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the cargo van expediter

Discussion in 'The Newbies Paradise Forum' started by Thom75, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. Thom75

    Thom75 New Recruit

    I have an opportunity to become an expeditor
    using a cargo van.
    I have questions for those
    with past,or present experience using
    cargo vans.
    what is,or was your average weekly
    what is,or was your average weekly mileage?
    how long were you gone from home?
    what were you loaded with?
    thanks to all for your answers.
  2. xiggi

    xiggi Expert Expediter

    This has been discussed an untold number of times on here. try the search function and you can find some useful info. That being said it is hard to answer your questions without knowing more.

    Your location
    size of van
    do you own it or drive for another party
    what company are you looking at
  3. ebsprintin

    ebsprintin Active Expediter

  4. chefdennis

    chefdennis New Recruit

    Hey EB, I have seen that same response to these same kind of questiones from you more then one time, I am beginning to feel the same way........:rolleyes:
  5. Thom75

    Thom75 New Recruit

    3/4 ton cargo van,I think it is called a B van.
    I own it,without a bank note.
    non at this time.

    My apologies, I should of mentioned I did as much
    of a search as I could.yes, I did find usefull info,
    but not enough.
  6. Turtle

    Turtle Administrator Staff Member

    Your research should have shown that for every van expediter there is a different answer for average weekly miles and income. For some, the weekly miles average is 800 or so, for others it's 2000. Average income depends on the carrier you're with. As a van expediter you can expect to make $400 to $500 a week over the course of a year. Some do less, some do more, but that's about the average for most. Largely it depends on your own learning curve and how long you are willing to stay out. Some people stay out a week or two or three and then go home for a week. Others stay out for several months at a time, going home for a week or two twice a year. It's what you make it.

    The biggest mistake people make in this business is getting a van and becoming an expediter because they think they can make a lot of easy money. The money to be made out here in a van is neither a lot, nor easy (especially in a 3/4 ton van versus a 1 ton). You have to get into the business for other reasons.
  7. brycey2010

    brycey2010 New Recruit

    that paints a pretty dismal picture, why would someone go away from home for lets say a month in their own vehicle to only make 4-500 a week, i would not, would you? however i am leaving today to start with fedex, i have a 3/4 van, i have many years driving semi's as a company driver, i expect to make allot more than 500 a week once i have figured the business out, im not saying you are wrong, i am saying to be a successful o/o you need to make net more than 500 a week to be worthwhile, and i am saying if your figures are correct, why would anyone do this, sightseeing?
  8. ChrisGa23

    ChrisGa23 New Recruit

    Average miles? I normally hit 1000 to 1400 average with maybe once every month or so I get more.

    Most I been away from home time at one time ? Month and half. ran out west ( which I will never do cause I went broke and in debt out there )

    Average income? $200-$300 on the shorter weeks miles with 1200 or less paid miles. $500+ on good weeks. Highest I got paid was a little over 2000 miles was $740
  9. Turtle

    Turtle Administrator Staff Member

    It may paint a dismal picture, but it's reality. And it's a stark slap-in-the-fact reality to most former semi-drivers who trade in a tractor for a cargo van unless they absolutely know what they're getting into.

    I should probably explain the numbers, though. Take these and massage them into your own situation and see where they shake out.

    Basically, you're out here working for roughly $100 a day, same as you would be at home working an hour day that pays $12.50 an hour. That's where the differences end, tho, as when you're out here your 8 hour day is a 24 hour one, and your work week is 24/7 where the weekends rarely squish up nice and neat paired at the end of the week. Somewhere in there you get a couple of days off, often more than that, but between working and sleeping it's in chunks of a few hours here and there.

    The way the revenue works, it's basically, rough ballpark, 1/3 for operating expenses, 1/3 to the truck, and 1/3 to the driver. Operating expenses are fuel and oil and routine maintenance, plus weekly deductions like Qualcomm and insurance. Truck expenses are things like brakes and tires and water pumps and other repairs. The rest is the driver's, and that's usually in the ballpark of 32 cents a mile, give or take.

    All this assumes the driver is also the owner of the van and is not splitting revenue with someone else.

    Or another way to look at it is 32 cents a mile to the driver. If you average 95 cents a mile including FSC, then if 32 cents goes to the driver, roughly 32 cents will go for operating expenses, and the remaining 31 cents will go to the truck. Each person's breakdown will of course be different, but not substantially so.

    OK, in order to get your 32 cents a mile and make $100 a day for your five-day work week that takes longer than a week to complete, you need to average 1563 miles per week. If you can average 1563 miles a week over the course of 50 weeks a year, that's $25,000 for the year.

    If you want to make more than $25,000 running the same number of miles, then you've got to take that money from somewhere else. It really can't come from operating expenses, so it's going to come from either routine maintenance, which will get you in trouble, or repairs which happens all the time when someone needs new brakes and can't afford it, and you're likewise in trouble. If you're really good and stay on top of things, you can cut costs across the board, and you'll make more money. But it won't be significantly more. If you can do some of your repairs that'll add up to even more. If you're lucky and don't have any major breakdowns it adds to it again.

    And 1563 miles, over the course of 50 weeks, which is 78,150 loaded miles a year, is not the norm for most people out here. Some people get more than that, but they are the exception to the rule. Most get considerably less, in the 50,000 to 60,000 mile range, either because it's extremely difficult to average those miles over the long haul, or because they take a lot of time off. People who do those miles stay out for extended periods of time, are smart in how they work, and are both smart and lucky in where they position themselves for freight.

    That's why I say that the money to be made out here in a van is neither a lot, nor easy. It takes a lot of work, and you have to be smart enough to know that a 1000 mile load paying 95 cents isn't going to pay $950, it's really only going to net you about $300 when all is said and done. People come out in a van looking for quick and easy, and pretty soon either the miles aren't there or they have a major breakdown and they're out of the business in a year or two. There's a reason the turnover rate is as high as it is amongst van owner/operators, and it's not because you can make a lot of easy money out here. It's because so many of them think you can and don't understand the reality of it all.

    I've been OOS for 35 days so far this year, for repairs and just simple time off at home. That's it. But that's five weeks out of 52, already three weeks over the 50 that I need, or would prefer. Many people have far more time off than I have. Last year I had 73,000 loaded miles. The year before that I had 84,000. This year I dunno, I'm sitting right now at 58,017 loaded miles, with 9 or 10 weeks left to go. I should end the year in between 71,000 and 75,000 loaded miles.

    I don't know it all by any stretch, but I'm seasoned and experienced and I know what I'm doing, and I shoot for the magical 1563 miles per week, which gives me $100 a day. If I have 75,000 miles, then at 32 cents a mile I'll have made $24,000 for the year for myself. On a 5-day week and 50 weeks, that's about $100 a day, a little less.

    So there ya go. Not exactly the easy money cash cow that many seem to think it is. Most people who buy their own van and get into expediting are gone within 2 years. That's a fact. Too many come out here without truly understanding what they're getting into, or at least don't have the quick learning ability to make some fast adjustments, get eaten alive.

    Most vanners' numbers are just like ChrisGa23's above. That's the reality of it.

    Granted, these numbers are very rough and do not included negotiated bonuses and other things that add up quickly, and not exactly 1/3 went to the truck as I've taken some of that, too. So there is more to the numbers, but it's not like I'm in the $25,000 range while most others are in the $50,000 range. I'll end up with a little over $30,000 probably. But still, that's just $120 a day, really. I could certainly take considerably more, but then I'd find myself looking around without a paddle wondering where I'm gonna find money to fix this or that.

    So, to answer your question about why anyone would do this for $100 a day, it clearly isn't for the money, because my numbers are indeed correct. It's for a plethora of reasons, sightseeing being just one of them. And sightseeing really and truly is one of them. Expediting is loaded with retired couples who want to sightsee and money is secondary to them, regardless of the fact that they do their jobs well. It's the lifestyle of being on the road, of being your own boss (relatively speaking) and doing what you want, when you want. The reasons for being out here are almost as varied as the number of expediters. But none of them, at least in a van, are out here to make loads of easy money, for if they are, they won't be here for long.

    Is that dismal? I dunno. Depends. It depends on how dead set you are on that whole "I expect to make allot more than 500 a week once i have figured the business out..." thing. I've got if figured out, mostly, and I do make more than $500 a week, but not "allot," relatively speaking.

    I do wish you good luck. Mostly, I wish you good luck in adapting to sitting there and doing nothing between loads, because that's not something many ex-company drivers can handle. If you can get past that hurdle, you'll probably be OK.
  10. OntarioVanMan

    OntarioVanMan Expert Expediter

    I concur with Turtle 100%..

    NET $500 a week? Good luck on that one...
  11. brycey2010

    brycey2010 New Recruit

    Thanks for your informative reply, i think it may deserve to be a sticky, i agree with those figures, i have done my own calculations which are pretty close, so, i guess the answer is, to try to get more miles, i would run 2500-3000 at 39 cents mile a week in the semi as a company driver, the other way is to try to double up loads, i have done the sightseeing thing when i started driving semi's in the USA, thats not saying i dont like to sight-see, i am doing this to work, to make a living, so for me, i will give it a few months and see how it goes, i know it is possible to make more money..............
  12. OntarioVanMan

    OntarioVanMan Expert Expediter

    You will not be doubling up at Fedex nor will you be running long loads..their rules are pretty tight....
  13. highway star

    highway star Seasoned Expediter

    Turtle's post is a must read for any newb, absolutely a sticky.

    As far as getting more miles, as a contractor you're at the mercy of the carrier. You'll get the miles they see fit to give you when it's your turn. When you deliver you'll go into the dispatch rotation and wait til you're next up. The cargo van roadside is littered with the carcasses of vanners convinced they were going to set the world on fire. "They're going to keep me running or they'll lose me!" They were somehow convinced they had something to offer that the others didn't, which, of course, they didn't, and the company would worship them. LOL!!!... I'd love to see where some of the yahoos I've met over the years are now.
  14. skyraider

    skyraider Seasoned Expediter

    INHO; Work for 2 or more companies, maybe 3. Do not do that 60/40 plan thing where u drive someone else's van or whatever. When u do that, ur under someones thumb and ur independence goes out the window. I just met a driver that works for 4 companies and by his enthusiasm and joy he is making very good income. You can tell who is successful out here by their attitude and mannerisms, they don't give u the old song and dance of ( well i sat 4 days in this town and that town). I don't ever sit 4 days, that's dumb. OK, stay out 4 weeks and go home 5 days. Don't be a cry baby over dead heading if the load over all exceeds that dead head by a large margin. Treat yourself once in a while to a motel if u want to or something and let ur brain regroup. U will have to learn a few things the hard way. Keep all things simple and don't over think so much, and slow down on the interstates, u wont get there any faster at 75 then if u run 62mph, been there and done that. good luck on ur new job
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2010
  15. greg334

    greg334 New Recruit

    Well dismal, no

    Realistic, d*mn right.

    Yep first mistake - a 2500/e250 series van with a major company.


    What's the hurry?

    There are enough 3500/E350s floating around that you should at least bump into a dozen going to Kroger.

    That means nothing, it truly does. You are competing, yes competing with people who never been in a truck, let alone drove one. In this business, unless you are independent or work for a company that allows you independence, you are equal to the retired couple who decided to see the country while getting paid for it.

    Well I have to break this up a bit ...

    First thing that you need to understand, and as Highway pointed out, you are at the mercy of the carrier. FedEx especially puts you in a bad, very bad situation because their dispatch system sucks and uses a psychological effect to move freight. Broadcasting offers is a bad thing, you would be better off going on your own. In essence you compete with the van and in some cases trucks near you, and even if you accept the offer, it does not mean that you would get it. Somewhat a questionable practice (legal) and seems to allow a lot of plausible deniable over a few issues like dispatcher/management games (don't say they are too busy cheerleaders).

    Learning the business is not the same as learning FedEx, they won't let you unless you play their game. They don't give you any tools to make proper decisions, they didn't when I was there and that has not changed. The best you can do is to deal with what you have on a day by day basis.

    The success thing is not really something that can come easy without the right perspective on goals, 500 miles a week means that you will gross $385, then out of that you have qualcom, insurance and all those fees. I think you need to evaluate the company based on a financial goal of say $700 a week, which does not always work for those who are being paid flat rate.

    This has nothing to do with your situation but one thing I just don't get is outside of a few specialty vans, why in the world would anyone drive a van for any owner? Vans are cheap and if you are in such dire situation to be in one with nothing in savings, you don't need to be in this business at all.
  16. chefdennis

    chefdennis New Recruit

    Another post that is right on the money by our Shelled One!! Yes make this a "Sticky!!!"

    As for Doubling up didn't do to much research on Fed Ex did you!?!? You won't be doubling up loads, and if you do get one it will be far and few in between and it will NOT buy as if it were 2 seperate loads, you might get a few EXTRA bucks for the stop, this ain't LTL freight...oh and you won't be getting those long runs either, when they force you to cross dock after 750-800 miles.....well unless it works to their advantage, but I wouldn't bet on either double loads or long runs...

    Fed Ex is the BIG name in the business, yeap...but they aren't always the best for the O/O or driver....and thats by plan....

    But, Good was said, Expediting is a tough change for an EX Trucker...hope you have alot in that van to 'entertain" yourself when you are sitting between loads...sat with a Fed Ex driver in Greeneville Tn this week that said he had been there 46 hours , had been offered 3 bad runs and turned them down, accepted 1 good run, but didn't get it because of the 4 other vans that it was offered to along with him got it before he could accept it...he finally Dh'd out after 55 hours sitting...oh and he has been in the business since he started with Roberts Express...I did enjoy a few of his storys about the "good ole days".....
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2010
  17. brycey2010

    brycey2010 New Recruit

    well, fedex told me as long as i contact them 1st and there is no delay on their load, and i have room, i could double up, however, after reading this im getting concerned!!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 25, 2010
  18. x06col

    x06col Expert Expediter Charter Member

    Frankly, you should be concerned with your choice of Carrier. Also, there ain't NO double up with fedup. They go to great lengths to provide the all mighty "exclusive" use, which does not enhance the position of the O/O. I'd leave from Florida and head this way regardless. There are a lot of other choices to attend orientation with in the upper midwest.
  19. Turtle

    Turtle Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks. I have lots of posts that deserve to be stickies. None of them are. :D

    Waaaaay easier said than done. As Greg pointed out that Highway pointed out, you are at the mercy of your carrier. You can ask them for more miles but they won't give you any, unless it's your turn. The only way to get more miles is to make it your turn more often. And that's easier said than done, too. You have to learn your carrier's system and make it work, as best you can, to your advantage. And with FECC's dispatch model, that's a tough nut to crack. You have to try and position yourself where freight is likely to be, but where there are few if any other FECC vans, and sometimes even trucks, since they'll flat load a straight truck with van freight to keep that straight truck loaded and happy no matter how long the van has been sitting there. Vans are a dime a dozen and they can replace you with 5 vans with the snap of a finger.

    You take loads that will take you to places that have freight, or that pay well enough to deadhead to a place where there is freight. But with the Express Center model, it doesn't matter much, since you can be sitting right next to the freight and someone far off can still get the load. Best you can hope for is to be closest to the freight and the freight picks up in a hurry and you can get there quicker than anyone else. Otherwise, it's wait your turn, sometimes for a day or two. People will tell you they never sit more than X hours without getting a load or without deadheading and them virtually immediately getting a load after deadheading, and most of them are lyin' their аss off. Some are telling the truth, but they're the exception to the rule, they absolutely know what they are doing and where freight comes from, and they aren't necessarily with a FECC-type carrier.

    And that's precisely why most company drivers fail out here within a few months, sometimes in a month or two. They're used to driving every day, 8, 10, 11 hours a day, every day, every day. They can't handle the sitting. They fail to properly outfit their van for things that kill time, like a hobby or the Internet or whatever, and they quickly go nuts.

    They get a cargo van and think, "Hey, no logging, no HoS, I can drive all day long. Whooo hooo!" Well, no ya can't. One, most carriers won't let you, since HoS or not, there's a liability issue they don't want to deal with. Two, carriers can't manufacture loads for you to keep you running, you get them primarily from luck. We do primarily emergency freight, which encompasses everything from really hot freight to exclusive use of the truck to freight that is scheduled to ship on short notice. You never know when that next load is coming, so you sit and wait, or if you're smart you go to sleep and wait.

    This weekend for me is a good example of that. I delivered to New Orleans early Friday morning. Actually, it was really far south of New Orleans. So far south that if you looked at it on a map you'd swear you would need a boat to deliver down there. There were roads, but if felt more like deep into the Florida Keys than anything. But I came back up to the south side of New Orleans and went to a Walmart and slept a good chunk of Friday, hoping that I'd get a load, but knowing I probably wouldn't. New Orleans isn't exactly a hotbed of expedited freight.

    I piddled around on Saturday, playing on the computer and watching TV, and napping. Went grocery shopping at the Walmart I was parked at on Saturday night. It'll be Monday at the earliest before anything goes out of within 100 miles of here. But that's OK, I'm the only one within 200 miles of here. Sunday (today) was to be laundry day this morning, and then eventually mosey on up to either the TA in Slidell or the Petro over in Hammond, to grab a shower.

    Whoops, 0730 Sunday morning I get a call, load picking up in Hammond at 1600 going to Laredo, delivery Monday morning 0900. You never know when loads will find you. This one is the second half of a swap coming out of Blacksburg, VA, 1506 miles total, and the cargo van driver doesn't have enough hours in the run to get there on time and take a required 5 hour break mandated by Safety. No HoS, but liability fears have a mandated 5 hour break every 16 hours. (He actually does have enough time, but I won't get into that here). So of that 1506 miles, I get 717 and the first-leg driver gets 789. He'll be here in Hammond a little before 1400, so we'll swap it then, and I'll end up in Laredo around Midnight for a 9AM delivery. Yeah, you betcha he has time in there for a five hour break, but I digress. It beats doing laundry, I guess.

    The thing is, if I had some what many people would have done, and that is deadhead to a place where they are more likely to get freight from, like Houston, Birmingham, even Jackson, MS, I wouldn't have gotten that load. Staying put in NOLA was a gamble, but I'm the only one here. That's using the system to my advantage (even though it was still blind luck that I got the load. Just the same, I positioned myself for that luck.) But the same blind luck got me a load out of San Antonio the other day, also on a swap, out of Laredo of all places. And when I delivered that load to Tulsa, everyone else was sitting there in Oklahoma City, so I stayed put in Tulsa and a few hours after I delivered I got the load down to NOLA.

    Six out of the last eight weekends I've gotten loaded out of places where weekend loads are rare, two of them on swaps, but four of them were truly emergency freight that popped up out of nowhere. And every single time I was in a place that no one else was, so I got it. I do that a lot, and not just on weekends. It works more often than not, but sometimes I also get burned. The FECC dispatch model doesn't really allow for that, but you've got to figure out their model and make it work for you instead of it working you.

    As other have pointed out, good luck with that. Most carriers won't allow it, since part of the service is exclusive use of the truck. Remember, you're running under someone else's authority, so they have a huge say in how that authority gets used.

    The last thing I want to do here is bring you down, dash all your hopes, and pull the rug out from under you just as you're coming out of orientation. But I'd be downright evil if I painted a rosy picture for you instead of reality. I just want you to be prepared, mentally if nothing else, for what you're going to be up against. Be prepared to sit, and like it. I'm tellin' ya straight up, ex-company drivers and even owner/operators who trade in the tractor for a van, or even a straight truck for that matter, have the hardest time adapting to sitting there and doing nothing, sitting there just waiting for a load. Just sitting, not knowing where or where their next load is coming from. Experienced drivers with 20 and 30 years of experience in general trucking come into expediting and instantly they are clueless, wondering why this or that is happening, with the most often wondered about happening is, "Why am I still sitting here without a load? Why can't they get me loaded?" '

    General trucking, like you came out of, is like large-scale commercial fishing with a net. You rarely cast out the net without bring something back in with it. Sometimes it's a light load and sometimes it's a heavy load, but there's usually a load of some kind with every net. You're always busy.

    Expediting is like cane pole fishing with a baited hook and a bobber. You bait the hook and throw it in and sit and wait, and wait, and wait, and then you get a bite, bobber disappears, all Hеll breaks loose and you go full-tilt boogie (it's an industry term) to land the fish. And then you do it all over again. Sometimes you have to move to another part of the lake where the fish are biting better, and you sit and wait some more. You can scream at the lake all you want to make more fish bite quicker, but it won't do any good. The fish are where the fish are, the lake can't do anything about it.

    I can sense that you're even more excited about expediting now than ever. :D

    Like I said, I, nor anyone in here, want to give people a load of rose colored crap, when a dose of dark brown reality will serve them better in the long run. At least you know what you're getting into this way, good and bad.

    Personally, a truly enjoy what I do, despite my diatribes on the particulars. I like delivering someone's important freight, safely, legally and on time, and in the same shape that I accepted it. I like the sightseeing, being able to see things most people never get a chance to see. I like seeing things anew that locals dismiss and take for granted, like the Grand Canyon, where there are people who have lived their whole lives in Flagstaff who have never even been to the Grand Canyon. (Then again, I live 2 hours from Mammoth Cave and I've never been there, either.) I like seeing a meteor shower in the night Montana sky. I like seeing bald eagles in Wyoming. I like seeing pheasants along the side of the road in the Dakotas and playing tag with tarantulas in the J parking lot in Laredo.

    But mostly, I like sitting here and doing nothing other than sleeping, playing on the computer and watching TV, for days at a time. :D

    And I get to go to Laredo now. About 8 weeks ago, I dunno, the Air Conditioning compressor went bad on the van. It works fine while driving, but not at all when parked and idling. Well, summer's about over and I won't need it much, so I'll wait until the Spring to fix it. Yeah, well, ever since I decided to wait, I've been in Florida, SC, southern AL and GA and MS, NM, AZ, LA, south and west Texas, and Houston twice, and even when I was up in OK City and Tulsa it was near 90 degrees every day. I had one day in Indy and one day in Muncie, both hot days. Only the 6 hours spent in Appleton, WI, that was like cool and perfect heaven, but then got a load to SC. Now I'm in New Orleans where it's not humid at all <snort> and the forecast for Laredo on Tuesday, "Near record highs 99 to 101 degrees, abundant sunshine, 90% humidity, winds light and variable." I love my job.
  20. Turtle

    Turtle Administrator Staff Member

    Yep, ex-general trucking. If you're hard and fast on that 24 hour rule, don't bother. It's a very hard thing to adapt to for ex-company truckers, especially.

    The van looks nice, though. Not a lot of insulation that I can see. You're gonna pay seriously huge for that oversight. Maybe not so much the cargo area, but at least hit the ceiling in the sleeper area with some Reflectix or something. You're gonna be living in there, so it should be insulated like you live in it. Otherwise it's just an iron box sitting in the sun atop black asphalt. I would have thought something like that would be second nature to someone from Florida. :D

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