Rules Of Thumb Help You Think On Your Feet

I was invited to do some training at a Dodge meeting a few years ago. I put on a hour-long class called Commercial Trucks 101. This was the largest group I've done and there were over 65 sales people and managers in attendance as well as Dodge BusinessLink personnel. One of the people from Dodge was a stickler for details when it comes to giving quotes on payload. I get it. One wants to be as accurate as possible and so do I; however, one is far better off learning to think on your feet and guide the prospect long before you can sit down at your spec book.

As I got up and got into my presentation, my most important point is early in the class, and that is how to figure payload quickly. The rule of thumb, I told them is this: GVWR - GVW = Payload. It is very accurate if you know what the GVW is. If not, the inaccuracy would be in that number. Still, it is very effective on the lot. As I spoke this with emphasis, I could see the Dodge training rep cringing in his seat and then up and pacing. Not a good sign, but I kept on because I am from the street when it comes to this stuff.

The Dodge trainer wanted everyone to use curb weight, add the passengers, and all that stuff. In the meantime, the prospect is down the street buying from another dealer. He was probably thinking of everyone sitting at their desk with all their spec books and preparing a quote to go in the mail or fax or email. That's not an effective procedure for the lot. I think training should help teach you how to think for yourself, not follow a specific procedure.

You need to find a way to find payload quickly, so here's a system that works very well:

Do a little study and memorize a little chart on common truck empty weights. For example, a single rear wheel empty 56" CA chassis will weigh in roughly 5,500 lbs. That is plenty close enough. Just look at 3 or 4 invoices and you'll get the idea. Then move on to a few others like 60" CA dually, 84" CA dually, 450/550 84" CA and so on. You only need about 6-8. If you carry tilt cabs, do a similar thing with them. Then memorize the GVWR on most of your common models. So, for example, you might look at a Ford 84" CA F550 and see the empty weight (shipping weight on the invoice) is about 7700 lbs. Look at a few and just average it and that will be your number. This is a small amount to remember.

Next, get an idea of what some of the different kind of bodies weigh. As a rule of thumb you could look at an 8' service body at about 1100 lbs and if it has a rack, add another 2-300 lbs. Look at a few. You can see from the weighmasters weight slip number minus the shipping weight and that will tell you what the body weighs. Once you see a few, it is very easy to estimate close enough. So I would figure an 11' steel dump with sub-frame hoist is going to be about 2,500 lbs. You'll get the idea.

Now, when you are on the lot and you don't have your inventory list with all the cargo capacities, you can still give the prospect a close estimate of payload that will be very effective and you can do it all in your head on any upfitted truck on the lot. This will help immensely to guide the prosepct to the right truck but not selling him too much truck. Very important to not sell too light a truck or too heavy a truck.

So, I would look at any make 56" SRW chassis at about 5,500 lbs, an 8' service body with rack at 1,400 lbs., so that is 6,900 lbs or 7,000 to round it off. The GVWR is easy to memorize, but if you need to open the door of the truck and get the GVWR, that is easy to do on the lot. Most SRW 56" CA chassis are around 9,200 GVWR in round numbers, so what is they payload? It's 2,200 lbs. Easy. And the best part is that you can think on your feet and make decisions quickly and reasonably accurately--certainly accurate enough to get the job done.

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