The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Improving Order-to-Delivery Times: You Want Your Truck When?

December 2008, by Russ Cass

When it comes time to acquire a new truck, small fleets need it "yesterday." If you can’t choose a vehicle to your specs and with your equipment out of dealer stock, then yesterday can turn into weeks, or even months. Here are seven tips to help shorten the order-to-delivery process.


1. The end-user should plan at least 90 days in advance of when a vehicle is needed. Some advanced planning by the end user will save hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars in acquisition costs by using a factory order not buying a vehicle out of stock. 


2. Have the dealer or fleet management company check the manufacturer’s downtime at the plant. This delay can be invisible to the end-user, but can add weeks to total delivery time.

3. Before ordering a specific model, have the dealer or fleet management company double-check with the manufacturer to determine if any options or standard components are on hold or in short supply. This can hold up an order for weeks or months. 


4. For commercial trucks, use body company truck pools if possible. A truck sitting on the ground and in stock at the body company can save eight to 12 weeks alone on total delivery time. 


5. Use manufacturer vehicle pools if possible.


6. Make sure the dealer or fleet management company sends a purchase order immediately to the body company for any upfit installed on a factory-ordered vehicle. They should tell the body company the approximate delivery date so the body company can get the equipment ordered before the truck arrives. This alone will save many weeks or months.

7. When possible, have truck equipment installed by a truck body company close to the delivering dealer. Though factory ship-thru systems are convenient, placing a truck back into shipping traffic can add 1-2 weeks to shipping time, especially for medium-duty units. In this way, a truck can be upfit after it arrives at the end destination and doesn’t need to be reshipped. This works best with smaller orders of one to 10 units.

Glossary of Ordering and Shipping Terms


Bailment pool: A "pool" or inventory of already-built vehicles on consignment at body companies, awaiting sale and upfit by dealers or leasing companies.


Body company: A fabricator that manufactures and installs special equipment for vehicles. Also, the location where a vehicle is shipped to be upfit with equipment not installed at the factory.


Completed vehicle: A fully manufactured truck, including the chassis, body, and usable cargo area.


Factory order: A new-vehicle order placed directly with the manufacturer by the dealer or leasing company to meet the user’s exact specifications.


Incomplete vehicle: Vehicle chassis completed by adding specialized equipment.


Lead time: The anticipated length of time between an order’s placement and delivery.


Ship-Thru: The process of shipping a vehicle from the manufacturer to a body company for equipment installation. The completed vehicle is returned to the manufacturer and then sent to the delivering dealer.


Ship-To: The vehicle is shipped from the manufacturer to a body company. The completed vehicle is then transported directly to the delivering dealer or customer location. 


Upfitting: The addition of equipment on a vehicle not installed by the manufacturer.

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Patsy Brownson is a fleet professional who retired from Cox Enterprises, Inc. in 2008.

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