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Clearing Up the Misconceptions about Buying From Bailment Pools

As the number of fleets which perform their own truck upfits continues to decrease, many will find that utilizing bailment pool programs offers buyers more advantages than ever.

Randy Sirko, Manager of Pool Sales for Auto Truck Group, and a 30-year veteran of the industry, says there are common misconceptions about making vehicle purchases and upfits through bailment pools. Correcting these misconceptions and learning more about how bailment pools work can help many buyers & fleet managers understand and reap the benefits of this purchasing method.

The three most common misconceptions about bailment pools are:

1. Upfitters and bailment pools are two different things
2. Bailment Pools are only for dealers
3. Bailment pool upfitters only do classic upfits with standard equipment

There are actually two types of bailment pools in the industry today; standard bailment pools and fleet customer bailment pools. These are distinct in that standard bailment pools are operated by an OEM-approved upfitter, like Auto Truck Group, where dealerships and fleet management companies can place their orders for trucks that are going to require additional equipment or customization to serve a specific vocation or function. Customer bailment pools, on the other hand, are controlled by the end user working with a fleet management company whenever it needs to put a vehicle into service. The customer bailment pool negotiates their vehicle pricing and purchasing volume directly with the OEM(s). In years past, many fleets would complete the upfit in their own welding or body shop. However, most now send the vehicles to an upfitter like Auto Truck Group, which has greater upfit capabilities and expertise.

New Roles and Practices Defined
The practice of buying and upfitting work trucks and service vehicles has evolved in recent years to where all standard bailment pool operators are upfitters because of ever-increasing specialization, regulation, and equipment demands. In another era, those could have been two different entities as a number of upfitters were still “mom and pop” body shops.

In today’s market, any buyer of a class 1-7 truck or a service vehicle of some kind can go to his local Ford, Chevy, or Chrysler dealership of choice to place an order. If the dealership has Auto Truck Group as its upfit partner, the buyer negotiates his vehicle purchase with the dealership who then selects a vehicle from Auto Truck Group’s hundreds of bailment pool vehicles. The dealership solicits an upfit quote from ATG per the customer’s needs. Once the buyer approves that, the dealership issues a purchase order for the upfit equipment with the bailment pool operator. The pool operator then re-assigns the chassis through the OEM, installs the body, and delivers it to the dealership for his sale to the end user. In doing so, the buyer has access to these benefits:

  • The buyer benefits from the partnership that exists between the dealership and the bailment/upfit specialist for expert purchasing and upfit advice. The dealership’s commercial sales rep and Auto Truck’s bailment pool representatives share a vast reservoir of knowledge about vehicles used in service jobs. They know about the different equipment available or what can be modified. They can recommend tried-and-true configurations for greater safety or efficiency, as well as the latest technologies. They also know what actually happens in the field and what comes back in for repairs — drawing upon their history of doing numerous upfits together.
  • For both large and small fleets, a national upfit partner like Auto Truck Group can ensure that no matter where in the country the purchase is executed or where the vehicles are ultimately delivered, the finished vehicle upfit will have across-the-board consistency — providing drivers, operators, and maintenance technicians greater flexibility and peace of mind. Single-point specs assure identical equipment layouts, welds, paint, and decals, just to name a few elements, which make it easier to move people and equipment where they are needed.
  • An upfitter that has locations across the country is better trained and more knowledgeable about state and federal guidelines and standards. They also have greater awareness about the environmental conditions that are present in different regions and have the supply chains in place to obtain and install the right equipment for the job.
  • Upfitters that offer bailment pool programs are better trained and more knowledgeable about the vehicles they work on because the OEM’s require them to operate at a higher level and with greater scrutiny. Besides product expertise and a rigorous set of technical standards, upfitters who offer bailment vehicles are required to carry high-value garage insurance, have excellent financing established, maintain a secure yard environment, and more. In addition, some OEM’s place a tight limit on the number of bailment pools allowed to operate, so they make careful decisions about the upfitters they partner with.
  • Buying from a bailment pool that does the upfit can save a considerable amount of time. Bailment pool vehicles are immediately available to be upfitted and delivered.
  • Auto Truck Group maintains a real time inventory list of available pool vehicles on its website which dealerships can access 24/7. In addition, ATG’s bailment pool representatives send out weekly email blasts and fax mail to each dealership with updated information.
  • Auto Truck Group offers hundreds of bailment pool vehicles from the three major OEM’s: GM, Chrysler, and Ford.

There is also the misconception that bailment pools are just for dealerships. In actuality, bailment pools are practical and convenient even for one-off purchases and upfits by fleets and fleet management companies. Auto Truck Group offers such a wide variety of trucks in their pool programs that any buyer can expect to find the right vehicle to suit his needs. The single-vehicle buyer all the way up to the major fleet buyer can both take advantage of the benefits of purchasing through bailment pools.

The third misconception that upfits on bailment pool vehicles are best suited for basic, mostly standard equipment couldn’t be further from the truth here at Auto Truck Group. ATG’s engineers and technicians can design and execute upfit solutions for every vehicle and every need. Our fabricators are the most experienced in the industry and use state-of-the-art equipment to configure and deliver the highest quality equipment upfit solutions both inside and out.

If you would like more information about bailment pools contact Randy Sirko, Manager of Pool Sales for Auto Truck Group at:rsirko@autotruck.com, or call 719-597-0400.


Bailment Pools

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By Carissa Saia, 17.04.13

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