While a flatbed may spend most of its time awaiting oversized or odd-shaped loads that require three-sided open access, the fixed expenses of owning it keep on keeping on. Insurance, taxes and registration, regular maintenance and simply the space taken up by an under-utilized flatbed represent an ongoing outlay for many small freight firms. When flatbed loads materialize, increasingly there’s also the issue of having the right driver available; i.e., someone sufficiently experienced, physically able and just plain willing to take on the heavy, sometimes hazardous labor of tarping the load. While an enclosed van trailer can never stand in when you need a flatbed, similarly, the flatbed can’t accommodate conventional box freight, which may represent the most recurrent and substantial profit opportunities.
Are you passing up profit opportunities because the sole trailer you own and operate is a flatbed? At the time you purchased it, committing to a flatbed alone may have seemed like the most viable option to maximize available freight. Perhaps the reality of the market has changed or the nature of the loads—tarping requirements and other drawbacks—has made owning and operating a flatbed alone a less attractive strategy than it once was. On the other hand, the expense of adding a conventional van and paying upkeep, insurance and storage costs on two separate trailers doesn’t make good business sense, either—particularly considering that one of the two will always be sitting idle and unused.
Some costs of operating a fleet are beyond your control: fuel prices that rise and fall with the international market, insurance, and necessities like the cost of finding and training drivers. However, you’re not totally without options in the fight to reduce operating costs of a fleet. Numerous opportunities exist to make changes and improve the bottom line. More good news: many changes that lower costs also make your fleet more efficient and productive, as well as increasing customer satisfaction. Take a closer look at your own operation and you can probably come with a number of ways of cutting unnecessary expense. Meanwhile, here are three examples to start with:
Before Curtainside Conversion:
After Curtainside Conversion:
Convert your flatbed trailer into a top-quality curtainside trailer and start reaping the benefits now. Maybe you’re already invested in one or more flatbeds and your budget or current cash flow doesn't permit an immediate transition to a curtainside at this time. Still, you can identify a role for the superior access and expedited loading and unloading that exemplifies curtainside efficiency. The flexibility to accommodate partial deliveries is another attractive bonus, as is the elimination of time-consuming tarping—always a nagging downside of flatbed operations.
If you're ready to add curtainside conversions to your fleet, you probably already know why you're taking this step: the limited load access of van trailers, the lost time tarping flatbeds, the inflexibility of “either/or” decisions when it comes to accommodating today's diverse freight. Curtainsides offer a hybrid solution that adjusts to the changing requirements of the daily load, combining the three-side access of a flatbed with the enclosed advantages of a van trailer. Driver time is optimized, backhauling and other revenue opportunities are increased, and a wider variety of freight mix including partial shipments are now viable.