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Prepping for Installs

Discussion in 'Installation Equipment & Techniques' started by fresh, Aug 14, 2019.

  1. fresh

    fresh Very Active Member

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    My partner and I are not seeing eye to eye on the time it takes to prep for installs.

    Can you please tell me how long it takes for you to prep (in shop) for the following types of install?

    • Vinyl Storefront Window lettering
    • Post and panel sign
    • Banner installed on building
    • Gemini Letters (stud mounted)
    • flat panel sign on facade
    I'm just wondering how long you spend getting all your tools / hardware / materials assembled and in your truck. This doesn't include any sign production or office work. Just literally the amount of time you spend getting ready to go out.

    Thanks.
     
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  2. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    I'm confused about the question.

    Me personally... I have a service body truck with everything stocked in it at all times, so I can just throw a banner in the back and drive away. Drill batteries are all charged, plenty of fasteners etc. Sometimes I need to get posts or something from Home Depot on the way to an install.

    I usually spend an hour or so once a week cleaning, charging batteries and restocking the truck... but most of the time I just throw it in and go. Sometimes if I have many orders I may have to do some planning in how I load the truck or load signs on a trailer and strap them down... that can take 30 mins-1 hour if I have a bunch of stuff.

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    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
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  3. 2B

    2B Very Active Member

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    +1 about what the intent of the question is.

    +1 for having the tools/equipment prepped and ready.
    yes, you will need different tools for vinyl onto glass than stud mounted lettering, but if you have all the tools sorted and organized it is just a matter of collecting and leaving. or in Texas case having a dedicated vehicle.
     
  4. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    We're kinda the same as tex, as we have two trucks and both pretty much fully stocked with all the tools needed for any of your types of install. We don't have anything in the van for electrical needs, but it's easily changed if need be.

    Everything in our shop has a place such as digging tools, telescoping walk planks and high step ladders.

    I did make up check lists a long time ago of everything conceivable for just about any kinda instal and we use it more or less as a last count.

    Anything involved, might take 15 minutes or so to throw in the back or on top.

    The bucket already has a generator and we have two more at the shop we can put in the van or on a trailer, if need be. We have a portable compressor for any pneumatic tools needed on site like our sanders or pop-rivet gun.

    If you only have one set of tools at the shop and they double when going out on a job, that could be more of a problem, but make yourself a check list and use it faithfully.

    Over they years I've acquired a set of everything for the bucket, the van, the shop and I duplicated pretty much everything at home, so I don't hafta take this or that home when needed around the house. I only have one SDS drill, but that's pretty easy to cart around to wherever.


     
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  5. bannertime

    bannertime Very Active Member

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    On lettering job it takes like 10 minutes. 1 to grab the kit and another 9 to find everything that's missing from it. Then if it's really a good day you drive 30 minutes to the job site, pull out the ladders, and realize you left the graphics on the table.
     
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  6. 2B

    2B Very Active Member

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    :eek: did this on Friday.
    had all the tools loaded on Friday as the install was early Monday morning before the heat and the opposite direction of the shop.
    yeah..... the installer was NOT happy when they realized they left the graphics and still had to come to the shop. which put them installing heat of the day.
     
  7. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Just to add..

    When I started out I realized that I wasted A LOT of time running to the store and getting things on a per-job basis, gathering tools and such. Time is $$ so I was determined to get all that running around down to as little as possible. The best thing I did was buy a service body truck with a ladder rack so I could keep EVERYTHING on it at all times. The model I got (Royal Service Body) has tons of bins for fasteners. I have them stocked with just about every fastener I could think I'd ever need. Got all different cans of colored spray paint and black/white gallon paint, all the ladders are locked to the rack, plenty of caulk and vinyl application tools, about 10 rolls of paper towels, sprays...everything. Occasionally I have to make a trip to the store if I have a special job coming up, but the key is to have it FULLY stocked so you can jump in and go and basically carry around a small hardware store with you to the job-site so you don't have to leave.

    Lol, 30 mins aint too bad. Most of my work is 2 hours away in East Texas...so I REALLY have to double and triple check everything before I leave.
     
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  8. De.signs Nanaimo

    De.signs Nanaimo Member

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    Yes I agree tough to nail down, it all depends on how well prepped you are for these jobs. But if you have an organised shop, even loading tools and equipment in an empty van should take 5 to 15 mins at most, more if there is a big sign to load too, but if someone is taking much longer than that, I would say there is some definite efficiency gains to be had!
     
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  9. James Burke

    James Burke Being a grandpa is more fun than working

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    If you don't have a service truck, it's a no-brainer. Go out and get yourself a bunch of big Rubbermaid totes or big plastic tool boxes and equip each with tools needed for specific installs.

    Store them on a rack next to the door and always have them ready to go at a moment's notice.

    Yes: You'll end up buying duplicates, but you'll never forget anything back at the shop...which usually causes you to buy duplicates when you're on an install a good stretch from the shop.

    One tote could be the "master tote" that goes to every job (includes all the basic tools needed for most installs: drill, bits, squeegee, razor blades, tape measure, level, paper towels, cleaner, etc...). Make sure this one is a different color so you always remember to grab it every time.

    This should put a sudden and long-lasting end to the squabbles you mention.


    JB
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
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  10. fresh

    fresh Very Active Member

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    My business partner takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 HOURS to prep for every install. He literally takes every tool he needs and lays them out on the table before loading up the van. He thinks this is normal. And that I'm not charging enough for his time / wants me to add $250 prep charge to every install, small or large.

    We just have a cargo van, and we wouldn't want any permanent utility boxes installed. I'm glad I'm not the insane one here.
     
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  11. GAC05

    GAC05 Major Contributor

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    What kind of van do you have?
    Adrian Steel and some others make a rail system for van storage so you can slide them out when not needed..
    Depending on the model of van some can be installed without drilling as the manufacturer has anchor points already set up for them.
     
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  12. Jean Shimp

    Jean Shimp Member

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    This is what we do also. In addition, we have checklists for each type of job. Average load up is 30 minutes. Scaffolding and larger signs will push to 1 hour. We're always looking at ways to improve load up and unload as those costs often don't get accounted for.
     
  13. unclebun

    unclebun Very Active Member

    I think your partner needs to seek professional help for his OCD.

    We don't have a service truck, so we can't do it like Tex. Even so, the longest it ever takes, even including a run by Lowe's for screws, etc., is 15-30 minutes. When I am doing price quotes I add 1 hour to the install time quote for loading/unloading/putting away.
     
  14. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    If you have a work van why would you not get shelving and keep everything in the van? $250 prep charge is really stupid... sounds like someone is spinning their wheels in an OCD prep mode.

    If you don't have a work truck, do like others said and keep totes around.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
  15. fresh

    fresh Very Active Member

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    Thanks. He read this and came back at me that "he doesn't spend 4 hours prepping for installs" but that is contrary to the "I got here at 6 am to prep for this install" and "i worked until 10 last night prepping for that install" statements. IDK. He also thinks I should both charge for the prep work we do in the shop that makes the install go faster, and the time it would take to install if we didn't do that prep work. For example, we pre-measure things when possible, make pilot holes, do as much in shop as we can so the install goes easier and quicker. He doesn't understand why I'm not going to quote or bill someone for the same thing twice.

    I really do appreciate the bucket idea. I've been asking him to write out a check list so we can have our employees gather everything and have more responsibility around the shop. Other than power tools, we have dupes of everything anyway. We can just have that stuff ready to go in a bucket instead of reinventing the wheel every time we go out. I'm also going to ask for a list of often used hardware and restock our tool cabinet.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  16. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Any work you do in the shop or out on the job should be accounted for in your quote/invoice. Not necessarily outlined in an itemized detailed explanation, but should be figured in there. However, if your partner is dragging his feet or dilly-dallying, you can't charge for something that is nonsense. No way can it take 4 hours, let alone 2 hours, unless he hasta go around looking for stuff all over the house or shop and check himself two or three times. Your customer should not hafta pay for incompetence.

    As for your misquote...... it happens, but I don't see how a job costing $210 when quadrupling it only doubles in price ??

    Anyway..... it sounds more like your partner is your wife or husband and we're refereeing you two. :)
     
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  17. 2B

    2B Very Active Member

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    It sounds like there is a plethora of hostility with a bad work environment, while the suggestions will help. Y'ALL NEED HELP as a partnership

    either sit down and have a coming to Jesus, all cards on the table or have someone be the mediator.
    While everyone need to have an understanding of all parts, micro-managing one another is NOT helpful.
     
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  18. kcollinsdesign

    kcollinsdesign Active Member

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    Classic conundrum. I'm in the camp of your partner. I'm considered slow and often criticized for over-thinking. I even take the time to field survey some installations! The other guys just zip around and are out the door before I've finished my coffee. Truth is, though: my installs usually go off without a hitch and are completed within the estimated time. The other guys have excuses for all the things that go wrong; I get proftable results.

    On most small jobs, I usually take 5-10 minutes gathering my tools and supplies. Bigger jobs including tieing down signs on flatbeds, inspecting rigging, etc. take longer. My tools are organized in specialized bins, my fasteners are in a bag and ready to go, and my batteries are always charged. I take a pickup truck with a ladder rack. The other guys need generators (their batteries are so abused they won't hold a charge) and bins full of everything imaginable (but they still end up going to the store). It is so much more efficient for me to go out myself, but I am needed elsewhere and usually leave installations to others. I price the jobs profitably, but we would probably double our profits if we had less forgetting tools and trips to the store (a guy sitting in a crane munching on a doughnut while the other guy is waiting in line to buy a bag of screws at Home Depot is expensive).
     
  19. equippaint

    equippaint Very Active Member

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    Whether you have a van, truck or a bicycle, you should have every essential thing needed for installs in 1 place and not comingled with the shop stuff, including drills, hardware etc. Either grab it and go or jump in and go. Even if you dropped $10k on the things, it would be paid back in short order.
    Gino's checklists are a great idea. You could probably even integrate it with the work order.
     
  20. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    There is a happy median... I don't overthink and I'm not slow... I'm nearly perfect.

    Honestly though, your installers sound like a bunch of drunks in a truck... maybe you ought to buck up and find some better ones. There is a reason some people can price installs so cheap, and there is a reason others (like myself) are more expensive.

    Umm...shouldn't everything be field surveyed before installing?
     
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