Why do you use custom truck beds and what do they look like?


We had a few of our trucks at the shop this morning so I recorded 3 minutes of video to show you the custom beds we put on our trucks that service residential properties under 20k gross sq. ft.

These beds hold 3 21’ inch Toro’s, 3 blowers, 2 stick edgers and 2 line trimmers.  Normally, we only keep one stick edger on a truck because line trimmers can act as a backup if necessary.  Likewise, two backpack blowers are adequate.

A few things to note…

  1. Look at the floor of the beds – the mowers roll into position so they do not move around – no tying anything down
  2. Place for water jug
  3. Place for line trimmer line
  4. Place for 5 gallon gas cans
  5. Box behind cab for tool box, additional gas cans, blowers, bags and misc supplies– lifted so mowers can roll under it
  6. One of the trucks has a folding drop gate – we don’t like it.  Non-folding drop gates are better – not as attractive but faster to use with less chance of pinching a finger.  Less moving parts – less maintenance
  7. 4 positions to hold stick edgers and line trimmers.  They can be locked down on each side by rotating one bar
  8. Drop gate and slanted tail of bed make one man loading quick and easy – minimal chance of injury
  9. These things cost us 1800 to 2000 each installed.  We sell the original truck beds on Craigs list
  10. These beds hold their value.  You will be able to get back the majority of your money if you need to sell the bed someday.  They are a true asset.  And one that retains most of its value.

Some very conservative math…

    • a custom truck bed will save you a minimum of 15 minutes per day per crew
    • assuming a crew works 5 days per week
    • 40 weeks per year
    • That equals 50 hours per year in savings
    • Multiplied by 3 men per crew
    • Equals  150 hours per year saved (minimum)
    • Average cost per man per hour of $11 (very low – there are lots of other costs that should be considered in this calculation – but not all of them – not all of your overhead cost)
    • This is how I arrive at a very conservative $1800 per year in savings per crew

However, I look at it this way…

    • we save more than 15 minutes per man per day
    •  the money we save is not on the front end – it’s on the backend – meaning we are saving over time payroll dollars.  So, if your average worker is $11 hour when he’s into overtime  you’re paying out $16.50 an hour.  This bed is saving me $16.5 per man per hour not $11/hr.  the minimum calc was based on $11
    •  no trailers equals better safety and less risk
    • trucks can maneuver quicker when not pulling a trailer
    • trucks stop faster without trailers – SAFTEY
    • less training of workers  to pull and back up trailers
    • easier to park in front of homes – especially tight streets – don’t have to block mail boxes – less surface area covered to potentially hide and therefore leave behind hidden lawn clippings not cleaned off the concrete
    • no trailer tires to replace
    • no trailer to pull equals better gas mileage
    • there’s more – you get the idea

Worse case, I save $1800 a year and get all of the above benefits.  It’s a no brainer.  Again, I believe $1800 is a very very conservative number.

Trucks depreciate, lose value, break down and cost you money.  Trucks are lousy assets.

Trailers and custom truck beds hold the majority of their value.  They may be depreciated down to near zero in value overtime on your books but reality is they carry true value.  Should you eventually sell your company or need to liquidate your assets your trailers and truck beds will have retained significantly more value than your vehicles and equipment.

If you need to sell them you will get back most of your money.  The math…

    • You buy the bed for $2000.  Use it 5 to 7 years.  Sell it for $1800 after a fresh $200 paint job to make it look brand new again.  (this is realistic – nothing breaks – it’s made of metal)
    • Cost of ownership over 5 years — ($2000 + $200 paint job  + $100 in misc repairs over the 5 years =$2300 total invested in the custom bed over 5 years
    • Assuming you sell it for $1800
    • $2300 invested – $1800 sell price = $500 cost of ownership over 5 years
    • $500 cost of ownership divided by 5 years of ownership equal $100 per year cost of ownership

Would you pay $100 per year to save a minimum of $1800 per year plus get all the other benefits I mentioned?

Again, I save more than $1800 per year per truck.

This is why I use custom truck beds.

I believe there are 3 keys to success…

  1. Get the foundation of your business in order (your computer systems and procedures)
  2. Get the right people doing the right tasks consistently
  3. Optimize your business

This topic falls under optimization.  It’s not your first priority.  If your young in business I highly recommend you stay out of debt and optimize your business later when you have the cash.

By the way, for commercial I recommend Isuzu NPR box trucks.  However, a 16 to 18ft trailer is a great way to start when you are trying to keep your costs down (avoid debt).

Also, we now use Isuzu NPR’s with custom designed box beds for our spray trucks.

I prefer enclosed over open for commercial 1) because it helps prevent theft and 2) you can offset the cost of a mini storage or warehouse by leaving the equipment in the truck and 3) you can reduce payroll hours by leaving the trucks loaded.

Regarding theft, enclosed (truck or trailer) will not completely eliminate this problem.  Our last major loss was from a job site.  They took the truck and trailer (everything).  Enclosed only helps prevent theft.  Also, storing your equipment in the truck or trailer only makes it easy for your equipment to be stolen (you have preloaded your trailers for the criminals).

If you’ve got a friend in the business (anywhere) that this might help – forward it to them now before you forget.

6 Replies to “Why do you use custom truck beds and what do they look like?”

  1. Looks great. Did you buy the plans? Or design it yourself. And did you have a local shop fabricate it?
    And do you every haul debris with this set up? Or is it geared for mostly mulching accounts with no debris?

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  3. I’ve never had a custom truck bed. Which would be really nice, because I’d be able to put what I want on the truck bed. Who do you suggest I go to? I want to get an idea of how to design the truck bed.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing! It’s really nice that you will save a minimum of $1800 per year with a custom truck bed. It’s also nice to see where you could save even more with things such as less overtime pay and no trailer costs. It sounds like any company that uses a trailer should look into this, since replacing it with a truck bed has so many benefits.

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