Preventing Loss of Tools, Equipment, and Supplies

Preventing loss through the use of systems and strategies in the construction contracting world.

Preventing Loss of Tools, Equipment, and Supplies

Preventing loss of your stuff

I remember the overall depletion of my dad’s spirit the morning he walked out the door to go to work and discovered his tools had all been stolen. Tools which had taken years to accumulate. Tools which had somehow been magically transformed to fit the curves of his hands, his fingers, his being.

Yes, there was insurance.

No, it didn’t cover the entire loss.

It stinks! It stinks when you have to deal with insurance, downtime, and the feeling of violation. Yet, loss happens.

Preventing loss – where to start

The first steps toward loss prevention are strong locks, proper lighting, and adequate insurance. Beyond these and in reinforcement of them, there are numerous other steps you can take.

Preventing loss – it takes a system

Taking a proper inventory of your tools and equipment is elemental. While you’re at it, take photographs of individual items. And, remember to record the serial numbers.

Creating a checklist of items to be placed in vehicles or a proper storage facility at the close of the workday has at least two benefits. It goes a long way to help your crew understand the importance you place on and the care you take of your items. Plus, it it makes it easier for your crew to better support your goal of no tool or equipment loss.

Preventing loss through marking

Another loss prevention tactic you can use is marking your tools and equipment. Some possibilities include:

  1. Painting “your” color on your items. Two colors will aid in making your tools and equipment more distinctive as most companies apply only one. While many construction companies use red, blue, or orange, few add a stripe of a contrasting color. For example, you can choose turquoise with a wide line of yellow running across it.  
  2. Engraving or etching your items with your logo and other identifying marks is better than paint, (for obvious reasons) and gives you more options. You can add inventory numbers, your address, or a phone number to your items if you choose.
  3. Purchasing GPS Tracking or Bluetooth tool tracking is likely to be a bigger spend than the other options yet perhaps more useful. This story from October of 2018 will give you an idea of how this technology is useful to you as well as to the police. Consider too, some insurance companies offer a discount on the comprehensive portion of their policies when they know you’re using some type of tracking system. 

If you’re considering the benefits of GPS tracking, check out this article which discusses five high tech ways to control construction site theft.

A few other tactics to consider

  • Use a sign-out sheet for company tools
  • Schedule supply deliveries on an as-needed basis
  • Prevent on-site parking
  • Train your team to put their tools up when not in use
  • Offer rewards to those who turn in thieves or provide valuable information on crimes
  • Install alarm systems and/or CCTV on your office, shop, or tool storage areas
  • Train Fido to do his best work at night (yeah, even a nice dog can be a great deterrent to would-be thieves)
  • Put Geo-fencing to use through the aid of apps or other systems
  • Invest in thorough background checks of potential employees
  • Encourage the neighbors of your property or jobsite to report suspicious activity
  • Think about the use of security guards depending on location
  • Establish a system for verifying deliveries   

Preventing loss isn’t always possible

No matter what steps you take or how diligent you are, there are going to be some items which suddenly develop legs and walk away. Yet, there are measures you can take to slow it down and keep it to a minimum.

Having a plan in place if your shop, trailer, vehicle, or jobsite is burgled will make the next steps a little easier. The plan should designate who is in charge of each step which needs to be taken. Developing a checklist of steps will make this process easier. Include appropriate phone numbers or other contact information; local police, your insurance company, GPS tracking company, your landlord (where your business is located,) the GC or owner (of the jobsite) are all possibilities for your list.

By putting loss prevention practices in place, you can do your best to keep the “bad guys” out and the “good guys” honest. Developing a system for your commercial construction firm which addresses the issue of theft is probably not your idea of how to have a good time at the office. But then neither is all the nonsense you have to go through when you lose your tools, equipment, or supplies.

It is our desire this article (among our growing library of construction-centric informational articles) is helpful in assisting commercial construction contractors build better building businesses.

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