7 Reasons Truck and Equipment Purchases go Wrong
Buying a diesel truck or a piece of heavy equipment for your business is a big decision. It’s not the sort of thing that business owners and operations managers take lightly – there are usually hundreds of thousands of dollars involved. And yet, there are times when these investments go wrong.
As experienced diesel engine and generator dealers, we have firsthand experience. We often meet with new customers who turned to us after having made the wrong choice elsewhere. That makes it harder for them to not only choose and afford the right piece of equipment, but also to trust in our advice and their own instincts.
In other words, making the wrong capital buying decision hurts everyone involved. So how can you avoid an unfortunate choice? From our perspective, there are seven common reasons truck and equipment purchases sometimes go wrong. Let’s take a look at each one.
Reason #1: The Buyer Starts With a Specific Outcome in Mind
Tunnel vision can be dangerous in any part of your business, and especially when large investments are involved. Still, we do meet with decision-makers who come into the capital buying process with a specific outcome in mind. This is often because they’ve come across a video or brochure that impresses them, or perhaps gotten some feedback from a colleague.
When this happens, they tend to ask questions that point them toward one very specific answer. At the same time, they ignore any details that might lead them in another direction or open up the process to different possibilities.
While these kinds of interactions tend to be easy, because the customer makes a selection quickly, it can lead to problems down the road. It might be that the engine’s range or horsepower isn’t right for the situation, or that the business ends up overpaying for features that aren’t really required.
There is certainly nothing wrong with doing your own research and visiting a diesel dealership with certain preferences in mind. However, we always advise our customers to keep something of an open mind when evaluating different options. Just because something is right for someone else doesn’t mean it’s best for you and your company.
Diesel trucks and equipment are business assets at the end of the day. Your budget and operational requirements should be your first considerations, and you should never be so locked into one specific brand or model that you can’t or won’t look at alternatives.
Reason #2: The Buyer or Seller Doesn’t Have Enough Experience
Almost nothing in life or business is easy the first time around. It probably took you many tries to learn to ride a bike, so how could you expect to get a huge business purchase right on the first attempt?
Savvy business owners and executives will understand this and seek out good advice wherever they can find it. They’ll listen to a dealer, check out reviews, and look over the numbers with a consultant or colleague. Those who are less savvy will shoot from the gut and hope for the best. Sometimes it works out, but often it doesn’t.
To be clear, there isn’t anything wrong with being inexperienced with trucks, engines, and heavy equipment. What leads to mistakes is making quick decisions when you don’t have the right information and perspective. In other words, if it’s your first or second time going through this process, then seek help from someone you can trust. Otherwise you might make a decision that’s difficult to undo and that can cost your company a lot of money.
Ideally, you would work with a diesel dealership like Valley Power so you can have a team of experienced professionals guide you through the pros and cons of each brand and model. But whatever you do, make sure you have someone with the right background on your side. It can make all the difference when you’re trying to sort through different choices and find the right one.
Reason #3: The Wrong Features Have Been Prioritized
From time to time we meet with heavy equipment buyers who don’t actually know what they’re looking for. Or to be more accurate, they do know what they’re looking for but are prioritizing the wrong features.
For a simple example, consider an entrepreneur who only pays attention to stats like horsepower and torque when what they really need is reliability and efficiency. This person is likely to make the wrong buying decision. Then they’ll be left with a couple of choices: keep using equipment that isn’t right for the job or sell the unit, possibly at a loss.
These kinds of issues come up more frequently than you might think. Some business owners focus on the kinds of performance figures we’ve already mentioned. Others get hung up on cabin features like seating and climate control. And of course, almost any business owner or executive can become distracted by a low price.
As we have mentioned previously on our blog, when you’re buying a diesel truck, or a piece of heavy equipment, you are investing in your business. What should matter to you is the problem you can solve or performance you can gain for your purchase. Other considerations (like the color of a truck, for example) don’t really matter. If you take your eye off the ball you can easily find yourself spending a lot of money for something that won’t pay off in the long run.
If you can, come into the buying process with a firm idea of what you need. And if you aren’t sure, then consider speaking to your dealer about your day-to-day operational needs so they can help.
Reason #4: The Buyer Has Failed to Plan Ahead
In this business, a rushed decision is often a wrong decision. Some experienced business owners and operations managers will plan their investments in diesel engines and other forms of equipment months or years in advance. They’ll know what they have in their fleet or inventory, what sorts of projects and schedules are coming up, and what kinds of budgets they can allocate to replacements. As a result they get the most choices and the best deals.
Contrast that with what happens when a buyer shows up needing a quick or last-minute solution. They may not be able to find what they were hoping to purchase, particularly at a competitive price. So they have to cut corners, make substitutions, or otherwise live with a less than ideal answer. That means higher prices, more maintenance issues, and fleets that don’t last nearly as long as they should.
You certainly won’t be able to plan ahead for every purchase or eventuality. However, to the degree that it’s possible, you should try to plan your capital investments into the future. Think not only about which elements of your fleet will have to be renewed, but also how they fit into your product strategy as it relates to transportation, financing, and so on.
To put this a different way, you should be working from a buying strategy rather than a daily or weekly plan. It may take a while to develop this sort of mindset, but putting in the effort will pay off for years to come.
Reason #5: The Right Equipment Isn’t Available
Sometimes a business owner or operations manager would make a perfect diesel engine buying choice if only the item they wanted were available. But it isn’t, so they end up settling for something that isn’t quite right for their company or use scenario.
To be clear, this almost always ties in with the lack of planning we have already described. With enough preparation you should be able to purchase the equipment you need, unless you’re looking for an old or hard-to-find model.
Still, if the supply chain crunch we saw this year taught us anything, it’s that businesses have to be flexible. You won’t always be able to source your first choice for any product or service, even heavy equipment. The trick in those situations is to find the right alternative rather than the one that’s just right in front of you.
This is (once again) a situation where the right dealer can be a huge help. If you work with a vendor that stocks many leading brands, then they can steer you toward a reliable substitution, or possibly even lease equipment to you while you wait for delivery. Go bargain hunting on your own, though, and you might be stuck buying whatever your colleagues and competitors have already passed over.
Reason #6: The Right Terms or Guarantees Haven’t Been Set
This particular point is less about choosing diesel engines and heavy equipment than it is simply checking terms and looking through fine print. That’s because even good equipment from a reliable manufacturer can sometimes have defects or maintenance issues. It’s rare, but it happens.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, then there are two layers of security you can fall back on. The first is to work with an established dealer with a long-term reputation to protect. A company like ours isn’t going to leave a customer high and dry, because it would be bad for business. Businesses all across the West work with us because they know we can be relied upon, and we work hard to back up those impressions every day.
The second point of security can be found in the terms or guarantees you secure when buying the equipment. Many business people will move quickly through the buying process once they have made a decision. That’s understandable, but you should ask pointed questions about the process for resolving any issues and be sure you get satisfactory answers. Then, you have to get all of that in writing.
In a perfect world you could count on every dealer or vendor to stand by their product after the sale. However, it’s always best to ensure you have warranties in writing before signing on the dotted line, just in case.
Reason #7: The Seller Isn’t Honest
It’s unfortunate, but our industry is like any other: the relatively large dollar amounts involved sometimes attract dishonest people. Visit enough shops or dealerships and you’ll find someone who will say almost anything to make a sale. Fall for the wrong line and your company will suffer.
Thankfully, this sort of scenario is rare. Because most heavy equipment buyers do their homework, and because word spreads quickly when things go wrong, you can be reasonably assured of working with a professional if you visit a dealership that is supported by well-known brands. Still, it’s always smart to read reviews and ask around.
Also, be aware that it’s much harder to find good value in the secondhand market. If another small business owner wants to sell you their truck or equipment, ask why. Are they in a hurry to make a deal? Does the information they are giving you match up with service records? Is the price too good to be true?
You certainly can find bargains on diesel engines, generators, and other pieces of equipment. But, you do have to be careful. In some cases it might not be worth the risk of making a bad decision just to save a bit of money from your operating budget. And either way, you shouldn’t sign any agreements or pay any invoices until you have done a bit of research.
Need Expert Diesel Engine Advice?
At Valley Power, we have become known for providing premium equipment and quality service to businesses throughout California and the West. That’s because we represent top brands, know our products inside and out, and do everything we can to ensure you’re happy even after the sale.
If you have questions about our work or your fleet, contact a member of our team today to schedule a free meeting with no obligation. We’ll be happy to talk to you about your trucking, transportation, or power needs and help you find the affordable and dependable solutions you are looking for.