Rates about to rise?

Are we bumping along the bottom right now? Was talking to an equipment salesman who says he's hearing of an owner-operator shortage right now. My very next call was to an owner-operator who said he was getting out of car hauling because the rates were ridiculously low. Just a hunch, but I'm beginning to think the supply-demand curve may be starting to flip. Companies with new car contracts may go into next year's negotiations with a bit stronger hand.
10/26/10: Update
Just read this on Marketwatch:

Last month, Ford sold 160,873 vehicles, up from 109,939 a year earlier — marking the 23rd time in the past 24 months that the company has expanded its share of the retail market.

Ford is looking to maintain its momentum, even as rivals find their footing and become more competitive. In fact, the company announced Monday that it will invest an additional $850 million in Michigan between 2011 and 2013 as part of a plan to upgrade its facilities. Click here for rest of article.

Ford started their recovery plan about two years before the collapse-bailout of GM and Chrysler. If GM and Chrysler's restructuring approximate that of Ford, we should expect significant improvement over the next couple years as their changes have a chance to grow deeper roots and as the economy continues its slow slog out of the quagmire.

Tip for car haulers

Got some great tips from Doug Winchester of Wholesale Motors. Next time you're trying to get cars to haul and some other trucking company has offered a ridiculous low-ball price, ask your customer if they got a copy of the other trucking company's insurance directly from the company providing that insurance. The way Doug explained it, some individuals will pay the deposit to get the certificate of insurance, and then stop making their payments. They run around with that worthless piece of paper for a whole year. By the time the customer finds out... it's too late.
  • Ask for the phone number of the insurance carrier so you can get a faxed copy of the current certificate. If the other company makes a bunch of excuses about getting this info to the customer, this is a big warning sign.

Other things to remind the customer:
  • Does the other company have references? If a guy has been in business for a number of years and has a lot of experience hauling cars, he ought to have at least a half dozen people you can call up who will give you a good report on him.
Doug says you really ought to know who is hauling your cars. He recounted a tale of damage caused by inexperienced haulers crossing the polarities jump-starting a Porsche. He told me another story of outright theft-- three Mercedes that disappeared... along with the "trucking company" that was supposed to transport them.
  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Just like Mom always said. Too often, people are attracted by a low price and forget all the other components of the value of the service they are buying. As Doug said, "Too often, customers have to learn the hard way... but by then it's too late." Part of your job as a car hauler is to try to help your customers make the right decision and avoid getting ripped off by incompetent or crooked people.