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How important is a good inspection for car haulers?

How many times has your car hauling business encountered a false damage claim? Any car hauler can recall an insurance battle with a customer over false damage claims. You might have learned that a good Bill of Lading for car haulers is the difference between making money or losing money.

That’s why Super Dispatch started out as an electronic Bill of Lading and photo inspection app years ago. Though we have expanded into a complete TMS for car haulers and shippers, a good photo inspection will always be a pillar of a successful car hauling company. You can cut inspection time in half with our electronic wire frames, unlimited high-res inspection photos and damage markings.

THE FLAWS OF MANUAL, PAPER INSPECTIONS

“If you have a 94 Corolla rolling off a transporter and a paper bill of lading, that’s one thing. But when you have a million plus dollar car, guys look at them with a magnifying glass.”

Super Dispatch’s electronic inspections have been a game changer for car haulers in this industry. EM Logistics for example, is the car hauling half of a luxury car dealership called Exotic Motors Midwest. Before using Super Dispatch, drivers at EM filled out paper BOLs and carried around digital cameras to document damages. Zack, the Transportation Manager at EM Logistics, loves that his drivers can just use a phone.

“If you have a 94 Corolla rolling off a transporter and a paper bill of lading, that’s one thing. But when you have a million plus dollar car, guys look at them with a magnifying glass,” Zack says about the benefits of electronic BOLs. “I tell them any paint chips, scratches, anything, take a picture. So I’ll have a bill of lading that has 50 photos attached to it. But that saves us ultimately. That’s for sure the best part about Super Dispatch, I’d say.”

With Super Dispatch, a car hauler can customize the terms and conditions for the pick up and delivery signature, take an unlimited amount of inspection photos that are stored in the cloud (instead of your phone,) and send invoices or BOLs the second they are created. Paper BOLs and inspections can’t keep up with how quickly cars are being moved in 2018.

WHAT BENEFITS DO YOU GET FROM A THOROUGH ELECTRONIC INSPECTION?

No False Damage Claims

We have written extensively about false damage claims at Super Dispatch, because of our amazing technology.

“The shipper said we scratched the mirror and made a dent in the car. Then I showed the broker our pick up photos…he said “woah, I think everyone ought to use this program.’”

Super Dispatch customer Charles Jones of Alpha Elite Transport has won false damage disputes time and time again because he uses our photo inspections.

“When my driver tried to deliver a truck, the shipper said at pickup that we scratched the mirror and made a dent on the car,” Charles recalls. “Then I showed the broker the pick up photos…he said ‘Woah, I think everyone ought to use this program.’ And he talks to the shipper, and this guy didn’t even go to the auction to buy the cars. He didn’t even see the cars first. He just didn’t want to believe the photos… So that saved us a lot.”

Repeat Business

Though this goes hand-in-hand with false damage claims, a good inspection will almost always create repeat business for a car hauler. Consistent, careful and thoughtful work is what makes Super Dispatch customers the most successful car haulers in the industry. It’s not only clean for car haulers, but Shippers and Brokers too. Some of our Broker customers even require that their car haulers use Super Dispatch to process loads, because the inspections are uniform and thorough.

Quick Payment

Charles Jones also loves how quickly he can get paid using Super Dispatch through tools like  custom Terms and Conditions and payment options like Cash on Delivery or Net 60. Not only that, but Super Dispatch has an activity log for each load that Charles has used to prove when an invoice was sent to a shipper or broker, and demand payment in a timely manner.

COMPLETING A GREAT BILL OF LADING AND INSPECTION WITH SUPER DISPATCH

Super Dispatch has already written a basic post on how to do a great inspection using our system. We have updated that to include all the great tools we have:

Have a comprehensive terms and conditions

With Super Dispatch, your terms and conditions are customizable from both the phone app and the dashboard. We suggest that a few topics should always be covered:

  • Pick up and delivery specifications (for instance – inoperable cars required extra payment)
  • Guaranteed or non-guaranteed pickup times
  • Potential fees (like a dry run fee)
  • Liability of things inside the vehicle
  • Agreement to the status of the car after inspection
  • Payment terms

Mark damages on the Bill of Lading AND the photos you take

We allow our customers to mark damages on the BOL and inspection photos for a reason. Double the documentation means double the protection for a car hauler.

Communicate

Always communicate with your customer! Super Dispatch’s system makes it so easy to dispatch orders, inspect cars, and run your car hauling business through improved technological communication. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be proactively communicating throughout the process!

  • Tell the shipper when you are inspecting the vehicle, and allow them to be involved in the process.
  • Follow up when you send an invoice or BOL.
  • Urge any signatory to read your terms and conditions.

Being proactive can mean a world of difference for car haulers. Grow your business, don’t just run it.

 

Even the best car haulers have had to face false damage claims. What is your false damage claim horror story? Let us know in the comments!

BacklotCars reaches faster car transport times enabled by our Shipper API

Like Super Dispatch, BacklotCars set out to disrupt a long-standing part of the automotive industry. With Super Dispatch focused on modernizing automotive logistics, BacklotCars is focused on modernizing automotive wholesale.

Four years ago, founders Justin Davis and Josh Parsons were working at Manheim Auctions. They saw a broken system – limited access to inventory, capital and inefficient transport.

Justin and Josh created BacklotCars, as an alternative to brick and mortar auctions. BacklotCars is connecting dealers across the United States and quickly becoming the easiest way for stores to both source, sell, transport and finance wholesale inventory. Both Super Dispatch and BacklotCars continue to disrupt long-standing industries.

Justin and Josh created BacklotCars, as an alternative to brick and mortar auctions.

How BacklotCars is different

“Originally, most dealers would go to local auctions to buy and sell cars. What we did was turn it into an online marketplace, without the physical location,” Sean, the Director of Transportation said to Super Dispatch. “This allows them to purchase inventory outside of their particular region. So for example, if I’m in Kansas City, I’m not limited to the local auction. I can purchase cars across the country.”

As BacklotCars opens up new trade opportunities for dealers, transportation becomes important. That’s where Super Dispatch comes in.

BacklotCars runs auto transport different than traditional load boards and auctions because of the technology it utilizes. Now auto dealers across the country can transact without stepping foot on an auction floor, or worrying about transporting their purchases.

As BacklotCars opens up new trade opportunities for dealers, transportation becomes important. That’s where Super Dispatch comes in.

Changing the game of auto transport

Before Super Dispatch, employees at BacklotCars would have to manually enter everything into spreadsheets. Sean had to type VIN numbers, condition reports, instructions, delivery and pick up information into their backend system and then post vehicles as loads on the Central Dispatch load board. A single morning’s worth of car sales could take a business day to type and post online for car transportation companies to find.

Before Super Dispatch, employees at BacklotCars would have to manually enter everything into spreadsheets.

“If we sold 50 cars a day, we would manually enter them on the load board or send them over to our partners using spreadsheets,” Sean said. “Which as you can imagine, is very time consuming. So sometimes the car that sold at 8 am wouldn’t get posted and shipped out maybe for a day.”

How BacklotCars ships cars in wholesale

Before Super Dispatch helped BacklotCars post loads and match carriers, auto transportation could take 10-14 days. With Super Dispatch, 80% of loads dispatched through Backlot are delivered in less than seven days, and 65% are delivered in less than five.

The BacklotCars sales team has successfully leveraged the reduced transport time to appeal to a wider range of customers.

“In sales when they’re promoting, they say ‘Hey, we can get your cars to you in 3-4 days.’ That’s a big promotion for people that are in our buy space,” Sean said.

That’s because Super Dispatch cuts their manual work in half by integrating with BacklotCars backend marketplace technology. Now, they only need to enter information for a car once – in their own system. Once that car is sold, its information is sent to Super Dispatch through the seamless API integration.

Super Dispatch cuts their manual work in half by integrating with BacklotCars backend marketplace technology.

From there, the BacklotCars team organizes the individual vehicles and send load offers to preferred carriers within their network.

“It just auto-posts everything the minute [a car] sells, because it’s already out there…we shoot it straight over to Super Dispatch.”

The connection to the API means that BacklotCars can offer loads to trusted carriers without ever calling them – instead, the carrier gets a text and email with the load information, which they can choose to accept.

If a load can’t be taken by their preferred carrier, they can still avoid the cumbersome load-posting process on Central Dispatch.Super Dispatch API makes it easy to post to Central Dispatch when you need.

The connection to the API means that BacklotCars can offer loads to trusted carriers without ever calling them.

Also, the logistics team can easily determine if a car was damaged in transport by reviewing the electronic Bill of Lading and inspection photos. Plus they can give ETAs to customers when loads are automatically marked as picked up or delivered.

“First thing I do every morning is I track vehicles that are assigned to specific carriers. Let’s say they were supposed to be picked up over the weekend, let’s say there was an issue and it didn’t get picked up, I see that,” Sean says of the Super Dispatch dispatching tool. “So we can communicate that quickly with our customers.”

What’s next for BacklotCars?

Because Sean and Julie no longer spend their entire day posting loads to load boards, they can focus on other things; expanding their transport region, optimizing trade routes and creating carrier contacts.

“On the accounting side we went from about 9 hours of paperwork to about 15 minutes,” Sean said. “As far as the load posting, if we had 50 cars to post, I would post from when I got to work to when I left.”

“I did other things in between, but most of that time I spent posting. Now I don’t post anything. It’s out there already. I’m able to look at new routes, create partnerships with new carriers. Things like that.”

In the next year, Backlot hopes to reduce 80% of their loads to a 5 day turnover time.

Super Dispatch is planning big things for 2019 as well.

Eventually, Super Dispatch will be an end-to-end unified vehicle shipping platform for car haulers, shippers and brokers, which will enable better communication throughout the entire industry.

In the near future, Super Dispatch will become the largest vehicle shipping platform – for brokers, carriers and shippers alike. The largest network of car haulers, shippers brokers will be available in Super Dispatch’s Broker and Carrier TMS. Through tools like our Smart LoadBoard and Carrier Vetting, our platform will automate, digitize and provide visibility into the entire vehicle shipping process, all within one system.

Eventually, Super Dispatch will be an end-to-end unified vehicle shipping platform for car haulers, shippers and brokers, which will enable better communication throughout the entire industry.

 

Conversations at Manheim Kansas City

To stay close to our customers and the car hauling industry in general, Super Dispatch regularly steps out of the office to ask people what they think: about our product, about the industry, or about anything that is topical for the people we create our product for. This week at Manheim Kansas City, we spoke with Dan, Owner Operator of DHI and Ty, CEO/Owner Operator of Cars on the Move:

Who are you and what is your company?

DAN: My name is Dan, from DHI. I own 3 trucks, I’m a fleet owner. I’ve been doing this for 8 years. I got into car hauling because I wanted to be home more. [laughs] I truly did. I did this because I owned an environmental cleanup company for the government. I owned a construction company. I did that for 12 years. I was on the road, Monday – Friday every week, so I looked at stuff and that’s how I got into it. It was supposed to be just me, one truck one trailer, that’s it. Now I got three of them, and I’m looking for a fourth. Ty is number four [laughs.]

What’s the hardest thing about the industry so far?

DAN: [laughs] I can’t say that…Probably fuel increases. I don’t know, it’s gotten kind of cut throat. What do you think, Ty?

TY: There’s nothing easy about this job.

DAN: Guys don’t work together anymore, like they used to when I first started. And I haven’t been in it for that long. Ty has been in it for a lot longer. But I don’t think guys work together as much as they used to.

Do you have an example?

DAN: Oh, I do. But I’m not going to… 

TY: Yeah, stay out of politics.

DAN: Yeah, the thing is about car hauling…is if you make a bunch of enemies…it’s a small circle. Yeah, there’s a lot of people that don’t know each other and if you start screwing up that circle… Oh yeah. It’s a tight-knit group. It’s a niche market. So you don’t want to make a bunch of enemies.

So Ty, you have worked here longer…how long have you been in?

TY: 19 years.

DAN: See? I told you, I’m just a punk, a little rookie! This guy is a legend.

TY: Yeah, I drive. I got a truck…a big rig. [laughs] I got a big one. That’s not quite as nice as the other 20 big rigs semis I had. I had a fleet of 20 new Peterbilt’s, sold out and I’m now starting over with one not so new big rig.

So do you also agree that is the hardest part of the industry? The lack of camaraderie?

Ty Thompson DHI Car Haulers Super Dispatch Manheim conversation eBOL app

Ty of Cars on the Move explains a point to Super Dispatch on the Kansas City Manheim car lot on November 8, 2018. Dan and Ty are Owner Operators and seasoned Car Haulers.

TY: I think that’s the biggest one.

DAN: That makes a big difference. Life is a lot better if everyone gets along, right? I don’t know, what do you think the hardest thing about car hauling is?

TY: It’s all the new apps – that are gonna fix everything. Like Super Dispatch! [laughs] Here’s another app, that will make it better. I’m into relationships. I miss that, I miss the relationships.

DAN: To me, what Ty said, that’s really accurate. I think we get away from talking to our customers, more now. They say “here you go, here’s the load – it’s all on your app.” And we don’t talk no more. We used to talk all the time. I mean this load here… I’ve had to work to get it loaded, and I don’t even know the customer.

And you used to know the customer?

DAN: Well, we did. It was on paper, so it was more personal. You used to walk in, and say “I need your signature” now it’s like walk in and you barely get your phone back.

TY: And you know, the network that you’re talking about is…it’s exactly right. It is a network. The problem is if you minus the people – what kind of network do you have? I’ve just got an app. That’s all.

DAN: Right. I don’t like it because I’ve had problems with other companies with apps. You know what I mean. I’ve companies where I do their app, and it is required to get delivered, and then when it comes time to get paid, all of a sudden “oh our app went down…you need to get a bill of lading signed.” Like what? That load was last week…Yeah I mean lucky for me I don’t get hurt, because it’s been mostly Kansas City and St. Louis where I run a lot. But it’s like…I can’t get that paper now. I’m a fan for and against apps, you know. They help and they hurt.

TY: I mean Super Dispatch app, or any app, it’s always okay. But it’s like – what happened to picking up the phone? I miss that.

DAN: Yeah I like that. I mean, It’s good for my biggest customer. Can you imagine all the Bills of Lading I’d have? All the stacks of paper? Because with my company, we do about 5-600 a month for one customer. So the app works good, for them. That’s handy.

TY: Yeah, plus you can still go in there and talk to them.

DAN: Yeah, but it would be hard to keep track of all that paper.

So maybe it’s better for existing relationships, but for new ones it’s almost made it worse?

DAN: It can. And you know, some of these guys are old school. I say I’m right on the cusp of the technology. I can really have a hard time with it, or I can make it real easy. But I got one driver, he’s a great driver, doesn’t tear anything up, but he struggles with it, in his 50s. There’s no doubt in my mind…you know I’ve never had to call that guy to see if he needs help, if he is going to make it to work on time or whatever – like I have with other people [laughs] – but he struggles with the technology side.

TY: And that’s what’s crazy too. You know there is a driver shortage, let’s make it worse by making it harder for the old guys.

DAN: Yeah, that’ll keep them!

We really enjoyed speaking with Dan and Ty (among a few other car haulers that we at Manheim Kansas City this week.) Tell us in the comments what your biggest challenge in the industry has been. Do you agree with them that camaraderie has broken down in the last decade? Or are all the apps what bothers you? Or is there something else?

Let us know! As always, thanks for reading.

Manheim Kansas City. Super Dispatch is the best eBOL and VIN scanner of any car hauler TMS

Super Dispatch has the best VIN scanner of any car hauler mobile app around. Click on this photo to download the free mobile app and TMS to test our text, barcode and QR code scanner.

 

 

TOP 8 things car haulers need to know before getting insurance

Your insurance is as important as buying or financing your truck and trailer, like we covered in our last posts. Because car hauling insurance can differ greatly from traditional truck insurance, Super Dispatch found an expert to help explain the process.

Brian Riker owns Fleet Compliance Solutions, which is a trucking consultancy that specializes in car hauling and towing. Due to his 30 years of experience in the truck and towing industry, he can help any new Owner Operator get their authority and wade through compliance violations.

Here are the 8 things Brian thinks are most important when shopping for truck, trailer and cargo insurance policies.

1. Read your policy well

Comprehensive cargo insurance is really what makes or breaks a car hauler with a brand new authority. But with all three of your insurance policies (truck, trailer, and cargo insurance) make sure to read your policy WELL. Ask questions like:

  • What is your monthly cost?
  • What is your deductible?
  • What does it cover?
    • Acts of god?
    • Collision?
    • Does it have Auto Hauler Constructive Total Loss?
    • Does it cover over-height loads?
    • Does it cover diminished value?
    • Does it cover burglary or vandalism?
  • Restrictions on coverage?
    • What ISN’T covered?

If you can’t read a policy inside and out, you might need to revisit being an owner-operator or get a consultant like Brian Riker. He sees the same situation happen over and over again with specialized freight haulers.

“One guy gets quoted $25,000 and the next guy gets $10,000. They think they have same coverage because they have the same million-dollar public liability for $100,000 cargo,” He says. “But what they don’t realize is that one of those policies might have a high deductible. Or one of those policies might have a lot of exclusions. So you really need to look at your policy to make sure it’s covering what you need.”

2. Make sure you have relevant car hauling experience

Brian Riker Super Dispatch Insurance quotes car hauler

Brian Riker, owner of Fleet Compliance Solutions

Most insurance companies won’t touch a new trucker unless they have had at least two years of driving experience with a fairly clean record. But car hauling is not like hauling general freight, and thus the insurance market for car haulers isn’t the same either. “Relevant experience” is one of the biggest factors in determining the price of insurance – emphasis on relevant. If you are a trucker with plenty of experience in general freight driving a dry van – don’t think that will cut it. Even with a decade of experience, general freight means little to a car hauling insurance agent

That’s because the defining traits of car hauling are: open air cargo, the need for chains and straps to secure and a hard to maneuver trailer. This kind of freight is higher liability and requires skilled maneuvering.

“To show that you have relevant experience, you need show you have operated open-deck carriers.” Riker says. “Like flat beds or low boys hauling equipment. And if you can document that, you can get more affordable insurance.”

3. Credit is a bigger factor than anything

“It shouldn’t be, but it is,” Brian says.

Insurance is ultimately a bet that you won’t cost your insurer more money in an accident than you can pay in premiums. Which means your credit is an important factor – they need to know you’ll pay on time and cover your deductible when the worst happens. When starting a business, good credit is necessary.

4. Watch out for towing insurance

eBOL super dispatch insurance blog car hauler Towing insurance can be problematic in a number of ways for car haulers. First, some insurance agents or groups will try to “upsell” new Owner Operators on extra towing insurance to accompany their liability and cargo insurance. This extra coverage will cost an Owner Operator more money, but basic towing insurance comes standard with many policies. An insurance agent might push for a more comprehensive towing plan because it will save an insurance company money on towing fees in the case of an accident.

Another issue is an agent issuing towing-specific insurance instead of car hauling-specific insurance. It will be cheaper, but it won’t cover nearly what is needed for a car hauler. Sure, a car hauler can operate with towing insurance but will likely be turned down by brokers and is putting himself at risk in the process.

.“It looks the same to the FMCSA on paper and it will get an operating authority,” Brian says. “But when they have an incident or they are transporting a vehicle across state lines, it may not cover your damages.”

5. Shop early, shop often

“I see guys put the cart before the horse, so to speak,” Brian says. “They’ll apply for an authority, and when they need the insurance filed, they’ll get stuck taking Progressive or what I call “providers of last resort” because they can’t find insurance anywhere else.”

Just like our first tip explained, the difference in insurance plans are up to the discretion of the agent. Shop around and gauge what your best deal is.

6. Have enough money for your deductible, always

“I charge $695 to start your initial authority, with $300 of that going to the FMCSA filing fee,” Brian says of his consultancy. So, I make $395 doing all the paperwork. And there are people that have to put that on a credit card because they don’t have $700 cash or in the bank to write me a check. And they’re trying to start a brand-new trucking company.”

This should be a given for all financial aspects of your new business, but always have cash in the bank for unexpected problems. Especially in car hauling where the liability is high, have at least the amount of your deductible in the bank at all times. Yes – that’s means at least $5,000- $10,000.

7. Stay away from captive agents

Much like “Shop Early, Shop Often” you must also “Shop Variety,” according to Brian Rikers.

“Stay away from the guy who can only write Progressive or can only write Farmer’s. You want to go to a “multi-line” agent because they can go shop among dozens of different companies to find you the best,” Brian advises. “And he’s the one who will probably choose from different underwriters what gets you the best rate.”

8. Have a plan

Brian Rikers is a person that helps Owner Operators plan, so that’s  his ultimate advice for new Owner Operators – make a plan for every aspect of your business,not just insurance.

“Have some customers ready, don’t just expect to get loads off the broker boards. Have an idea at least where you are going to get your customers, and have money in the bank,” Brian says. “Have cash put away. Don’t get in a hurry when you want to start your own company.”

Was there anything you wanted to know about insurance that we didn’t cover? Do you want to know more about deductibles or captive agents or the different types of insurance? Let us know in the comments!

 

Super Dispatch listens to feedback at AHAA

The bi-annual Auto Haulers Association of America Conference was in Fernandino Beach, FL. this fall, and Super Dispatch was happy to be in attendance for the second time ever.

Earlier this spring, we made a blog post about the ultimate takeaways our company had from the AHAA conference. The key difference between the fall and the spring was the amount of in-depth feedback we were able to get from all of the carriers at the conference. In the spring, we walked away from AHAA with a lasting impression about how time consuming it is for carriers to run a car hauling enterprise. This fall, our biggest takeaway was the extensive feedback we got on how carriers business needs change as they scale up. We were happy to hear that carriers really appreciate how focused Super Dispatch is on implementing their feedback, and we were surprised that it was not more common place.

Trucks and Trailers: financing as an Owner Operator

Financing your Car Hauler Dreams

If you just decided to make the jump into your own operating authority, you know money is a primary hurdle. Specifically, finding out where to get it.

You might’ve scrounged up the money for a CDL, training and testing. Now you can take the extra thousands you have laying around to buy yourself a shiny new truck to start hauling with, right?

Of course not! Here in America straight cash will get you anywhere you want – but 20 or 30,000 is a lot to cough up all at once. That’s why we have financing options. So how does a car hauler get the best deal possible, without being swindled?

What you need to finance a truck and trailer

 “You will need to have a minimum 2 years of experience driving.”

Ziggy, a sales rep at Arrow Truck Sales with 20 years of experience in the trucking industry, says that financing a truck and trailer is not for the faint of heart.

“You will need to have a minimum 2 years of experience driving,” says Ziggy. “That means they will pull your CDL and check your haul references to verify that experience.”

In addition to having a long driving record, you will need to put down at least 20% upfront and maintain a good credit score.

“I can get deals done with credit below 600,” Ziggy says about credit. “But you will end up paying thousands more and have to move through a secondary market.”

While credit score is the primary factor in financing your truck, companies like Arrow do watch out for other signs of bad credit.

“We work hard to work with all states and types of credit history,” Ziggy says of Arrow Truck Sales. “But If you have 2 bankruptcies, 3 repossessions and can only put 5% down…you’re not going to get financed here.”

Some factors – such as repossession – weigh heavier against your chances of getting a loan than a lower down payment.

How do I know if it’s a good deal?

“There is no such thing as a bumper to bumper warranty in commercial trucking.”

Unlike Consumer equipment, there are few financial protections in place for Commercial equipment once a contract has been signed. But there are signs Commercial Operators can be aware of before committing.finance truck trailer car hauler

“There is no such thing as a bumper to bumper warranty in commercial trucking,” Ziggy quips.

Former truck salesmen at Super Dispatch expressed the exact same sentiment.

“Just read your contract,” Ziggy stresses. “Because the contract is going to specify exactly what is covered and what is not…., people will compare it to a new car. And the only conversation that is said about the warranty is when the customer asks ‘hey, doesn’t this have a warranty?’ and the salesperson says ‘yes, a brand new warranty.’ And because of the ads on the radio, they think it means bumper to bumper coverage. They didn’t say that. There is no such thing as bumper to bumper coverage in semi truck land.”

A Consumer Protection lawyer in Kansas City, Bryce Bell, has a few suggestions on auto loans that are applicable to commercial financing.

“Bait and switch financing agreements are a big one,” Bryce says. Bait and switch is a tactic where a salesperson “pre-approves” the percent of a lease agreement (say, 10%) on the spot, pending some official approval from the bank. This makes the consumer feel like they already have a great deal on a new car. Then a week later, the sales team calls back saying the bank didn’t approve it at 10%, but the dealership found another place that could approve it on the spot for 20%. Now the customer is more likely to accept this bad offer, because for a week they were sure it was as good as bought.

Beware of red flags before you sign the contract.

“Be sure to read the fine print of everything 5 times before you sign anything,” Ziggy says. “Any contract comes down to – if you signed it, you own it. If you were foolish enough to sign something that you didn’t understand – especially a 14 page document – then shame on you.”

How to keep a truck and trailer

Finally, once you have the truck, how do you make sure you keep up on those payments? Trucks aren’t going to run themselves (yet.)

Ziggy (as well as many Super Dispatch customers) says the most common problem a trucker faces is unexpected maintenance costs.

“The new trucks due to the government regulations, they have really screwed trucking up in the last 20 years. All the new pollution control stuff just wreaks havoc. Your truck can be running fine, your truck will be going down the road and all of a sudden there’s a little light on your dashboard that says check engine, check engine. Back in the old days, the only thing you had to know was, do I have oil, air, temperature? If the answer was ‘yes,’ you kept on trucking. Nowadays, that little yellow light… says ‘no, you’re going to the shoulder of the road, right now.’ And that’s going to cost you $4,500.”

If you’re an Owner Operator, try saving 5% of every load or a portion of your monthly income for future maintenance costs.

How have you financed your truck? What was your experience? Let us know below!

 

What kind of trailer should a beginning car hauler get?

Deciding your truck and trailer combination can be tough for beginning car haulers. Should you choose a tractor and double decker trailer? Do you get a Ford F450 and a wedge? These questions require a lot of thought. For a first time hauler, it is hard to make a decision. At Super Dispatch, we think the most important consideration for a beginning car hauler is trailer capacity.

How to decide what trailer size to buy

We created a flowchart to help you choose the best size trailer.

“Do you have a CDL?” is the most important question to start with:

Super Dispatch trailer CDL new to car hauling

 

Clearly, most of this decision will rest on the type of cargo you decide to haul. In this industry, certain cargo goes best with only certain kinds of trailers.

Best trailers for different kinds of car hauling

  • New cars are a high volume market and require larger trailers manned by experienced haulers.
  • The exotic car hauling market prefers enclosed trailers for extra protection.
  • Personal Vehicles shipping requires residential delivery so smaller trailers (attached to trucks instead of tractors) are more commonly used.
  • Tractors have fifth wheel steering and air brakes and thus can only be driven by CDL licensed commercial drivers.
  • Airport vehicle moves are some of the highest volume section of the industry, which requires large trailers (7-11 car haulers.)
  • Inoperable cars usually require forklifts to be moved, and can not be easily put on large double decker trailers.

The best all- around car hauling trailer

If you still aren’t sure what kind of hauling you will do, there are versatile trailers. Joey Slaughter, owner of Blue Ridge Transport LLC and author of The Beginner’s Guide To Auto Transport, suggests that new drivers buy trucks with 3 car wedge trailers.Super Dispatch BOL eBOL buying a trailer car hauler

“If you’re just beginning and have no equipment, I suggest starting with a three-car wedge trailer,” he writes. “It’s a reasonably inexpensive way to get into the auto transport business. I bought a new, three car trailer for approximately $7,000 and a used Dodge 3500 dually for $18,000 when I started. It’s easy to keep a three car trailer full, plus it’s a lot easier to maneuver in residential areas where a lot of deliveries are made.”

Super Dispatch’s product manager Vin agrees with Joey. He started hauling on a three car wedge in 2012, because of the easy profit margin.“If you can start with a three car, the first two cars will cover the cost of operation, and the third car is complete profit,” Vin says. Generally, only experienced car haulers can drive large capacity trailers. But do well hauling 3 and 4 cars at a time, and you will level up to hauling 7 or 11 cars quickly.

Stay tuned next week for our second piece about buying trailers! We will cover financing options, red flags to look out for and best buying practices.

A Guide to Shipping a Vehicle: a shipper’s perspective.

Not so long ago, I was reading car hauling-related blogs on Medium, and came across “A Guide to Shipping a Vehicle” by Brenden Mulligan.

He described his first experience ever shipping a vehicle across the country. And it was not great. He starts:

“I recently shipped a car across the country for the first time. My car ended up showing up filthy in darkness with $2,500 in damage which I didn’t see until the next day.

It was a confusing thing to set up. I imagine many people shipping cars have never done it and probably won’t need to do it again. So basically, the industry can take advantage of first timers.

Here are some things I wish I’d done differently.

  1. Don’t use Montway. I don’t have any other company recommendations for you, but I used Montway and they were awful to deal with.

  2. Decide if you want open or closed transport. Open means the car will get very dirty, but it’s a lot less expensive and generally more available. Closed means the car is inside a container. I wish I would have done closed only so when the car arrived, it was clean.

  3. Have the person on the pickup side take a zillion photos, send you a list of any and all damage that the vehicle had at pickup, and a photo of the pickup Bill of Lading, which is the document that is used to state the condition of the car. Know this inside and out so when it arrives, you know what damage is new.”photo inspection ship a vehicle BOL eBOL Super Dispatch car haulers

With just one experience in this industry, an individual vehicle shipper is advocating exactly a technology like what Super Dispatch offers.

Though his experience is from a completely different perspective than what we normally hear at Super Dispatch, he came to the same conclusion we have. Mulligan not only advises direct contact with the Carrier, but also photo inspections, and checking in on the location of your shipment. Our focus was on fixing the communication problems and headaches for the Carrier. But in doing so, we have begun to fix the problems on the shipper’s side as well.

Continue reading the rest of the article over at Medium….

 

Do Car Haulers Need a CDL?

Do I need a CDL with just a truck and flatbed trailer?

What are the CDL weight requirements for a car hauler?

Do I have to have CDL to haul 3 cars?

What is the maximum weight I can haul with a topkick and 40ft trailer?

I’m new to car hauling where do I start?

Hi, I’m new to car hauling-I’m looking to get a 1 or 2 car hauler to start, any suggestions?

These are some common questions that we get in the support window here at Super Dispatch. Because we have some former car haulers in our team, we decided to do a little overview of CDL steps and requirements.

A Commercial Driver’s License is a similar process to getting your regular driver’s license. You have to register within a certain state (where you reside,) you must prove your knowledge on a written permit test, hold a Commercial Driver Learner Permit for a period of time, and then perform a physical driving test.

Can I start hauling cars in ____ trailer without a CDL?

Depending on what kind of car hauling you do, you do not need a CDL to haul cars. Commercial Driver’s Licenses are designed to train commercial employees to drive heavy, oblong vehicles. Yes, there are trailers – like 2 and 3 car wedges – that are below the CDL weight requirement rules.

Rarely can we answer a weight requirement related question for someone – all vehicles and trailers have different GVWR and GCWR. No one but your truck and trailer will have these answers.

I often think that what people are really asking is “Should I start hauling cars without a CDL?”

This of course, we can’t answer either.

Do I need a Class A CDL to haul ____ truck and trailer?

While CDLs come in many classifications, Car Haulers need not worry about any classes or endorsements outside of a Class A CDL. Class A is the heaviest class of CDL, and thus the best fit for car haulers:

Class A CDL: Any combination of vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.

With a Class A certification, you can haul cars in a 50ft wedge all the way up to a 7 or 9 car trailer. If you aren’t sure what kind of trailer you will drive, or you aim to eventually be an O_O, this class is a must.

In Missouri (where Super Dispatch is based) obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License of any class at the DMV costs around $100 once it’s all said and done. Of course, actually paying for the license is the cheapest part of this process.

Can you get your cdl without going to truck driving school?

By this point in the CDL process, you might have noticed something: truck driving school is expensive. Whether it’s a single class, a semester or a community college – it can cost around $3,000.

This CDL thing is a huge barrier to entry!

The short answer is yes, in most states you can take both the CDL permit test and the physical driving test without paying for a trucking school. Most states will not require you to prove any sort of formal education.

Consider though, that going into any test completely blind is a bad idea.

There are some low cost options for the written and physical tests. Tom Stec, Super Dispatch customer and owner of Fury Transport LLC. in New Jersey studied for the written CDL permit test for free. To prepare for the written test, he simply read the New Jersey CDL Manual “cover to cover.”

“I prefer to read but others have watched YouTube videos and that worked better for them. There are even Apps for your phone that are in quiz format. Some people praise those because they don’t like reading,” he said.

Stec got lucky, because he was able to practice the physical driving test with his truck-driver father with his large trailer.

There are also companies and schools where you can schedule “practice tests” using your own equipment (or theirs) for a few hundred dollars. This allows you to get into a testing situation without paying thousands for multiple classes.

Most experienced car haulers scoff at the idea of classes; you can’t learn in a class, only in the field.

Do you need to test in the same vehicle that you will drive in?

Different people will say different things. The Missouri Highway Patrol (the department that runs Missouri CDL tests) says that you only need to prove your knowledge in a truck of the right classification. This means you could plan to car haul, but take a class or pass the test using a dry van. Remember though, a Ford F450 with the right trailer might be a Class A, but it won’t have air brakes, 5th wheel or a manual transmission. So you might walk out with a Class A CDL with air brake, 5th wheel and manual restrictions.

According to some of our customers, there is not much of a difference between car hauling trailers and traditional dry van.

“There’s no difference,” Tom Stec said. “We need a Class A (truck and trailer with air brake) You need additional endorsements for Tanker(hazmat),Passenger(bus), and doubles/triple trailers. We don’t need any of these additional endorsements but it looks good on your resume when applying for driving jobs!”

Prior to CDL Permit Test, you should:

  1. Obtain a valid federal MER MCSA-5875 form and Medical Examiner’s Certificate Form, (MEC) MCSA- 5876.
  2. Fill out a CDL application form specific to your state
  3. Study your state’s CDL Manual
  4. Take the CDL written permit test at a DMV

After acquiring your permit:

  1. Determine what kind of tractor / trailer combo you plan to pull
  2. Find a CDL trainer or a car hauling mentor
  3. Practice during the required time period in between your Permit and CDL test
  4. Learn every function and button about your truck / tractor / trailer

To prepare for your CDL:

  1. Get a mentor or trainer, or go to a CDL school to practice physical driving
  2. Practice:
    • Pre-trip inspection
    • Basic vehicle control
    • Road driving

CDL Super Dispatch mobile Any tips for passing driving test?

“When doing the road test, before you start driving you have to do a walk around inspection. You have to explain every single thing in detail and you can’t assume the instructor knows what you’re talking about. Picture instructor as a person who is new to trucking and you are explaining everything to them for the first time,” Stec said. “My road test instructor said that I did a better job at explaining everything than the instructors do at the CDL schools.”

Understanding the car hauling industry

So you want to be a car hauler.

You have looked at different parts of the trucking industry, you might even have your CDL. But you have settled on hauling cars: maybe because it’s profitable or because car hauling has the least red tape. It is a hard niche to get established in. But it is worth it, if you can hack it.

Industry overview:

Physically hauling cars is not the only job option in this industry. There are a variety of occupations in car hauling. Super Dispatch’s customers cover the entire industry, which is broken into three categories: shipper, broker, and carrier.

The supply of cars that need moving comes from “Shippers” and the car-movers are “Carriers.” Between these two are “Brokers.”

The Shipper:

A shipper’s primary job involves cars, but not the transport aspect. OEMs like Jeep, Mercedes, Audi are considered shippers, but dealerships and auto auctions like Manheim and Adesa are as well. While car dealerships and OEMs are huge shipping customers, “shipper” also applies to individuals shipping personal vehicles (like military families or college students.)

The Broker:

Brokers are the middle-men between shippers and carriers. Because shippers are not in auto-hauling, finding carriers is a challenge for them. Often this means shippers hand over load offers to brokers instead, who then find carriers for a “finder’s fee.” This is usually a percentage of the load price. These fees are why carriers hate brokers; they see brokerages as a necessary and expensive evil to find loads. “Brokers make car haulers broke” is one of the least colorful phrases a new car hauler will find in this industry.

There are absolutely dishonest brokerages that prey on unsuspecting carriers. But brokers need relationships just like carriers do; if a broker messes up a good relationship, his entire business is in the toilet.

Regardless, it’s common for OO’s to start out by booking any load for themselves on load boards until they find three or four trusted brokers.

Even with good brokers in the game, the goal for many carriers is to avoid them entirely. This requires a lot of planning and work, but it can be done.

Big car hauling brokers: A1 Auto Transport, Metrogistics, United Road, Montway.

The Carrier

If you’re here, you know who a carrier is and what he does. But you might not know that not all car-carrying is created equal! There are about three job options for drivers:

Company drivers –

Company drivers are employees, usually of larger companies with anywhere from 10 – 500 trucks. You may have heard of big companies like Swift. Companies like Swift employ a majority of drivers in the industry. This form of employment is ideal for new drivers; the pay and benefits are okay but the work is consistent and drivers are not liable for damages. Sometimes, these companies will pay for CDL schooling and driving practice in exchange for work contracts or payment programs.

Fleets: Jack Cooper, United Road

Sub-ContractorsSuper Dispatch Car Hauler Transportation Management System Business

Contract work is a step above fleet driving in terms of freedom, but it is not necessarily the same thing as owning your own trucking company.

A common situation today is a driver leases his truck from a huge company like A1 Auto Transport and Ready Logistics. That same company will employ him as a “contract” or “sub-contract” worker (1099 IRS form.) Technically, this driver should be able to refuse load offers without any troubles from his leasing company. He also should be able to run loads from any other company or load board (within reason.) This is another way car haulers lose money.

On paper, 1099 workers get paid a higher dollar per mile than W-2 employees, but they get none of the benefits awarded to company drivers. This means that after expenses (gas, maintenance, health insurance, liability insurance, trailer lease payment, self-employment tax) the pay-per-mile decreases significantly. In many cases, 1099 contract workers end up with significantly lower take home pay than an employee driver.

This is profitable for huge companies to make rental money off of their equipment (much like a landlord with a rental property) while also getting drivers to move freight without paying employment taxes, health insurance or liability insurance.

Much like other professions, contract truck driving rarely benefits new and inexperienced workers. This type of work is only meant for an expert driver who can effectively run a business.

Common contracting companies: Accelerated Services

Owner Operators

Having your own authority is the driving life to which many car haulers aspire. You act as a dispatcher and a driver, find your own loads and drive wherever you choose. You choose what rates to accept on whichever load boards you want and what freight to haul.

How is being an owner operator different from contract work? Mostly, there is no 1099 contract with a company. This is the ultimate goal for drivers because it requires you to be a 100% independent business. Many companies will call their contractors “owner operators.” Though it might be technically true, owner operators and contractors have small but important differences. In this industry, owning your truck outright or leasing it from a company that is different than your load contract is the primary difference between OO’s and Contractors.

Owner Operators: Alpha Elite Transport, EM Logistics / Exotic Cars Midwest, Dailey Transport  are just a few of the Owner Operators that use Super Dispatch’s car hauling dispatch software to run their small businesses

Anything we forgot? Let us know in the comments!

Tune in for our next “New To Car Hauling” articles:

  • Car Hauling Certifications and Driving School
  • Deciding on a trailer type
  • Trailer insurance quotes
  • Making a car hauling business plan
  • Getting your own authority
  • Deciding on an ELD
  • Maintenance considerations
  • How to find loads