I sell boom trucks. I also own a home that has a septic tank, a shingled roof, drywall on the walls, brick on the outside of the house, and a host of other things. I have no idea about how to shingle a roof, what shingles to use; I certainly have no idea about how to form a septic tank, lay weeping tile or mix mortar and lay bricks. So, where would I start if I had to complete any one of these?
1. Call an industry professional!
What’s an industry professional? I would say a time-tested company that has been in the industry for a substantial period. Such companies usually have standalone facilities. The companies also stock booms, indicating that they sell boom trucks regularly and are stable.
Call a company that participates in your industries’ associations; it shows that they will support your company’s ability to do business better, and, to grow. An industry professional is someone who understands your business and needs because of the years of experience they have in dealing with that type of industry.
2. Define your needs
When you’re purchasing a boom truck, you are paying a large part for reach and capacity. Time and again we have a precast-concrete or poured-wall Company call and asks for a boom longer than they need, with capacities greater than they require. I will use septic tank companies as an example. I take a call from a company and they ask for a boom that will lift 25,000 pounds at 25’. I immediately respond, “Are you sure?” Normally my septic customer lift to 15’ and the capacity is 18,000 pounds, 24,000 pounds, or 27,000 pounds. There is a massive $100,000 price difference between those reaches and capacities. The response is almost always, “I do 18,000 pounds at 15’.” Now, we can get the proper proposal together for the customer.
3. New vs. Used
Ten plus years ago, before the recession in the United States, there were a large variety of used boom trucks. They were priced right and there were good quality choices available. Between 2008 and 2012 construction of both commercial and new homes was almost nonexistent. Therefore, few boom trucks were produced. Companies, which went bankrupt, had their equipment scooped up quickly by those few still building. In general, heavy spec’d trucks were not produced in large numbers either.
So, today, used trucks sell for a premium. But, because they are used, they require more money in repairs and upkeep, and, therefore, more downtime. If your company purchases a used truck, it is making a truck payment, paying for repairs and not able to use their truck. When you start to add up the true cost of ownership of used trucks, the cost of a new one is more reasonable than you might have thought.
Years ago, most companies paid for boom trucks by stroking a check. Today, the scenario is different. Now, most companies finance their purchase. Did you know that if you purchase a used boom truck it is financed over a shorter period of time at a higher interest rate? This means that your monthly payment for a used truck could cost more money monthly than a new unit. Again, when you factor in the cost of repairs of a used boom truck from day one vs a new unit that will go to work and not cost you downtime, which scenario works better for your company in the long run?
5. After-sales service
This is a big one and one that few companies inquire about. I always offer, to our current and prospective customers alike, how our company handles this aspect of our partnership. Let’s face it; the sale of a piece of equipment is the beginning of a partnership, but, by no means, the end. You need to know that the company you are dealing with looks at your business as a partnership and not just a deal. This is another reason to deal with a well-established company that has a proper network of repair facilities to handle your needs in whatever area your company is in.
6. Don’t assume you have all the answers
I was guilty of this in the not too distant past. For 20 years, we wouldn’t’ build boom trucks with aluminum beds. They were soft materials that quickly turned to wavy beds, tore easily and caused more problems than they were worth. When approached by an aluminum body manufacturer about buying aluminum platforms, I shut them down before hearing them out. Thankfully, the sales representative sent me an email that showed me the amazing differences in aluminum and how they would stand up against any steel platform now. Today, we supply our customers with many aluminum platforms, saving them a lot of weight, and they love them. The moral of the story? Ask your sales professional what they recommend and why. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Whether you are going to pick your truck up at the facility it was assembled at or have it delivered from across the country, how is going to be in-serviced? When you go to the Ford dealership to pick up your new F150, the sales rep goes over the features and shows you how to program the radio, adjust the seat, turn on the 4 x 4, etc. I see, today, boom sales companies that just drop off a $400,000 boom truck and don’t properly run their owners through the operations. This is not only dangerous but will likely lead to the operator damaging the new boom. It is important to have a thorough familiarization with your new equipment. Make sure to ask up front about how the company deals with your in-service.
8. Training for Operators
Let’s not mistake your in-service familiarization with boom truck training. Make sure to ask what your operators will require. As of November 10, 2018, OSHA’s new boom truck rules came into effect. The question of what your company needs to do to have a “qualified operator” for your equipment needs to be answered. The company you choose to supply your boom truck may not have all the answers, but they should be able to give you the name and number of the company that will. Don’t get caught not knowing what your requirements are.
So, if I was going to shingle my roof, put in a new septic system or brick my house, the best way to sum it up is to quote the automotive legend Henry Ford when being interviewed by a young reporter, who asked, “How do you have all the answers?”; Ford replied “Let me remind you that I have a row of electric buttons in my office. All I have to do is press one of them to call the person who can answer any question on any subject I wish to know, relative to the business at hand. I take care of the business; they take care of the questions.