How many projects have you been on where the project manager or the crew chief filled your crew water jug with water from the bathtub in the hotel room? It's certainly a cheap way to get water for your crew, that's for sure. But, do you like drinking tub water? How much would it cost to get good, filtered, water every day? What does it say about the crew chief when they make sacrifices like that? What does it say about the company? How does it make you feel as a field technician. Let's dive into this.
The Cost of Filtered Water
In many areas of the country there are water machines where you can get filtered water. They're often in grocery stores. I've seen a gallon cost anywhere from 39 to 45 cents. Let's just say it's 50 cents to cover all the possibilities. If you have a crew of four people they might drink five gallons in about three days. Often, crew members will start the day with their own water and fill up during the day. if they drink the 5 gallons in three days, then, on a 10-day session you'll fill the water jug three, maybe four, times. Let's say four. That would be 20 gallons (5 gal x 4 times). At 50 cents a gallon, that's $10 per rotation for water for a four-person crew.
A field season could last 9 months (18, 10-day rotations). That would mean you'd spend $360 per field season for a four person crew. If you are running large projects and have maybe four crews, that's $1,440 per year. Really?? CRM firms waste that much money just thinking about starting a project.
Considering it another way, a $150,000 project (the kind that might have four crews) would use only 0.96% of the budget IF they went nine months. A project of that size with four crews would probably only last a few months, dropping the percentage even lower.
What Kind of Crew Chief Uses Tub Water
I'd be willing to bet that some people reading this have never considered the impact of tub water on crew health and moral. That's understandable. If no one has ever said something to you, then, you might not have thought about it. It's time to think about it.
Crew moral is an easy thing to improve if you're mindful of their needs and are always thinking ahead. You need to be always thinking about the budget too, of course. When the leadership thinks of spending money on water and ice they will often come to the conclusion that it's too expensive. This is while sitting at the gas station with four vehicles and 20 people all getting snacks in the morning. That 30 minute stop for gas doesn't come cheap. Let's assume that the minimum billable rate for a field technician is $55. I've seen it higher and I've seen it lower. If you've got 16 crew members and four crew chiefs at the gas station for 30 minutes then the cost, assuming the crew chiefs are at, let's say $65 per hour, would be $570. You probably stop for gas at least twice in a 10-day session - more if you have a long commute. That's $1,140 just for people standing there! Next time you'll think twice when deciding whether to fill up after work with JUST the crew chiefs.
Don't even get me started on the cost of tire changes versus just buying 10-ply tires.
It's the little things, like buying filtered water, that don't cost much but that show the crew that you care about them. That will not only improve moral, but, it could save someone's life too. I know people that won't drink the water in the jugs because they think it's tub water. That could get dangerous really fast.
What Do You Think?
Am I off the rails on this one? Does anyone really care? What brought this on, anyway? I'll tell you.
So, I'm running a large project in the hot SoCal desert right now. The people on my crew are good friends of mine. One of them knows me better than probably 99% of all people I've ever known. We were at the truck for break one day and two of us were filling our water bladders for our backpacks. I don't remember exactly what was said, but, I ask her if she was going to fill up or whether she needed any water. She said something about not wanting tub water and that she doesn't drink the local water. Who does? It's disgusting. I told her it was filtered water and that I fill it almost daily before work. She had no idea! Even though I tend to get the best things I can, she just assumed it was water from the bathtub because that's all she's ever known from a crew chief. That makes me sad.
So, go the extra mile and give your crew some good water. They deserve it and it doesn't cost that much. If your company won't expense it then do it yourself. You owe it to your crew. Also, find another job if the company thinks it's an expense they can't afford.
SAY NO TO TUB WATER!!
Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the field!!