If you are considering delivering Recreational Vehicles for a living, please take a minute before you invest in a pickup truck. Thousands of owner-operators are using light duty trucks to deliver travel trailers one unit at a time. Most of them find the work personally rewarding. They get paid to see the country. They meet lots of interesting people. They set their own schedule. They are, for the most part, their own boss. But many of them are heard to comment, “I love this job. I just wish their was a way to make more money.”
A Haul & Tow truck offers most of the advantages of the RV delivery lifestyle, -- but it also has a number of advantages over RV hauling with a pickup.
What is a Haul ‘n’ Tow? Using a well-maintained late-model medium duty chassis (like a Freightliner FL7- or FL112 for example; or maybe a Kenworth T300) with a long-life engine (typical package might be a Cummins ISC 8.3 liter or a Caterpillar C12) we outfit our trucks with comfortable sleepers and a deck which can normally haul trailers up to 28 feet or so in length and pull another trailer behind. They come equipped with loading ramps, tie-down straps, winch and cable, and the hardware you need to load and safely transport RVs.
The most obvious advantage is that the mileage pay rate is considerable higher. When the pickup loads were averaging $1.30 per mile haul’n’tow rates were $1.95 to $2.10 (outbound rates from Elkhart County, IN to points in the USA). Rates vary a little from one trucking company to another, of course; but they generally pay 50% to 80% more than a single-haul. (Sometimes loads are even built from two single loads and pay double.)
Naturally, a medium duty truck outfitted to move two trailers at once costs a little more. But definately not as much as you think. We at RV Transport Pro assemble Haul’n’tow trucks which cost about the same as a fully outfitted new 1-ton dually pickup. And, when you make that last payment on your truck loan your Haul’nTow is still a valuable tool with “resale value.”
Are there other advantages to the Haul’n’Tow? Definitely!
Consider for a moment one of the most common complaints of pickup owner-operators: the lack of backhauls. RV production is heavily concentrated in or near Elkhart County, Indiana. The volume of outbound shipping uses hundreds of pickup owners. They deliver all over the country and Canada.
They would all like to have something to bring back to Chicago, Indianapolis, anywhere in the area which might pay them on their return journey. However, any such load has to be something which can be safely and legally towed behind a pickup on its own wheels. Consequently, the vast majority of the pickups return to the area empty.
Haul’n’Tows, on the other hand, can deliver new or used autos and trucks, motorcycles boats, and all manner of light freight. Having a flat loadable surface plus the ability to tow a trailer opens up many possibilities. For example, team up with a pickup driver and carry the pickup back.
Another unpleasant fact of life in the RV delivery business is seasonal fluctuations in the number of available loads. A company which keeps a fleet of 600 pickups busy from January through June could find it can only keep half that many busy through most of July and August. In recent years the Haul’n’Tow owner-operators have been working steady for twelve months out of the year while pickup operators have been waiting in line for loads. The savings available to RV shippers keeps them putting Haul’n’Tow loads together even during the slow times. The sales departments use them as a marketing tool – “Buy two and I can save you 20% on transportation costs.”
Haul & Tow trucks have the additional advantage that they hold their value better than pickups. A one-ton Ford dually with 600,000 miles on it is has little resale or trade-in value. A “million mile” Cat or Cummins with the same miles has “40% life left in it.” Many of these engines are rebuildable; and even when the engine is completely shot you still have a valuable deck which can be put on another chassis.
Are there any disadvantages to choosing a Haul’n’Tow rather than a pickup truck? They may not necessarily be disadvantages, but there are differences.
For example, many Haul’n’Tows are built on chassis of greater than 26,000 pound Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. Over 20K GVWR requires the driver to have a Commercial Driers License. If you already have a CDL you are one step ahead of those who have to do a little studying and pass a printed test and a skills test. In a way, this is a benefit as much as it is a drawback. It keeps the supply of Haul’nTtow drivers a little lower, which helps to keep the rates a little higher.—If you do not have a CDL, maybe you should consider getting one. The extra earnings will make you glad you did.
Or you may want to look into buying a non-CDL Haul’n’Tow. Non-CDL rigs are not as common as the larger trucks, there are some around. The truck needs to have a GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds and the trailer being towed behind it cannot exceed 10,000 pounds GVWR; but there is room for them in the marketplace, too. (Nevertheless, I would recommend upgrading your license to CDL-A so that you can avoid hassles from DOT personnel, who generally assume that all the medium duty trucks require CDL-A.)
And here’s something else you might want to consider: the value of a sleeper. Suppose a driver spends 5 nights away from home in the average weeks and chooses to work 45 weeks out of the year. IF you could find motels which average only $40 per night you would spend $9000 per year on motels. (I feel that this is actually a very conservative estimate. It is more likely to be closer to $13,500.) It is much more cost-effective to have a place to sleep in your truck.
To sum it all up, when you weigh the pros and cons … most people feel that the way to make $$$ delivering RVs is to deliver them two or more at a time. For LESS than the cost of a new 1-ton dually you can be in a Haul & Tow. The running cost is about 25% more, but the revenue is 50 to 80% more. Also more backhauls, and steadier loads. A DOT sleeper. Better resale value.
Contact us for more information on what a Haul-n-Tow can do for you and your bottom line!