The continuation of a conversation I started in the post titled "Starting Life In A Tin Can".
This is a continuation of my comments that I posted in the installment titled, Starting Life In A Tin Can.
I advise new cargo van expediters to jump directly into the game as van owners. I say bypass driving for a fleet owner from the start. If someone were going to start new in a straight truck, I would recommend driving for a fleet owner for a while, because there are commitments with trucks that warrant a trial run before investing as an owner of the truck. With cargo vans the profit is so small it is like sharing crumbs. A van barely provides a meal for one, so splitting the profit between an owner and driver leaves a situation where it is almost guaranteed that one party is going to be on the starving end. Secondly, operating a van as an owner doesn’t require new skills to learn at the same time the new expediter is learning the basics of freight delivery. Rules of the road, licensing, registration, and maintenance are the same as any other personal vehicle; nothing new to learn. Freight delivery is easy enough to self-learn if that is the only thing a driver is having to learn.
Having said there isn’t enough money involved in expediting to split between a cargo van fleet owner and driver, fleet owners of cargo vans may be an appropriate option for certain types of driver. Sometimes there are retirees on a pension or others with an additional income stream who want to approach driving more as a hobby or a way to see the country. As long as these drivers put in the miles that keep revenues flowing to the owner, this can be a good partnership. Van fleet owners can also provide a useful service to other truck or van owners who need a vehicle to drive while waiting on their own vehicle that is in the shop for an extended period. All the other kinds of new van drivers should go straight to ownership.
I am a fan of starting out in a used van that the driver buys out right with cash. This is coming from someone who started their expediting career by buying a new Sprinter on a loan. There is even a fifty percent chance that my next vehicle will be used. The plan works something like this. I sell my personal vehicle and use the proceeds to buy a used van. The personal vehicle will wear out just about as fast as the working van, because a parked vehicle requires a lot of tender care that it won’t be getting because the owner is gone putting miles on the van. I have destroyed three vehicles by parking them for long periods of time. With cash in hand I buy the highest capacity, used van that leaves me with $3,000-$5,000 after servicing the wear parts of the vehicle and making it long haul ready. This dollar amount is bare minimum. Six month living expenses is the goal. Good-enough, used vans are found here in the ExpeditersOnline.com classified section, and places like Penske and Ryder. Formerly leased and fleet maintained vehicles seem to age more gracefully than daily rentals. That comparison would pit Penske and Ryder against a U-Haul. Last summer I spoke to a Panther driver, who was off to a perfect start in a $5000 van from a DHL auction. A way to visualize the position this Panther driver was in—the price of his van was less that one of my Sprinter repair jobs. In three to four years using the used van and cash approach, I can buy any van new or used with cash.