11 Tips Security Integrators Need to Consider for Next Work Vehicle

Here’s an example Jamiesons’ A/V new work vehicle that can help security systems integrators be more efficient.

At some point in the life of your installation business, every security systems integrator will need to buy a vehicle. It might be years from now … it might be soon. More than ever, the purchase of a single company vehicle, or a fleet of vehicles, is central to the success of your business.

The wrong vehicle that is laid out inefficiently can cost you or your technicians extra time every day on every project. It can drain your wallet every time you fill up at the gas pump, be a contributing cause of accidents or stolen tools and equipment, and most importantly be a factor in actually losing clients in both the short term and the long term.

For Ric Clark at Jamiesons’ Audio Video in Toledo, Ohio, the time to buy a new company van was long overdue. Clark and his partner had an original timetable to not allow any vehicle in their fleet of six to be on the road past 100,000 miles or 10 years, whichever came first.

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The plan was to cycle through the fleet with a new purchase every two years so they could spread out the expenditures. But then came the recession, and money was tight. So this summer Jamiesons’ A/V found itself with a 14-year-old truck with more than 150,000 miles on it that averaged fewer than 10 miles per gallon.

“It became expensive just to maintain it,” says Clark. “You can’t put employees in unsafe vehicles. We never let any repairs slide because I don’t want to be considered negligent and jeopardize an employee’s safety.”

Inside the truck was a similar story of inefficiency. Milk crates and cardboard boxes were routinely used to store parts. Too often the technicians would arrive at the jobsite only to discover they were missing a needed patch cable, connector or even a tool. But it didn’t stop there. Because the gas-guzzler was a behemoth left over from the days when it was routine to have to load bulky rear-projection TVs to deliver to a project, the interior layout could be cluttered. It was time for a change. So where did Clark start?

Here is a checklist of 11 priorities he created during his search for a new vehicle that led him to a new $40,000+ Mercedes Sprinter with a long wheelbase and 76-inch interior standing height outfitted with a few thousand dollars worth of Adrian Steel racks.

Some results have been instantaneous, like better mileage (26 mpg to 33 mpg) and improved jobsite efficiency. Other items on the checklist are still goals: No more forgotten parts, stolen or lost tools, fewer accidents, cleaner jobsites and more referrals. Which of these would be on your checklist?

1. Stand-Up Interior: “We wanted something we could stand up inside of,” says Clark simply. At Jamiesons’ A/V, its vehicles are not just means of transportation, they are literally mobile stockrooms and workshops where technicians assemble certain things.

“There are some things you don’t want your customer seeing you assemble. So we can stay out there [in the truck] and assemble it,” adds Clark.

That’s one of the reasons why the company ended up buying a longer truck. Typically, the product comes off the truck first thing when the technician arrives at the job. That opens up the aisle way inside the vehicle to act as a workshop and lets the tech access the cables and parts he needs.

2. Accommodate Large Components: Granted, the days of lugging around rearprojection TVs are gone, but video filmscreens, freestanding speakers, equipment racks, furniture, seating, projectors and A/V components are still the norm. The truck needed to be designed with a large aisle in the center to handle accessing and navigating those components.

3. Organized Inventory for Small Parts and Pieces: Every technician has a set inventory of small parts and pieces necessary to complete the job. Things like varying lengths of HDMI and audio cables along with Cat 5 patch cables. The problem is those items need to be organized for quick access and so they cannot be forgotten.

Jamiesons’ A/V’s new Sprinter van is outfitted with a series of totes – kind of like small tackle boxes that fit small parts. These totes can be removed from the vehicle and carried onto the jobsite so a technician doesn’t have to keep going back and forth. The labeled tackle boxes have multiple dividers inside to accommodate and sort multiple parts, and they also have clear tops so you can see inside and not have to guess. The labels can be marked up daily to indicate how many of the items remain in the box.

“Those are terrific because we are no longer fishing around in drawers and we obviously can’t hang things on a peg board inside a van,” says Clark. The labels and clear lids make everything visual so it is easy to identify what you need for a job versus having to open up a bunch of drawers.

RELATED: Security Fleet Managers Driven to Steer Clear of Costs

“Not only will we be better able to get technicians to the job and keep them organized, but it is going to make inventory much easier,” adds Clark. “When the guys finish a job one day they can bring it into the shop and our operations guy can reload stuff for the next job.”

That general organization not only will reduce trips back and forth to the vehicle by the technician while on the job site, but also eliminate needing someone from the office having to run something out to the site because it was forgotten or the installer didn’t realize he was out of it. Clark says it’s too common an occurrence – and a wasteful one – that a simple $40 HDMI cable needs to be driven out to a project that is 40 miles away.

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About the Author


Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]

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