Craig D. Sciara
Unhappy with your most recent truck buying experience? Ever experience buyer's remorse or thought you didn't get the best possible deal? Have you ever felt intimidated by a truck dealer and at a real disadvantage? If you answered yes to any of the above, you're not alone.
This is a common problem experienced by many owner-operators, be it a seasoned veteran or a rookie, no one is immune. Owner-operators face many challenges in the course of their business and the process of acquiring equipment for your operation is just another issue that needs your complete attention.
This article is the first installment in a series aimed at examining the issues you should consider prior to making a major equipment purchase. Since there is a vast amount of information to consider on this subject, this article will examine the role of your emotions, the importance that should be placed on your decisions and the need to be prepared.
There is a lot to consider when preparing to buy a truck. The key word here is "preparing." You need to treat your truck purchase as a project and start your research early. It's important that you address all of the issues that can potentially effect your decision. I have spent the last 11 plus years on the dealership and finance company level and during that time I have seen numerous unprepared owner-operators make uninformed and emotional purchase decisions. If you have been guilty of this, you most likely made some poor choices.
Did you seriously consider all of the earlier mentioned items during your last truck purchase? How prepared were you when making your decision? Did you really need a newer truck or was there some useful life left in your previous unit? Did you explore a new truck versus a used one and vise versa? Did you have any equity in your trade-in and were the finance terms of that deal fresh in your mind? Did you look at your finances to determine how much you can afford per month? Did you examine how financing terms can effect the affordability of your purchase? Now, are you sure you were afforded the best possible deal?
I know that all this "preparing" may sound like a lot of time consuming work, but it's not that bad. You can start your process by requesting brochures from truck and major component manufacturers. Read the used truck papers to get an idea of the current retail market values. Review your finances and make a budget. Familiarize yourself with the finance terms on your current truck and call your lender for a payoff. One of the best things you can do is to talk with other owner-operators about their experiences. There is nothing better than real world experience, so if that guy at the truck stop is complaining about his truck, engine, financing, salesman or the dealership, find out why!
The acquisition of a truck is probably the greatest expense an owner-operator will ever encounter in his or her operation. This is a business you are in and you need to always remember that, and address all of the issues which face your operation with that thought in mind. I know that this may seem pretty obvious, but despite that obviousness, I have seen countless owner-operators make emotional and uninformed decisions when it comes to purchasing a truck for their "business." Why is this? Well, in part it is due to human nature. We humans love to upgrade, and that excitement and anticipation can cloud our judgement. It can be very difficult not letting your emotions dictate your decisions, but proper preparation will reduce the likelihood of that happening. The consequences of an emotional decision can be very costly both financially and emotionally. The so called "meat & potatoes" should be the most important aspects when buying a truck. Will this unit do the job and make me money? Cosmetic and comfort features will trigger emotions and I think we all know these are important, but a plush interior usually doesn't impact the bottom line.
Remember the purchase of a truck needs to be a well thought out "business decision" and if you don't have the time, you need to make the time. Don't get caught up in the moment and make an impulsive emotional decision when it comes to buying a truck. The effects of a poor decision will linger for years. Just in case I didn't get my point across and to put this a bit more into perspective, consider this - I know of an individual who spent extensive time gathering information in preparing to buy a $1,000 refrigerator and spent virtually no time preparing to buy a $100,000 truck. Ouch! Does this sound familiar?
Still unsure how to prepare and where to go for information? Don't fret, this series of articles will provide you with lots of information to help you during this whole process. As we explore each topic, you will gain a better understanding of how a particular item will affect the process and how to avoid the common pitfalls associated with it. LL