Owning and operating a commercial truck is a complex, risky and costly proposition. Where you buy your truck can have a significant impact on the overall cost of ownership of the vehicle and ultimately the success of your business.
Both new and used commercial vehicles are fraught with the complexity of electronics, options, previous history, warranty and financing not to mention registration requirements. If you’ve been down this road before, you understand. If you are buying for the first time, you need to know the decisions you make now can impact your success for years to come.
That’s why choosing a dealership with a strong connection to an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Network should be your #1 priority when you set out on the journey of commercial truck ownership. There are many options to choose from when it comes to making your purchase. You can choose from used fleet sales, leasing companies, auctions, or independent dealers that don’t have any connection to an OEM. So, how do you choose where to buy?
Factors To Consider When Deciding Where To Buy Your Commercial Truck
When making your choice of where to buy your commercial truck, consider these things…
A dealer connected to an OEM Network has a variety of resources available that other sellers don’t have.
When preparing a truck for sale, a connected dealer can see and repair outstanding recalls at no charge to the customer. So right out of the gate, you’ve realized significant savings and are purchasing a used vehicle that has been evaluated and repaired for recall issues. The OEM dealer also invests in diagnostic tools and capabilities in their shops that other buying options don’t have or don’t provide. Today’s trucks are very complicated, and most independent garages don’t have the capabilities to do much more than brakes and alternators on these late model trucks. Without diagnostics, the common result is a higher cost because of over repair. Meaning, it takes three or more small repairs to figure out the real cause of a problem, which ultimately also results in additional repair costs. Sellers not connected to an OEM do not have access to original build sheets and schematics to assist in a diagnostic. Additionally, there are no technicians or repairs, the truck is sold as is. Or the technicians do not have specific types of training combined with the amount of training hours required for a dealership to maintain a typical OEM relationship. This is yet another investment the connected dealer will make to ensure the lowest cost of a repair and improve your overall cost of ownership. Finally, OEM connected dealers have access to original OEM parts that can make a repair less expensive and speed up the repair process.
Alternative sellers and independent dealers do not have access to OEM used truck warranties.
OEM’s have both factory warranties, and factory labeled warranties. There is a tremendous difference between these two types. The factory labeled warranties are nothing more than third party warranties with an OEM label on them. The true factory warranty is issued by the manufacturer and backed by the manufacturer. It is administered by the same people that administer the new truck warranty. Although the warranty terms may be similar, the warranties themselves are often quite different. Many third-party warranties have deductibles per event, have occurrence limits, and lifetime limits. Most do not cover progressive damage from a covered part. Another key consideration is motivation to truly satisfy the customer's needs. How is the warranty administrator motivated to act when considering a claim? Factory funded warranty programs are more likely to be motivated by building long term customer relationships and loyalty for the brand. In the case of a contested claim or out of the ordinary issue, the factory can provide more resolution options to the customer than a third-party company with no manufacturer connections.
Downtime is a huge consideration for any commercial vehicle. Time is money.
When buying a truck from an OEM dealer, with an OEM warranty, downtime can be significantly lower. Service write-ups are quicker and easier when the truck was sold by an OEM dealer, because the dealer registers the new customer info on the truck at the time of sale. All of that info is available to the service writer when they enter the serial number of the truck. When the truck is purchased with an OEM warranty, that info also displays, avoiding the delay of calling a warranty company before a repair to inquire about the coverage. Warranty claims are quick and easy for OEM connected dealers because approval or denial is automated and instantaneous. This process can sometimes take days with a third-party warranty. When the repair is finished, the truck can be released right away without having to wait for payment from the warranty company. If there are complications or questions, the buyer can always call back to the selling dealer’s salesman to try to intervene and help solve the problem. That would be nearly impossible if the truck were bought from a fleet, leasing company, or an auction.
OEM dealers have relationships with multiple departments throughout a manufacturer organization.
This means that OEM connected dealers are well informed of the various available options and can help navigate the larger organizations on your behalf. Connected dealers can negotiate based on what they are seeing in a required repair and hold the OEM accountable. This can easily save you thousands of dollars on an individual repair. Most OEM dealers are part of a network of dealers, which means these dealers are very competitively priced and can call on each other for help to support individual customer needs. In many cases, these connections are another way to save you time and money.
OEM dealers have access to proprietary financing.
This means that the finance company is owned by the same company that builds the truck. The proprietary lender understands you’re trucking business better than any bank or third-party financial institution. They understand the ups and downs of the business, and will work with you through the tough times and the good times. The goal of the manufacturer is not only to provide financing, but also to help you be successful, so that you will buy more trucks from the OEM network.
These individual benefits combine together to dramatically impact the overall cost of ownership for a commercial vehicle. Not understanding these various options, can also impact costs, in a negative direction. Consider where to buy, before you buy.
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That’s why choosing a dealership with a strong connection to an Original Equipment Manufacturer Network should be your #1 priority when you set out on the journey of commercial truck ownership.
About the Author
Gary is a 35 year veteran of the truck sales business. After graduating with a degree in marketing from Southeastern Louisiana University, Gary began his career with Kenworth and Chevrolet Trucks in Baton Rouge, LA. In 1983, he became the youngest Sales Manager in the entire Peterbilt network. He has since worked with dealers in Louisiana, Tennessee and Georgia, successfully creating and managing high performing sales teams. Gary has represented the Freightliner brand for the last 20 years and came to SelecTrucks of Atlanta in December of ’07.