Big-fleet discounts finally coming to small-fleet operators

 Large fleets are benefited for years from fuel discounts. Now, smaller fleets and owner-operators can start to reap some of those same benefits. ( Photo: Shutterstock )

Large fleets are benefited for years from fuel discounts. Now, smaller fleets and owner-operators can start to reap some of those same benefits. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Fuel, repair discounts among benefits now available to everyone

In case you’ve been sitting at a dock for weeks waiting to unload (and given detention issues these days, that’s possible), there has been a flurry of industry news recently that may finally be turning the tide in favor of the small trucking company and owner-operator.

Rates continue to remain high and capacity tight; used truck prices are holding steady with the promise of more units entering the market in the next 18 months, potentially keeping prices from rising; and driver pay is finally heading upward. And then there are the tax cuts which should help. All in all, it’s a good time to be involved in trucking and small fleets and owner-operators are benefiting.

Helping out even more is a series of announcements from companies that have introduced driver-focused benefits not before available to smaller fleets and truckers.

Driver-focused benefits

Large fleets have benefited from discounts for years, giving them an advantage over smaller fleets and owner-operators through economies of scale. The latest technology is always cheaper to buy if you own 5,000 trucks; fuel is less expensive; and volume discounts on parts and repair services further reduce costs.

That is starting to change as several companies in the last few weeks have introduced programs aimed at the smaller operators – who make up more than 90% of the industry.

ONE20 announced several programs geared to drivers at the Mid-America Trucking Show. Start with a new fuel discount program that will offer ONE20 members (membership is free) discounts up to 55 cents per gallon at some locations. Many of the discounts will be closer to 20 cents per gallon, but they will be available at some 2,000 retail locations across the country, including the major truck stop chains.

All ONE20 members qualify for the ONE20 Fuel Program, which has two parts. There will be a prepaid option with no credit check, as well as the option to convert to credit upon approval. Members can sign up at www.one20.com/benefits/fuel.

ONE20 is also launching a health program for drivers which features unlimited consultations with doctors through MDLive. This telemedicine program is just $9.95 per month. While it doesn’t cover serious illnesses like a typical insurance program, it can provide drivers the opportunity to fend off a more serious ailment through access to a doctor early on when symptoms can be managed. The hope is the program will give drivers the chance to avoid more costly clinic or emergency room visits.

Uber has also introduced a fuel discount program through its Uber Freight Plus card. Uber Freight Plus participants receive up to 20 cents per gallon discount off the retail price of fuel through the use of the Uber Freight Fuel Card powered by Comdata. The discount is available at TA/Petro Travel Stops nationwide. A smaller discount of 15 cents is available at Roadys – a collection of independent truck stops in California, Texas and Illinois.

The fuel card also provides access to maintenance discounts and 30% off Goodyear tires, resulting in an average of $130 off per tire. In addition, card members can also receive discounts on replacement parts and new and used trucks through Navistar. Truck maintenance costs will see a 20% to 50% discount applied on all Navistar parts, including its all-makes line of parts. The size of the exact discount varies based on fleet size and maintenance needs.

If you are in the market for either a new or used truck, the Uber Freight Plus card has benefits there as well. Navistar is offering up to $16,000 in customer value for the purchase of a new truck (value depends on specs), and up to $4,000 rebate on the purchase of a used truck. The discount on new trucks applies only to International models, however the rebate on used trucks can be applied to any brand as long as the vehicle is acquired through Navistar’s network.

Convoy is known for its app, which has been fine-tuned with new features, including an automatic detention payment program. A driver under a Convoy load who is detained for more than 2 hours at a shipper or receiver can now request detention pay through the app. If approved, Convoy will pay the driver $40 per hour in detention pay, regardless of whether the shipper pays detention or not.

The company also introduced two load finding options, Request a Load, and Suggested Reloads. Suggested Reloads provides available loads for backhaul opportunities whenever a driver books a load. Request a Load allows drivers to put in where they will be and when they will be empty and the Convoy app will look to match loads in that area.

Convoy also announced a partnership with Goodyear to provide Convoy members up to 40% off Goodyear products and services, as well as access to Goodyear’s Fleet HQ Roadside Service whenever they are under a load from Convoy. Tire discounts range from 20% to 40% and are good on all Goodyear, Goodyear Marathon and Dunlop tires and retreads at any of Goodyear’s more than 2,300 locations.

With driver pay on the rise along with rates, more owner-operators and small fleets are sitting in a little better financial place right now. With some of these new discounts and benefits starting to reach these operators, the times might be improving even a little more.