As a contractor, you likely have a lot of tools you rely on to help you get tasks done for projects. Between balancing your time amongst projects and different job sites, and keeping track of deadlines, the last thing you want is to search for missing tools and equipment. Unfortunately, there may also come a time when an important piece of equipment goes missing because it’s been stolen. Theft of contractor tools and equipment is more common than you may think in Canada. This is because thieves find tools and heavy equipment easy to steal and sell. Having tools and equipment stolen can be detrimental to your business, putting you behind schedule, and leaving you on the hook for the unexpected expense of replacing what was stolen. Whether a tool is misplaced or stolen, record-keeping can help.

What is record-keeping for contractors?

Record-keeping is organizing and storing a variety of documents including files, images, and invoices. For contractors, record-keeping may also include information on tools and equipment, projects, and other details.

Why should contractors keep records?

Every contractor is different, and some may say they’ve gotten along fine for years without keeping track of their tools and equipment. Maybe those contractors have been fortunate enough not to require a lot of tools, or work at sites that are remote, decreasing the likelihood of tools and equipment being stolen.
As a contractor, you may benefit from record-keeping in the following ways:

  • Assists in keeping track of tools and equipment
  • Helps keep track of expenditures and costs
  • Prepares you for service dates for equipment
  • Provides details that may be useful in the future if something is stolen

What should be included in a contractor’s records?

A contractor can make their record-keeping as simple or as complicated as they want. The simpler records are, the easier they are to maintain. However, the benefit of having more detailed records is they may be more useful to you at a later date.

To get started, decide what information about your tools and equipment you’d like to record and where you want to keep it. You may want it to be digital or keep it all in a notebook or binder. If you want to keep digital records, it’s a good idea to have a hard (paper) copy as a backup, just in case your computer or tablet breaks down. Choose the method that is easiest for you. The easier it is to do, the quicker you’ll get it done.
Once you’ve decided on the template, start filling out the information.

Basic information you can include:

  • The make and model of tools and equipment
  • The serial number or product identification number/code
  • A description that may include logos and markings

Additional information you might want to include:

  • The purchase date and cost
  • Service dates if applicable
  • Photographs

Contractors may miss out on benefits if they don’t keep records

It may seem like an inconvenience to maintain records of your tools and equipment, but the benefits of having accurate records may surprise you in the following ways:

  • If you ever need to file a claim or report a theft, you’ll have a record of your tools and equipment, including specific details.
  • You’ll know what’s in your inventory and avoid buying things you already have.
  • You’ll be able to track service dates and keep track of what tools and equipment need replacing.
  • You’ll be better prepared for projects because you’ll know you have the right tools or if you need to go buy something new.

Manage your contracting business better

As a contractor, you’re busy with planning, managing, and coordinating projects on top of a lot of other things. Record-keeping for contractors is more than inventory management. You’ll be better able to plan for projects, you won’t waste money buying duplicate tools, and you’ll be prepared to file a claim if your tools or equipment are ever stolen.