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Choosing the Best Auto Transport Company (Podcast)

Choosing the Best Auto Transport Company (Podcast)

Mike Scenna, sales manager at PreOwned Auto Logistics, a car shipping and auto transport and logistics company located in Massachusetts, discusses choosing the best auto transport company for your needs.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Mike Scenna, sales manager at PreOwned Auto Logistics. A car shipping and auto transport and logistics company in Massachusetts. Today our topic is choosing the best auto transport company. Welcome, Mike.

Mike Scenna: Hey John. Thanks for having me.

Large Auto Transport Companies vs Small Companies

John: Sure. Mike, are large auto transport companies generally better?

Mike: Yeah, that’s a good question. This is one, I would say people think a lot that a smaller company is better. A lot of times we get people who switch to us, they’ve been using a small company, where it’s an owner-operator. By that I mean, the owner of the company is out there driving the truck himself. This is a great relationship they have. You call the owner of the company up, tell them when you’re going to be transporting somewhere, and they let you know when they’ll be in the area.

You get on the truck. You usually get a really good rate doing a shipment like this. It can work well for a while. Until one of a few things comes up. Either these smaller companies change their lane. They decide to go to a different part of the country. If you’re shipping on a regular basis, like a seasonal resident going back and forth, this isn’t good for you. Or corporate relocation. Things like that. You want someone that’s a little more consistent, that you can rely on. If this person moves to a different part of the country, you’re out there searching for a company again.

You also, people tend not to dig into their coverage. Insurance, and what’s covered during the shipment with these smaller companies. I’ve seen it before. A lot of the smaller companies, they don’t have the coverage for all of the vehicles on the truck. Something could happen, and they may not have the money to repair the car. Which does not leave you in a good position.

I think it’s better to go with a larger company, to get some of these things. You’re going to get that coverage. If there is damage, you have a larger company that has the money up front, to get the car repaired right away. For a company like us, our first priority when there’s damage is to get your car repaired. We take care of the insurance, and that kind of stuff, on the back end. But immediately, we’re working on getting your car fixed.

Then as far as consistency and resources go, a larger company is going to have a bigger network of carriers. They’re going to cover more parts of the country. They’re going to be more consistent in your lane. It’s something you’re going to be able to count on, whether you’re shipping a car one time, or you’re looking to ship cars multiple times a year.

John: Right, and I’d imagine, like you said at the beginning. If you’re just dealing with an individual person, who’s driving the truck themselves, you’re stuck with whatever lane they’re on, and the timing of it. If you want a pick up in Massachusetts, but they’re down in Florida right now, and they’re not going to be back to Massachusetts for another week, well you’re going to have to wait that amount of time. It would be harder to schedule things.

Mike: Yeah, right. You’re at that schedule. Where for us, with more trucks and with more resources, we can accommodate not only what you’re looking for in the beginning. But last minute changes. I have last minute changes all the time. While I tell people there’s nothing I can do to guarantee that we can accommodate the last minute change, we’re usually able to come through. We’re usually able to look at what we have, and where, and make a quick move, and move one car from one truck to another. Accommodate something that might be out of your control that comes up, and it’d be a lot better for you to get the car picked up a lot sooner than you had originally planned.

Importance of Reviews

John: Right. That’s good to know. When I make a purchase online, if I’m buying something from Amazon or something like that, I’m always looking at the reviews online. Just to see what other people think of it. How do I ask other people about their car shipping experiences? Just looking at the reviews online, the best way to go? Are there other ways to find out what experiences people have had, with this company that I’m looking into?

Mike: Yeah. Of course, as you just said, the reviews are great. With access to information these days, we’re all looking at reviews. Whether we’re going out to eat, or trying anything new, we’re all immediately on the internet and seeing the reviews. But as you just mentioned, getting a referral. A referral’s always great. You ask someone about what car shipping companies they’ve used. If they purchased a car, or had to send a car somewhere.

As far as what to look for, not only do I get inquiries a lot about it, but I see a lot of reviews for our company, and other companies about it. It seems as though communication is big with people. I get that, because a car is something very valuable to people. Not only just for the money it’s worth, but people get attached to cars. There could be sentimental value in a car as well.

People are very concerned once their car leaves their hand. It’s just, it’s gone. They’re on the other end, just hoping and praying that it’s going to come to them safely, and they’re going to get it. When they go a few days without hearing from anyone, there seems to be a level of concern. Communication, I hear all the time, is big with people. They want to be able to pick up the phone and call someone, see where the car is at. Make sure everything’s okay. Make sure everything’s still going according to plan, and that there’s nothing that they have to worry about. Which I get. It makes sense.

Ideal Communication

John: Right. One thing that I really appreciate as a consumer, is a proactive approach from the company that I’m dealing with. In terms of communication. One thing that I dislike is always having to be the one to call the company, and say, “What’s going on?”. In this case, “Where’s my car?”. That kind of thing. What kind of approach do you have, if you know that a car, maybe something happens, and a car is going to be delayed for an extra day, or something like that? Do you take that proactive approach to call, and reach out to the consumer, and talk to them, and discuss what the issues are? That kind of thing?

Mike: Absolutely. You’re not alone in that at all. I think most people appreciate a company being proactive, in letting them know what’s going on. We are very strong believers in that. We have a process here, where you get a series of calls or emails throughout this entire process.

Your first one comes when the vehicle is dispatched. When you book the order, we set a rough date when we plan on having a truck come out to pick up the car. Once it’s dispatched, scheduled to go on a truck, that’s when you receive your first call. Where we let you know that that’s the day the truck plans on being there, to pick the car up.

You get another call after we’ve confirmed the pick up. We want to make sure that the pick up of the vehicle went smooth. We call to make sure that everything went well. The car got on the truck safely, and it’s off to its destination.

Then from there, our reps are trained to communicate during transit, at a level that you’re comfortable with. We ship cars for people who do it all the time. They’re very comfortable. They have a high level of trust with us, and they say, “Mike, thanks for picking up the car. Great, I’ll see it on the other end. Have a great week”.

Then we have new people, who haven’t done this before. They’re very nervous. Our reps are happy to give them a daily call, if that’s the case. Just to let them know something as simple as, “It’s still on the way. It’s in this city today. Still expected to be there this day, and everything’s safe”. Then we get down to the delivery.

The day before delivery, we definitely give you a call. Make sure that you’re available the next day, in a rough time frame of when we expect the car to be at the destination. Then we follow that through, day of. At that point, the driver will start to get in touch with the consumer. She’ll call and say, “I’m an hour away. Make sure we have a safe place, that’s big enough for the truck to get to, and safely unload your car”.

John: So you’d get these initial calls from a representative at your company first. Then as it gets closer, then you get an actual call from the driver themselves, to say, “I’m on my way”. Or, “I’m here. I’ll be there in an hour”. That kind of thing.

Mike: Right. We believe in the one point of contact. We think that makes it a lot easier for people than having to talk to a different person every time you call in about your shipment, and you have someone new learning about it. If you get assigned an account rep, and that’s your account rep through the entire process.

Right up until the end, when we feel that you need to get in touch with the driver. When you’re in that one hour window, and it’s important that you’re in strong communication with the individual delivering the car. Yeah, at that point, that’s the only time you talk to someone other than your assigned rep.

Comparing Shipping Costs

John: Okay. How do I compare car shipping costs from company to company? Are there issues with, one company might have a bunch of hidden costs? It seems like their quote is really low, but then it ends up being higher? How do I know, and how do I compare those?

Mike: Yeah, that’s a great question. This is something, you’re not going to just get one number. Everyone does it differently out there. There are companies that will give you a number, and then there are other fees included with that number. There might be a terminal fee, if you’re having the car delivered to a terminal location, and picking it up from there. You’d want to be sure that the amount that they’re giving you includes these fees.

There could be a flat rate, I’ve seen, with a mileage charge attached to it. Or I’ve seen fuel surcharges. Really, I see different ones each year. But just like anything, it’s a different approach. You get a number, followed by a series of charges and fees. Or you can take the approach of just a flat rate, which is how we do it here.

We like to tell people that, “The quote that we’re giving you is an all inclusive quote. There are no hidden fees. Whatever number we say to you is exactly what you’ll pay for the shipment”.

Then there’s obviously a difference in cost, of the quality of the company you’re working with. Just like anything. There are going to be companies out there that are maybe not hiding fees, and they have that all inclusive number. It’s still going to be a little bit more money, but it’ll be a better service that you’re paying for.

It’s important to figure out what you’re looking for. Do you just need to get the car somewhere? You’re not concerned about the service, or what happens to the car? Or is it important that this gets done right, and is it worth paying a little more to make sure that happens?

John: Right, you get what you pay for. It definitely comes into play there.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely with this. Again, especially when it comes down to something like communication. It’s a lot to stay in touch with an individual, throughout this entire process. That’s time consuming. But that’s something that, with the right company, you can pay for, you can receive that. That peace of mind, for a lot of people, that peace of mind is worth it. It’s something that they’re willing to pay for.

Other Factors for Choosing a Car Shipping Company

John: Are there any other factors that I should look for, when I’m determining the best auto transport company?

Mike: Yeah. I know I say it a lot, but reviews are always a big one. I would look into insurance. Make sure that they’re fully licensed, bonded, and insured. I think that experience is really big. Looking into the level of experience of the company. We see auto transport companies come and go every year. It’s a big revolving door in this industry. I think there’s something to say, for the ones that have been doing it for some time, and able to keep going, and stay up with the industry, and keep doing it year after year.

I think that’s a big one. It  goes along with the number of moves they’ve done. That experience is really big.

John: All right. Well that’s really great information, Mike. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Mike: Yeah, of course. Thanks, John.

John: For more information, or to request a quote for your auto shipping needs, visit the website at preownedautologistics.com. Or call 877-542-1955.