RV/5th wheel delivery

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by tomhorn, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. tomhorn

    tomhorn Light Load Member

    Aug 9, 2007
    Jacksonville, FL
    I've been considering trucking jobs, but am concerned about having flexibility, some freedom and getting started. I've found a place that teaches the RV hauling business. In theory you can do this with no CDL (if it's under 26KGVW), but it's suggested that you get a CDL B, so you have more options. Has anyone tried this business. So far here are the pros and cons that I'm seeing:

    1) You can do it with a 3/4 ton (1ton recommeded) Pickup. I'd use a 1 ton dually with a deisel and manual. Lower payment and insurance than on a tractor. I'd get about 11mpg loaded and 15mpg empty.
    2) You get an average of $1.25 (range .95-1.90) a loaded mile, plus a fuel charge (currently .27/mile)
    3) You can pick a variety of types of hauls (RVs, Horse trailers, Flats, Boats).
    4) I'd own my own business and set my own schedule.
    5) There is huge demand for this type of haul.

    1) I presume I'd be caught running empty 30%-45% of the time.
    2) Likely I'd travel empty a lot to pick up and from drop off.
    3) I'd own my own business, with all those risks and headaches.

    I would love to hear from anyone with any knowledge of this business.

  2. larryh31

    larryh31 Light Load Member

    Jul 24, 2006
    Houston, TX
    With todays high fuel prices, driving around empty 30%-40% of the time will eat up most if not all of your profits. After you factor in truck payments, insurance, truck maintance, taxes and permits, how much do you think you will be able to "net" for yourself?

    How much does the company charge to "teach" you the trailer hauling business? How about training for your Class B CDL?

    By getting your CDL, you will be able to carry heavier loads, but you could also opening yourself up to more DOT inspections and having to carry a logbook.

    There is a company called Bennett International in McDonough, Georgia that does this kind of work. They operate Bennett Truck Transport and Bennett Drive Away. I would contact them and see if you could work for them as a driver for at least a few months to get a feel for the business, before you invest a bunch of money in buying a truck only to find out that you don't like the business afterall.

    Best of Luck To You.
  3. Scarecrow03

    Scarecrow03 Road Train Member

    Sep 27, 2006
    In Your Head
    I too looked into this and discovered something that I didn't think of initially. I'm sure you're aware of the costs of a 1-ton dually pick up (anywhere from $30-$45k and that's being modest). But have you considered the depreciation factor? In a matter of 2-3 years you will be trading in a truck that's got 6-7 years worth of miles on it and will therefore be pretty worthless. Here's a way you can put "pen to paper" on this so to speak: Go to Kelly Blue Book's website and get a price quote for a 3 year old 1-ton dually with all the options you would like/need to have and at least 200k miles on it. Be sure you get the quote based on trade-in and private party values. Unless you're a dealer, the retail option isn't for you. I think you will be surprised at how much money you would lose just in the value of the vehicle.

    A guy I talked to who is in the business said he wouldn't recommend doing it as your only source of income. The company he was with was based out of Bristol, IN in northern Indiana (where there are several RV manufacturers) and he would often get loads from there to Texas with a backhaul that wouldn't even cover the fuel costs. Of course this is just one individual's opinion, but between his viewpoint and the depreciation factor I decided against going this route.

    As a side note, I would highly recommend you get your CDL "A" and some experience in a big truck before trying this.
  4. rockee

    rockee Road Train Member

    Apr 17, 2007
    Pacific Northwest
    I'm with larry on this, try it out for someone before you jump right in, unless you plan on buying a new truck anyway....Hauling trailers and boats etc is pretty easy and I dont really think you would need to be "trained" to do this, maybe do a ride along with someone on some short trips. Would this company charge you a fee to get trained? And is this company also the broker that gets and sets up your loads or would you have to find your own loads after your trained? What is the fuel charge about, do you pay the company/broker that or is that added on to your pay? Can you get used to sleeping in your truck? What about insurance, can the broker/company set you up with that, as far as liability. What about medical insurance? You might have flexibility in the loads you can haul but will there be flexibility in the loads available? I think some trailer places make you wash the bugs off of the front of them before delivery. I dont really know a whole bunch or have alot of personal experience with this sort of work and dont want to make it sound all negative by my questions either, but I know the basics through a friend of mine who stopped doing this and is now doing hotshot work, the pay is much better but just starting out with no contacts it might be hard to get on with an outfit, worth looking into though.... Anyway just some thoughts there, it does sound like interesting work but I'm not sure the money would be there in the long run
  5. ziggystyles

    ziggystyles Road Train Member

    I was just talking about this very thing today to someone who used to do this for a living becuase I was thinking of doing the same thing myself ....buying a truck, getting a fifthwheel installed, hauling trailers around..etc.

    He said it is a job for retired people who double as tourists. Because, you hardly make anything doing it. You drive the trailers to a location...and then what....most often find your way back home or back to the factory or whatever. You only get paid for loaded miles, so when you drop off a load, its all on your dime. So lets just say that you ran empty for 50% of the time...just for numbers sake. Well...all that money you made during the 50% loaded time is being spent right down the flusher paying for the other 50% of your time being empty. You said you figure you will be empty 30-45% of the time which means you could be loaded 55-70% of the time...which pretty much means youll only be paid for half to 3/4 of the time you are in the truck. Sort of like getting paid 6-8 hours of a 12 hour shift.

    Also...think about insurance. Someone else told me and Im not sure if its true...that when its in yoru hands, the trailer is your responsibility so you need to have coverage that covers it.
  6. tomhorn

    tomhorn Light Load Member

    Aug 9, 2007
    Jacksonville, FL
    I apprectiate all the imput and do keep it coming. I've addressed some of this and I am pretty much retired, but would lik e to pick upan extra grand or two a month. Here are more details of this:

    The cost for a Class B CDL is $900 vs $4500 for a class A

    There is a guy offerring a course on this business for $700 and he hooks you up with several dedicated companies that contract to haul new RVs out of N In and there is constant demand. I have family in SW Michigan, very near the trailer manufacturers and friends to stay with in TN and N GA. The brokers often can find partial backhauls that can help with return fuel (outbound in my case). There are resale RVs, horse trailers, boats and such. There are always things like motorcycles and ORVs moving around a bit and even if I only get .30/m on these, that at least offsets fuel. There are also several big boat companies that make big trailer boats near me in FL and on the way in TN that are always being shipped to the great lakes. I'm also working on a removable rack for the back of the truck that can haul a car. Here is roughly what I'm figuring for a budget:
    Initial investment in asset (truck and equip) $50K (payin cash), drive about 90K mi a year for 3 years, sell at about $10K. Value loss = $13K/yr, but tax deprec'n will be about $35K over that period, so there's tax savings.

    Here's the rough 3 year budget ave over first 3 years:
    50K of full load @ $1.25 (incl fuel surcharge) $62.5K
    15K of backhauls @ .70 10.5K
    Tota Revenue 73K

    Fixed expenses:
    Value reduction on truck 13K
    Insurance 4K
    Amortization of start up costs 2K

    Variable expenses:
    Fuel 24K
    Maintenence (Near New Truck) 8K
    Misc Expenses 6K
    Total Expenses 57K

    Gross Profit 16K

    Granted, not a lot of money, but I'd be travelling and enjoying life and would not be mandated loads or lorded over by some rigid company. I've looked into going the CDL A route and going with a company. The thing is, I'm retired and just want to make a little extra and take lots of time off, passing through places where I can fish and hunt. If I go with Star or TMC or Schnieder, all of a sudden I'm getting put out on the road for 10-14 days, then just a day or two at home. Virtually no flexibility, no control over when and where I go. And from what I've read here, I'd maybe clear in the low 30s doing that and I'd Hate it. I can't just get a CDL A and buy my own truck and start running for someone. I have to suffer through 2 years of slavery and I probably only want to do this for 5-6 years anyway. So if I go the big rig route, I pay dues for 2 years, then invest $150K in an O/O business and struggle for long haul loads and never se home.

    I have some pretty substantial assets, but a lot of them are in places that pay little to no return, but will later. I have a small income and full health insurance. I love to travel and see places, but I like to take some of it at a slower pace. I figure I can do this for a while and travel free, while bringing in a grand or two a month in spending cash.

    I know I'm rationalizing here and hope you continue to give me advice on this, but thought I'd just clarify my motivations and position.

    Also I've been doing some research and think there are ways to Increase the percentage of loaded miles. There are lots of 5th whell RVs going from Goshen, IN to the SW. There is a custom manufacturer that builds in AZ who is always looking for haulers to FL. So I'm thinking here is maybe a typical trip Scenario, getting me decent loaded miles:

    Come out of JAX empty to Maybe Daytona (90) and pick up a harley in the back of the truck. Haul that to maybe Atlanta at .60/mi (400+/-)
    Run empty to Bristol Tenn (250+/-) and pick up a sea ray and haul to Grand Haven, MI @ 1.00/mi (600+/-)
    Run Empty to Goshen, IN (150+/-) and pick up an RV and run to S CA @ 1.25/mi (2400+/-) Run an ORV from S Cal to Las Vegas @.50/mi (200+/-)
    Run empty to Tempe (300+/), then pick up a new RV and run to Tampa @ 1.25/mi (2400+/-), then run home to JAX (200+/-)

    It's my understanding that would be a typical type of trip in this business. Get two good long manufacturer hauls, plus pick up a few little deals in between.

    I'd get a nice 3 week trip, see some scenery, do some fishing and cover about 6840 miles and burn about $2,400 in fuel and collect about $7K in pay for about 6000 of the miles. Sure theres wear and maintenance on the truck and I'm paying insurance and probably staying at a decent motel or two every few nights, but if I did the same trip in my Subaru, it'd cost me about $3-4K. This way I do the trip for free and in the end even pocket maybe $2K. Unless someone gives me a real compelling reason, I think I'll try it.

    I figure the worst that can happen is I buy a year and a half old 1 ton diesel dually and outfit it for about $45K, run for 6 months and discover I'm only breaking even, then sell it for $40K and find some other hobby that pays positive. All I'll be out is about $10K at most and I'll have seen a few places. I'm thinking, however, that it just could work out.
  7. Brickman

    Brickman Trucker Forum STAFF Staff Member

    Sep 17, 2006
    I think all you'll do is break even. But it doesn't sound like you are really wanting to make a lot. Just some thing to finance your fishing/site seeing. Nothing wrong with that.
    A friend of mine tried this route one winter. 50% dead head. He soon gave it up.
  8. ibflat2

    ibflat2 Light Load Member

    Jun 17, 2007
    Dothan Alabama
    don't forget one thing about this kind of business...

    The pickups delivering trailers do not have sleepers so you will have a hotel every night on the road.

    Delivering RV's and trailers, yes you will have a place behind you for sleeping and restrooms but you are not allowed to use them at all..
  9. ziggystyles

    ziggystyles Road Train Member

    Im not too sure. I agree that you'll probably at best break even.

    Are you going to own your own trailer or not? Im not sure what kind of trailers you said you were going to be hauling. Some kinds, you can put 2 or 3 on the back of a fifthwheel.
    Either way, with the fifthwheel gizmo on the back of the truck, you're going to ahve to be really creative in getting a bike or seadoo or whatever back there. And if you put it on the trailer...and make 60 cents a mile for 400 miles...hmm. Also, you don't see (at least I haven't yet) private companies hauling bikes or watercraft. If you are hauling someones bike...thats not a constant thing...and most people who have bikes have a truck or a car that can haul the thing anyways. And for watercraft...its pretty much a prerequisite to have a truck or car to pull the thing when you buy it.

    The thing is..you have to think about fuel mileage. If you have a fifthwheel trailer, you are going to be hauling lots of weight no matter what.

    I think if you want to break even or even make a little, you need to find constant, well paying, dedicated runs. Go from point A to B and back to A...etc.

    But then again, like Brickman said, if you arent in it to make money, then go for it. I just figure if you dump 50k into a truck, its going to take quite a while to not only make a living off of what you earn, but also pay the truck off.
  10. L.B.

    L.B. Third Generation Truck Driver

    Jul 23, 2007
    Middle GA
    Are there load boards for these kind of loads?

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