Long Term profits with a truck is a hard one for a lot of fleets. Long term means, the owner should over the course of the remaining term of ownership,- be able to operate the truck through at least a OverHaul, and another 500k half a million) in miles……..I know guys that have done 2 million plus miles on their trucks, alone…..but how can we ensure maximum profitability during the course of ownership. By getting the maximum mileage with out the unnecessary repairs from lack of maintenance.
Now this does not in any way say–if you do this or that you can guarantee maximum profitability—However when it comes to equipment—-This is my surefire ways I follow when I am looking for the equipment to take me to the next level——
1. Buy it Right!–
This means you take the group you are interested in- Find the best one out of the group for your desired usage. Questions you should ask: Maintenance records- Owner and Carrier must keep these records — How else do you properly ensure that the equipment has been maintained properly—No records always ends up creeping up on the new owner in unwanted repairs, new issues from the drivers, and a plethora of things that is wanted, and undesired. When the seller can show you those records, and the price is similar to the group the Maintenance records are always at the top of the list with my buys.
However, price —Is vital—If you buy the equipment right – then the maintenance and any anticipated repairs are of no consequence, if within reason.
I bought a early 90’s GMC Volvo–1992 — Some years ago–The guys had done worn it out- It needed everything from paint and Hood repair- and a list of mechanical repairs 10 miles long from the owner—before it was road worthy again. At this point it was in the 20yr old range. The guys was wanting $4000 for the truck, running- and was willing to keep the truck rolling until his new truck arrived for the new owner.— My offer was $2200, and I knew I was going to have to put another $2500 Immediately to get it running by monday……….He took the $2200–and said- bring me the stuff to immediately get everything straightened out for monday—Needless to say—The list was a good amount to handle in just 3 short days—–So He said–“I am gonna run it until it quits- or at least you get your money back—” Well- I didn’t like that- However, since a phone call got the money—I needed that paid—–Local and He agreed to take the risk on DOT until his new lease truck was to arrive. I knew the annual was fucked up–that fucking mechanic didn’t even bother looking at that truck for the annual inspection sticker from 4 months prior…..Needless to say– I knew once that truck hit a shop—it was not moving for 3-4 weeks.
That man, drove for that carrier, and myself as the new owner—-5 weeks- Fixing something everyday– until his new truck got to the terminal- Not only did he earn my company between 500-950 every week- pulling container drays—but did it without missing a single beat. He held his end—-by a long shot— I released him to his new Lease truck provided in house by the Carrier. Hiring another driver a few weeks after I put it in the shop—for repair……
6 months with a few months of that truck sitting, and I ended up selling it for $5500. The new owner was given my maintenance records, and knew he has himself a deal since The repairs for that truck was well into the $7500 range…..Did not make much but at least I was able to capitalize on the truck to add a hands off profit—for at least a short period of time…….
Having a few of these that know what the hell they are doing and talking about–will save any Carrier or Fleet owner their weight in GOLD and SILVER!!
If you question anything, you need a few of these to bounce what you are thinking of, outside of your inner circle–
Advisors will come inspect for you- Say whether the best choice for the group selection- Hell, a few of mine–finance good deals when they like the terms…….Buy at $2200 and come get the money now—!! I’ll have it ready for you when you get here!!
Mechanics make wonderful advisors! They know the equipment, they understand the risk of potential purchase going bad, and a GREAT one will be able to tell you the common issues with some of the more popular truck brands. My person Advisors–2 both owned trucks in the past, TOP MECHANICS, Industry WIDE, anywhere I have used mechanics, and both are really the only ones I use–To this day!!! Call me Loyal—Actually just call me Partial to those that have my best interest—-and would not advise me wrong!!! Period–However now that I just wrote this thinking about it—I actually have 3 people I call, One does my Light and Medium Duty—The other two get them all, when needed.
If you are buying, and not maintaining- Then you are throwing your valuable money out the window, the smoke stack, the hubs, and out the oil plug. Why even have the equipment? I want maximum profitability—-Which is why my money makers always—-ALWAYS are maintained better than the last owner.
My standard Maintenance procedure for any fleet I am apart of is as follows:
Yes I base my buys off these typical maintenance protocol!
Monthly Oil Change with filter- 1x monthly for solos, 2x monthly for teams
Fuel Filter- Changed with oil change
Grease fittings- 1 x per week minimum, if the driver cant- I have them pull the rig to a Shop at a truckstop and have it done.
Transmission and Rear Ends- Fluids- Changed a minimum every 6 months.
Any Lights- Swapped by driver immediately upon finding blown lights. This is done by keeping standard lights for the truck in the truck dog box.
Tires- Daily pressure checks—however anytime I am near the truck–I check behind the driver just to see if he is actually checking–you do not know how many times I have found tires with under 75lbs of pressure on the steers, or a flat on the rears. I would hate to even say a number. A few were fired immediately!!!
Anything needing repairs, are immediately placed in line at a shop for repairs. My drivers will not be held up cause of my lack of ownership concern. I want my guys out and back home, without any major just from taking care of the equipment through preventive maintenance that most would not care to do cause it costs extra money the way I commonly maintain my equipment. I am not going to be the reason.
However, Driver’s need to understand it is their way of earning, and by keeping vigilant on even new trucks, and properly maintaining all the equipment and attachments, they will lower the maintenance and upkeep during the older years in a trucks cycle of life. Some of us, actually prefer our trucks, to stay the same and not slip seat due to a repair, or some other reason. In order for drivers to do that then they need to be vigilant and forthright with pertinent information during check-In while in Service. Do Not be like the guy who was ticketed by SC DOT for having duct tape around a mirror, when there was a spare under the bunk, and the owner (me) would have came out immediately to fix his personal truck!!! Yep, the driver actually did that, then blamed me for the ticket—–CRAZY—he didn’t make it too much past the terminal dispatch before he no longer had a job…….Safety was even buying his bullshit, until I walked in and said where the new mirror was stored—couldn’t help but see it…..right beside the passenger seat on the floor……..where the driver had obviously moved it to, since I kept them in the storage space under the bunk—-Yeah the open slotted one with net around outside to prevent them from flying out everywhere.
4. Operational Standards-
Most may not understand this–However, an operator will fully understand this. How you operate the tractor and trailers will always over time show- If you running like the ’70 Chevelle with the 396 in it–then you will be paying for it in fuel costs, maintenance costs and upkeep, repair bills, along with consistent need for tires……..Tires are not cheap for the set!!
How I tell every driver. You never know where I am at or when I will just show up somewhere between here and California. Do not even think I do not!! Cause I will show up in the least of places you never expect……just to see how someone is operating my fleet, while the owner is not near. I followed on all the way to NC, just to see if he was doing like I had instructed him. Needless to say in NC, he was riding back with the mechanic, cause I was not having that bullshit! The mechanic was not the most fond of people, and hated having to driver the drivers back to the location 5-6 hours away……..pleasurable ride I am almost certain.
These trucks are made to haul freight. They are not 14 sec quarter miles, and usually take about that distance if not more to stop on of them. They are built for torque, hence why they have 10 speeds, 13/15 speed, and the 18 speed….gearing in the transmissions. Not to mention- typically the High torque gearing on the planetariums—-Pumpkin’s as they are normally called. They are made to move heavy weight, and complete loads, period. We do not race our equipment from stop sign to sign, or by the quarter miles. We value our equipment through the million mile mark, and back around–because they are the reason why we can employ our team, they can earn their money for their family, and we can continue to build a fleet and grow our family!! Once you find someone that understands that with your equipment, they are worth their weight in Gold!! Find them Nurture them to grow to a leadership position that fits their desire, FIRST!!, then have that Role solidified by the Fleet, by helping him mentor and teach to those that are coming in behind him!! Just might build that fleet after all!!
Now understand, there are no surefire guarantees to anything, Shit happens!! However, when you are wanting to buy equipment, or understand the Carrier Requirements, and understand the Minimums are the basis of passing those DOT Inspections. That is half the battle. The one thing that is not controllable, from a new owner perspective, if the prior care is missing or not properly maintained; YES it will and does affect the maintenance of the fleet addition, however by placing the new addition into the stated minimums, and ensuring that the drivers are properly keeping a watchful eye, this will curtail any major happenings, for the most part! FOR THE MOST PART- however the damage is done, and maybe once the bugs are worked out—the equipment may end up being one of the older of the fleet, to keep working without the large cash outlays—typically found from the maintaining and upkeep of prior owners. I have risked it a few times. However, repairs can hurt a fleet—This is why warranties with the major manufacturers here in the states, are best on the new trucks. Hence why a lot of the larger fleets, utilize their manufacturers choice warranty—lower down time, and gets the trucks ready to ride, without any need to repair unknowns before the maiden voyage 2500 miles out and needing a good repair facility without the bullshit!
If it happens just know you are not the first one, and that you just have to get through until you can get a better truck. You cannot switch the past events of the prior owners, however you can maintain the equipment properly and over the minimum standards of FMCSA and DOT! That is the best way, and about the only surefire way to keep the drivers rolling, even if it is a lemon—-The only one you can control is you the Equipment Owner and How you maintain the equipment, is a direct correlation to your drivers—Show them so they have no excuse.