How to get well maintained lawn care equipment at a fantastic price.
Hey Clippers! Dave Tucker here to share some trade secrets about lawn care equipment. We’ve talked before about how to buy mowers and trucks for your lawn care business. But have you ever thought about buying that stuff at auction?
Believe it or not, you can raise a paddle and end up with a new-to-you truck for cheap. Granted, it’s not easy—and you do need a little luck. I know plenty of guys who thought they were getting a good deal and wound up with a clunker. But with the right strategy, you can score great equipment at one heck of a price at an auction!
I asked a few of our fellow lawn care business owners for their best auction tips. Here’s what they had to say.
Follow Rock and Dirt.
Rock and Dirt lists upcoming auctions and used equipment for sale all over the country. Watching their website like a hawk is the best way to keep track of auctions in your area. They also have a printed magazine with great articles about inspections and equipment.
One lawn care business owner I know recommends making friends with the Rock and Dirt guys directly. According to him, it’s a great way to find exactly what you need.
“These guys have millions of clients and contacts,” he says. “You can tell them what you’re looking for and they’ll hook you up. It may not be $750 for a $65,000 piece of equipment, but you’ll be astonished with what’s out there.”
Hire an appraiser.
Lots of auctions allow pre-auction viewings, when you can come check out the goods before it’s time to start bidding. You can hire an appraiser to come with you for around $100. These guys know exactly what to look for and can help you spot the diamonds in the rough. Then you can plan for what you actually want to bid on versus what you can skip.
(Feel free to skip this tip entirely if you yourself are a pro and know how to spot great equipment!)
Make friends with auctioneers at utility companies.
Utility companies auction off trucks and vehicles on a regular basis, for great prices. Their trucks may have a lot of mileage, but they often have new engines. Plus, they’re usually beautifully maintained and come with complete maintenance records.
Your best bet is to call a few places and ask where they auction off their fleet. They might even send you a list of what they’re offloading every month or every quarter. I know a lawn care business owner who has scored some excellent deals this way.
He says, “It’s all used utility vehicles. They range from pickups to medium-duty single-axle dumps, tool carriers, or bucket trucks. I got a ‘91 Chevy C-30 dump truck for $350! I’ll admit that was a very lucky buy, but most of the time you will get in for under $2,000.”
He and his team use the winter to spruce up their auction treasures. “We sand and paint them, then take ‘em to the sign painter and turn them into rolling billboards.”
If you’re in the market for new lawn care equipment, don’t sleep on auctions. Play your cards right and it can be an excellent buy for your lawn care business!
Have you ever bought lawn care equipment at auction? What are your best tips? Tell us in the comments! And in the meantime, keep clipping!