With multiple stops per day, Craig Bartschi needs to make sure that all of his water delivery trucks are up and running.
“My route drivers are running anywhere between 60 and 100 stops per day,” says Bartschi, owner of Idaho Springs Water, an Idaho-based bottled water company. “Some days it can be over 100 stops.”
As a small company, downtime is brutal. When a truck is out of service, Bartschi doesn’t have any extra trucks that he can use. To help with timely maintenance, he opted for a full-service leasing program through PacLease.
“We just can’t deal with downtime because we need every available truck,” says Bartschi. “We are in a competitive environment. If we have any prolonged downtime, we can’t expect to keep those customers. If a competitor can get there before we can, we lose that customer.”
Currently, Idaho Springs Water is on a seven-year lease for five Kenworth T270 trucks. Each truck contains a six-bay beverage bed. Additionally, Bartschi runs three service vehicles (Ram ProMaster and GMC Savana vans). According to Bartschi, the trucks are on the road every day and travel around 25,000 miles per year throughout Idaho and eastern Oregon.
For Bartschi, leasing has been the most cost-effective method for operating his delivery fleet. Not only does he get brand-new trucks, but PacLease’s program also includes a maintenance package.
When Bartschi started the company, he acquired three trucks; two through leasing and one he bought outright. After analyzing those three trucks for several years, Bartschi discovered that he was spending more owning the truck than the cost of the lease program, which included maintenance.
“The cost of maintaining the truck, operating the truck, and purchasing the truck outpaced what we were paying for the lease program for the newer trucks,” says Bartschi.
In addition to cost, Bartschi referred to the maintenance and service on the owned truck as a headache. The local service shop that performed the work on the truck had to get scheduled into that shop, meaning the downtime was longer.
“The service shop wasn’t as motivated to get me back on the road like the lease guys are,” says Bartschi. “With a lease situation, I’m a bigger priority than at the local service shop that had five or six other guys ahead of me. Our leased trucks have gotten repaired twice as quickly compared to when I owned the truck.”
So far, Bartschi has been happy with the Kenworth T270 trucks. The current configurations keep the Class 6 trucks less than 26,000 pounds GVW (gross vehicle weight). According to Bartschi, he has seen savings by not having to worry about hiring drivers with commercial driver’s licenses.
Additionally, the Kenworth’s maneuverability has made it easier to make deliveries in downtowns and tight areas. “When parking spaces are limited in downtown, it makes more sense to scale that truck down so the driver can get in and out easier,” says Bartschi.
With so many stops per day, routing is key to maximize the number of deliveries — with minimal drive time. The company manages without a telematics system, instead using routing software called WaterFlex, which is designed for the bottled water industry.
Bartschi also relies on his route manager, who understands all the geographic areas where Idaho Springs Water operates. He arranges the routes and can drop in additional stops on each driver’s route.
“The route manager organizes each route in a way that flows in the most efficient manner so drivers aren’t driving from one end to the other several times in a day,” says Bartschi. “We want the drivers to systematically work through one area and then move onto another area.”
When the loaded trucks leave the warehouse in the morning, the drivers don’t come back until the end of the day. If a truck needs to be reloaded, Bartschi will dispatch one of his service vans to restock that truck in between deliveries.
Bartschi describes his vehicle wraps as rolling billboards for his company. He worked with a local company to create the graphics.
The high upfront cost of the wraps is more than worth the investment, according to Bartschi.
“The truck wraps have been the best advertising we have ever had,” says Bartschi. “In addition to our website, the rest of our leads come from the trucks. I pulled my Yellow Page ads about seven years ago; I currently only advertise on my trucks and website.”
With the water graphic down the side of the truck, the wraps depict flowing clean water. “I wanted the image to extend onto the cab for a more uniform look on the trucks,” says Bartschi.