Do you know what pitfalls you need to avoid when it comes to remarketing your work trucks and fleet equipment? - Photo: Work Truck

Do you know what pitfalls you need to avoid when it comes to remarketing your work trucks and fleet equipment? 

Photo: Work Truck

From putting in some effort to make your equipment attractive to potential buyers to being reasonable on repairs and diversifying your selling options, these tips can help you get the most out of your sale.

Tip 1: Sell What You’d Want to Buy

Would you buy the truck, van, or equipment you are trying to sell?

“If any significant repairs are to be made that, left ignored, could dissuade an end user from investing in that equipment. In many situations, a customer must adhere to a set of Trade Terms and Conditions when trading or auctioning equipment. Customers typically want to get what they are buying on the road as fast as possible, which means something that needs multiple repairs before getting it out on the road isn’t appealing,” said Rob Slavin, senior valuation analyst at Ritchie Bros., an RB Global Company.   

Times are changing. Today is a “buyer’s market,” unlike late 2021/early 2022 when most types of equipment were scarce.

“Our internal data showed a lot of competition amongst buyers. Now, we see plenty of “like” units waiting to be purchased. Ensure your unit is as clean as possible and shows well. That next buyer is looking to keep his driver happy, and buying a nice clean piece of equipment is what he is looking for,” Slavin added.   

Tip 2: Put Some Effort In

Following the idea of selling what you want to buy, commercial fleets should take the time to put a little effort into their units before resale.

“Fleet managers would do well to put some effort into getting a piece of equipment ready for sale. Not all end users want to buy a project. At a minimum, you should have the unit professionally cleaned and detailed. This could cost upwards of a thousand dollars, depending on the wheels and chrome that need to be polished. Still, it can go a long way in making your work truck attractive to a potential buyer," said Slavin of Ritchie Bros.

Tip 3: Be Reasonable on Repairs

But keep in mind that when it comes to “what needs to be fixed,” there is normal wear and tear (based on age/normal usage), and then there is the operating condition.

“Cosmetic issues like scratches and dings you will get throughout usage can make less sense to fix than something that significantly detracts from the visual appeal, such as bumper hanging, cab extender folded over (or missing), broken windshield, etc. Mechanically, fleet managers should be mindful of anything concerning a customer enough to pass over the equipment. Is the truck in good working order? Are there any warning lights on the dash that might give a customer pause? The best advice is don’t give a customer a reason not to buy/bid on your equipment. Make sure your AC/Heat, emission system, and brakes are in good working order,” said Slavin of Ritchie Bros.    

Jeff Krogen, vice president of Fleet Strategy at Enterprise Fleet Management, agreed.

“Don’t over-recondition your vehicles. Understand your buyer and what reconditioning is necessary for a work truck’s age and mileage. Detail your trucks before selling. Even professional wholesale buyers can’t help but feel a vehicle is more cared for if it is clean (both interior and exterior), and you would be surprised how many companies will sell trucks that came straight out of the field,” Krogen added.

Tip 4: Set it Up for Success

Fleet managers should also consider getting a full “wet” preventive Maintenance B service.

“A full service includes changing the oil, filters, lube chassis, fluid level check, and a general inspection covering a long list of non-invasive checkpoints. Most dealerships do this in the process of getting a truck ‘frontline’ ready, so they might be more interested in equipment that already meets their requirements,” said Slavin of Ritchie Bros.

Tip 5: Price Appropriately

When looking at pricing, it’s not recommended to rely on a single source to price out work trucks for sale.

“Multiple guidebooks, auction results, and your internal sales history will help ensure you arrive at the best price point. I recommend researching current retail prices and working down from there. Here is a quick formula to work from: if a work truck is listed for $X, transaction prices are X% less, and reconditioning needed is $X, then your price target would be Y,” said Krogen of Enterprise Fleet Management.

Tip 6: Save the Paperwork!

There is a lot of paperwork that comes with owning one vehicle. Multiply that by 15 to 1,500, and it’s a lot to keep track of. But it’s incredibly important to do so.

“If there’s one common pitfall we see repeatedly, it’s problems with title work. If you’re going to remarket a vehicle, you must have the title work to sell it to anyone. Fleets need to remember that every day a vehicle isn’t sold, it’s usually still on lease, piling up charges and fees. That’s why it’s so important to have title work in order – if you do, we can purchase it in a day, but if not, even if you’re going to auctions, there are going to be a lot of holdups,” said Bill Bishop, SVP of sales and marketing for FLD, Inc.

 Also, if you have service records – provide them!

“Customers love to look at what was already completed on the truck,” said Slavin of Ritchie Bros.   

Tip 7: Don’t Wait to Sell

Curious when a good time to sell is? Check out our advice on “resale vs. maintenance.” Looking at current trends, however, the time to sell is here.

“As we’ve seen over the last three to four years, timing is everything, and one of the biggest mistakes we’ve seen fleets make is waiting too long to sell a vehicle. We advise that if you have vehicles and equipment you don’t need, sell them as soon as possible because you never know what’s coming around the corner. We had customers who sat on vehicles for months before COVID-19 hit, and when it did, they were forced to hold them until they became worthless,” said Bishop of FLD, Inc.

Tip 8: Diversify Selling Options

When you are ready to sell, ensure you are positioned with diverse dealers if selling directly.

“I caution against bid sales (a bid sale is when local dealers are invited to bid on many multiple vehicles). This approach can be a quick way to sell work trucks, but unless you have the time to watch every wholesaler as they review and bid on the vehicles, you may be at risk of sudden mechanical issues,” said Krogen of Enterprise Fleet Management.

Krogen added that it is common to see an attending buyer try to game the system by switching a couple of plug wires and pulling a fuse so the dealers looking at the vehicles later in the day will assume mechanical issues and bid less.

“If you cannot sell work trucks on your own to many dealers, I recommend seeking out an online or a brick-and-mortar auction. If working with a fleet management company, like Enterprise Fleet Management, there is a team of remarketing experts that oversee remarketing needs and the entire process to garner the highest sale price while working with a client’s desired timeline,” Krogen added.

About the author
Lauren Fletcher

Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor - Fleet, Trucking & Transportation

Lauren Fletcher is Executive Editor for the Fleet, Trucking & Transportation Group. She has covered the truck fleet industry since 2006. Her bright personality helps lead the team's content strategy and focuses on growth, education, and motivation.

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