TRANSPORT TIPS FOR TRADESMEN.
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Particularly Addressed to Those Who are Replacing Horsed Vehicles by Motors, or Contemplating So Doing.
WHEN STARTING a motor delivery department, it is absolutely essential either to have, or to pay for, expert knowledge. This knowledge has to be of two kinds, engineering and organizing. Engineering knowledge is desirable in the selection of the vehicles and essential in their maintenance. Without it, the choice of the vehicle is likely to be based mainly on the suitability of the body for the kind of load that is to be carried, rather than upon the suitability of the chassis for the work it has to perform.
Starting a Motor Delivery Service.
One may sometimes replace engineering knowledge in this matter by the experience of others, but the man without engineering knowledge is, even so, liable to fall into grave error. He may, for instance, take the advice, first of one friend, and then of another, and • get together a.. mixed lot of vehicles, each excellent in itself, but not, when taken together, suitable to form a fleet that can be operated with • ease and economy. In the subsequent maintenance of the vehicles, good practical . engineering knowledge is absolutely necessary, otherwise the owner is entirely in the hands of his drivers. In the absence of the necessary engineering knowledge, one must either employ an engineer, or else have the vehicles maintained under contract. It is not satisfactory merely to employ a .garage. to carry out those repairs and. adjustments that the drivers say are necessary. It one knows a garage proprietor well, and is able to trust him completely, one may rub along in this way but., in that case, it would be much better to let him garage the vehicles and overhaul them regularly, rather than depend entirely on the reports of drivers who may not detect incipient trouble until it actually materializes.
Expert knowledge of the organization of motor deliveries is, as already mentioned, just as,important as engineering knowledge. Nobody who buys motors, and merely runs them as if they were horsed vans, can conceivably expect the best results. The motors may still pay him, but, in that. ease, it will be in spite of his treatment of them and not on account of it. The inherent qualities of a motor vehicle do not resemble those of a van, and horse much more than do the inherent qualities of a modern rifle. resemble those of a bow and arrow. The .man who bought the gifle and then used it as though it were not inherently different from the bow, would not have much chance against the man who-recognized the difference and acted upon it. The range '3 f the motor is infinitely greater than that of the horsed van, and this fact can be taken advantage of in many ways. If it is a, case of establishing a very, considerable organization, the .professional expert should be called in to advise. If it is merely a matter of puttingone or two vans on to the road, an experienced friend may be able and Willing to spare the time to advise as to how they can best be applied.
The Chance for the Opportunist.
Undoubtedly the war and, more lately, the consequences of the war, have given to many enterprising men opportunities of showing enterprise that might never have occurred in more normal times. Punng the war itself there were unfortunate inequalities of opportunity. Some men, merely on the score of
their age, were obliged in a commercial sense to waste years. of their lives, while others had more than a fair chance of building up big businesses. Now opportunity is more equal, but, so long as conditions remain abnormal, exceptional opportunities still present themselves to those who are capable of seeing them. In many trades there is room for immense development of one or -two businesses in almost every locality. To-day is the day of the big business, end it is more than likely that those, whq develop first into big business, will presently squeeze out their smaller competitors altogether. At such a time it is more than . ordinarily • necessary for traders to consider the possitilitiesmf rapithdevelopmeat by means of the employment, or the extended employment, of motor vehicles. The motor tremendously enlarges, the areasthat can be served. With railway'services disorganized and unpunetual, the motor, at the ,moment, may be able to give the clients of the trader more than usually strong evidence of the advantages of dealing with a man of enterprise. When times are abnormal we may take risks as regards expenditure, and other matters, which might not be .justified at other times. The trader has, therefore, to consider not only whether it will immediately pay him to adopt.motor deliveries, but whether, if he does not do it, some smart competitor may not so cut into his business as to obliterate hint altogether in the years to come.
Road Transport will Hold the Field.
Many motor vehicles are now being ordered and .many men are considering the placing of orders, as an immediate consequence of the congestion on the railways and the consequent delays and losses. Presumably, one of these days-the railway organization will be so far improved as to approach the pre-war normal, in service, if not in price. One may ask whether, when this happens, those who have purchased motors will not regret their persistence. The answer is that there ,are very few cases in which this is likely to happen, and the case of the ordinary retail trader is not among them. From now• onwards, road transport will undoubtedly bold the field for coMparatively short distances. The advantages of direct delivery -become more and more conspicuous with every rise of wages and consequent increase in thet cost of intermediate handlings. The process; of delivering by horsed vehicle to the railway and, ,again, after a run of 20 or 30 miles, delivering by horsed vehicle to the purchaser of the goods is not only roundabout. and slow, but is,and must remain, very expensive. The goods must be suitably packed for railway 'transit. This involves labour. 'They must be unloaded' front the horsed'vehicle and loaded into the truck or van. They must be unloa.ded.agairisfrom the truck or van and loaded into the second horsed vehicle. Each of these processes involves labour. That is to say, it involves a cost which will cer+ainly not decrease as time goes on., The only case that I can imagine in which., when the railways pull themselves together, the motor owner May regret his expenditure, is that in which vehieles.have been,purehas.ed forthe sole purpose of making long through runs Getween big centres linked up by railways and in which, if it is found that road transport does not pay, there remains nothing to sclo with the vehicles but to sell them in the second-hand market at a oonsiderable loss. 015