned territory, some do not. Several of them travel up to an hour to get to their first customer. Shop techs clock in and out at the shop. Road techs very rarely go to the shop, all paperwork is mailed. Customers pay travel or trip charges for breakdowns. They pay no travel for preventive maintenance visits. We can work as much as we want, overtime is encouraged.....I might add more to this thread as I think of it. I have friends at all the major players in the Georgia market, they basically do the same.
  • Posted 13 Dec 2013 10:51
  • Reply by Raymond_Tech
  • Georgia, United States
I do like meliftman's company does.
The difference is that I don't charge the customer for travel time but for the distance covered. Inside the price of one kilometer I have all my expenses covered including my time (calculated on 80 km/h average basis).

Also before, thank god, I was never called out after hours.
Once I left the workshop it's over for the day. I used to work almost all Saturdays, but when I was free I was never called out. That's really stressful.
  • Posted 4 Dec 2013 01:42
  • Reply by ivanlinaric
  • Zagreb, Croatia
Feel free to contact me at ivan.linaric@okretnimoment.hr
Here is how it works out for us, and simplifies some issues. If I leave home in my service truck and go straight to a job, I get paid from time I leave home to the job and customer pays travel time. If I go to the shop, I am like everyone else and on my time but have the benefit of company vehicle.Then I get paid from start time whether I leave right away or not. If we are more than one hour from home, we get paid for that portion of travel time unless we have worked overtime. I can stop at the store on my way home with no issues but personal use of company vehicle is prohibited.
We bring our trucks home in case we are called out after hours or weekends.
Just for the record, I live 50 miles from our shop, but do not go to the shop everyday.
There are other ifs and ands but these are the basics.
  • Posted 22 Nov 2013 09:25
  • Reply by meliftman
  • Alabama, United States
Liftman
Equipment, Inc.
Mobile, Al.
I say a tech should be paid from the moment he steps into his van at home till the movement he steps out of his van back home, I. Know my company charged out its travel time at the same rate as there labour charge, I know some customers moaned about travel charges but at least the company I worked for got a genuine eight hours labour charge that way,

Titus
  • Posted 21 Nov 2013 23:03
  • Reply by Titus
  • North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Very good points edward_t and bbforks. We have had only minimal issues with the hoa's due to commercial signage in their driveways, but I've bought a van cover for one, have one smaller van and we used to have a pickup that one could park in his garage. So far these have been acceptable to the home owner's associations. Hope that helps.
  • Posted 5 Nov 2013 21:45
  • Reply by colleen_b
  • Florida, United States
Ed- very well said- I have to agree. Travel to/from a customer has to be factored in when pricing either t & M or flat rate. It would border on discrimination to offer some techs paid travel to/from work & others not.

On the insurance side- I got a quote years ago on theft of tools from my work truck. At that time the premium was $3.00 for every dollar of tool cost. Needless to say the premium price was indeed 5 figures & the insurance wasn't purchased. As far as insurance coverage in your home driveway, unless you have a rider specifically for them, they aren't covered. They are considered work tools, not homeowner tools & need a specific rider.

To Colleen b- to make things fair I think that all tech's should report to the shop. What would your company do if a new hire wasn't allowed to have a work truck at his home (home associations & townships in my area are now adopting this policy to raise property values- stupid rule but true just the same). Basing your hiring practices on where a tech lives or what rules he has at his home I think is unwise. There are too many variables beyond your control.
  • Posted 31 Oct 2013 00:26
  • Modified 31 Oct 2013 00:37 by poster
  • Reply by bbforks
  • Pennsylvania, United States
bbforks (at) Hotmail (dot) com
Customers love technology- until they have to pay to fix it!
I am going to reply in different postings to your different replies/situations, but to Colleen;
to be clear, {what the employee does after the work day starts does not enter into this part of the question} ?your people are provided a vehicle to transport them from home to the same office, where they do all their paperwork, and begin and end each day's work? ?they start and stop work the same time and place every day, and from that place they provide an accounting of the time worked?
the % of that vehicles miles/expense used in that commute vs overall miles/expense, is an expense to the company, and a taxable benefit to the employee, in my opinion, otherwise (non taxable vehicles) would be a regular benefit in very many jobs, as a fine way to avoid federal taxes in the USA.
I think it may be a gross over-simplification to say it makes any difference if "the customer is not being billed for travel time". It seems to me that it does make a difference at "whose convenience" it is at.
The fact there is no external customer to bill, or the labor is "flat rated", or "extended warranty" does not make any difference, where the diff is, is in: is the employee expected to be at a location because it is where the employee wants to be, or because there is some "business reason" that the employer expects the employee to be at a particular location. In other words, does the employer pay for that same thing at some other hour of the day?
If Colleen includes travel in the calculations for flat rate charged for that work, and that work is done somewhere other than her shop, then she IS being paid for the travel, even if not separately broken out in the billing.
A second thing to think about, (again, IANL but I have worked all through this question a few times, from different angles, to try and figure a 'best practice') if this is -in fact- a benefit to the employee (and no greater benefit to the company, equal to a maid service paying for their taxi fare to the office) it may very well be a _taxable_ benefit, requiring considerable record keeping to separate the value of the truck and related expenses to/from the % of use as a benefit given the employee. ["Check with -your- tax attorney/CPA?] Along with the alternative of the company being liable for the expense of the techs tools in a break-in, [?ask -your- insurance agent to put it in writing?] if they are required or optioned to leave their trucks in the shop over night, as opposed to the tech's home owners insurance covering the tools while in his driveway.
You may also find, as one of the first steps down that road, (which will be an inventory of the techs tools which seems to run about 6 man hours per tech on company non billed/training time), what the replacement value of the techs tools are, which should engender an appreciation of how much a 'partner' in the business the techs really are, and how much of an investment they have made. I am not surprised if the replacement value exceeds 5 figures per tech.
  • Posted 30 Oct 2013 21:51
  • Modified 30 Oct 2013 22:03 by poster
  • Reply by edward_t
  • South Carolina, United States
"it's not rocket surgery"
I am also talking about when the customer is not being billed for travel time. Taking a service van home is a benefit to the tech, no gasoline expense, no maintenance expense, no insurance expense, the company pays for all of that even the time it takes for the tech to service the van. duodeluxe in our forklift dealership our techs Do get paid for their mistakes when the company does not, they do go wherever they want for lunch and don't always report that they took longer than an hour, they do use their vans for personal errands against company policy, they do take longer on some jobs that are quoted and still get paid for it, finally the company also eats it if the tech misdiagnoses and causes the employer undue expenses. If this is regular habit then the tech is no longer employed, but most of us make mistakes that are unintentional. We recently hired a couple of auto techs and they are quite happy now. I guess it all depends on if the situation is the norm or the exception and I'm getting that if the company is getting paid for the vehicle use this is a non-issue which I agree with, it's when the company is not being paid or the jobs are flat rated; that is the question. I appreciate everyone's input on this discussion, lot's of good points.
  • Posted 30 Oct 2013 02:40
  • Reply by colleen_b
  • Florida, United States

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