From behind the wheel: So you wanna be an O/O?: Part 2
July 1, 2007
Last month Sergei outlined his plans to make the transition from company driver to owner/operator. After finding a good fleet to work for, Sergei turned his attention to finding the perfect rig with w...
FIRST WHEELS: Sergei’s first truck, pictured here, made his transition from company driver to owner/operator complete.
Last month Sergei outlined his plans to make the transition from company driver to owner/operator. After finding a good fleet to work for, Sergei turned his attention to finding the perfect rig with which to launch his business…
I started visiting truck dealerships around Cambridge, Ont. and they all required 15% down. So with my $5,000 I could only get a $35,000 truck with probably a million kilometres on the odometer. Then a guy from Carrier Truck Centers called me back and suggested I apply for a new truck because they had special offers on 2006 and 2007 models. I knew a new rig would cost over $2,200 a month, but I hoped to be switching to the high-paying flatbed market anyway. The $5,000 cash back this dealer was offering sounded pretty good too.
So on a cold April afternoon I drove to the company’s London office and test drove a 2007 International 9400. It was a nice truck and I was impressed with the well laid-out sleeper.
We filled out a financing application for GE Canada, their standard lender, and I gave the salesperson a cheque for $1,000. Then I got into my Ford Focus and drove back to Cambridge.
Two days later the salesperson called me: “Serge, I have bad news and good news.”
Well, I knew what the bad news might be. He said, “They’ve approved you – but they need $4,000 more for the down payment.”
“And the good news?” I asked. “Well,” Wayne said, “they’ll charge you only 7.25% a year.”
I pondered on how I could get the extra $4,000 on top of the $5,000 I had already offered them. My first thought was to call my new carrier – I had nothing to lose. So, I called the recruiter and he said, “Actually, we do offer this kind of assistance to people who already work for us if, say, you want to upgrade your truck; but you’re just starting. What if you quit two weeks later?”
I saw his point, so I called the sales guy back and said, “Sorry, there’s no way I could find the nine grand, we have to cancel.”
I stopped by Carrier Truck Centers on the next day to get back my $1,000. The matter proved to be difficult as all checks were written from their Woodstock office. The business manager left a couple of voice messages and while we waited in his office for someone to call us back, he asked why I didn’t want to buy a used truck?
“You have already been conditionally approved by GE,” he said, “We can use this momentum and get them to finance you for a used truck.”
He asked if I liked any of their used trucks, and I said, “Well, there’s this yellow International 9400 with a Cat C15 and 13-speed transmission at your Woodstock location – but it costs around $64,000. I can’t get that with only $5,000 down, can I?” The manager said, “I’m pretty sure I could persuade the Woodstock manager to throw in some cash back to help you with the down payment.”
He started typing a quick e-mail to GE saying the customer (me) had changed his mind and would like to get financed for a used truck; and he asked how much down payment they would need for this yellow truck.
While we waited for GE to respond, I drove over to Woodstock to test drive the yellow International. The truck had minor defects such as bad rear fenders, rusty spots on the rear steel rims, and a slightly damaged front bumper; but other than that it looked impressive and had only 250,000 km on the odometer.
After some tinkering and replacing the four batteries, the 15-liter engine came to life. I jumped behind the wheel and we cruised around the neighbourhood enjoying the 1,650 ft.-lb. of torque; this was one great truck! When we returned to the parking lot the salesperson wrote a deal and I asked him to include certain conditions (such as to replace the rear fenders and touch paint the rear wheels). My initial $1,000 deposit was transferred to this new contract and I drove back home in painful anticipation (GE still had to okay the deal).
Well, wonders never cease and two days later the salesperson called saying GE had agreed to loan me the money. The dealer put down $3,000 as promised; I gave them just under $6,000 total, and GE financed the entire deal for 42 months at 9.75% a year; with my monthly payments of $1,565 starting in 45 days. And that’s how I bought my first truck and became an owner/operator.