Finding money in those trades

I had an opportunity to visit with veteran truck industry sales professional Lee T. Wittmann and talk about used trucks. Wittmann is owner of T Q M Company, a Beech Mountain, NC-based company that promotes transportation and construction equipment for dealers and owner/users. One the matters I asked him about was: Why are some fleets able to get considerably more value out of their trades than others? “Reputation,” he told me. “There are fleets that actually have groups of buyers waiting patiently for their trucks to be taken out of service,” said Wittmann. “The main reasons for this keen interest is the desirability of specifications, an outstanding maintenance program and, most importantly, the willingness to stand behind the equipment after the sale is made.” As you would expect, it takes time to develop a reputation for good used equipment, and catchy slogans will have little effect. “The good news is that while a fleet is challenging its drivers and maintenance staff to a higher level of expectation, the fleet will see a marked improvement to its operating costs,” Wittmann said. An area of attention overlooked at times during vehicle acquisition is paint and graphics, he noted. “Elaborate and eye-catching paint jobs are not only costly to install, but result in additional depreciation because they aren’t as appealing to a second user. “If you’re in a business that caters to the public, the advertising value may be well worth the expense. If your operation is of no interest to the general public, one paint color and modest lettering would be better as a used vehicle easily de-identified has a higher value.” Standard colors also have an effect on the desirability of a used truck. The feeling among used truck dealers is green is the most difficult color to sell, while white, black and red are the most popular. “Specifications are also a key to a successful used truck sale because resale values are typically driven by popularity and appeal of specific components or component packages,” said Wittmann. “Truck make also comes into play. Generally speaking, the most popular make in a particular type operation will also be the most desirable in the aftermarket.” The ability to offer a used truck with a transferable new and extended transferrable warranty “will certainly add to the value of a used truck,” he added. So will “aftermarket” used truck warranties. “The successful disposal of used and surplus trucks requires as much attention as any other aspect of the operation,” concluded Wittmann before he had to run off. “It cannot be left to chance or considered a week or two prior to the arrival of the replacement trucks. Only through serious effort and planning will vehicle disposal add to the company’s bottom line.”