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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!