When we talk to people about buying equipment, we typically tell them to think of it like buying a car. This becomes even more true when considering the purchase of used equipment. But finding that one right press, embroidery machine, or other piece of decorating equipment can be a challenge.
For many, used equipment can be a good way to get what you need without breaking the bank. But if you aren’t prepared, you might walk away with a worse deal.
To get you on the right path, we’re sharing the 9 factors to know when thinking about used equipment. Let’s get you on your way to that perfect buy!
1. Make sure you know what you need.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do we have the work to justify the purchase?
Can we live without it?
Is it a need or a want?
If you can’t justify the purchase with a monetary value, the time may not be right for you to purchase a new piece of equipment. But if your business is demanding it, it’s time to take the plunge! So move on to step two.
2. Make a budget and stick to it.
Knowing your budget is a matter of knowing what you can spend and what you need. It’s no secret that some manufacturers build a bigger, faster, more accurate machine, but they might cost more than a comparable entry-level model. If you’re looking to save money, consider different models.
3. Do your research! Leave no stone unturned.
Looking at new, shiny equipment is exciting, but don’t let that on its own be the reason for purchase. Take the time to analyze the equipment’s advancements from previous editions and its current technology. Ask other shops what equipment they use and how long it has been running. Reach out and get additional information about the manufacturer or dealer by calling former equipment owners, researching online, and just talking to peers.
4. Think about long-term partnerships.
Think about longevity when making this investment. An established relationship with the manufacturer or dealer and verified information about the equipment are helpful buying factors to consider. If you need maintenance on the equipment in the future, who will you go to for the fix you need. How accessible is service and parts?
Build a list of two or three models that might meet your needs and fall within your budget. If you know what you’re looking for, that makes the prospect of starting to look far less intimidating.
4. Consider the whole cost.
A tight budget means you need to spend even less. Used equipment will need extra attention from time to time in maintenance and the like. There are the other ownership costs we forget to account for, such as unexpected repairs or extended warranty. Nothing is worse than purchasing used equipment and discovering it’s full of problems.
5. Manufacturer warranties add value.
If you plan to buy a press that is less than five years old, consider one that is certified or reconditioned that has warranties backed by the manufacturer or dealer.
Try to get a maintenance history. This is an essential early step. If the equipment has a bad or no maintenance history or report, you should consider taking it off your list.
6. Don’t be fooled by a fresh coat of paint.
Keep in mind that rust, corrosion, and other problems can be hidden by fresh paint. Many machines do not have an odometer, so documented proof of its life is helpful information. Knowing how many prints are on it can give you an accurate idea of how much it has been used.
6. Once you find your pick, check it twice.
A test drive, so to speak, is the best way to know if it is the right make and model. It’s also an excellent way to assess the equipment’s condition. However, this shouldn’t be your only means of inspection. Consider having it inspected by an independent service technician if possible.
7. Make sure you have all the paperwork!
Don’t forget the owner’s manuals or any schematics that came with the equipment. This can be used for preventative maintenance once you own it.
8. Protect your investment.
Protecting the investment should be a priority, and a warranty is helpful. All equipment is bound to break down at some point, even with regular maintenance. Without a warranty, a breakdown means a loss of time and money. The cost of parts, labor, and downtime could be a detrimental setback.
9. Look to the future: Resale
As Glen Carliss writes about resale value; first and foremost, comes the equipment’s condition. Keeping it maintained and in good working order is critical when it comes time to sell. The equipment manufacturer’s reputation in the industry also plays a significant role in resale value.
So what do you think?
Do you feel more prepared to start your used equipment search? What additional factors do you consider when you’re thinking about making a big equipment purchase? Share your answers in the comments!
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This article originally appeared in Lon’s column in Printwear Magazine.