There are no defined areas of operation in the used equipment market. Successful used dealers know how to market to customers wherever they are and never let the distance between a prospect and a store get in the way of a sale.
Internet marketing and sales has only affirmed this reality. In a world where customers can search coast to coast for their ideal equipment in seconds, dealers committed to moving equipment have to be willing to literally move equipment.
That’s where driveaway services come in. By developing relationships with driveaway providers, used truck dealers can safely and transparently move inventory across North America to ensure any customer who’s willing to buy can do so and get their equipment as quickly as possible.
“Our business isn’t so much about landing sales as it is completing sales. Once a dealer contacts us for a quote on moving a truck, they probably have a customer who wants to buy it,” says Bobby Williams, vice president at Alliance Driveaway. “Where we come in is getting that truck to the customer as fast as possible. We help the dealer close the sale by being able to tell the customer the truck they want will be there by Thursday, for example, and following through on that.”
Alliance Driveaway provides driveaway services across the continental U.S. and Canada. With nearly 500 independent driver partners, the company works with hundreds of used equipment dealers and provides new truck driveaway services for multiple OEMs.
Williams says Alliance has been able to garner such a large market share in the driveaway business through reliability, accountability and transparency. He says, “We’re not the cheapest, but we’re not the most expensive either.
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“Our business is all about communication. We communicate every step in our process to our customers — how to get a truck ready, driver information, if there’s a hiccup on the road — we know the faster and more direct we communicate with a customer, the better the experience is going to be.”
Used truck dealers can benefit from driveaway services in multiple ways. The most obvious is bringing a truck to a customer who is buying a unit but unable to pick it up.
The benefits here are obvious, Williams says. A dealer selling a truck to a customer five miles away may be able to let a salesperson deliver that unit. But that doesn’t work if the customer is 500 miles away. Or the customer ordered five trucks to be delivered on the same day.
Driveaway services push a transaction forward, an essential tool in the digital shopping age.
“I think the ability to expedite the movement of a truck matters more now than it did in 2021 when the market was really good,” says Tim Ronan, director of pre-owned trucks at McMahon Truck Centers. “I think then when a customer found a truck he was good.
“Now there is so much more inventory available. If a customer finds a truck but it’s going to take 10 days to deliver it, he may decide to keep shopping and see if he can get a better deal.”
Ronan says driveaway services help with the latter by enabling McMahon’s team to promise delivery of a truck by a certain date.
“When I have a fish on the line, I have to reel him in before the sharks come and bite him in half,” he says.
Ronan also uses driveaway services to move inventory across his stores. His sales teams have the ability to sell any unit in their portfolio, which means it’s not uncommon for a customer to buy a truck from a salesperson who isn’t domiciled in the same location as the vehicle.
Driveaway services can be useful in other ways as well.
At CSM Companies, Director of Used Trucks Al Croft uses driveaway services when receiving trade packages. He says it’s not uncommon for units acquired via trade to be dispersed across the country. Croft says trucks are routed back to his dealerships for inspections and reconditioning. He adds he only likes to move trucks once, and driveaway services are helpful because they provide drivers who can get a group of trucks from one customer to multiple dealer locations.
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“I like Alliance because they keep a dashboard of all of our trucks,” he says. “We know where they are. Who is moving them. We know how to get in touch with them.”
Those drives have clear benefits for dealers too.
Williams says Alliance’s drivers are encouraged to report their driving experiences to dealers and Croft says he appreciates their candor. Williams adds a driver who uncovers a steering issue or drivability problem en route also can relay their findings so the dealer is prepared to service the vehicle on arrival and hasten its speed to market.
“We want our drivers to share their experiences with the trucks,” he says.
Adds Ronan, “There’s nothing like an extended test drive.”
But dealers don’t have to move trucks to their stores to use driveaway services.
Ethan Nadolsen, president and CEO at SOARR, references the example of taking ownership of a truck across the country via trade. He says in the days of online sales, a dealer doesn’t have to bring that unit back to a store. They can work with a local partner to get images and an inspection and get the truck listed online while it’s parked in a lot 1,000 miles away. Once the truck is sold, via a digital auction or through the dealer’s online listings, a driveaway service can step in and move the unit to the new owner.
“That’s the thing about used trucks. We don’t have an AOR like the new truck side,” he says. “I’ve seen people buy a truck from Alaska in Florida because it had the right specs.”
Nadolsen says in past, “of course you would have brought that truck back to the dealership.” He also believes remote selling like that is only likely to increase as buyers and sellers become more accustomed to the process. Which means driveaway service demand will only increase.
“So many people don’t ever come to a dealership to buy a truck anymore,” says Ronan. “It’s mandatory that we evolve.”
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