Rules Of Thumb

If you’ve ever tried to work out a freight transport cost but have no idea where to start, this is for you! Its amazingly easy to get bogged down in spreadsheets and cost tables, and come up with silly answers that you don’t know are wrong. Its useful to have a rule of thumb.

How Much Does It Cost To Move A Truck?

When I became a freight salesman in the 1980s I was told that one of my responsibilities was to set prices for rail transport. These were to be based on the “market price” – in other words, aimed at beating the road competition. The problem was: how do I know how much a truck company would charge? Older and more experienced hands gave me this rule of thumb:

HGVs charge £70 plus 70 p per mile.

That wasn’t bad, but a little on the low side even then. However, as a first stab it held true for many years, because the cost of goods vehicle haulage barely increased during the 1980s. What it does introduce is the valuable cocept of a “fixed plus a variable” – the standing charges of the truck and the cost of moving it.

A more recent project suggested over £150 per day and over £1 per mile.

But that approach doesn’t work for short distances. For short journeys the mileage is almost irrelevant, as the truck spends most of its time loading or unloading (or sitting in traffic!). Another rule of thumb someone once gave me was:

A haulier will look to earn £300 in a day to cover his costs.

Again, probably on the low side.


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