Soft Market Trade

Isn’t it funny how things change?  I am considering selling my bus and moving into a truck RV and I am finding out some new things that I am having to deal with.  New practices and selling tactic’s that are now common place in the market place that didn’t exist awhile back.

In other words, it is a new world out there now.

Most everyone I know will be quick to tell you that things in the bus market are no longer what they used to be.  In some instances it is described as being “in the tank” or “wiped out” or “in the dumpster.”  I had a guy this week describe it in a term I had never before experienced … he said it was “a soft market” right now.

Limp would be a better adjective I would suppose, or perhaps dead or terminal could also be applied, and it would not be a big stretch of the imagination.  Deal making is still an art, but it is much, much more difficult in hard times.

No matter what you call it, it is not a good time to sell, and for lack of a better terminology, “it is a buyers market” at this time, no doubt about it.  So what do you do, take the hit, bite the bullet, or just sit on it and wait it out?  Like my old Daddy was fond of saying, “It is too valuable to sell son, and it aint worth nuthin’ when you go to do it.”

No easy answers.

Right now I am wanting to change over from a bus to a truck RV.  For a number of reasons, a few of which I have listed below.  But I am not sure if I will be able to re-coop any of my investment, right at this moment, it appears that 30% would be an optimistic figure on my part.  Not an easy pill to swallow.  Especially when you figure in the time, the labor, the countless hours spent in shaping and molding this old bus into the road star it is today.  But none of that counts for anything these days.

So why the change?

Here is how I see it, truck versus bus.

TRUCK:  New model, parts availability is excellent, easy service when it has to be done.  Uses the new fuels with ease, truck-stops carry parts in most cases, nationwide dealer network in place, access for engine maintenance is good.  Big improvements in safety cabs and equipment have taken place.

BUS:  My coach, an 83 Eagle Model 10-S, several drawbacks.  Parts are almost non-existent for this coach, and as each year passes, get considerably harder to locate.  Windshields for instance, are a real problem.  Two stroke diesels are hardy and reliable, but finding someone to work on them when they do have problems, is also getting extremely difficult.  You have to scour the countryside in search of an old timer who knows how to work on them.  Same with motor oils, lubricants, seals, and other related bus related items, progressively harder to locate in this day and age.

TRUCK:  Interior width on a RV Model is 94” (in most cases) and the trailer hitch weights can go as high as 40,000 lbs.  Front end collision in a truck, engine forward, more protection for driver and passenger.  Most body shops can repair a truck with readily available truck parts.

BUS:  Mine, 96” wide (some models 102”), the trailer hitch restrictions are set about 10,000lbs max and not much room for much more.  Front end collision in a bus, depending on severity, could possibly lead to extensive sheet time in the local hospital.  Body work and repair, off the charts in most cases (junkyard replacement parts) because of the availability or lack of these parts in most cases.

TRADE OFF/RESOURCE DEPLETION:  Cost is going to be substantial, and the return for the bus investment, almost nil.  Now in today’s soft market, they ask up front “What do you think you are going to have for your bus?” instead of “my bus and how much for your truck?”  Which brings us to something a good friend of mine once said to me. 

He said, “Do you know what the two happiest days of a man’s life might be?” and I replied, “No, what?”

He smiled and then said, “The day a man buys his first bus and the day he sells it.”

Not going to be easy … but then again … nothing is easy in America anymore, I don’t care what Staples says.