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How Do Cargo Van Drivers Make Money At 70 Cents Per Mile?

Discussion in 'General Expediter Forum' started by blizzard, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. blizzard

    blizzard Active Expediter

    Is it really possible to turn a profit at 70 cents per mile? Have any of you "cargo van" drivers tried to run the numbers on 70 cents per mile plus an 8 cent fuel surcharge? I mean, what has happened to this industry since I stared back in 2006? I can remember getting .77 cents a mile and a 30 cent fuel surcharge on Caterpillar and various other loads when fuel was just around 2 something a gallon. So, I was actually making somewhere around 1.07 per mile when expenses were a lot lower then they are now. Once again, how do you turn a profit at .70 cents a mile in a cargo van? I mean, even if you are an old retired guy "and you are getting a modest pension" how can you justify the time and dedication it takes to live your life out here on the road for .70 cents per mile?

    I am running very lean right now. I do not have a van payment. I do not have any personal bills "cept 100 a month for cell-phone and 86 dollars a month for my bobtail insurance." I live at home with family and most of my runs are one way trips "so my dwell time on the road has been reduced to a bare minimum" which has saved me a lot of extra money. Now, I do turn a modest profit because I work for a company that can get me higher rates on the shorter runs and at least a buck a mile on some longer runs when there is no competition in the area. I live out west so competition on loads going back into Sacramento, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada etc., are not a problem. Most drivers do not live out west and have to get back into the traditionl freight lanes in order to minimize road expenses. Yet despite this, I am not maing a great living doing this job. It beats the nine to five Mcdonalds gig hands down, but is it really worth it?

    You have to buy a van every 5 years, right? Even if you go cheap and want to have a decent van that is going to cost you between five and ten thousand dollars. Then you have to pay for tires, alternators, starters, brakes, windshields, oil changes, and other componants that can break down on you. Then there are eating expenses, shower expenses, qc fees, company insurance deductions to be paid whether you are running or sitting, van registration fees, wireless internet card fees, and all of the rest. When you break it down, how much can you actually net on .70 cents per mile if you get 70 thousand miles a year "which is a very high estimate" and may not reflect what most cargo van drivers are getting? Do any of you guys have any input on this matter?
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2009
  2. Zoli

    Zoli Rookie Expediter

    They can't.The problem is not the 70 cents ,the real problem is that we don't have enought loads.Give me 1500 miles per week with 70 cents and I can survive.It is not Panther fault ,is the economy.I know it's sad but this is the reality.Expediting is not a good business anymore.
  3. blizzard

    blizzard Active Expediter

    I not even going to try and figure out how a "new sprinter" owner can even make his payment on .70 cents per mile. That is just a nightmare in the making!
  4. greg334

    greg334 New Recruit

    Well, so when can a straight truck driver make money at $1.10 a mile?
  5. aileron

    aileron Rookie Expediter


    I am in the same situation as you, debt free, only a cellphone bill.

    It looks like no matter where I layover, I have to wait at least 3 days for another run, so I go home after every run. I calculated, and I spend about the same amount dedheading home as waiting 3 days in a truck stop somewhere.

    I am making .85 a mile, not .70, but that is of not much help when 50% of the loads offered have ridiculous deadhead (350 mile dh for 150 run), also 50% of my offers are less than 200 mile runs. If you do them, you will still wait a few days for the next run. I haven't been able to make more than 600 a week gross this year, and most weeks are at 300 or thereabouts.

    I LOVE driving a lot, but there is no reward at all for doing it. The clock is ticking for me. I planned to ride out the storm, and I am able to do it just because I am debt free, but I need to get more out of this than the pleasure of moving freight. I might give another company a try, and if that does not work, then it is time to move on.

    And I was thinking about what Zoli said. Even at .70 a mile, give me 1500 miles a week and I can survive. But how long can I survive? How about if my transmission decides to blow up? And it is a possibility with all those 1500 miles a week. Something like this will definitely put me under.

    After I paid off my 2004 Sprinter, I was looking at a newer model with the intent of replacing mine, just because mine is the 140" wheel base. I wanted something longer, more confortable. But thank God I did not do it, since that would have been a big mistake.

    All I can say is good luck to us all, because we need it bad.
  6. Falligator

    Falligator New Recruit

    If the load is less than 400 miles and they offer me .70 cents I won't take it. And since I drive for the cat I make sure that they don't count it against me in my stats. If the load is over 400 then I see where the load is going to drop. If it's a bad area I won't take it. I did however, take a load from Knoxville, Tn. to dayton, Ohio for .70 cents once but that was only because I was trying to reposition myself into a better area. Matter of fact the other day they offered me a load for .70 cents going to Pa somewhere and they weren't going to pay me my rate because the package was light. Well, at least that was the dispatchers reasoning. He had to ask supervisor for permission to get me my contracted rate. :eek:
  7. indydad11934

    indydad11934 New Recruit

    It appears that one-way trips are becoming the norm....instead of the exception.
    I would rather deadhead back home to Indy, rather than wait it out somewhere else. Of course, this cuts into my profits, but I am becoming more uncomfortable at truckstops as time goes on.
  8. piper1

    piper1 Active Expediter

    If I am within 3 hours of home (Kitchener ON) I will deadhead home after waiting a day. The cost of showers and other things usually adds up to 12-15 bucks a day. 3 hours of driving only costs 20 bucks in fuel (this week:rolleyes:). It seems any loads that pickup (in Canada) within 3 hours of the house get offered to me anyhow. Fact is I will even get offered loads out of Buffalo if they come back into Canada. My theory is why sit in Dearborn with 10 other vans for scarce loads or Buffalo (even scarcer). load planning always suggests relocates to both those exp ctrs.

    As for 70 cents a mile....that is tough, you would really have to be on top of your expenses to do it and likely let a few things (maintenance of you and the truck) suffer.
  9. OntarioVanMan

    OntarioVanMan Expert Expediter

    Even at .70 there is no need to let maintenance go...if you do you are sunk even Piper said..just have expenses under control...there is a lot of little things one can do to control expenses...that add up....
    do your groceries at Pilot or somewhere with snacks...mustard, ketchup, miracle whip, salt and pepper even the little creamers for your morning coffee...stock up they are free and do not need refrigeration.
    Its not not speed....don't use toll roads where not practical....have ez-pass for discounts.... a lot of fast food places have seniors discounts but don't advertize it...ASK! Pride is a killer. Just be is doable....Good luck!:)
  10. TJ959

    TJ959 Rookie Expediter

    I really can't see how .70 a mile can pay period. The more miles you run the more maintenance, repairs and tires you will need. Your time on the road is worth more than minimum wage and that's what you will be making. All you are doing is buying yourself a job with long hours and poor living conditions. I'm an old guy with no bills but common sense tells me I can have the same experience by staying in the driveway, staying awake all night and paying someone to rock the truck. It will cost less too.
  11. OntarioVanMan

    OntarioVanMan Expert Expediter

    It doesn' more then flippin burgers at McD's for 40 hours a week....

    BUT some of these guys INSIST on being out here...WHY i haven't a clue...maybe they are just lazy and don't want physical work...maybe they think McD's is below them...whatever the reason....

    And you know TJ in our case we still get the buck or 80 cents a mile that makes the per mile average higher then .70 cents...
  12. CharlesD

    CharlesD Active Expediter

    The rates are dependent on location these days. Blizzard is getting $1 a mile because he's in an area with little competition and he's with a carrier that isn't paying him a set contract rate per mile. Loads in the west that aren't coming back east are going for better rates because everyone out there is trying to get back east. If you're with a carrier that will pay more if they get more on the load, and you're not sitting around Michigan all the time with 1000 other vans, then you have a chance of getting more than .70 a lot of the time, but even then the loads are few and far between these days.
  13. Dakota

    Dakota New Recruit

    I saw a semi the other day saying they pay their owner operators .90 cents a mile. I'd be embarassed to advertise that.
  14. guido4475

    guido4475 Active Expediter

    The cost difference between a s/t and a van are huge.but the pay difference is really not that much of a difference.I am basing this on what I have been offered in my 10-wheeler at 1.10 a mile versus possible van rates of .85cpm.
  15. OntarioVanMan

    OntarioVanMan Expert Expediter

    IF one owned the cargo van..overhead would be minimal
    say 35 for QC...25 for bob tail ins and 25 for worker comp...85 bucks top per week....@800 miles for .75 is 600 a week- the 85...515$ minus fuel of about 75 bucks =$440 a week.
  16. TJ959

    TJ959 Rookie Expediter

    Ok, Now you blow a water pump or your belt tensioner lets go. Pay for the repairs and the towing and how much do you have left from your$440. Even without the QC or Workmans comp you are way in the hole and you're still not making a living wage unless you're living in the truck and you have no other living expenses. Even if you pay cash for the van there is no surplus funds to lay aside for repairs or vehicle replacement. You can always look at it like you are being paid to travel and see the sights. Ahhh, beautiful downtown Cleveland, Detroit, Newark, Philly, Baltimore, and ya gotta love those border towns too. .....Just gimme the money, 80cpm or better.
  17. BillChaffey

    BillChaffey Active Expediter

    I have no idea on what has changed at Panther. This is Panther deductions for one week for a Cargo Van. 11/12/07
    $35.00 Satellite messaging. $20.00 Qualcom Satellite. $23.53 Physical damage/Bobtail. $30.00 Truck Insurance Escrow. $17.47 Occupational Insurance. $126.00 Total. To go 800 miles on $75.00 for fuel. I don't believe there are too many Gas Cargo Vans averaging over 20 miles per gallon.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2009
  18. OntarioVanMan

    OntarioVanMan Expert Expediter

    TJ I understand what your saying ...the 800 miles was a floating number...and the spouse would have to have a job as could be done...and you are referring to a Sprinter I'd assume because of the belt tensioner...I was referring to a common workhorse cargo van...
  19. davekc

    davekc Senior Moderator Staff Member

    Something doesn't look right. Why would you have two QC charges. Unless one is for the escrow.
  20. OntarioVanMan

    OntarioVanMan Expert Expediter


    Isn't the escrow a flat rate amount? Why after awhile would that be a weekly deduction?

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