I am always the first one to admit that having a newer truck does not guarantee that you will not have any downtime. Being the nature of the beast, even a new truck can go down unexpectedly from time to time. Monetarily we can prepare for these sorts of things by having a maintenance and downtime buffer, but what happens when customer service is on the verge of failing because of an unplanned interruption in the service you provide to a customer? Sometimes making sure your customer’s needs are taken care of far outweighs the financial distress of having your truck down, especially when they need to rely on you daily to make their haul happen. That is why it is very important to always have a “Plan B”.
This past week, when my truck decided to leak out a decent amount of transmission fluid while sitting at a dock, I decided it was time to take it into the dealer to get it looked at. What they found was a bad grommet where the dipstick/filler tube mates up to the top of the transmission. Unfortunately, this is not a regular thing that goes bad and the part was not in stock, but rather had to be overnighted from the other side of the country. Being that it was last minute and late in the afternoon, I had to cancel a drop trailer to get loaded that night for delivery the next day with my dedicated customer, who understood and agreed to reschedule the loading to the following evening. When the next day rolled around and the parts didn’t arrive on time, it is needless to say that I began to panic! Cancelling a dedicated load once due to circumstances beyond my control would be fine, cancelling again on the rescheduled load would virtually be a form of “career suicide”.
Instantly I went to work thinking of everything I could do at this late hour of the day to remedy the situation and get the load hauled for my dedicated customer. It is not every day that a single truck owner-operator lands on an almost daily, dedicated run, so keeping it was at the top of my priority list. I called other independent buddies of mine in the area to see if they could cover it for me, but all of them were booked. I checked in with another business advisor and friend who suggested I check into a rental truck…Brilliant! In my mad dash of worry, it hadn’t yet crossed my mind to do this, but seemed like the best thing in my particular predicament. Immediately I called Penske’s rental office located about a mile from my yard and was able to secure a three-axle Freightliner Cascadia daycab to solve my dilemma.
The rental truck from Penske was well maintained and exceptionally clean, which was not what I had initially pictured in my head prior to renting a truck for myself. All of their staff involved were very courteous and eager to help solve the problem of making sure my customer was taken care of. As with most emergency solutions, it was not the least expensive option, but would prove to be invaluable in keeping my customer happy. The check-in and checkout process was a breeze and with as little hassle as possible outside of my regular routine, the load got picked up and delivered the next day on time! The part came in the following morning and all was right with the world once again. Being that customer service is the key to continuing business relationships in this industry, it is important to think of things like this ahead of time. Take the necessary steps prior to an emergency to set up accounts for tractor rentals, or even trailer rentals, should the need ever arise. You never know when having a “Plan B” like this will save your rear!