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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    378

    How much does size matter?

    Just starting a new service business. I am glad I found this site the info from the guys in the "real world" as we used to say will be very helpful I'm sure. I just retired from a school system maintenance department gravy train and now have to go to work.

    Planning on just service for now and starting to look at trucks. Was hoping you guys could help me. I'm torn between try to go small and save gas, or get size and power and forget the gas. I'm afraid if I go small, and find out later I need to upgrade, I will end up losing more than I could have saved.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,012
    Do you have any customers? What about advertising, License, Insurance hello need more info. There is more than just quitting your job and buying a truck. Besides the big truck payment, do you have tools?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    378
    Didnt quit, I retired with 28 years. Dont have any customers, havnt advertised, just got State certification last Thursday. Your post is welcome but doesnt have much info on the original question.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Ocean Pines, MD
    Posts
    6,984
    You've got to balance it out. What Geo radius do you plan are servicing normally? And not having a fleet to draw on what vehicle will serve your all round needs for the near future? Get a small utility trailer to haul stuff with so you don't trash your work truck.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Sugar Land, Tx
    Posts
    123
    I have express 3500's for my techs. Mainly because they do heavy industrial work. Other than showing up and helping I don't need many tools to carry myself. But I do take care of my clients houses as well and I do run all kinds of calls.

    To make a long story short, I do just fine running service from a quad cab colorado, saves me some gas.
    Techson Mechanical LLC
    "We Shall Mount Up Wings As Eagles"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    378
    Once I am contacted by the State and get my license squared away I plan on contacting the school system administration to talk about a prevention contract, though that cant be counted on at this point. If it did happen its a pretty spread out system (40 miles to the furthest school from my starting point). Mainly changing filters for them and checking belts. In addition to that I would need to stock the usual parts, tools for regular repairs. Obviously the truck needs to be big enough to carry these but I was looking at some of the trucks like I see the telephone company using with the bed having the door in the back and doors on the side that lift up. I think most of those type beds can be used with six cylinder trucks and the ladder racks are not as high and come built in with the bed. Actually I dont mean to use the term "bed", its more like a drop in thing.

    I am a little bit concerned about going that route and finding out I dont have enough room. But I am also concerned about getting a humungus van and paying out the butt for fuel.

    I know its hard for you to help much with such a question as this. Sometimes I just think out loud. Appreciate all replies.

    Residential and light commercial service.
    Last edited by Tech it out; 02-13-2012 at 11:21 AM. Reason: Adding info

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    McQueeney, Texas
    Posts
    3,822
    If your starting out and will be doing residential and service only, with a condenser or air handler once in a while, you shouldn't need a lot of room. It can, take years to establish, but that depends on the advertising, word of mouth (The best customers) and exposure (Cards, name on truck, getting out there and just being on the road, etc).

    Options are;

    1. Ford transit connect van (used or new) with a decent cargo room for service and cargo rating around 1,600 lbs. Good on gas, easy to get around. Has a small engine and in very hilly or mountainous terrain- that could be a problem? You would want a trailer if you were to install equipment though.

    2. 1/2 ton truck. I've used these forever. I wouldn't even consider a 6 cyl, the V8 will give better mileage with the weight you'll be carrying and last longer. I always get the work truck package with a rating of at least 1,800 payload. I have no problem hauling equipment, get over 70k - 90k miles on tires, gas mileage with my F150 is about 16-17 average. At 150k miles it has never been in the shop and I expect 200k at least. I carry all the tools and extras and use a tommy lift as well as use a trailer at times.

    3. 3/4 ton truck. Lower mileage, but will carry more weight. For service work this is ok in my opinion, but not necessary.


    4. Full size Cargo Van. These are probably the best. I don't use one because of having to wear my knees out getting in and out, can't load the big systems in and the mileage- not to mention the noise that drove me nuts when I had one. The mileage stinks and it's hard to make repairs on the engine. The tommy lift is a "In the way" item too. You may need a trailer.


    If you buy new, the truck gets you more capacity for weight, and you may not need a trailer, the Transit van is better on gas.
    I'm moving soon to 90% service and I'm considering the Transit van, but I will keep the truck.

    I think all we can do is give opinions- you know what your requirements are and what you'll be doing, so it's a tough call.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    378
    Quote Originally Posted by walterc View Post
    If your starting out and will be doing residential and service only, with a condenser or air handler once in a while, you shouldn't need a lot of room. It can, take years to establish, but that depends on the advertising, word of mouth (The best customers) and exposure (Cards, name on truck, getting out there and just being on the road, etc).

    Options are;

    1. Ford transit connect van (used or new) with a decent cargo room for service and cargo rating around 1,600 lbs. Good on gas, easy to get around. Has a small engine and in very hilly or mountainous terrain- that could be a problem? You would want a trailer if you were to install equipment though.

    2. 1/2 ton truck. I've used these forever. I wouldn't even consider a 6 cyl, the V8 will give better mileage with the weight you'll be carrying and last longer. I always get the work truck package with a rating of at least 1,800 payload. I have no problem hauling equipment, get over 70k - 90k miles on tires, gas mileage with my F150 is about 16-17 average. At 150k miles it has never been in the shop and I expect 200k at least. I carry all the tools and extras and use a tommy lift as well as use a trailer at times.

    3. 3/4 ton truck. Lower mileage, but will carry more weight. For service work this is ok in my opinion, but not necessary.


    4. Full size Cargo Van. These are probably the best. I don't use one because of having to wear my knees out getting in and out, can't load the big systems in and the mileage- not to mention the noise that drove me nuts when I had one. The mileage stinks and it's hard to make repairs on the engine. The tommy lift is a "In the way" item too. You may need a trailer.


    If you buy new, the truck gets you more capacity for weight, and you may not need a trailer, the Transit van is better on gas.
    I'm moving soon to 90% service and I'm considering the Transit van, but I will keep the truck.

    I think all we can do is give opinions- you know what your requirements are and what you'll be doing, so it's a tough call.
    Thanks. I agree the 8 cylinder is probably the way to go. Not considering a cargo van for the same reasons. I dont particularly need to go new at this point I think. Will be looking for something within 4 yrs old though. Transit van is a thought but its still a van. Thanks for the input!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    McQueeney, Texas
    Posts
    3,822
    I forgot about the original question.

    Yes- size matters.
    Too small and it is inadequate for the job, too big and you can't find a space big enough to park it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    New Orleans
    Posts
    1,012
    Do you do have all the tools for the trade like recovery machine, vacuum pump, torches, gauges etc.?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    378
    Quote Originally Posted by keeplearnin View Post
    Do you do have all the tools for the trade like recovery machine, vacuum pump, torches, gauges etc.?
    Not everything yet, have to pick up a torch set (been using the one from work on side jobs, er um,,I mean when I had to fix something around the house) and recovery equipment. Have accumulated most of the little stuff already over the years.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    West Valley City, UT
    Posts
    157
    For me personally, a regular wheelbase 1-ton van fits the bill. I lucked out and found a used GMC Savana Pro for a fair price. The side doors that open to access shelving are priceless to me. I hardly ever crawl around in the van to get parts, and since it is so easy to put things away on the outside, my floor space always stays wide open so I have plenty of room to haul equipment on any given day. Driving like I have an egg under my foot, and coasting to as many stop signs and lights as I can, I get about 12.7 mpg in the winter, and about 13.8mpg in the summer. It's not the best. I've gotten as low as high 10's mpg when I didn't care how I was driving it.

    I'm a one man show though (60/40 service/install), and am thinking of getting an HHR panel for service, just to help save on gas and wear and tear on the van (EVERYTHING is more expensive on the van to maintain/replace). It has 170K miles on it now, and if I can reduce the driving on it, I think I could get about 5 more years out of it easy since it's been maintained. Maybe more.

    Like we all are, i'm still juggling it around in my head to see what will make the most financial sense. A little Hyundai hatchback would be a cheap, durable option for a service/sales call vehicle, but am not sure how un-professional it would look, even if it were logo'd.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    378
    You make good points for a van Eaallred, side doors would be a must. The noise is a big thing for me personally. Maybe if put in something to separate the cab from the rest of the van it would be okay.

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