How to buy your next tool truck

How to purchase or lease tool distributor trucks

“If you are fortunate enough to find a used Isuzu truck, for added peace of mind, see your local dealer and ask about Isuzu’s Gold Star used truck warranty,” Tabel said.

Important questions for used trucks include “Are you purchasing from a reputable dealer?” and “Are there any warranties available or is it 'buyer beware?' ” Carstens said.

He advised using a tool truck leasing company or reputable tool truck builder when buying used. “Since they are providing the financing for the vehicle they are going to make sure the truck is serviced and everything is in good working condition.

“The most difficult purchase is when you purchase from an individual, especially someone that is getting out of the business. … If you are purchasing from an individual, check out the maintenance records. Ask to review and see invoices of work that has been performed on the vehicle. If you are not a mechanic, have someone that is check out the truck or require a DOT inspection,” Carstens said.

“There are a lot of good used vehicles out there and you can certainly save some money if you can find one that fits your needs,” Solofra said. He advised adding a few items to your checklist to consider with a used vehicle, like:

  • Engine hours.
  • Service and maintenance history.
  • Additional money you may need to spend to refurbish or update the interior.

    Layout options

    Once you’ve decided on gas or diesel and evaluated whether to go new or used, interior layout is a major choice—especially since this most directly impacts your customers.

    “Size and interior layout typically come down to two things: route characteristics and personal preference. If your route is compact, your customers’ parking lots are small, and you have a lot of tight spaces to fit into, a 24-foot cab-chassis probably isn’t the best choice,” said Solofra.

    “My number one thing is retail space,” said Mark Brown, general manager at Summit Body Works. “The display is everything in a tool truck, and the more display area you create, the more useable it’s going to be. The thing that’s going to help the distributor the most by getting a new truck, other than the reliability, is if he can increase his display area.”

    “If a new truck costs $120,000, what’s the square footage of shelf space worth? That becomes considerable,” advised Brown. “If you’ve gone to all this expense, and you’ve lost some shelf space, then you’ve just increased the cost per square foot of display area, in reality.”

    Most dealers and franchisees have learned what is successful for them,” and are moving from a “mobile warehouse to more of a mobile retail environment,” Solofra said. “For those that aren’t so well prepared, LDV has designed, built, sold and maintained over 10,000 tool trucks in our 33 year history.” Solofra said they are more than ready to help design a van with the distributor.

    One of LDV’s advancements for interior design is its VersaFlex Interior. The all-aluminum, fully adjustable interior setup is designed to help distributors become more retail-oriented in layout. VersaFlex shelves and display drawers are available in 24”, 30” and 36” widths; the system offers interchangeable shelves and drawers, and adjustable shelf angles, spacing and lighting options.

    VersaFlex offers distributors the option to upgrade their truck’s current interior vs. buying a new truck. Some of the shelving options can be incorporated alongside current setups.

    Other upgrades a distributor might consider (for a current or new truck) are adding satellite Internet, flat-panel monitors, LED lighting and keyless entry systems.

”One pitfall not to make is letting your truck look empty. … Don’t buy a truck that you can’t fill up,” Carstens said.

“The interior size of the trucks will have normally the same interior height at 84 inches and usually you have about 87 inches from wall to wall. The length would then vary from 18 feet to 24 feet. I tell a distributor to take masking tape and lay it out on the floor in their garage to get a better feel regarding how things might look and the flow of traffic,” Carstens said.

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