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The Hidden Costs of Flat Deck Pickups
The Hidden Costs of Flat Deck Pickups
February 21, 2018

We’ve spent decades educating tradesmen, fleet managers, and business owners about flat decks for pickup trucks.  Some people call them flatbeds, some folks hang extra words on them like “flat deck truck body”, but what we’re talking about today is a pickup truck that doesn’t have a traditional bed on the back – simply, a well-designed piece of steel or aluminum that can carry a load, carry all your tools, and to which you can easily attach a fifth wheel or gooseneck trailer.

So why are there hidden costs in ownership when you decide to install a flat bed on your work truck?

There’s two big ones:

  • Dealers don’t take the time to provide owners with the right flat deck, and,
  • Owners often mistakenly believe that “all flat beds are created equally.’

Both can have a HUGE economic impact of the costs of ownership to you and your truck, so let’s look at why it pays for you to be thorough in your research before you ever buy a flat deck for your work truck or fleet of vehicles.

First things first, too many times, custom dealers and flat deck builders often try to sell what they have available right then.  (Which we understand as business owners – after all, a closed sale is always better than a potential sale).  As a result, dealers that don’t – or can’t – carry plenty of inventory or have that inventory to their clients in a matter of days, often “oversell” flat decks to customers.  We see it all the time as one of the premier truck upfitters in western Canada, a customer comes in looking for a new flat bed to replace his old unit and the one that he’s been saddled with for years is far too much for his needs … he’s got a ten or twelve-foot all-steel rig to simply carry a welder and a few tools.

He’s never used half of the space that he bought and he would have saved thousands of dollars with a lighter and shorter aluminum unit that could have also saved him substantially at the gas pump, too.

This same poor soul, many times, carried all this extra weight on a ¾ ton frame.

THAT’S why you need to sit down with an expert who isn’t looking for the quick sale when you choose to invest in your business or fleet and buy a flat deck for your truck.  At Expertec, for example, we take the time to ask you questions that you might not have thought about yet – How much are you going to carry?  On or off-road?  Gas or diesel?  Does your truck stay loaded all the time or will it play multiple roles, as a tow rig, a tool hauler, or a supply vehicle.

Every one of these helps us to steer our clients to a smart choice when it comes to outfitting them with the right flat deck truck bed to fit their business and needs perfectly.  The end result is that they have a purpose-built vehicle that does exactly what they need, when they need it.

The second challenge we often see is clients who have upgraded their truck chassis and are unsure of how to outfit it with the right flat deck.  In many cases, they’d love to use an older model flat bed they already own, but again, there are hidden challenges in that idea, too.

Just like truck design, flat deck design has changed substantially over the years, too.  As a result of computer modeling, better and stronger alloys, and the changing roles of trucks in the workplace, the way that flat beds are built is a far cry from what it was just a few years ago.

Sure, you can make an old flat deck fit a new truck, but should you?

Even something as simple as the paints used in the past pale in comparison to the powdercoated and epoxied finishes we have today, and in the harsh environments you use your truck in – including the salt and slush of the wintertime – do you want to put a cheap looking flat deck on a newer truck?  Should you spend hours fabricating new mounts, cleaning, painting, and repairing a used flat bed to be able to use it on a different chassis?

In all likelihood, that answer is no.  Sure, it might be an option for an old farm truck that is never going to leave the property, but what kind of an impression does it leave on your clients when you pull up in something that looks old, ill-fitted, and sloppy?

The answer, of course, is that they’ll think you’re either too cheap to buy good equipment or not successful enough to afford good equipment.

Neither one is good for your pocketbook. 

If you’re in market for a new flat deck truck body, we invite you to come in and sit down with us at Expertec to find out how the rules have changed in flat bed design.  More importantly, we’d like to be able to show you solutions that are perfect for the way you use a truck in your business – whether that’s in the trades, the city, the farm, or the oil fields.