Overloading Concerns versus Overkill

In the previous article, I talked about the dangers of overloading and that I have been more concerned than many when it comes to the capacity of a commercial truck. This is all true. At the same time, I want to caution that many sales are missed by trying to force people into a larger truck than they need.

Let's look at the above photo examples. The photo on the left is an F650 with a 5-6 yard Steel Dump body (about 26,000 GVWR), the center is an F550 with a 3-4 yard Steel Dump body (19,000 GVWR) and the one on the right is an F350 with a Landscaper Dump body (13,000 GVWR). The difference in initial cost between the F650 and the F550 is strong, but an even bigger reason to not oversell is the operating costs and maintenance costs. Brakes, tires, and other replacement items cost dramatically more on the larger vehicles. The same is true when you compare the F550 with the F350. Of course if the lighter vehicle is loaded to heavily, it will wear out these items very quickly in comparison with the heavier GVWR vehicle. Notice also the capacities of the bodies. The F650 is 5-6 yards, the F550 is 3-4 yards and the F350 is not measured that way, but exceeds the F650 if you were to measure it that way. The difference is what they typically carry. The Landscaper is not designed to load it up with dirt or gravel or rocks. The sides are not strong enough, let alone the truck. The steel dump is designed to carry that kind of material and it is built strong enough to do it for a long period of time.

So how do you know what to do? By asking a lot of questions and understanding what your customer is needing or wanting the truck to do. With that information you can guide them to the best truck for their needs. Now, you might think that the Landscaper with its much larger body capacity (in volume) should be on the heaviest truck, but Landscapers typically load this truck with grass clippings, branch clippings and other types of gardening or landscaping needs. They could very well carry some dirt, or other landscaping materials such as bark, etc., but it would be in smaller amounts typically. They are not generally working construction sites. Now, of course, there are Landscaping Contractors who do and who need larger capacity trucks, so that is why you ask questions. But if you stocked the majority of your Landscaper bodies in F550 and F650, you would make a lot less sales and your competitors down the street would get them.

The same holds true with other bodies. The most common scenario I see is focusing on the F450 and F550 with a Contractor Body rather than focusing that body on the F350 with a few in the larger capacity. This is a common body and is essentially a flatbed with some tool boxes on top and underneath the bed. If you look in your travels of these vehicles actually being used, you will find that the majority of them on the road are the 1-ton (F350 type). They carry a few tools, but more than that, they carry other items in the boxes. The bed area typically has larger tools such as wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes, buckets. They may also carry a few bags of cement, other bags of different materials, perhaps a 1/2 yard of sand depending on what kind of work they do. The F350 has a typical cargo capacity of about 4,000 lbs. Considering the bed area, the kind of thing the typical Contractor Body carries, it is very difficult to put that much weight on the truck. Of course, there are those contractors who carry very heavy items such as stone masons; however, these are the exception, not the rule. If all you stocked were F450/550 Contractor Bodies, you would miss at least 70% of the market! You might get a few to pay the premium for the larger model, but many will just buy the one down the street.

My GVWR concerns are mainly focused on things like this: A customer wants a 5 yard steel dump on a F450. I say "no way." The reason is the steel dump is designed and expected to carry heavy material and 5 yards of dry plain dirt weighs about 2,000 lbs. per yard, so that is 10,000 lbs. just in the load. I will have to let this person go elsewhere to buy. I don't want the liability and neither does my dealer. Another example is putting a service body on a Ranger or other small style pickup. I say "no way." That truck is not designed for that kind of job whether it is rated at "1-ton" or not. I don't want the liability and neither does my dealer. Is it done? Sure, but I let the guy down the street accept the liability and the dinky gross.

It may look like a fine line to make the decision on the larger capacity vehicle or the smaller capacity vehicle, but its really pretty easy once you get the hang of it. Be concerned about how they use the truck, what they carry, how much is a typical load, how often do they load more than that and when they do, how much more is it? What kind of future use do they see? What is their budget? Will they be involved with heavier items down the road? Pick the vehicle that will do the job well with a bit of fudge room for safety, but don't oversell it or you will lose many sales. Let's get every sale we can!

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