Operating a flatbed trucking business is more profitable than the dry van or reefer type of trucking business. On average trucking companies operating the flatbed loads and freight receive up to 20% higher load per mile prices. So operating in the field is a great way to increase gross income and increase the overall profit of your business.
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Over the last 10 years this flatbed type of trucking business gone through a lot of challenges but that is more or less situation with the entire trucking industry. Things are changing and that affect the flatbed trucking industry as well. But still this is the truth #1. Flatbed trucking business earns more money per loaded mile than any other type of standard trucking business.
During the entire 2015. as you all probably know there was a huge shortage of trailers on the market due to high growth of trucking business and some changes in trucking business too. In 2015. if you ordered a trailer it would take up to 12 months delivery time to get it. Those huge delivery times are now behind us and you can find a lot of trailers few months old or a year old for a cheap price.
Simply said trucking business faces a low season and there is huge supply of the almost new trailers of the market because there is nothing to carry. No goods means no demand for loads and that causes a lot of available trailers. But there is some signs of improvement with this first days of spring – I see that trucking industry is waking up and that it is way easier to cover the trucks today compared to the situation a month ago.
Everything that is good has a bad side. But in this particular case I would say that it is not that bad as may look on first sight. At this moment you can get a deal for a dry van trailer in the area of $26k for trailer. That amount of money would probably get you a Hyundai trailer but for the additional 5k you can go into wider choice of trailers and get yourself a better quality one.
Flatbed trailer will cost you even double so you can expect something in the area of $55k or more. They start at $50k but with additional upgrades you can take the price up to $70k. It looks like it is a lot of money but I assure you that calculation is on your side.
Let’s take a closer look on a 5 year base with 120k miles driven a year/truck how it looks:
Cost: $25.000 More to buy a trailer or $5.000 Extra Cost Per Year
Benefit: Additional $24.000 Income/year compared to Dry Van Trailer
Depending of the good loaded and carried sometimes to make sure you have a full insurance coverage you will need to buy additional insurances policies. Carrying a flatbed load is way more risky compared to the standard dry van and for that reason you need increased coverage protection in case something unwanted happens.
Being exposed to all kind of different outside factors like thieves or weather makes this type of loads more vulnerable and exposed to potential load damages and wreck. For that reason insurance wants you to pay more money for your annual insurance policy but not just that broker will require that as well to make sure you are 100% covered before they give you any loads.
Dealing with special kind of loads is not an easy task for unexperienced truck driver especially having in mind that in a lot of cases you are carrying goods that are very expensive and not easy to handle. Special tasks that may come up during driving and pick up, delivery is not a place where lack of focus can live.
100% concentration and 100% focus is mandatory during the entire load driving and only the best an experienced truck drivers are able to handle this so I want to want you all trucking companies owners to give these kind of loads to your best drivers. And don’t forget to award them after doing a good job 🙂
Another thing to have in mind is that it will take you a lot more time to pick up the load and onboard it on the trailer. It is not easy to do it and drivers need to have a big role in this to makes sure everything is done perfectly.
Another disadvantage of this extended pick up and delivery times is that the more time you spent loading and delivering trucks the less time you are driving. If the driver is paid by the mile driven then there is a chance that you can very quickly have an unhappy driver and you can even face that drivers will quickly leave your company.
Have this things in mind in advance and create action plan for this situations. Reward them or create some sort of combination that they are paid for delivery and pickup plus the mile they drive. This won’t cost you a lot of money but will ensure you have a satisfied and long term drivers.
Once you finally managed to onboard that load and set yourself on track and finally you hit the road there is also a thing that you will need to pull over more often just to check that everything is OK with the load. Just to make sure that belts are OK and that everything is in the place as it should be.
This kind of small checks are not talking a lot time but still you can lose a few minutes here and a few minutes there and total time required to make sure everything is fine accumulates to half an hour. Half an hour of checking if the load is OK is 30 miles wasted if you were driving. Have this fact in mind too when negotiating the flatbed load price.
And that is another fact to have in mind. Pickup time is not just the time required to onboard the goods on the trailer. After you pick them up you need to invest a lot of time and effort to make sure everything is secured and fixed to the trailer according to FMCSA safety regulations. If you miss to do even a one small thing you could face a potential damage to the goods you are carrying.
Perform minimum double check or even triple checks to ensure everything is done the way it is supposed to do. Some trucking companies operating in team have a practice that first one driver is double checking the load and then the second one comes and does the same double checking. This way the possibility for mistake is taken to a minimum.
Extra cost you need to handle is buying additional or extra equipment you need to be able to carry the loads across the country. Getting load from east cost to west coast and vice versa makes it exposed to all kind of different weather occasions and to make sure everything gets to the delivery place in one piece and operating like it was when you picked it up you need equipment to protect the loads like tarpaulin.
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