I'm looking for Advice - Van Driving

Van Driver

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Owner/Operator
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Hello All,
I will start by saying I have read a lot of posts on the forum trying to learn more about what I am getting into, I learned a lot but still have some specific questions if you guys could be so kind and share some knowledge and advice with me.

I am aged mid fifties, I've already been driving on a regular license for various jobs all my life, so lots of experience driving vans and cars.
I am also currently driving a small van getting work here and there from Uship,
What my plan is going forward is to purchase a different van and do this more permanently but I need freedom to take time off when I need to so may be suited to the owner operator role, however would consider driving someone elses van on the understanding I would not work constantly all the time.

One of the main things I've learned is the majority of the "van" expediting seems to be in the Mid West, is that correct?
What my initial thoughts are is I would like to work for 2 weeks nonstop out of every month and then take 2 weeks off, I could easily drive to the Mid West from Florida to work those 2 weeks per month if that is where the work is.

Basic questions I have are...
Who are the specific companies to partner/ lease with on the 65% split I have read about?
Would there be any issues with working 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off? or even taking 2 months off if I need it?
Are there minimum requirements of the van I would need regarding model? size? and age?
If at some point I decided to be a driver of someone elses van, what should I expect the percentage split to be? and is that likely to be an available option for 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off or would I need to work more?
Who would offer the vans to drive...the big companies? or individual owners?

I'm sure there are many other considerations of getting into this that I'm not even aware of yet, if there is anything obvious that would help me or you feel I should know, please share with me.

Thanks in advance!
 

LDB

Veteran Expediter
Retired Expediter
Offline
Expediting is pretty much a full time career. Most very successful operators work several weeks then take a couple of weeks off, more like 2 weeks off out of every 2 months not 2/2 weeks on/off. Van owners need their vehicle making money. They won't be able to provide someone a vehicle to run only 2 weeks per month as the overhead expenses run every day of every month. Minimum van requirements should be 3/4 ton, with 1 ton being better, high roof and extended length. It's better to have sail boat fuel on board and be running a load than miss a load due to inadequate capacity.

If I were going back out it would be in either a Ford Transit or Ram van, 1 ton, long and tall. My first choices would be Load-One, Landstar, FedEx and Panther with a few others on the possible suspects list. It is a tough business and anyone who isn't in 100% is at a definite disadvantage to make it long term. Good luck.
 
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Mr. Loyalty.

Rookie Expediter
Owner/Operator
Online
I agree with Mr. LDB. A 1 ton highest roof and at least 144" cargo carrying capacity is the best bet. What would you gain by having anything less? To have a full van at 2 skids and nowhere to sleep? More carriers are wanting 3 skid capacity vans anyways. That 1 time that you are surrounded by 2 skid capacity vans and you get a load in front of them all because you are a 3 skidder will pay off right there. Happens to me frequently. I once got a load from Detroit to Utah, a piece of mounding, 12' long, by 4" square.

As far as you wanting to run 2 weeks on/ off, no fleet owner will let you do that. You need to be an owner operator with a good used van (if you can find one right now). Maybe try Ryder truck sales? I've bought from them in the past, and are am very pleased with them. Their vehicles come with a full vehicle nationwide 30 day bumper to bumper warranty. What works best for me is to take the 1st week off of the month, and run the other 3. If I am within 4 hours of home than I will go home on a Friday during those 3 weeks out.

I sincerely wish the best of luck to you.
 
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Van Driver

New Recruit
Owner/Operator
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Thank you both LDB and Mr. Loyalty. I appreciate your responses!

I did think running 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off would be a problem in someone elses van. If I bought my own van, would Load-One. Landstar, FedEx have a problem with it too or can you do what you like when you own the van?

For those same companies, do they stipulate any age limit the van must be?
I'm thinking it might be better buying a good condition older one with 100,000 miles than a newer one with 300,000 miles.

Thanks again!
 

Mr. Loyalty.

Rookie Expediter
Owner/Operator
Online
Good morning!

If you were a leased owner operator to a company, I don't see how you can be told when you can and can't run. Technically, you are not an employee, but sub contracted to them. I don't think they will like it, however.

Some companies do have an age limit on the leased vehicles, some don't. I have a 2003 Ford econoline that I bought 10 years ago for $8,900. ( not trying to make this post about me here, lol) but that has been the best van ever. I do 90% of the repairs myself, including replacing the engine and transmission. I honestly believe that if a vehicle owner is obsessive with keeping the vehicle in tip top shape mechanically and appearance wise, than a company will be fine with that vehicle. As long as it doesn't break down and is deemed unreliable. My van only has broken down 4 times in 10 years. Guys who are mechanically inclined have the upper hand on others as to where they can do and know what to look for, hear, smell problems before they happen. I've seen a lot of good owner operators go broke because they were not mechanically inclined and relied on shops to do their work for them. Some got screwed,, others did not. I've seen alot of sweet looking and running older vehicles out there. We had an owner operator straight truck guy who originated from Turkey. He had a FL70 Freightliner that was a basic plain truck, but spotless all the time. Wheels and frame kept painted. Body waxed. It was a nice truck. Another was Nick and Jenny's 2006 Sprinter. Impeccable both in looks and mechanically.
 

LDB

Veteran Expediter
Retired Expediter
Offline
Carriers want you to run as much as possible because they don't make money when you aren't running. But they take what they can get because that's all they can do. Most all carriers require a van signing on to be no more than 5 years old. Require as in a strong suggestion not a concrete rule. They also require annual inspections if not more frequent. With FedEx we had to take two photos to send in, one from the right front corner and one left rear. That showed all 4 sides in 2 photos. Expediting racks up a lot of miles, not nearly as many part time as you plan, but still a lot. A class 8 truck with 300k miles is just well broken in. A van with 300k miles is well on the way to worn out. A class 8 taken care of like Moot takes care of his van has at least a million more miles in it. A van taken care of like Moot takes care of his van is at least 1/3 used up, maybe 1/2. So 300k is a LOT of miles for a van.
 

Turtle

Administrator
Staff member
Owner/Operator
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My Sprinter had 930,000 on it when that goober ran me off the road and a road sign took out the hood, windshield and roof slope. It didn't take much to total the van, despite how good of condition it was in. The transmission only had 4000 miles on it. Ugh.

3 weeks on and 1 week off is not uncommon in expediting, but that's mostly for those living right snack dab in the middle of the expedite freight lanes.

You will need to figure out your CPM (Cost Per Mile). Everything from truck payment, tires, maintenance, fuel, oil, truck washes, everything. OOIDA has a good downloadable spreadsheet for that. Depending on your truck payment, it'll probably be anywhere from 45 cents per mile to 60 cents per mile. You can quickly see that deadheading is a money pit, especially if you deadhead 500 or more miles home and then again back out to where you can get a load every 2 weeks.

Your weekly deductions from your settlement for Qualcomm, insurance and occupational accident insurance will likely be $80 to $100. Mine was $85.85. So the 2 weeks you're off, that still has to be paid.
 
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Mr. Loyalty.

Rookie Expediter
Owner/Operator
Online
My Sprinter had 930,000 on it when that goober ran me off the road and a road sign took out the hood, windshield and roof slope. It didn't take much to total the van, despite how good of condition it was in. The transmission only had 4000 miles on it. Ugh.

3 weeks on and 1 week off is not uncommon in expediting, but that's mostly for those living right snack dab in the middle of the expedite freight lanes.

You will need to figure out your CPM (Cost Per Mile). Everything from truck payment, tires, maintenance, fuel, oil, truck washes, everything. OOIDA has a good downloadable spreadsheet for that. Depending on your truck payment, it'll probably be anywhere from 45 cents per mile to 60 cents per mile. You can quickly see that deadheading is a money pit, especially if you deadhead 500 or more miles home and then again back out to where you can get a load every 2 weeks.

Your weekly deductions from your settlement for Qualcomm, insurance and occupational accident insurance will likely be $80 to $100. Mine was $85.85. So the 2 weeks you're off, that still has to be paid.
It's very unfortunate what has happened to your van. Sadly enough, so many are in the same boat, risk category as me and you with old high mileage vans. Regardless how impeccable we maintain and keep them looking good, they still are 03's or whatever year with a zillion miles on them...with a almost zero bluebook value on them. It sucks, I don't like it either, but it is what it is. Nothing we can do about it.
 
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