Your van is more than just a way to get around - it's one of your tools of your trade. So are you making the best use of it?
A clean, well-stocked and well organised van looks really professional and makes a good impression with your customers. If you know where to put your hands on the tools and components you need, you can get the job done quicker. And it can make a difference to your safety, as well.
Keeping a stock of basic consumables will help you to be prepared for most jobs you arrive at, without having to make a trip to your local merchant. These include brassware - such as ball valves, gate valves and stop taps - tool consumables like drill bits and blades, repair and service kits, personal protective equipment such as protective gloves, and other general items like plumber's mate, wall plugs, screws and expanding foam.
If you kit your van out with proper storage, everything will have its place and you can keep an eye on what you use, and replace it when stocks are getting low. By using drawers, containers, boxes and shelving units which lock securely into place you can be well organised and safer, as you won't have loose components and tools flying about if you need to stop in a hurry!
Van racking is usually bought as a modular system, so you can design it in a way that works for you and how you like to organise things. More modern systems are available with underfloor modules, ideal for heavy items and tools, and extras like fold out tables for paperwork or to use with a laptop. This gives you a clear space in the centre of your van to transport large items such as boilers, water heaters etc. These should be properly secured during transit using straps.
Don't forget to check how much your van racking weighs. Most vehicles have a maximum weight that can be placed across the back axle and if this is exceeded the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) can take legal action. Extra weight will also increase your fuel consumption and could affect the van's handling.
All that lifting boilers is hard enough, without doing your back in trying to get something out of your van! So try and arrange your in-van storage so you don't have to bend and stretch too much. Stretching to reach high and heavy objects can cause injuries, especially if something falls unexpectedly.
Organising the contents of your van may not seem like a matter of life and death - but in the event of an accident, it could be. Unsecured items can be very dangerous and can increase the risk of injury if a crash occurs.
Did you know that, in a collision, a gas bottle could become 20 times its normal weight and, if unsecured, will be thrown forward at the same speed your van was travelling?
Even hardware like nuts, bolts and screws and small tools like tape measures, spirit levels and screw drivers can become very dangerous projectiles in an accident, if they aren't properly secured.
The courts have greater sentencing powers since January 2009, if they consider injury has occurred as a result of a gross breach of duty of care - so having a tidy and secure van could pay dividends in more ways than one!
Your van is part of your workspace, so it's worth taking a bit of time and investment to keep it clean, organised, well-stocked and safe. It also reflects the quality of the service and workmanship your customer can expect from you, because they can see it's your pride and joy.