Through the Eyes Of the Bold, Part 13

We're moving on the the Van Body section today.
  • Contractor Body 10-15%
  • Combo Body 5-10%
  • Flatbed 20-30%
  • Service Bodies 30-45%
  • Plumber Bodies 5-10%
  • Van Bodies 15-25%
  • Dumps 5-10%
  • Other Bodies 5-10%

The Van Body; aka Box Van; aka, Dry Van is a very popular and ever-present sight on the highways and city streets of America. It's just a big empty box and you can put stuff in it, carry it somewhere and take it back out. Whether it is moving flowers from the flower store to your house or moving your furniture across the country, or delivering the food and produce to the grocery store, we cannot live without Van Bodies.

Now all of those Van Bodies come in a wide variety of sizes and heights and options, some with roll up doors, some with swing-out doors, some with side doors, some with translucent roofs, some with liftgates, some 84" tall, some 96" tall, some 10' long, some 26' long. All doing the job of moving different kinds of things from one place to another while keeping what's inside out of sight and protected from the weather. Some things are really light and other things are really heavy, so what kind of chassis is underneath the Van Body is very important.

Bypassing the Medium Duty dealer for the moment, most dealers that I see in my travels don't stock enough Van Bodies, number one and number two, they tend to stock the same things over and over. The most common Van Body on dealers lots is a 14' on a cutaway chassis. I now see a 10' single rear wheel unit from time to time. It is a rare dealer that stocks more than two units. Using our ongoing dealer example of the dealer who stocks 25 upfits, we will use 20% and that is 5 units. So, you can see there should be more Van Bodies on the lots.

A couple things I have learned about selling Van Bodies. One is that they have a tendency to sell in groups and two is that they tend to be a little bit seasonal and sell better in the Fall and Winter than the Spring and Summer. It's not a large change, but the seasonality of Flatbeds is the opposite, so I would adjust my stock up and down accordingly to take advantage of that. Of course, your experience is the best judge.

Another thing I learned about Van Bodies is that if you have a good selection of the different sizes, chassis and so on, you can sell more Van Bodies. Having a tilt cab franchise will help you sell even more Van Bodies. One more thing about Van Bodies is that it is an extremely easy thing to sell someone off of the sliding front door crawl through on the cutaway chassis. It is a very easy thing to retrofit, but not the other way around. I recommend that you order none with the opening and if a customer insists, get it installed for them. That silly door and all the rattling and noises that go along with it being there will drive you crazy very quickly. It has such a small usefulness. You have to be a small person to go through there. It's a waste of money to me, but, hey, some people just have to have it, so give it to them after you point some of those non-benefits out to them. It's a good concept, but doesn't work in reality very well.

So, on to our mix. If I have tilt cab trucks available, 3 of the 5 units will be on them and they would be 14', 16', and 20'. If I do not have tilt cab trucks, I want a single rear wheel 10' model with aluminium skin with skirting and swing-out rear doors. The roll-up door takes up too much room inside on this model. Next, I want a 12' on a 138" wheelbase cutaway. This model gives me superior turning radius, common body length and good overall length for maximum flexibility in the city. Next, I want a 14' on a 158" cutaway with a roll-up rear door, roll-up curbside door at the front of the body and a Tommy Aluminum Railgate. The past two bodies will be common 84" height. Next, I want a 16'x90" on a gas F450 120" CA with a tuck type liftgate, roll-up rear door. Last, I want another 14' on a cutaway with a 96" height and a 3' attic, roll-up rear door with an aluminum ramp or a Tommy Gate liftgate.

This mix allows me to demonstrate a wide variety of solutions that a prospect would have a really hard time finding anywhere else. If I added more Van Bodies to the mix, I can have more solutions to offer customers. Again, for common uses, I am going to work with some of my favorite body companies and have them have units that are ready or semi-ready for me to take and have delivered in a day or two and I am going to make sure that I work with my dealer group to have the relationships we need to get units from them when the time comes. The key is covering the maximum number of possibilities that I can and have a large number of readily available common pieces.

Van Bodies and plain Flatbeds have a tendency to be low gross pieces. With the mix above, you should have much improved gross profits. The more common your mix, the lower your average gross. It is one of the great reasons to see through the eyes of the bold.

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