6 Steps to Saving Money When Buying Heavy Equipment

A few decisions and a bit of research can save you thousands when shopping for heavy equipment.

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Looking for great deals on heavy equipment? Here’s how to get them.

While investing in your ability to get the job done is one of the best investments you can make, heavy equipment is, after all, a depreciating asset. This being said, in terms of saving a buck or two, there is a balance between a piece of junk and a great deal on some high-quality heavy equipment. 

Let’s looks at six steps to saving money on heavy equipment for your team. 

Step 1: Determine Your Team’s Needs

backhoe against a blue skyYou may not need an excavator if a backhoe can do most of your digging jobs just as well.

Before kicking off your heavy equipment shopping experience, it pays to evaluate your team’s true needs. In doing this, you might end up saving money by simply realizing you may not need to buy that pricier piece of equipment. Here are a few questions worth asking yourself to determine your equipment needs. 

“How frequently will I need to use this?”

If you won’t be using a more expensive piece of heavy equipment regularly, it may make more sense to rent it when you do. Maybe a cheaper piece of equipment can handle the job and other jobs just as well.

“What is the most common terrain I will be working with?”

Rocks, mud, concrete, and asphalt will all impact whether wheeled or tracked heavy equipment will perform best for you—and each with its own price differences. Opting for what makes the most sense can also save you the most cents. 

“How much will this cost to maintain and repair?” 

Maintenance and repair are par for the course when it comes to heavy equipment ownership. Opting for models that are high quality, low maintenance, and with parts widely available can save quite a bit of money in the long run—even if said models of heavy equipment cost more upfront. 

Step 2. Figure Out Your Budget

man budgeting for heavy equipment purchaseBudgeting ensures that no one ever tries to tell you how much you can afford. 

It’s cryin’ shame when hard-working folks get in over their head in terms of writing checks their own work can’t cash because they got excited on an equipment lot. To make sure you will be able to comfortably handle any upfront costs or monthly payments for heavy equipment, determine what you can truly afford. Even if you need to hire a financial professional to get this number, it will be money well spent in the long run. 

Know Your Walk-Away Price

There is another reason besides hot water for knowing your budget—you have your walk-away price! When you know your true walk-away price and stick to it, this will also give you substantially greater negotiating power further along in your heavy equipment buying process. So, know your walk-away price and stick to it. 

Step 3. Determine Your Heavy Equipment Needs Before Shopping

While equipment sales professionals will have a great deal of knowledge in terms of what equipment may serve you best, it is ultimately in their best interest to earn as much of your business as possible without as much understanding of your budget. For this reason, it is a good idea to become the most knowledgeable buyer possible before looking for your seller. 

Fillin’ Bellies & Pickin’ Brains

While asking for expert opinions is good, it’s best to independently verify the input from any sales professionals who stand to gain from you. Some sources for good input can range from heavy equipment mechanics to equipment rental companies, or sales professionals you may see earning your business. It may be a nice gesture to take an expert mechanic or other knowledgeable professional to lunch to fill their belly while you pick their brain. 

Consult Industry Publications

Industry publications, such as buying guides, can be a good source of information on becoming a knowledgeable heavy equipment buyer. Keep in mind that many are sponsored by the very companies of the equipment they’re selling, so take some of that with a grain of salt. This being said, non-affiliated heavy equipment marketplaces can be great places for buyer education. And you don’t need to look too far—you’re reading one right now! 

My Little Salesman Buying Guides

As a marketplace publication connecting buyers and sellers of heavy equipment and commercial vehicles since 1958, we like to think we know a thing or two about what to look for in quality equipment. To help you become an informed heavy equipment buyer, we have an assortment of guides ranging from how to buy service trucks to snow removal attachments for skid steers, excavators, box trucks, dump trucks, forklifts, and much more. 

 See All Buyer’s Guides from My Little Salesman

Step 4. Find Your Equipment Sales Options 

Once you have determined your budget and need, it is time to find where to buy said equipment. These sources may end up being a used equipment lot nearby, a brand dealership in the area, private sellers using classified ads, or various auctions—which can be a source of amazing deals if you’ve done your research.

Using Heavy Equipment Listing Services

A quick way to narrow down not only reputable sellers but also the precise models or heavy equipment you need to buy within your budget, heavy equipment marketplaces have done most of this work for you—and either affordably or free of charge. 

There are a variety of heavy equipment marketplaces available in both print as well as providing interactive online listings. For example, My Little Salesman is one such heavy equipment marketplace that has been providing a print heavy equipment catalog for over 65 years. The listing service also boasts of a massive online heavy marketplace that makes it easy for sellers to list heavy equipment on an intuitive platform—allowing buyers to find precisely what they need. 

Step 5. Compare All Specifications

man inspecting heavy equipmentIt is important to compare the proper heavy equipment specifications to make the best buying decision.

When it comes to shopping for heavy equipment, no matter what kind, it can still be like comparing apples to oranges. Certain specifications across various forms of heavy equipment can mean different things. It is in your interest to compare the following heavy equipment specifications when shopping: 

  • Engine Size and Torque
  • Size and Operating Weight
  • Digging Depths and Reaches
  • Blade or Bucket Capacities
  • Fuel Efficiency
  • Operating Speeds
  • Features and Technologies
  • Usage Hours or Odometer Readings
  • Service Histories
  • And other pertinent information

Step 6. Shop Prices & Negotiate

Once you have collected a pool of machines that check the boxes for your needs (made easy by the My Little Salesman “save” feature—just sayin’), you can begin to shop by price and begin any potential price negotiations—if sellers are interested in doing so. 

Remember to check both online and offline dealerships to see if there are any price differences. It is important to compare equipment specifications, conditions, and warranties offered by each dealership or seller.

Negotiate with Heavy Equipment Sellers

Once you have compared prices and found which models you’d like to pursue buying, it's time to negotiate. If you plan on purchasing new equipment, try to negotiate a lower price, free installation, or warranty extensions. If it turns out that leasing may be a better option, ask for a lower interest rate, fewer upfront payments, and flexibility in the lease terms. Some sellers may heed your requests to earn your business. 

And always stick to your walk-away price—even if it may mean downgrading some of your expectations. This hard number will give you increased bargaining power or at the very least keep you from overspending.

Financing to Simplify Expenses

Can’t afford to buy your heavy equipment in cash? Financing can be a great option. Consider the financing options available from the dealership or seek out third-party financing options. Compare the interest rates, down payment requirements, and repayment terms offered by different financing providers to get the best deal.

LenCo Capital
One recommended source for heavy equipment financing is LenCo Capital—a My Little Salesman financing partner company. Any buyer can quickly apply and receive financing quotes in as little as a few minutes with financing turnaround in as little as 24 hours. 

Additional Ways to Save Money on Heavy Equipment

Bring Down the Price with Used Equipment

While there’s a good chance you were already considering buying used heavy equipment to bring down the price, if you were deadset on new equipment, used machines can save you mucho dinero. While much more affordable than many new heavy equipment models, make sure to check the condition of the equipment before purchasing and verify its service history. Ensure that the equipment meets the required specifications and comes with a warranty.

Buy Certain Heavy Equipment at the Right Time

Did you know that you can likely save significant money on heavy equipment just based on when you decide to buy? Look for off-season discounts, end-of-year sales, and clearance deals offered by dealerships. Such discounts can end up saving you thousands of dollars.

Ask Around for Referrals

You likely already know some people that have been in your shoes. Because of this, they’ve likely done some significant leg work in terms of finding reputable heavy equipment dealers who offer great prices. If you know other contractors or construction companies, ask for referrals to dealerships that offer the best deals. Referrals can save you time and money, and ensure you get the best deal on all sorts of heavy equipment.

Bonus Tip: Consider the Equipment’s Resale Value

Though all equipment is a necessary asset, they are also depreciating ones—and you don’t want to prematurely be underwater on any such business investment. When purchasing or leasing equipment, research its resale value. Check how much the equipment will be worth in a few years and how easily it can be resold. Better resell values can make a huge difference when it comes time to upgrade your equipment down the line.

Go forth and save. 

We hope that by following these steps, you end up saving thousands of dollars on your next heavy equipment purchases! 

If you need help researching what to look for in various kinds of heavy equipment, we have a variety of relevant heavy equipment buying guides on the My Little Salesman website. Also, here are some links to specific guides to get you started: 

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About Ken Lane
Ken’s affinity for the heavy equipment industry was fostered as a curious youngster—becoming happily lost on his grandfather’s tractor sales and service lot (his favorite color is still Allis-Chalmers Orange). Since then, he’s perfected the art of turning black coffee into helpful buyer resources and marketing materials for My Little Salesman.
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