There are two types of FedEx Ground Routes, and we often focus on the pickup and delivery (P&D) side of things, but there is another option: FedEx Linehaul routes. These routes are much different than P&D routes, but nothing says you cannot own both types of routes, or if you are a trucking contractor, scale your business by purchasing a FedEx Linehaul route or even more than one.
But how does a FedEx Linehaul Route work, and what do you need to know before purchasing one? Here is your ultimate guide.
What Does a Linehaul Route Look Like?
Pickup and Delivery routes deal with residential and business customers, so those routes are operated during the day. However, linehaul routes operate at night and often with teams of drivers. This means drivers can operate during lower traffic hours and have a certain amount of flexibility in their schedules.
Linehaul routes can be short or long: they can vary from hundreds to thousands of miles. For example, you could operate a run from Nashville to Los Angeles or Phoenix, or you could operate a route that runs from Nashville to Charlotte or Atlanta. There are also different types of runs, which we will explore later in this article. Some runs always have the same starting point and destination (dedicated runs), while others have the same starting point, but the end destination can vary depending on where loads need to go.
These routes require the operation of semi-trucks, or “eighteen-wheelers,” as they are often called. Drivers must hold a CDL and have a certain level of experience. Routes can include hauling double and even triple trailers in all kinds of weather, so that experience can often be very important.
Drivers can operate in teams or on solo runs, depending on the type and distance of the particular run they are on.
Those are the basics, but let’s dive a little deeper.
Equipment Needed to Purchase a FedEx Linehaul Route
First and foremost, the trucks needed to purchase a FedEx Linehaul route differ from those required for P&D routes. They must be semi-trucks and able to haul large loads over long distances. FedEx has specific requirements, but essentially, the trucks need to be in good operating condition and repair and be reliable.
There are deadlines with linehaul routes, and missing those deadlines comes with higher penalties than any associated with a P&D route, primarily because of the number of packages potentially involved. However, safety is FedEx’s number one priority when it comes to these routes. Accidents and any other road incidents can be serious and often come with the high cost of bad PR. This means not only checking your own equipment but the condition of the trailers you haul as well.
In addition to reliable vehicles, you’ll also want safety equipment like chains in areas where there is frequent snow, high visibility clothing, protective gear like boots and gloves, hard hats, and more.
You’ll also want to ensure that drivers have basic tool kits, extra bulbs and lights, flares, and other road safety gear in case of a breakdown.
These trucks are more expensive than P&D fleet trucks and are also more costly to maintain and repair. However, don’t let that discourage you from purchasing a FedEx Linehaul route. There are some significant advantages when it comes to profit. But before we look at those, let’s examine how the routes are structured.
The Structure of Linehaul Routes
FedEx Linehaul routes are structured a few different ways, and within those types, there are some variations as well. They can be divided into three types: dedicated, unassigned, and spot runs.
Dedicated runs are often the most desirable type of run because they have the same starting point and the same destination every single run. These runs can be long or short and can be run in a couple of different ways.
- Solo dedicated runs: These are run by an individual driver and are generally shorter. Usually, the driver returns to the “home” destination at the end of every day. This often consists of delivering a load to the destination and picking one up at the same time for the return trip, avoiding “dead head” runs.
- Team-dedicated runs: Team-dedicated runs usually employ two drivers who alternate driving time. They cover longer distances that can be regional, even national long haul. While drivers will not be home daily, they will be home at the end of each week.
These runs are the most consistent and therefore, make it easier for drivers to plan. They know when they will be home, how long runs take, and the pay is consistent. These are the easiest runs to schedule, manage, and staff.
An unassigned run has a consistent starting point. For example, your driver could start in Nashville but drive to Chicago, L.A., or Atlanta, depending on business needs. This means variations in distance, time, and pay.
These runs also have solo and team options, but they can be inconsistent. This can have advantages, as taking a longer run can mean an increase in pay short term, but drivers never know how long their week will be, where they will be going, and when they will be home.
The easiest way to hire for these runs is to promise drivers a minimum number of miles per week and give them as much consistency as possible. But these can also be seen as an extra opportunity for revenue (more on that in a moment).
These are unassigned, short runs that are added as needed. They occur when large packages or pallets that cannot be easily delivered by the P&D fleet must be delivered to a home or business. These runs are most easily added to the start or end of a driver’s day, so they don’t require hiring more personnel but simply require more time. They can also be a source of additional revenue.
For example, if a Target has a pallet of packages, this will result in a spot run. Some of these can be consistent throughout the year but cannot be guaranteed in case the needs of the shipper change.
One or all of these types of runs can be a part of one business, depending on the type of fleet you want to maintain and the personnel you can hire. That’s another thing to consider when purchasing a FedEx Linehaul Route.
Linehaul routes require personnel to be CDL-certified drivers and, as mentioned above, be experienced with a clean driving record. There is a national shortage of CDL drivers, so hiring can be a challenge. The key is offering what benefits and consistency you can and always having backup drivers whenever possible.
This is probably the trickiest part of FedEx linehaul operations. However, if you already run a P&D business and have qualified drivers, or you already own a trucking business, and you want to scale by adding FedEx linehaul routes, this can be simpler for you, as you already have a system in place for hiring and retaining personnel.
The good thing about purchasing a FedEx Linehaul route is that the compensation makes it possible for you to pay your drivers professional wages.
Revenue to Expect When Purchasing a FedEx Linehaul Route
Essentially, while costs are greater, the revenue from a FedEx linehaul route is also much greater. A single tractor-trailer can earn more than 5x what a single P&D route will during the same time period, and earnings during peak seasons can be even greater.
Also, because linehaul route revenue is based on mileage, it can be more consistent than the revenue from P&D routes, even during slower periods. And the more linehaul routes you own, the greater your efficiency. You can share maintenance costs and insurance costs, and if you plan properly, you can earn fuel rewards that cut down expenses and improve your cash flow.
If you are ready to take on the more significant risk to achieve the greater rewards of a FedEx Linehaul route, this might be the solution for you. Consider whether:
- You can finance or purchase a linehaul run and finance or cover high-cost operations.
- You have logistics experience and know-how to navigate serious risks in the industry.
- You have experience planning and executing for contingencies.
- You understand that you or an appointed manager will need to be available 24/7 to help solve problems.
If this sounds like you, a FedEx linehaul route might be the business you are looking for.
Hiring a Route Broker
One of the keys to success is ensuring that you find the correct route for you in the right area and at the right time. That’s where a route broker comes in. We can help you determine the value of the business you are buying and ensure you have all the necessary capital to begin successfully.
We’ll also ensure that the route is priced right and help you determine if you should buy equipment and vehicles with the route or go out and find your own. Here at Route Advisors, we’ll be with you every step of the way. Contact us today! We’ll help you find the FedEx Linehaul route that is right for you.