Many of us that have been in the auction industry for any length of time know that the importance of completing a thorough inspection of equipment prior to bidding or buying cannot be overstated. Close examination of equipment can be quite revealing, especially when obvious flaws such as welds, missing parts or pieces or other defects can be noticed. Buying any piece of equipment “sight unseen” is like going to the casino and betting it all on black – you’ve got less than a 50/50 chance to come out on top!
As such, we wanted to give potential buyers of equipment a short but hopefully effective list of tips to buying farm, construction and trucking equipment to maximize their benefit and hopefully minimize any mistakes or regrets.
- First and foremost, know your seller. This can be extremely difficult, especially in today’s work of technology and online marketing and auctions. But just because you may be looking at equipment online doesn’t mean you are totally helpless in doing a little bit of “due diligence” in researching your seller. Specifically when you are working through one of the major online bidding portals such as AuctionTime, you can always look at a seller’s history and see what kind of equipment they have sold and how it was represented. Call AuctionTime and ask they about their relationship with a seller, such as Flowers Auction Service, LLC, and see if they have had any complaints. On all of our listings, we try to get the owner’s permission to show any potential buyers the owner’s name and phone number. If anyone knows the in’s and out’s of a piece of machinery it should be the actual owner. Make a couple of phone calls – a few minutes on the phone could save months or even years of frustrations dealing with substandard equipment.
- Second and almost equally as important, read the listing. Back to my point in the previous bullet, I have had many people call me and ask if they could speak to the seller. The answer is always yes and had they taken just a few moments to read the listing they would have seen the seller’s contact info and been able to make that call. Not that we mind taking the calls as we enjoy talking to other people who are just as passionate about auctions as we are, but we all strive for efficiency :-).
- Look closely at the listing pictures and videos. A good auction company (and we do our best to walk this path) will do just as good of a job at pointing out flaws on the equipment as they would about pointing out the strengths as well. We’ve received some criticism about the number of pictures that we put in our auction listings. We will gladly take that every day of the week. What we don’t want is someone who feels that we are trying to “hide” something or that we didn’t do a good job of inspecting the equipment when we prepared the listing. Good pictures and videos will hopefully show you as good of a representation of the equipment as if you were looking at it yourself.
- Research buyer’s fees, sales taxes and freight costs. We avoid buyers fees whenever possible. We believe that bidders should not be “penalized” for placing bids. We also believe that our primary job is to maximize revenue back to our sellers and as such, we believe the sellers should be the ones who pay us, not the buyers. Check listings very closely to make sure you understand any potential buyer’s fees and/or taxes associated with the sale. And be sure to investigate potential freight costs – nothing is more disappointing than buying the piece of equipment you’ve been looking for and then realizing there will have to be a big freight bill tacked on to the price. AuctionTime does a good job of using Freightstar as their primary shipping partner and they are very competitive.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You can find out a lot about not only the equipment but also the buyer and auction company simply by calling and asking a few questions. If they are friendly, open and honest you will pick up on that pretty quickly and it can set your mind at ease that you are dealing with reputable people. If you feel that this isn’t the case, maybe it is better to pass at this time. There will always be another “one”, whether that “one” is a tractor, truck, combine or whatever!
These are just a few tips for our buyers. We hope you find some value in this and that it helps you have a better and more productive online buying experience. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions!