Auctions can be an efficient way to obtain used equipment.
First Coast Auction
Taylor & Martin
Weeks Auction Co.
When Aaron Gonzales was looking to replace his International with a newer Peterbilt 379, he turned to an online auction site.
“You can make money both buying and selling,” says Gonzales, a 30-year veteran owner-operator. “And it’s pretty convenient. You can get customers from all over the world.” Gonzales knows that first-hand. He has sold two trucks through hookup.com, one of them to a trucker in the Netherlands.
He also went online to buy three 1995 Peterbilt 379s, and says other than a few minor repairs, the trucks have been great. But most importantly, Gonzales believes he saved more money than buying through traditional channels.
Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a used truck, auctions offer attractive opportunities, says Paul Wachter, president of auctioneer Taylor & Martin. Buyers’ risks traditionally associated with auctions have lessened, he says. Taylor & Martin, for example, guarantees the title, verifies a truck’s miles and specs, and provides maintenance schedules and other information that gives a bidder more confidence.
Wachter says most owner-operators are savvy about trucks and rely on their own inspections. Others sometimes bring their own mechanics or hire someone from an engine or truck manufacturer to inspect a potential truck. It may cost several hundred dollars, but the expense is worth it when you are spending thousands and there is no warranty.
“Come early and ask a lot of questions,” Wachter recommends. “Get familiar with the auction company. A lot of times, the owner of the equipment you want is there. Ask them questions.”
Most equipment can be inspected days before an auction. The auctioneer will also describe equipment and its condition over the phone.
Another important point about most traditional auctions: Sales are absolute, meaning the seller has to accept the highest bid, as opposed to a reserve auction, where a minimum price must be reached. Internet-based auctions, which typically allow reserves, are gaining more acceptance because they eliminate the seller’s risk of an absolute auction and they don’t entail certain costs or constraints of selling through other means. Sellers can tap into a nationwide audience of bidders. Buyers can access a nationwide inventory of trucks, and they have the convenience of 24-hour access from anywhere in the country, says Clista Schrader, business development manager for hookup.com. “They now have the freedom to buy what they want to buy,” she says. “They don’t always have time to deal with dealers. This gives them that freedom.” The expanded access is a big reason why hookup.com has seen a steady increase in owner-operators, who now represent about 35 percent of the site’s users, Schrader says.
Hookup.com is free to buyers. The service costs the seller only $25 per listing per month, as opposed to traditional auctions, which charge a percentage of the sale. Because hookup.com allows reserve auctions, you can see what the market’s willing to pay for your truck without selling it for less than you want. Schrader says most of its sales are at 80 percent or more of the seller’s asking price.
The distance between buyer and seller isn’t necessarily a problem with online auctions. Sellers list contact information, so buyers can communicate with them prior to bidding.
Although auctions were once the domain of dealers and the last resort for some sellers, Taylor & Martin’s Wachter says that’s not true anymore. Owner-operators sometimes get more for their truck than a dealer will offer them at trade.