Pulse

Max Heine | April 03, 2011

Making informed decisions

I had my first brush with time-share sales while vacationing last year with my wife in Charleston, S.C. Can’t say that it was a bad experience, given it required only about 90 minutes, we got a $100 debit card and plenty of observations to analyze later. Most importantly of all, we escaped the high-pressure zone commitment-free.

A glib salesman described all kinds of resorts to a group of us. He showed photos of exotic scenes. We received a fat directory listing vacation spots around the globe, each available for points earned by paying a monthly fee. Still, putting it all together – equating dollars, points and value – was far beyond the scope of this quick session. Nor was it spelled out in print.

Once we were alone with our young woman handler, who earlier had been so friendly, she began to tighten the screws for about $30,000.

“You don’t really expect me to sign this right now, do you?” I asked. Of course, I knew the answer. “Is there anything I can take home to study this a little closer so I can understand it?” That, too, had an obvious response.

I have no idea how many of the couples, still huddled with salespeople as we exited, partnered with this group. Perhaps some who did are happy with the results.

Switching carriers can cost thousands of dollars.

A partnership of a different kind is something you might be considering in these days of rising demand for drivers. A recruiter asking you to lease with a new carrier exerts far less pressure than someone hawking a time-share. You won’t get $100 just to listen. But the common point in both scenarios is the need to see past the surface and take time to accurately determine value. And what’s valuable for the next guy might not be valuable for you.

As our cover story by Senior Editor Max Kvidera makes clear, every fleet has something to dangle before prospective leased operators. Often it’s more pennies per mile, but it could be promises of more miles, generous home time, a friendly culture, etc.

In the end, it’s up to you to verify what you’re hearing. It’s up to you to account for how much of an improvement a new arrangement would be over your current one. Will an added 3 cents per mile more than make up for additional fees you now have to bear? If the promise of miles seems shaky compared to what you get now, can you afford to take the risk?

Counting downtime and possibly new or higher costs for escrows, insurance and so on, switching carriers can cost thousands of dollars. Thousands more will be at stake as the true nature of the partnership unfolds.

It’s not a choice to be made rashly or lazily. Take the time to run all the numbers. Talk with people on staff and certainly with some of their owner-operators. You won’t regret the effort.

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