Costs and Charges for Solving the Problems Furniture Removing of the Carrier
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Furniture Removal is Not for the Ordinary Haulier : Some Preliminary Considerations Affecting Costs, with Particular Reference to the Calculation of Charges
BEFORE proceeding from a discussion of the conditions to the consideration of costs and charges in relation to furniture removal, I think I ought once more to emphasize the fact that furniture removing is a specialist's business and should not be undertaken by the inexperienced.
I am aware that many hauliers, not specially equipped for the work, do carry out furniture removals. I have seen loads of furniture being conveyed in ordinary lorries, the
load being protected only by tarpaulin sheets. Many hauliers, some of them operators for whom I have considerable respect, do effect furniture removing in that way.. I have criticized them on that account, and have almost invariably I.x..Tn met with the assurance that they have had no trouble, and that their customers have been satisfied.
None of these examples has converted me to that curious point of view, and I am quite certain that I would never entrust my furniture to any but an operator who is expert in this particular branch of the road haulage industry.
I will mention one feature of special interest in this connection, consideration of which will demonstrate how ignorant the non-furnibire remover is of some of the fundamental conditions and considerations which must be everyday knowledge to the expert.
In discussing problems of bodywork for commercial vehicles at one of the Commercial Motor Exhibitions, someone suggested sliding doors for furniture vans. To me and to those with no experience of furniture removing it seemed a good idea; but the expert's comment was that it is the habit of furniture removers to pack the goods in the van with plenty of padding, in such a way that, when the rear door is closed, it shuts tightly upon the carefully packed furniture and cannot shake and vibrate while the vehicle is moving. Such a procedure is obviously impossible with sliding doors.
A Highly Specialized Job Even the least observant, watching furniture removers at work, cannot be other than impressed with the wealth of knowledge and experience which must be possessed by those who engage in this class of work, which is, in effect, a craft. Note how the packers load the heavy articles first, and how everything is carefully stowed and protected by sheets of canvas and sacking. Light articles are put on the top and everything is so packed as entirely to eliminate the risk, not only of breakage, but even of the slight, but often vexatious, -damage which will arise from abrasion'resulting from the pieces moving within the van while it is travelling. The closing of the rear doors upon the packed furniture is merely the last act in a carefully thought-out plan.
A haulier who tackles furniture removing in any lighthearted fashion is going to do harm, not only to his customers, but to himself. Not only is he without this essential-experience, but he is, in all probability, without the necessary equipment. For him to attempt the removal, in 4n ordinary lorry, of even the most robust and least expensive of furniture, without knowledge of how to pack it so as to obviate risk of damage, is to ask for trouble.
If, by writing these articles on furniture removing. I were to encourage inexperienced -hauliers to embark on this branch of the industry, I should be doing more harm than gdod, hence the importance of this preliminary warning. This short series of articles on furniture removal is for furniture removers only and not for the rank and file of road hauliers.
As a preliminary to assessing • charges for furniture removal it is essential to have some basic figures for cost Of operation of the vehicle, Before proceeding to go into that matter, it may he as well to remind operators that these articles were, to a certain extent, instigated by a critical letter which was published in the first of the series, and which can be found on page 209 of " The . Commercial Motor" dated October 20. That letter refers to a previous article on the subject of alleged high charges for furniture removals, which was published in the issue dated August 25 (page 62).
In both instances long-distance furniture haulage was the subject, but as there is not much point, to-day at any rate, in discussing rates for long-distance haulage, as operators are confined to a radius of 60 miles, I propose, in the first instance at least, to deal with local work.
Even so, it is of interest to refer to those two examples and particularly to the letter which appeared on October 20, because therein are emphasized certain particular factors in this branch of the haulage industry which seriously affect costs. These factors are, first, -the employment of other men additional to the driver; secondly, the fact that the furniture van itself is more expensive in first cost, and, therefore, in depredation and maintenance, than an ordinary vehide; thirdly, that certain equipment noist be carried, and allowance made in the costing for the expenditure on and the renewal cost of it.
Operating Cost a Variable Factor Bearing in mind the fact that other men besides the driver are employed, it might be urged that, so far as vehicle operating costs are concerned, they can be treated separately and the wages and subsistence and other expenses of these extra men added. That is not so, however, for the fairly obvious reason that the vehicle cost in relation to any particular job of removal varies according to the time needed for -the complete job. Clearly. if four men are employed instead of two men, that time is going to be reduced, and the vehicle cost affected accordingly.
The second factor, that of high cost and depreciation maintenance, merely makes it necessary to amend " The Commercial Motor" Tables of Operating Cost figures to comply with this condition.
The third item, relative to equipment, must certainly not be overlooked, but that, at least, can be treated as a supplementary item added after the net vehicle operating costs have been ascertained.
Nevertheless, it is essential, in the first place, to get our fundamental figures for vehicle operating cost. I propose to take two examples: first, a van of about 1,000 cubic ft. capacity, costing £600 to 1650, and weighing between 2f and 3 tons unladen, so that its speed limit is 30 m.p.h., and, secondly, a vehicle of 1,500 cubic ft. capacity on a chassis. normally built for 5 to 6-ton loads, weighing over 3 tons unladen (therefore, limited to 24 m.p.h.) and costing about £900.
The average cost figures for the former, apart from the modifications already mentioned, can be taken from the current issue of "The Commercial Motor" Tables of Operating Costs. The standing charges per week comprise: tax, 12s.; wages, including three insurances and provision for holidays with pay, 14 10s.; garage rent and rates, 9s. 6d.; insurance (corrected for hauliers' figures), 17s_ fld.; interest on capital outlay, es.; total, £6 15s. That is, for a 48-hour week, and is equivalent to 2s. 10d. per hour to the nearest penny.
For the running costs in pence per mile we have: petrol, 2.10d.; lubricants, 0.13d.; tyres, 1.26d.; routine maintenance, 0.40d.; general repairs, 0.95d.; depreciation, 1.30d.; total, 6.I4d. per mile, _ Modification is required in these figures partly owing to
the increased cost of a furniture van and because, in local
furniture removal work, the standing time so big a' factor as to make it advisable to transfer the item " depreciation " from runing costs to standing charges. So far as standing charges are concerned, then, we must first alter the item "interest," which, instead of being Us., should be 10s., and we must take in depreciation, which can stand at 22 per week, calculated on the vehicle being in use for some 64 to 7 years, a quite normal period for a furniture van of this type on local work. That brings standing charges from 26 15s. to 28 19s., or, say, 29 per week.
On top of that there is the item of van equipment mentioned by my correspondent, which, I am informed, involves, in maintenance and depreciation, an additional 5s. per week.
There is still a matter of establishment costs to be considered, and whereas, in the case of a general haulage business. I would assess this as averaging 21 18s. per week, I think that, in the case of a furniture remover, it would be insufficient, and we must allow at least 42 5s. per week, That brings our total of fixed charges up to 411 10s., to which must be added, approximately, 20 per cent. for profit, say 22 5s., giving a total of 213 15s. per week which has to be obtained as revenue, apart from the additional amount involved in the mileage run.
Setting Out Running Costs
Turning now to the running costs, it is necessary to add ,0.2d. to the routine maintenance, making it 0.60d, instead of 0.40d., and .I5d. to the repairs cost, making it 1.10d. The amount set down forudepreciation is to be deleted altogether. We shall, therefore, now have; fuel, 2.10d.; lubricants, 0.13d.; tyres, 1.26d.: 4routine maintenance, 0.60d.; repairs, 1.10d. The total is 5.19d., and if we add 20 per cent, to that we must obtain 614. for each mile run.
The basic time and mileage figures, therefore, for a vehicle of this kind are 213 15s., per week, which is approximately 5s. 9d. per hour and 61d. per mile.
Now, take the corresponding figures for the larger vehicle. Average costs, according to " The Commercial Motor 'S Tables of Operating Costs, are as follow:-Standing charges per week: licences, 14s.; wages and insurance, 24 13s.; garage rent and rates, 10s.; insurance, corrected as before to haulier's figures, 21 Sc.; interest, 10s. 6d. The total is 27 12s. 6d. Running costs per mile are; petrol, 2.78d.; lubricants, 0.16d.; -tyres, 1.60d.; routine maintenance, 0.50d.; repairs and renewals, 1.23d.; depreciation, 1.60d.;
total, 7.87d. • The standing charges need correcting, first, as regards the item interest, which now becomes 15s. instead of 10s. 6d., and by .adding depreciation which, now a standing charge, will approximate to 23 per week, so that the total is now 210 17s. per week.
As regards establishment costs, I shotslal allow for a vehicle of this type, used in general haulage, between 23 and 23 10s. per week. It seems fair, in the case of a furni Lure remover, whose commitments are larger, to increase them, to £481. per week so that the total fixed cost per week is 215. To this must be added 20 per cent. for profit-a further 23-giving £18 as the weekly revenue necessary for fixed charges alone-7s. 6d. per hour. .
The running costs are affected similarly to the other vehicle, and may now be restated as: petrol, 2.78d.; lubricants, 0.16d.; tyres, 1.60d,; routine maintenance, 0 75d.; repairs and renewals, 1 40d. The total is 6.69d. Add to this 20 per cent, for profit and we get 8d. per, mile as being the charge. The basic figures on which any charge for the vehicle alone must be made are, according to these Calculations, 7s. 6d. per hour plus 8d. per mile Figures for a 60-hour Week
It is a moot point, however, as to whether it is fair .to . take a 48-hour week as the basis. It is quite a common, thing for furniture removers, in anything like a busy period, to take full advantage of the 11-hour working day, which means that the week, instead of being' 48 hours, is 60. To provide for this, two corrections must be made to the foregoing figures. First of all, wages, which must be assessed on the basis of a -60-hour week, and will increase the total cost and total charge, and then to spread the total 'over the longer period, which will reduce the charge per hour. The rate-per mile is, of course, not affected. The extra wage, in both cases, is approximately 21 10s. per week: it is not quite that, but there is no point in working to an odd shilling or two in a matter of this kind. That, in the case of the smaller vehicle, brings the total of fixed charges to 213, and adding 20 per cent, for profit brings the total to 215 12s. per week, which, as near as makes no matter, is 5s, 3d. per hour for a 60-hour week.
In the case of the larger vehicle, the total of fixed charges becomes 216 10s., and adding 20 per cent, to that for profit we get 219 16s., which is equivalent to. approximately, Gs. 8d. per hour for a 60-hour week.
Therefore; taking a 60-hour week as a basis, we have these fundamental figures: for a vehicle of 1,000 cubic ft. capacity, Ss. 6d. per hour and 61d, per mile, and for 1,500 cubic ft. capacity, 6s, 8d. per hour and 8d, per mile.
To appreciate how these figures work out in practice it may be of interest to apply them to the working out of the cost of an example of a week's work.
Monday: travel from headquarters to a point 20 miles away; load, proceed toea, house 10 miles from the loading point, unload, return to garage-total time, 11 hours. Tuesday: van idle. Wednesday: travel to a point five miles away, load, proceed to another point 10 miles further, unload, return to garage-time, again, 11 hours. Thursday: proceed to a point eight miles away, load, travel 50 miles, put up for the night. Friday: unload and return to, headquarters empty; total time, 10 hours on Thursday, 8 hours on Friday. Saturday, vehicle idle.
I shall, in the next article, deal with such a week's work. S. T R