Selecting the right equipment for your operation depends on a multitude of factors, from freight volume to purchasing power. The first questions, of course, are: What kind of revenue is your small motor carrier generating? Is it enough to support the new truck?

To get a real sense of the questions asked, I spoke with an expert — Kenny Tohn, sales manager at Tri-State International Trucks Inc. in Bowling Green, Ky. In order to spec the correct equipment for your small motor carrier, Tohn suggests knowing the answers to the following questions a salesperson might ask:

  1. Tell me about the last truck you bought. What made it right for you and your business?

  2. Are you happy with the way your trucks have performed in the past? If so, would you like the same or similar specs?

  3. Do you require special equipment such as a PTO, half/full fenders, work lights, etc.?

  4. Are you adding to your fleet or replacing other units? Are you trading in your used units?

  5. If you aren't trading, how will you dispose of the unit(s) you're replacing?

  6. Would you like me to help dispose of your used trucks?

  7. What is your price range? Are you working from a budget?

  8. Are you considering financing options? If so, how would you rate your current financial status? Poor, fair, good or excellent?

  9. Have you considered lease versus own options?

  10. When will you decide about this purchase?

  11. When would you like delivery?

  12. What type of trailer(s) do you pull?

  13. What type(s) of cargo do you haul? General freight, steel coils, hazardous materials, etc.?

  14. How heavy are the majority of your loads?

  15. How many miles do you average annually? Are the majority of your runs local, regional or long haul?

  16. Do you travel through mountainous regions, flat ground or low rolling hills?

  17. Do you travel Interstate highways or smaller, two-lane highways? Do you ever go off-road?

  18. Do you prefer a particular horsepower and torque range? Gear ratio?

  19. Have you considered AutoShift or UltraShift transmission versus manual shift options for fuel economy and/or less experienced drivers?

  20. On a scale of one to ten, how important is fuel economy?

  21. Would you like a basic fleet truck or more of a premium package?

  22. Do you have a paint scheme in mind?

  23. Is the comfort of your drivers important to you?

  24. Are you aware of the changes in the EPA 2010 emissions standards?

  25. Do you understand the difference between advanced EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) versus SCR (selective catalytic reduction) and how each would impact your business?

  26. Have I answered all of your questions?

  27. Given there are no roadblocks standing in our way, are you ready to make a purchase today?

Before you walk in the door of the truck dealership, be ready with the answers to these questions. You'll make purchasing or leasing a truck far more efficient and you'll get the equipment that's right for your operation — both of which will be far better on your bottom line.