4° of Auto Transport Interaction. Part 2

Car DealerThe car business is such a fickle beast; sometimes it gives you nothing but lemons, but other times, you get that one gem that you know will bring in the Benjamins. I walked in the dealership early this morning wishing I was still asleep, as I always do. Little did I know, as strange as it sounds, a 24 year old college girl was about to make my day. My phone rings and when I answer the voice on the other end says, “Hey, I have a red hunk of junk that was given to me and I want to sell it. My grandfather died, left me this old car, and I just want it gone. Will you come look at it?”.

Rusted Plymouth

I arranged a time to go take a look at the car and as I headed that way I was dreading the meeting. I kept thinking how I was about to have to deal with some naïve college kid that was about to ask me for way too much money for some piece of crap vehicle I can’t do anything with; I was ever so wrong. I pulled up to her house and she explained that her grandfather had died about a month or so ago, left her this car in his will, and how she didn’t want it because her parents had just bought her a new 2014 VW Beatle which I assumed was the green waste of space she had in her drive way. She takes me to her garage and when she opened the door I became a kid in a candy store. I think I might have started drooling when I saw this car. Her “hunk of junk” was a 1970 Plymouth GTX, candy apple red, immaculate condition. GTXShe told me about how her grandpa used to spend all his free time working on this car and I realized I had stumbled on this poor old man’s pride and joy. Just when I think it can’t get any better I popped the hood to find, you guessed it, 4-barrel 440 CID Super Commando V8 engine. Once I saw that I knew I had to have this car so I asked her how much she wanted for it. She told me she owed $2,000 in tuition and if she could get that she’d be happy. As tempting as it was to give her the $2,000 I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night so I offered her 4 grand. At least that way she could pay her tuition and have some money left over for whatever college kids blow their money on, parties with her friends or maybe a lift kit for that green monster in her drive way. I paid the girl and the deal was done.


I got the car back to the dealership and cleaned her to the point where you could perform surgery on the hood, and boy was she beautiful. As tempting as it was for me to keep this baby for myself, I knew the right buyer would be willing to pay a pretty penny for this car and I could use the profits. I snapped some photos and posted her on Auto Trader Classics. And now we wait…


Top 10 Questions For Shipping A Car using a Shipping Company

shipping a car to another state

Shipping a Car is easy as 1, 2, 3 …

These days people are using online tools to ship vehicles. Often times you’re moving to another state or buying online from places like eBay. Hiring a company to transport a vehicle from A to B is much easier compared to driving the vehicle yourself. With this, certain questions start to come up. Lets take a look at some of those now.

1) Is the company licensed?

The Department of Transportation is where the auto transport service provider will need to register. This means that you should be able to see the shipping company ‘DOT’ number. There is also the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website where you can check their Motor Carrier number. For shipping abroad you would want to check out the Federal Maritime Commission. It can be checked here - http://li-public.fmcsa.dot.gov/LIVIEW/pkg_menu.prc_menu

2) What does the transport offer for services?

When first talking to the shipping company ask them what services they offer. It might be that they have restrictions on the type or size of vehicle that they are willing to transport. Also, ask about enclosed or open. Enclosed Trailers keep cars out of the elements, but is more expensive. Open Trailers are the most common mode of transportation.

3) What is the cost?

This is not the same for everyone. Costs may vary depending on the company. It might be good to get quotes from a few companies for comparison and make sure that you understand exactly what’s included. This helps you understand any extra charges that you didn’t know about. Companies in general should be willing to provide you with a free estimate. With every price you might want to ask if the price can be negotiated since you may or may not have more then one vehicle to ship.

4) What about insurance?

Your personal vehicle insurance will probably not cover the transport. Ask the shipping company about their insurance and make sure that you will be covered. It would be good to know at what level your vehicle will be protected while being shipped. See if it is possible to adjust if the insurance does not seem to be enough.

5) What documents do you need to provide?

Check with your transport company to find out exactly what papers they will need.

6) How would you get your car ready to be transported?

You need to make sure that the car is empty of belongings. Shipping companies are not allowed to have household items in the car during transport. Also, Department of Transport requires keys to be provided to the transporter while being transported. It is recommended that you have a quarter tank of gas so that you can avoid any extra charges for weight.

7) How much time will it take to ship?

Shipping will vary depending on the company, how the vehicle is being shipped and distance. There are times when it is difficult to guarantee a delivery date. In general, coast to coast can take 1-2 weeks while shorter distances a few days.

8) What about payment arrangements?

This depends on the shipping company. Some will want the money up front in full. Some will take a deposit and the rest payed when delivered. It will be important to ask about what method is being used and if they prefer check or credit card. It is never a good idea to pay for services, in full, before services are rendered.

9) What actions does the company take to make sure my car is protected?

The company, upon picking up the car, with conduct an inspection and often times take pictures. You both will agree on the condition of the car. When the car is delivered a similar inspection of the vehicle will be conducted.

10) What will happen if the vehicle is damaged in any way?

At delivery you will want to take pictures of the damage, if any, and inspect the car. This would be a good time to use your smart phone or camera to get those pictures. This should be documented and signed by the driver. With this information you will be able to make a claim through the service provider.

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How much does it cost to ship a vehicle?

Shipping a vehicle across the state or even cross country is often a difficult and confusing task. Does it half to be that way?

Why does it cost so much?

Many people who are shipping a vehicle for the first time are blasted with prices and incorrect information.

They usually start with a preconceived notion and the internet. While searching the internet for services such as Auto Transport, Car Shipping, or Ship My Car, in the back of their mind they know they can send a FedEx package across the country for $57.00. Shipping a car can’t be that much more. Can it?

The answer is, yes. It is in fact a lot different. Let’s compare modes of transport.

FedEx uses trucks much like auto carriers do, Right? They are about the same size and use the same type of fuel and probably get about the same mileage efficiency. That’s correct, but think about how many packages can fit into one of those trucks versus how many cars can fit on an Auto Transport trailer. Most Auto Transport trailers can only fit 8 – 10 vehicles on them per load.

So now you need to think about the incremental fuel cost per shipment. If I have the same (per mile) fuel costs as the FedEx driver, but only have 10 paying vehicles on my trailer, and he has 300 packages on board, I need to gross 30 times as much per vehicle to equal his collateral fuel costs.

Okay, let’s look at transit times. Some people will argue that FedEx will get my package to me overnight. Well, your right and they do a great service with their infrastructure, but one must compare apples to apples. Organizations such as FedEx have terminals in many major cities across the country. They also have drop and swap points, where one driver meets another. They trade loads and continue moving without stop. And we haven’t even mentioned their ability to use airplanes.

The Auto Transport industry is much different. Virtually every vehicle reaches a dealership or customer via truck and trailer. Most of the time the same driver, truck, and trailer that loaded the vehicle will be the same driver that will deliver the vehicle. That driver is allowed to travel 11 hours driving time. Most of the drivers’ trips average 55mph, (when considering city traffic, load and unload time). That same driver has to factor many things when operating his equipment such as; cargo insurance, tires, brakes, oil, major engine components, wear and tear on his truck and trailer, age of receivables, down time, etc. Needless to say he has a lot of factors to consider before accepting a load at a certain price.

Now we can cover the risk factor. If we look back at the FedEx driver, what major concerns does he have with damage to cargo? The consumer agreed to insure it at their own expense, right?

This is not true with the Auto Transport carrier. His cargo insurance coverage is very expensive and with usually a $2,500.00 deductible. I remember when I had my own trucks; our cargo insurance on only 4 trucks was $42,300.00 per year! Heaven forbid one of my drivers had a damage claim on one of the vehicles, which usually meant at least a $2,500.00 deductible. You can bet that if there is even a little scratch on the hood or roof of a car the customer will see it.

Most drivers will point damages out to the customer if the driver already knows about it. It is always better for a driver to be the one to point out a mistake and deal with it, than try to hide it. Most drivers work by these same ethics. Mistakes will happen.

On each Auto Transport trailer there are endless obstacles, and all of them will cause damage if you are complacent. The driver has to watch clearance on all sides, top, and even underneath the vehicle. He has to think about placement on the trailer, how to tie it down, and consider the bounce factor of his load as he is traveling. If he is using chains, and a chain comes loose, that chain will find a way to strike any and every car in its path before the driver pulls over to get coffee and finds the aftermath. When transporting used cars, inevitably one of the cars on the top rack will have a brake fluid, coolant, or oil leak. So, when the driver arrives to deliver one of the bottom cars, he finds a mess.

All of this to say, the driver has many potential risks to consider, and even more expenses to consider. This driver is responsible for a customers’ (likely) second most valuable possession. He has a stressful and complicated puzzle to anticipate, and should be paid accordingly. Most customers would not want the cheapest rate and service when paying for other important tasks in their lives. Like other industries, You get What you pay for.




Technology Saves Transporters Money





Auto Transport GPS – Carriers should use Truck-Specific GPS

FMCSA issues warning – Please use Auto Transport GPS unit.

Truck Hits Bridge

Truck Hits Bridge

Why use auto transport GPS? Imagine driving down the road while looking at the GPS when all of a sudden “BOOOOM”! You hit a bridge.

Truck Smashed under Overpass

Frustrations storm up in your mind as you wonder what went wrong. You think, “I was following the GPS?”

The auto transport GPS that you are using may not be for trucks. Actually many GPS units are  built for cars and not transport trucks.

These GPS units don’t take the height of your truck or trailer into consideration

The same holds true for bus drivers and anyone that has a tall vehicle.

truck in underpass crushed

Truck Trailer Crushed

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration started distributing cards to truck drivers warning them that using GPS navigation can be very dangerous. They also note that these devices are designed for smaller vehicles and if used by truck drivers is in fact dangerous.

The FMCSA posted a printable guide on their website, a visor card, which is meant as a reminder. Click here to see the FMCSA page

The visor card promotes the use of auto transport GPS devices specific to large trucks that allow for road restrictions (this includes low bridges). These auto transport GPS units help guide drivers around the obstacles safely.

Why the Visor Card?

According to the FMCSA administrator Anne Ferro and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) the GPS recommendations are highly recommended because of a Scarsdale N.Y. bridge that is often hit by trucks.

Schumer stated, “These brand-new federal standards for GPS use among commercial truck drivers will be the first major steps to thwarting life-threatening bridge strikes that have been causing massive delays and imposing significant costs on taxpayers for far too long,”.

FMCSA Visor Card

FMCSA Visor Card

He was thankful that the FMCSA was proactive in recognizing this serious issue and providing education for drivers. He also noted that 80% of bridges that are hit in New York result from large vehicles that do not use the correct type of GPS who was citing a 2009 study.

 To download the GPS visor card please click here.



Mismatching Bills of Lading vs. Photo Inspections

Dented Roof Heard a story from one of our brokers recently and it surprised me enough to ask the industry to share their thoughts.

Here’s how the story went,
The broker contracted with its client to transport a vehicle to one of their customers. The broker and dealer agreed on    the rate and signed the paperwork. Apparently this dealer had been a long time client of this broker, so this process was  quick and familiar to each party. Note my previous use of the words ‘HAD been a long time client’, I’ll cover more of this later.
Back to the story. The broker now needed to secure a carrier for the shipment and did. They contracted with an apparently reputable company. There was another clue, did you catch it, ‘Apparently reputable company‘.
So, as these trips often do, all went well for the first few days of the journey. On the third or fourth day the carrier notifies the broker that the delivery was made and per customers wishes the vehicle was left in a secure location and delivered without a signature.
This is the point in the story where those readers that are from this industry just had the little voice in their heads tell them, ‘this is not going to end well’, ‘never deliver without someone signing for it’.
Did I mention this was a brand new vehicle with less than 20 miles on it!
Okay, enough suspense building. The carrier sends the broker the delivery bill of lading and in the signature box the driver clearly wrote ‘TBI’ (To Be Inspected).
This seemed a little risky on the drivers part, but nothing seemed amiss from the delivery customer.
And then came the call from that delivery customer.
He states that everything with the vehicle seemed okay, until..
Well, I thought, that’s certainly true. Everything is always okay Until it’s not.
It seems the delivery customer’s daughter had climbed into the bed of the vehicle and asked her dad about the large dents in the roof of the pickup.
Again, those readers that have actually hauled cars in the auto transport industry on a double deck trailer know exactly what causes two large symmetrical dents in the roof of a pickup. Chain drums are very unforgiving to the roof of a vehicle when bounced down the highway at 70mph.
And so, like so many others before, this broker now had to start the paperwork gathering and the detective work. Collecting all of the paperwork, making sure everyone is in the loop on the situation, gathering photo evidence, contacting insurance, etc.
At this point no one knows exactly who is at fault, and a savoy, seasoned broker knows not to start throwing darts too early. He wants to remain neutral until all dust settles.
Apparently for this broker, the dust settled and when it did he was staring at the origin and destination bills of lading that Should look identical, but of course they were very different…

4° of Auto Transport Interaction. Part 1

oldjunknissanWouldn’t it be convenient to buy cars on Amazon? I could browse for the exact make, model, and color I want as though I were buying shoes. I could select my car, put in my credit card info, choose free shipping, and have it delivered the next day. That’s how I would prefer shopping to be. Sadly, buying cars is not anything like buying shoes! It’s not just about the color, shape, and size. It’s about the cars’ history; mileage, options, details, modifications, and most importantly, LOCATION! I’m beginning the adventure of buying my dream car! However, living in the middle of nowhere makes this adventure even more, adventurous. The lack of dealership selections, limited auctions, and even fewer private sellers makes finding my dream car an impossible task. So I’m relying entirely on the internet to find the car I will drive untimagesil I have the opportunity to pass it on. I’m excited to finally be able to purchase my dream car, but unsure what to expect and eager to find a great deal! I found a few prospects on one auction site, but none of them are the car. They are all eights on the scale and let me tell you I’ve owned a lot of eights in my day. My first car was no more than a four with a potato for the shifter knob; non-functioning – windows, radio and air conditioner; a passenger’s side door that had to be taped shut with a rather large “do not disturb” sign on it (to keep the window from falling into the door panel); and of course, everyone’s favorite thing was the one windshield wiper that occasionally worked (but never when it was raining). I felt really high on the hog after trading that little nightmare in for a car whose shifter knob did not become a pile of mush in the summer heat. But it was still no more than an eight because it too, had its own series of smoking-when-idling, and dying-on-cold-days, issues. The best of the eights has been my latest purchase. It is altogether a fantastic car, but is still an eight because it has a mere four-cylinder engine. My perfect ten is a 370 horse monster on wheels. It was introduced to the Mopar world in 1967, but was perfected in 1970. It must house a 4-barrel carb, 440 CID Super Commando V8 engine. Nothing short of candy apple red will do, and of course, it must make it from zero to sixty in 6.5 seconds. This car, the 1970 Plymouth GTX, is hard to findGTX in good condition, but I’ve worked endlessly for ten years to save for the perfect ten I’ve dreamed of. In fact, this is the perfect ten my father dreamed of too. He said “no girl of mine would ever love anything more than the perfect car”. Since eBay is a total bust, I have decided to take my search to ClassicCars.com. At first glance, I noticed it’s much more reputable and organized than the anyone-can-sell-anytime process.. I spent nearly a day searching here, but it’s still not providing me with my dream. They provide many selections for common cars. But what I am looking for is even rarer, it should have pizazz and wow and make people stop and turn their heads when I drive by. I am very used to turning heads when I drive due to a smoking vehicle or a giant “do not disturb” sign on my window. I’m not used to turning heads because my car says “winner,”! Next my search is taking me to Cars-On-Line.com. I always knew my dream car was going to be previously owned, but it must be previously loved as well. So many of the GTX’s have been owned, beat, rusted, and left to die in the fields of the south for the past forty years. Cars-On-Line.com brought little hope with not even an option to search for my dream vehicle. I have had the same experience when I looked at so many other sites. What if I never find my dream car? Or worse, what if I find my dream car and it’s across the country! It would cost me thousands to take a week off work to fly across the country to get a car. It’s becoming easier and easier to get discouraged on the journey for my perfect ten.

To be continued..


The Perseverance Factor


Steve Sinofsky of Andreesson Horowitz has just published a great article on LinkedIn in which he discusses the nature of introducing disruptive technology in a market dominated by a well-established incumbent.

That is just the position that Auto Load Logic is in today and, as I read Steve’s article, it seemed like he’d been listening in to our conference room conversations!

One of the key points he makes is the importance of perseverance. If the new entry into a market really HAS disruptive technology, it needs to hang in there and just keep at it in the face of the inevitable responses from the incumbent.

Ultimately, the message is: the disruptive entrant into a market has the advantage in the long run (if it can persist for the long run) even if the incumbent has the advantage in the short run.

Thanks for this, Steve!


(Please see the article linked above.)



We’re Listening to the Auto Transport Brokers


When you’re new in a market you just have to do things better than the other guy!

Auto Load Logic is a new product in a market dominated by a single competitor. We know we have a superior product. We know we are dramatically more customer focused. And we know we have to deliver better results than the other guy.

But sometimes just doing better isn’t good enough.

When we came to the market we promised that we’d take action on new user registrations by the end of the next business day. That’s certainly better than the competition and seemed like a meaningful value-added response time.

But we found that it wasn’t good enough.

Too often we found ourselves getting a call from a Carrier who hadn’t yet registered as an ALL user but who wanted to pick up a vehicle listed by one of the Brokers using ALL.

Human nature, and the auto transport industry, being what they are those Carriers wanted what they wanted — right now!

Not only wouldn’t they wait until the next business day; they wouldn’t – and to be fair, they often couldn’t — wait even a couple of hours.

We clearly needed an even better solution.

That solution is the “Broker-created Carrier Account”.

Auto Load Logic now provides the auto transport broker the ability to do almost all of the account set-up work for the Carrier they want to dispatch a vehicle to, in advance.

Having that work done in advance allows us to approve the new Carrier account literally in a matter of minutes.

The Carrier just needs to download our smartphone app and accept our terms and conditions; both of which can be done within a couple of minutes. He can then pick up the dispatched vehicle without delay.

The rest of the registration process gets done by the Broker and by our staff, leaving the Carrier to deal with the vehicle; which, after all, is what all parties to the transaction really want.

At Auto Load Logic, we’ll do what it takes to provide the service our users need and we know that sometimes just being better isn’t good enough.

We’re working for you – and getting better for you –every day.

Come see us at www.autoloadlogic.com.

And take a look at our interface for the individual shipper at http://autoloadlogic.com/private-shipper/wizard.aspx.

CRL 1/12/14




Looking Back / Looking Forward in Auto Transport


As  I write this, the end of 2013 is fast approaching. Snow is falling here in New Jersey and only a few hours remain of a year that has seen significant changes in all segments of the vehicle transport industry. Those changes have not yet made themselves fully felt. But they will.

What Happened in 2013?

  1. Consolidation and representation in the Carrier community.

First, Jack Cooper bought Allied out of bankruptcy. The combined companies now account for about 4,000 trucks; easily the largest Carrier system in the vehicle transport market.

Then, United Road bought Waggoners Trucking, bringing its total owned-units to about 1,500. Trucks under contract to UR/WT add significantly to that number.

The Jack Cooper purchase was characterized as a “capacity” play. It’s good to be big!

The United Road / Waggoners transaction was essentially a market reach expansion. The two companies had “very little overlap” according to United Road. While the customer base was similar, the market coverage was “complementary”.

In both cases it seems clear that the combinations increase the market power of the two resulting entities.

A new association representing auto haulers, the Atlanta-based Auto Haulers Association of America (AHAA) posted substantial growth in its first full year of operation. While the auto hauler division at the National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC) has been around for a while, AHAA represents the first really significant representation of the auto hauler community.

Time will tell what the impact of this new association will be, but it is off to a strong start and could create some leverage for the auto haulers on key issues as it finds its voice and power.

2. Shake-out in the Brokerage community.

An increase in the required bonds carried by vehicle transport brokers from $10,000 to $75,000 in 2013 has had the effect of shaking out many smaller and financially weaker participants.

Even though some bonding and bond-finance firms brought products to the market that softened the immediate blow, anecdotal evidence suggests that the change in requirements has caused many smaller players to exit the market.

3. Regulatory changes increase costs in the Carrier community.

The change in permitted Hours of Service regulations that went into effect at mid-year directly reduces the number of hours solo drivers can be on the road.  The driver’s cost of living remains the same. But he can work fewer hours. Required income per hour, then, has to rise to offset the loss of hours worked.

The change in HOS regulations is far from the only regulatory change affecting the Carrier community. There are many other, less-well-publicized regulatory changes that will negatively affect Carriers. Essentially all of those changes will result in increases in the cost of doing business as a Carrier.

What’s the likely impact in 2014?

Vehicle manufacturers had a very good year in 2013. Overall sales increased to about 15.6 million units. As we look into 2014 a continuation of healthy demand is expected to move that total to about 16.6 million units.

As demand for new vehicles increases, the OEM-driven demand for vehicle transport increases.

The trend towards more and more on-line sales of used vehicles, both to private parties and to dealers, also strengthened in 2013. The evidence that on-line sales cause increased demand for and complexity of used vehicle transport is clear. As geography decreases in importance, logistics increase in importance.

So, it seems likely that 2014 will find demand for and complexity of auto transport continuing to increase across the board.

In the face of increased demand, consolidation in the carrier community, improved carrier representation, increased carrier costs and increase broker costs, will almost certainly put upward pressure on transport pricing.

If transport pricing pressure rises, either:

a) the increase is transmitted throughout the system and results in an increase in cost to the end customer,

b) the increase is absorbed by brokers or shippers or dealers, decreasing profitability somewhere in the transport chain, or

c) offsetting cost savings are found to allow participants in the system to protect profitability.

Given the sensitivity of vehicle buyers to price changes, we believe that upward cost pressures have to be absorbed in the manufacturing/sales/transport system without causing prices to the end-customer to rise.

The good news is that, in our view, there is ample opportunity to reduce costs through increased efficiency. Those efficiencies are to be found in the application and use of improved technology to better manage the transport process.

The even-better news is that those efficiencies are capable of reducing costs at a rate greater than the cost increases the industry now faces.

Not only can impending cost increases be offset by available savings: those available savings, we believe, can actually increase profits for all parties in the transport process without increasing prices to the end-customer.

But the willingness to adapt to changes and to adopt new methods and technologies will be required to make that happen.

Visit us at www.autoloadlogic.com and take a look at the tools that can help all participants in the vehicle transport process protect and improve their profitability even in the face of cost pressures.

And have a great 2014!

CRL  12/31/13