It is no secret that the more trucks you have in your fleet, the more you can throw around your purchasing power “weight” to attain discounts. The mega fleets use their volume purchasing power to earn major discounts on some of the largest consumables a trucking company can go through, such as tires and fuel just to name a couple. Having built a small fleet up myself from a “one-truck show”, there have been lessons learned along the way on how I could not only attain some of these bulk discounts with just my own trucks, but also on how I could attain these discounts collectively with other owner-operators and small fleets as well. Here a few of the costs savings listed below that I have found and how to easily attain them:
Fuel – When it comes to costs, there is no doubt fuel is on the top of the heap! As a one-truck owner operator, I relied heavily on debit/credit card purchases in this area, which is how most start-ups approach this monumental cost of doing business. A one-truck owner-operator can attain some serious discounts by joining a collective association or pool of fuel purchasers, that ultimately use their cumulative purchases to justify a discount to the whole group, such as some of my friends have done by utilizing the program offered by the National Association of Small Trucking Companies ( NASTC.) If you work with some of the larger brokerages, they tend to offer collective discounts like this as well, just for doing business with them. As I was looking into NASTC myself, my expansion had already begun and before I knew it I was able to negotiate a bulk discount of my own. By narrowing down our operating area and making sure we could utilize specific stations, I was able to negotiate a wholesale-type bulk discount on fuel with a CFN-based cardlock fueling network through P-Fleet on my own. This agreement gives anyone who fuels with my company cards, from what we’ve seen, roughly $0.30-$0.40 (or more) discount off what we typically witness at the major truck stops on our routes.
Tires – Where the truck meets the asphalt lies another important cost that can be rather large. Though a manageable expense that can generally be planned for, aside from the occasional unexpected flat, a discount surely couldn’t hurt in this area as well. Of course the mega fleets get a break by purchasing hundreds and thousands of tires every year, but seeking a discount for tires may be as easy for a small fleet as it is to find fuel discounts as well. Collective purchasing to the rescue for this expenditure as well. An association, brokerage offering, or carrier affiliation can uncover major discounts for “new shoes” on your ride. I was able to take a different approach however, in which years of loyalty to a certain local shop earned me prices lower than any other shop in the area on the tires we use. As a backup plan for when the trucks aren’t running near our home area, I have a national discount through a carrier brokerage affiliation we utilize.
ELD’s/Communications – Even as a purchaser of only several ELD’s prior to the mandate, I was able to take advantage of a bulk plan to get them all on the same billing and purchase plan. Don’t be afraid to ask for something if not readily advertised either, as anything is negotiable like this if it’s given a try!
Though these are just several of the things you can obtain discounts on, they represent the ability for small fleets to negotiate discounts as well. Almost anything can be negotiated, whether through collective bargaining or individually as you add trucks. Take advantage of carrier or brokerage affiliations, which allow small carriers they do business with to utilize their own bulk discounts on other things as well, such as parts, warranties, towing, legal representation and much more. Even if just a small discount amount can be reached, any discount is worth it when you are aiming to maximize profits and will work in the meantime until a better discount can be found! After all, “a penny saved is a penny earned” and in regards to negotiating, you’ll never know if you don’t ask!