Commercial shipping fleets are an essential part of our country’s economy. As we’ve all recently seen, disruptions in the supply chain—particularly for the trucks that ship goods to consumers—can drastically impact the day-to-day lives of average citizens. As a commercial shipper, keeping your fleet in good condition and delivering on time is a huge responsibility and not one to be taken lightly. But when is the right time to upgrade your commercial fleet? Should you upgrade all at once or a few trucks at a time? How can you find financing for such widespread upgrades to your fleets? Keep reading to get answers to these questions and more.
When Is It Time for an Upgrade?
Many drivers take a “drive it into the ground” approach to their personal vehicles and don’t seek an upgrade until the car simply can’t provide reliable service anymore. However, that’s not exactly an option for commercial shipping fleets. Driving a semi-truck into the ground would mean being late for multiple shipments and potentially causing a major disruption in your entire fleet’s schedule.
For commercial shippers, the right time to upgrade is usually a matter of the number of miles you’ve put on your fleet. All semi-trucks are designed to provide reliable service for a certain number of miles. Even if your trucks seem to be running fine once they’ve reached that point, the odds are high that you will start seeing a lot more maintenance costs and more frequent breakdowns during shipments. Depending on the make and model of your semi, the appropriate range for replacement can be anywhere between 500,000 and 750,000 miles. While some semis can rack up over a million miles with proper maintenance, trying to hit that mark while maintaining a strict shipping schedule might be testing your luck.
How Many Trucks Should You Replace?
There’s no set answer to this question either, unfortunately. However, you should take the time to seriously consider the feasibility of replacing the majority of your fleet at once. While this represents a large investment, there are some major benefits to replacing all or most of your fleet simultaneously.
First, it helps you avoid concerns regarding favoritism among your drivers. If one driver is stuck driving a 10-year-old semi while another driver gets a new one, there may be questions as to how and why you selected certain drivers to upgrade their trucks. Additionally, replacing trucks simultaneously helps with keeping your fleet on the same maintenance and replacement schedules, making it easier to ensure every truck receives the upkeep it needs when it needs it.
Should You Replace with the Same Model?
Truckers are often creatures of habit. If they find a type of semi that they like to drive, they’re not often big fans of changing that. When it’s time to upgrade your fleet, you should take the time to talk to your drivers. Get their input on the current models they’re driving and see how they feel about switching to something new. While you obviously don’t have to choose the brand of semi that they prefer, it’s a good idea to hear what they have to say on the matter; after all, they’ll be the ones driving whichever semis you choose for your fleet.
Regardless, exploring the latest models from various manufacturers is always a good idea. Some may have made bigger strides in fuel efficiency, while others may have improved safety features. These changes to newer models may lead you to make the shift to a new brand. (And, of course, you can run the pros and cons of these new options by your drivers and see if these factors sway their opinions at all.)
Do You Need to Buy New?
There’s an obvious benefit to buying new semis: They have zero miles on them, so they’re likely to last longer. Additionally, new semis tend to have more warranty protection than used ones. However, you shouldn’t dismiss buying used semis without seriously considering your options. Used semis often still have years and hundreds of thousands of miles of service left in them, which means they can still be a smart long-term investment. With the significantly reduced price of buying used, you can replace more of your fleet at once, helping to keep your drivers happy. Plus, many used semi-dealers offer their own warranties to provide you with a little extra peace of mind when buying used ones.
How Can You Fund It?
Replacing one truck in your fleet is a decently sized investment; replacing a large portion of your fleet, or even all of your trucks is a huge financial endeavor. Even highly successful commercial shippers would have a hard time coming up with the liquid funds to pay for a total fleet upgrade. Luckily, there are options available for financing these upgrades.
Many banks offer companies business loans for upgrades like these. Business loans can be received not only for starting your business but for keeping it up and running too. If you can show a bank that your shipping company is doing well and that the investment is likely to pay for itself within the loan terms, getting financing for your shipping fleet upgrade shouldn’t be too difficult. Even easier is receiving financing through the semi-truck dealership. Many new and used semi-trucks dealers will provide in-house financing options that make it faster and easier to receive the funds you need to upgrade your fleet.
If you’re planning to upgrade your commercial shipping fleet soon, be sure to stop by Arrow Truck Sales today or search our inventory online to see what makes and models of used semis we have available. We carry semis from all of the major semi-truck manufacturers, including Peterbilt, International, Mack, Freightliner, and more. We also offer in-house financing to help you give your fleet the overhaul it needs while sticking to your business’s budget. Contact us today!