Aquire the plan, tools and the staff you need for in-house installation.
By Jared Smith
The advantages of adding install to your operation are relatively obvious. There are challenges, and you should proceed with caution, but these challenges are worth overcoming. Consider this short checklist before you add the words "in-house install" to your corporate website and brochures:
* The head installer: This should be someone who can train others; pay this person well.
* An install bay: The bay should ideally measure 60-feet deep, have a 10-foot-wide x 15-foot-tall door, and include a 20-foot-wide space (minimum) to allow for scaffolding on each side of a 53-foot trailer.
* Scaffolding: The kind that rolls; get the good stuff so your installers have a safe environment to work in.
* Standard operating procedures (SOP) for your entire install department: Put these down on paper. What time do vehicles need to arrive? How do you handle and store their keys? What vehicles can be left outside and which ones can’t? When is the standard time for a vehicle to be picked up by the client? Where and how are tools handled and stored? And so on.
* Tools: You’ll likely have to add a few tools you didn’t previously have in-shop, such as torches, squeegees, rubber floor mats, chairs with wheels and no backs, Olfa knife, cleaning solutions, remover solutions, primers, etc.
* Workload: The only thing worse than paying a subcontractor is paying an employee to stand around with no vehicles to install. Make sure you can keep them busy before you hire them full-time.
* Define what types of installs you may still sub out: Vehicles that are too big, too tough or too many in a short time frame. Keep your subcontractors happy; you will still need them.
* A great install calendar or scheduling system: This is essential.
* Official training and/or certifications. As I have said in this column many times before, there are great schools and workshops available. Being UASG-certified (United Applications Standard Group, www.uasg.org), for instance, is a great selling point.
* Rate card: Now that you are installing in-house, will your rates go up or down?