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Reasons Why Car Haulers Fail

The money is there if a driver will go where it is!!!

This page might be more aptly named the "RANT AND RAVE" page, but hey a guy has to vent somewhere right? 

If there is a topic that you would like to see a RANT AND RAVE about send me an email through the contact page and I will see what I can do. Or send me one of your own RANTS and as long as it is clean and on topic I will post it for others to see.

From the years I’ve been in the auto transport industry, I’ve seen dozens of car haulers who want to make it in the car hauling industry / business try but only end up failing.  Is failure a bad thing? Not exactly.  Sometimes it is our failures that bring us to greater success.  Failure is somewhat like a “school” that teaches us lessons we wouldn’t learn elsewhere.  Yet it is up to the “student” to learn and accept the lesson.  Back to car hauling.  Why do many not make it?  Plain and simple: they simply fail to learn their lessons and they fail to listen to those in the industry telling them how to succeed.  Hauling cars, like any other business, has its rules and ways of doing things.

So why do car haulers go out of business?

1.  They fail to learn from others.  As an independent auto transport dispatch agent, I take the time to educate my drivers.  Unfortunately not all listen, or better put, most don’t listen.  I think, too much, drivers get in the business with skewed expectations about the business and proceed doing things they deem right regardless of what experienced drivers try to tell them.  That is where disaster begins.  The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about learning from others.  Proverbs 15:22, “Plans fail for lack of counsel…”, Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction…”  You can’t last for too long if your pride, ego and ambitions prevent you from learning and making necessary changes.

2.  They fail to operate with integrity and honesty.  Yes, honesty is a vague term and is applicable in every other business.  However, I don’t think I’ve came across more liars than in the auto transport industry.  I see it everywhere, every day.  Drivers lie about vehicle damages, truck break downs (that never happen), running late, not picking up cars in the first place, and the list goes on.  I won’t even start about the brokers.  What these people fail to realize is that lies do catch up to you.  See point number one.  Sooner or later lies, like dominoes, will come falling down.  There are many reasons why certain people lie.  Some are driven by greed, and will do anything for an extra buck.  Others are simply unorganized, and use lies to “clean up” their mess.  And this leads me to point 3.

3. They fail to COMMUNICATE!!!!  We know much about honest communication.  But there is so much more to communication that many don’t realize.  Many drivers and business owners need to know how to communicate well about the PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE.  For example, if a driver has something that came up and as a result foresees possible conflict, everyone needs to know about it BEFORE hand.  Knowing about a problem and informing others at a later time is NOT exactly good communication.  As an auto transport dispatcher, there is nothing worse than hearing about issues from customers/dealers/brokers and not being aware of anything myself.   Even something as simple as a text message from a driver about an issue would normally  be enough for me to let the broker know about a delay and possible change of schedule.  Problem solved.  Well, somewhat.  The lesson is very simple: communicate, communicate, communicate!  About EVERYTHING.

4. Sometimes an O/O will have a predetermined rout or small regional area that they want to operate in and even though you try to explain to them that the dollar signs they are seeing will not be in their bank account unless they are willing to go where the money is and are willing to haul what pays, even if they have to drive a few miles to pick it up, they insist on sticking with their predetermined area or route and then are upset when they can't make the money they want and need. Drivers get upset when they want to run these small routs and just don't understand that when they set so many restrictions on what they will haul and where they will go that we (the dispatchers) can't produce cars out of thin air. We can only call about what is showing on the load boards and then a large portion of those are, for various reasons, unavailable or the driver refuses car after car. It is a good idea for a driver to try doing their own dispatching for awhile before hiring a dispatch service so that they (the driver) understands what it takes to book a load. 

 I receive dozens of calls from drivers who want to know about my services. Q; Can you keep me loaded? A;  Yes! Q; What will I make per mile? A; That depends on how many cars you can haul and what you are willing to haul and where you are willing to go. Q;  How often will I be home? A; As often as you choose to be. I work for you. Q; Can I make a living with a pickup truck and a three car trailer? A; Not a very good one but to what level is the same as the answer to "how much will I make per mile" but it adds two more factors. How hard are you willing to work and how well do you manage your time and coordinate deliveries and pickups. What I have found is that there are two kinds of drivers out there. Drivers who are destined to make it and drivers who are on there way to failure and don't even know it unless they change their ways. I can usually tell which one is which within the first few days of dispatching. One of the biggest indicators of impending failure is someone who refuses to or simply cannot communicate effectively. I have drivers out there everyday doing the same thing as every other driver yet one driver will consistently answer the phone, text or email in a timely manner. Others take hours to answer if they ever do. The one who cannot or refuse to communicate are failing already. I see it over and over and it is just a matter of time until these driver are out of the business and the sad thing is they don't understand why they failed. The failed to listen, learn and COMMUNICATE!!!! There is an old saying that says "you can lead a horse to water but you cant make him drink". This is so true in the car hauling world. 

  Successful drivers call my dispatcher and say "When I pull out Monday morning I can stay out (specified amount of time). Where will I be going and what am I hauling?" This leaves my dispatcher free to find them the best paying loads for the entire time that the driver is out.

  Then there are drivers who may be surviving but are not thriving and have a very high attrition rate and will make the same phone call but what they say is very different. Listen in to this phone call.  "When I pull out Monday I will be out for (specified amount of time) during that time I want to run only between (city) and (city) or (specific state or small region) and only book (certain type of vehicle) and I don't want any vehicles that are very large because I am not "comfortable" with them and make sure they all run. I don't want to have to use a winch. Also make sure of....." and they go on and on with the restrictions. So the dispatcher gets on the load board and searches the specific rout or region specified by the driver and finds , for the sake of discussion, 12 cars. Of those 12 cars 3 of them are inops. (don't run)  Three more are large well paying units but the driver doesn't want to haul them even when the experienced dispatcher tries to tell them that the units will fit and fit legally. That leaves 6 units. Of those six the carrier is only qualified to carry 4 of them due to specific broker requirement. Of those 4 two of them are a few miles out of the way so even though they are the best paying of the few that are left the driver refuses them. "too far to drive" he says. That leaves the two worst paying cars out of the initial twelve. Now the driver has two vehicles booked and still does not have a full load. So the driver is frustrated because he is not making as much money as he was told was possible when he signed on and failed to listen and because he is not fully loaded he gets frustrated with the dispatch service. Mean while the dispatcher is shaking his head thinking "here goes another company circling the failure drain and I spent all that time and am not making the kind of money for this driver that I know could be made if this driver would just listen and GO WHERE THE MONEY IS AND HAUL WHAT PAYS" . These same drivers have a high cancellation rate for loads for a number of reasons that experienced drivers and brokers recognize an not being valid. BAD BUSINESS!!! Then the dispatcher is having to start all over on booking a new load.

  Now as I already stated, in another location on this site, I do NOT want to micro manage your company. What I do want to do is dispatch your driver in a way that will allow you to make the maximum amount of money available for the size trailer that he is pulling.  We are passionate about keeping your trailer loaded with the biggest and best paying loads available. But we can only do this if you will GO WHERE THE MONEY IS AND HAUL WHAT PAYS. We run our trucks in this fashion and regularly and consistently make more money per year per trailer than the industry believes is possible. Because we listened to experienced drivers when we started. I have personally hauled on one load on a three car wedge two large new Holland skid steers, one Audi Avant car and a 4 door F550 diesel. Yes it was a load but it fit and it paid very good!

We have both types of drivers out there and the difference between the two is night and day. Remember we see the monthly earnings and the bottom line does not lie. You can look at the bottom line of one 3 car hauler that is around $10-12k per month. He is constantly refusing loads and canceling loads or his truck is too small and he cannot carry enough weight, or he just thinks is and is not willing to take instructions on how to load it. Then flip a page and look at the next 3 car hauler that is a $15-20k per month earner. The higher earner does not have a high refusal rate or cancellation rate nor are they running a "toy" truck (1 ton) and they asked the dispatcher to "find me a load that pays the best then tell me where I am going and what I am hauling". 

  Small example of refusing a good paying load that recently happened. My dispatcher found a load of Humvees that was the best paying load available for a new driver and would fit on his trailer. He turned the load down on the grounds that it was "too big". My dispatcher knew this was not the case because we have the same brand and size of 3 car trailer in our fleet that we have hauled 3 military Humvees on at the same time. Legally. This is just one of many examples of why drivers will fail. Refusal to haul what pays. You can be one of the "solution finding" drivers or you can be a "problem finding" driver. Our dispatchers will do their best to book loads that will keep you in the black and keep you loaded. But you have to GO WHERE THE MONEY IS AND HAUL WHAT PAYS if you want to consistently make the most money your truck and trailer is capable of and stay loaded with the loads that are available to you in the area that you are in. I had a driver on the road pulling a 50' wedge trailer with a fl60 Freightliner (probably the equivalent to a F550?) and he is grossing between $8000-$8500 consistently per 8-10 day trip. He COMMUNICATES very well, manages his time very well and never turns down a good load because he doesn't want to go where it needs to go. He GOES WHERE THE MONEY IS AND HAULS WHAT PAYS!!!

 Take a look at his rig. If you are going to use a wedge trailer for whatever reason then do yourself a favor and make sure that the truck you are pulling it with is big enough to do the job safely and effectively. This is the ideal set up with one exception. A larger sleeper would make this truck the perfect truck for this size trailer and he has the ability to upgrade to a five or even six car trailer if he wanted to without having buy another truck. What a lot of people don't understand is that you can buy a good used truck like this one for about the same money as a good "toy" truck and it will out last the "toy" truck by a long shot. 

This list is only the beginning of many things that can take a car hauler out of business.  I’ll share a lot more stories and examples from my daily work that hopefully can help you drivers out there to run a successful car hauling business.

Central Dispatch

I get a lot of questions about CD is the largest auto transport load board in the industry (someone please correct me if I am wrong) and will have anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 listings per day. A lot of people complain about CD but if you listen to the details of their complaint you will find that their complaint is with the broker or someone at the pickup or delivery location, not with CD. CD is like going to wall mart. You can buy a quality item or a cheap one. If the cheap one breaks shortly after some poor ignorant souls will blame wall mart instead of the manufacturer or end user of the item for its failure. CD is not a broker or transporter. They are simply a clearing house where brokers can list the loads they have available  and if you log on and successfully book a load then CD has done its job perfectly. If you have a problem afterwards it was not CD. Central Dispatch has been a fantastic place for us to keep multiple trucks loaded (if the drivers will let us) and with better prices if the driver is willing to GO WHERE THE MONEY IS AND HAUL WHAT PAYS. There are regions in the U.S. that everyone knows is historically low paying. Florida is one example of those. Its not CD's fault. They do not set the rates. The brokers do that and the drivers do also by excepting low paying "junk".. If you do not like the rates then simply don't book the load.  

Interesting Observations

The longer we are in the dispatching business the more we realize the old adage "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink " is so true. We have seen companies start with us and they are hungry to make money and get cars hauled. They will let us find them the best paying loads and they will get out of their "comfort zone" and "go where the money is and haul what pays". We will send them to areas that have units paying $.80 to $1.00 per mile per unit and they will make good money. Then there are others that tell us they want to make money but when we try to send them to the money they turn it down and tell us they only want to run the southern states where the low paying cars are.  Still trying to understand that one. Y'all drive safe, keep the greasy side down and keep it between the lines!

Switching From Freight Hauling to Car Hauling

Just a few thoughts based on observation about freight haulers switching over to car hauling.

As a dispatcher I have noticed a trend. I have seen freight haulers that are grade A professional drivers that drive 700 plus miles a day on a regular bases switch over to car hauling and find out that car hauling is a lot of work outside of the truck. They end up having a hard time making the transition. They are often not used to the complexities of fitting your load together and dealing with inops. These drivers can become discouraged and begin to get really picky about the type of loads/vehicles that they are willing to haul. This ends up hurting their bottom line and this makes them even more frustrated. Most of them never make the connection between their unwillingness to "Go where the money is and haul what pays" and the financial stress they are under. This is fixable but it requires a willingness to learn from those who are doing this successfully, and that is rarely being picky about your load or choosy about your routs. It also requires a willingness to work hard physically unloading and reloading your truck. Most drivers who have become accustomed to their loads being loaded for them understand that this is not going to happen in car hauling but they do not realize that sometimes you may have to unload and reload your entire load or deck in order to get that one vehicle loaded in a position that it will fit legally on your trailer, then when you are ready to unload that vehicle the process must be repeated. I can already hear the question being asked, "Well that makes no sense at all. Why not load it so that the units come off in the order of delivery?" In a perfect world that can be done but I am still trying to find that perfect world. Unfortunately you will have to rearrange your load so that you are legal height and or length wise at times and in order to do this you have to shuffle your load, sometimes repeatedly with each pickup and delivery. Then the next Einstein will pop up and say "Well just book a load that does not require you to have to do that!". It does not work that way. You will run around with a partial load because you keep turning down what is paying good because you don't want to load it or you will end up hauling something really cheap because that is what was available to you without shuffling your load. Car hauling is a lot more complicated than most people think. It is a good industry to be in but if you come into it with the idea that you are going to conform it to the way you want to do things you may end up being very disappointed, and broke. Approach car hauling with an open mind and willingness to learn from those that have been in the industry and have been succeeding. I keep hearing people on forums talking bad or very negative and discouraging about car hauling. In my opinion there are two main reasons for this.

1 They want you to stay out and therefore keep the competition down.

2 They were unwilling to "Go where the money is and haul what pays" or they did not do their research before getting into the business and bought a truck and trailer too small to do the job. 

 I hear a lot of people who do not want to haul inops. Its great if you don't have to but I have found that the haulers that do haul inops and are willing to do the extra work required will reap the rewards financially for doing so.

 Just my 2 cents for what its worth.  Drive safe!

Dispatch cars, vehicle carrier services, car transport services company