With a little extra attention and the right approach, you’ll know exactly how to ship a car without getting scammed.
Unless your dealership has a fleet of carrier trucks, it’s likely that you rely on car transporters or brokers to move vehicles across state lines. The most fundamental skill required by dealers is not knowing how to ship a car, but how to sort through all the dishonest carriers to find the most trustworthy and efficient. After all, a late shipment could cost you thousands in floorplan fees for vehicles that aren’t yet sellable, as well as the risk of losing customers because they lost patience waiting. The majority of dealerships can’t afford either of these.
Outsourcing vehicle transportation requires extra caution.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has seen a rise in complaints against auto transporters and brokers which may leave you apprehensive and wanting to take shipping matters into your own hands. Paying a transport broker doesn’t necessarily ensure a seamless experience because they can be scammed by carriers just as easily as auto dealers. If a carrier has space on the truck that needs to be filled, they will say just about anything to get the job. They make promises they can’t keep, and a week later you’re still chasing them down. The task of managing vehicle logistics may seem daunting, but it’s worth gaining control over who is handling your inventory.
Instead of hiring a broker, consider assigning dispatch duties to someone in the dealership.
The purchaser or lot manager is the perfect person to manage transportation dispatching since they are most familiar with the constant changes in inventory. They are the ones who frequently communicate with the auctions and wholesalers, as well as the transporters when checking in a newly delivered fleet. It’s always more efficient to eliminate the middleman, just make sure they have the tools they need to determine the credibility of potential drivers.
Legitimate carriers should always be able to provide:
- A six-digit MC docket number which is required by law and monitored by the FMCSA.
- A seven-digit USDOT number.
- Proof of Insurance.
- A professional website with legitimate contact information and clearly visible MC docket and USDOT numbers.
Tools the dealer dispatcher should always have access to:
- Current vehicle purchase records.
- Vehicle storage and location information.
- Reliable review sources such as the Better Business Bureau.
- Resources that allow them to verify that the transportation company is fully insured and licensed with the FMCSA.
Increase efficiency by keeping a list of the most reliable shippers.
Not only is it a good idea to keep a list of reputable shippers, but it’s also helpful to keep track of anyone who has failed to meet deadlines or is known for being dishonest. When working with someone new, you can scan this list to make sure they’re not one of the sketchy truckers that’s misleading dealers by changing their name for the tenth time to stay in business.
Choose a dependable source for finding auto shippers.
If you’re not working with a broker, you’ll need to find a reliable resource for locating drivers. It can be a lot less expensive to subscribe to a dispatch service such as Central Dispatch where you can search a massive database of drivers. Just post the cars you have available for shipment, and drivers will call you to bid for the job. Insurance information and license numbers are listed on the driver’s profile, and you can even read reviews before you decide to assign the vehicle. By using a service like this, you not only reduce the expense of using a broker, but you have the tools to be your own broker.
There are a few more things to keep in mind to avoid getting scammed.
- Keep a paper trail of all transportation agreements.
- Check with your insurance company and make sure they cover vehicles that are in transport.
- Always schedule deliveries when someone is available to confirm, check in, and inspect the car for damage.
- Never EVER pay a driver until you receive the vehicle and the Bill of Lading assure delivery.
- Never pay with Western Union. Always pay with a company check to have the cleared check as proof of payment.
Even the most careful dealers can get scammed.
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