The Contractor’s Guide to Record-Keeping

Contractor at desk on laptop and writing plans
3 minute read  

As an independent contractor, you’re likely very busy balancing projects on different job sites week after week. Because of this, there’s probably been a time or two where you’ve had concerns about where some of your tools and equipment are and what they might cost to replace. They could be lost or even have gone missing because of theft, and as someone who relies on tools and equipment to get work done, this can impact your bottom line and delay project completions.

Every year, millions of dollars’ worth of equipment and tools are stolen in Canada. Heavy equipment and tools are an easy target for thieves; not only are they easy to steal, they’re easy to sell.

No matter how secure you keep your equipment and tools, you may not always be able to prevent theft. But there are some steps you can take to make sure you have organized records for all your equipment and tools. This way, you’ll know where to find them, and can be certain about whether they’ve been misplaced or in fact have been stolen.

Benefits of record-keeping for contractors

Record-keeping can be very helpful to contractors for the following reasons:

  • Helps you keep track of your inventory
  • Helps you track how much you’ve spent on tools and equipment
  • Helps you keep on top of service dates
  • Gives you details about your inventory that may help in the recovery process should something be stolen

Getting started: What do you need for record-keeping?

Record-keeping is more than writing a grocery list! It may take more time initially, but it’ll be easy to maintain after setting it up. It’s important to think about where, how, and when you’d like to do your record-keeping.

Where: Ideally, you’ll have a quiet area (with a desk or table) where you can keep paperwork and files. If you have an office where you store paperwork, files and a computer, that’s a great spot to start!

When: It’s important to make this a regular part of your routine, so choose a time that makes sense to you. It could be everyday at the end of the work day, once a week on Sundays, every Tuesday and Thursday, or something else entirely.

How: How would you like this information to be viewed and organized? Using a computer or tablet could be very convenient if you want to keep digital records. You’ll have a built-in camera with a tablet, and you’ll be able to view your records on the go if you use a laptop or mobile device. You could also use software, an app, or keep a simple spreadsheet. It’s important to note that making a hard (paper) copy backup is a good idea because you never know when a computer is going to break down.

Relying on technology for record-keeping is not a must-have. If you prefer pen and paper and keeping everything in one binder, that’s a great way to keep records as well.

Whichever method you settle on, make sure you select the option that is most convenient. The more convenient it is, the more likely it is that you’ll do it.

What information should a contractor include in their records?

Your records can be as simple or as detailed as you’d like them to be. The more detailed your records are, the more helpful you may find them to be later.
Here’s a list of what contractors should consider including in their records:

Description, including markings and logos that will help with identification

    • Make and model
    • Serial number & product identification

If you want to go the extra mile, you can include cost, service dates, and photos.

How often should records be updated?

There are no hard and fast rules about record-keeping for contractors. If you are able to maintain your records while you work as a contractor, then your records will never be outdated.

Implications of poor record-keeping

Any type of record-keeping should be consistent, accurate, reliable, and easy to maintain. The consequences of poor record-keeping include:

      • Having inaccurate records
      • Not knowing important details you need if/when you ever need to file a claim or report a theft
      • Not knowing what you have in your inventory; this could mean buying more than you need of something you may not need
      • Equipment may go without proper maintenance/servicing if you’re not keeping track
      • May not be prepared for a project because you don’t know if you have the appropriate equipment

Record-keeping is about more than managing inventory

As a contractor, you supply services, goods, and materials. You also plan, manage, and coordinate projects. By keeping a record of your equipment and tools, you’ll be well prepared to file a claim in the event you suffer a theft.

This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. We make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information and will not be responsible for any loss arising out of reliance on the information. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply to coverage. See policy for details.