It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. In the case of TruckingSE.com, that appears to be true.
Matt Muller, founder of the trucking repair search engine, says during his career on the operational side of trucking, he had a hard time finding consistent vendors across the U.S.
“When we bought trucks, they were located across the country, and we had to make new contacts for vehicle service,” he says. “There was not a great way to find this information when a truck was broken down and time was of the essence.”
Muller started TruckingSE.com in February and so far has more than 14,000 repair shops — including truck dealerships — in the database. Muller admits there are competitive sites to his but believes Trucking SE.com takes a more localized approach to finding service locations.
One thing that sets TruckingSe.com apart, he says, is the fact that listings also include shop rate information.
“There are two things truck owners are balancing when it comes to vehicle repair. They are balancing, ‘Can I get in and out quickly because time is of the essence because they need to get a load delivered,’ with ‘I want to save as much money as possible and time is not of the essence because the driver is getting ready for their reset break.’”
Depending on the situation, truck owners may be willing to pay more in order to get faster service.
Using a map-based approach, TruckingSE.com pinpoints all the shops in an area and allows the user to drill down to see what types of vehicles the shop is capable of working on. Each listing contains the shop’s name and address, how far it is from where the down truck is located, shop capacity and number of bays, brands of trucks and engines serviced, hours of operation, and hourly rate. A click-to-call phone number is also part of the listing.
Four main services — tractor repair, trailer repair, tire repair and towing — are covered. There is additional information on mobile service availability and cost.
“Usually there are additional costs for mobile service, with costs accruing from when the service vehicle leaves the garage until it gets back,” Muller explains. “We try to collect that information for fleets as well.” He also shares average labor rates — in the case of tractors, that is $122 an hour.
Towing information is a little more complicated because there are multiple fees that go into towing service.
“To help fleets, we provide information on the cost of an average 100-mile tow and the average 500-mile tow,” he says. “That is the best way to compare one towing vendor with another.” The average 100-mile tractor-only tow is $990, and the average 100-mile tractor-trailer tow is $1,270. The average 500-mile tractor-only tow is $4,892, and the average 500-mile tractor-trailer tow is $6,162.
Currently there is no charge to fleets or owner-operators to use the service, nor for shops to list themselves. Shops have the opportunity to show up as a sponsored listing at the top of the listing for a certain area; those enhanced listing are identified as sponsored.
Once a shop lists itself, it gets dropped into a queue for TruckingSE.com staff to review. The shop is called in order to confirm information about types of trucks and engines it works on, the number of bays and its labor rate.
“In order to keep data relevant, we call shops three to four times a year to make sure they are still in business and to confirm labor rates,” Muller says.
He adds, “The data is the most important thing, and if we don’t have it right, we are not going to build trust with users.”
Muller hopes to continue to add shops to the U.S. database and also hopes to be able to expand the offering into Canada.
This commentary first appeared in the November 2021 issue of Heavy Duty Trucking.