Euro Auctions - Industrial Plant Auctions, Construction Equipment Auctioneers, Agricultural Equipment Auction

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Realising the Best Price - Preparing Your Plant for Sale
By Cathal Doherty
Territory Manager – Ireland

Selling plant and machinery at auction is not a ‘black art’! In truth, it is fairly simple and straight forward. You identify the auction you wish to sell at, you register your piece of plant or machinery into the appropriate sale and it goes under the hammer, selling for whatever the bidders think it is worth on the day. Simple! Or is it?

The astute among you may have immediately noticed that the value of the piece of equipment may be governed by a number of factors on the day. Realising best price can depend upon the mood of the market, the vibe of the sale, the choice of stock available and the quality or condition of the items on offer. So, with this in mind, does the seller have any influence over this process? A question repeatedly asked by many sellers is: “How do I squeeze that extra pound, dollar or euro out of my plant or equipment as it goes through the sale”?

OK, let’s get straight to the point. Does condition actually matter? Yes it does. It has been proven many times that, by preparing your plant or machinery for sale, you will attract more buyers both pre sale, and, during the auction. By ensuring your kit looks fit for work and wanting to be owned, it will attract interest. You will get the best price for your kit and you will make more money.

Those that think the cost of preparing machinery for sale outweighs the returns are sadly misguided. The value of leaving a piece of plant in rough site order is not more economical than grooming it for sale. It is always better to present equipment for sale in its best possible condition.

Why is this? One simple explanation is that ‘buyers are tryers’. At any auction if a bidder is prepared to part with £50k, £100k, £200k or more for a piece of kit he is going to want to jump up into that cab, turn the ignition, flick the controls and put the machine through its rudimentary paces. If that machine is in rough order, filthy, oily, and greasy with a cab floor full of grime and rubbish, that prospective buyer is going to pass. In fact, it is generally accepted that even by cleaning the cab windows, you can add £500 plus to the sale price of a vehicle. Hello! Have we got your attention now?

One other glaring mistake many sellers make when putting machinery through an auction is not ensuring it is capable of running. This may seem like an obvious requirement, however approximately 25% of sellers do not pay attention to these details and, as a result, may be loosing thousands of pounds on that sale. So to appeal to ‘buyers and tryers’ make you piece of plant as accessible as possible. Ensure the battery is fully charged, there is fuel in the tank, no fuses are missing and the engine starts on the key. Who is going to bid on a machine that needs to be towed onto the auction ramp? Yep, you said it, not you. So why would you sell a machine in that sorry state and expect it to fetch good money. Exactly, you wouldn’t.

Many reading this article may think the following tips are common sense, however, why are so many of you getting it wrong. Sellers have to think like buyers, that way you can make those extra pounds, dollars or euros, sale on sale.

Here are our top ten tips on how a seller should present a machine or piece of equipment  for sale at auction.

1 – Which sale?

Before selling a piece of plant or machinery, it is worth considering where to sell that equipment to gain the best possible price. Many markets attract a particular type of buyer who will have a need or interest in particular makes, models or types of machinery. So, the first tip must be to identify a market with the greatest need and, therefore, a sale where interest in your particular product will generate the best sale price.

By speaking to a Euro Auctions sales manager, a seller can gain a better idea of where to send the equipment and machinery he wishes to sell. Certain brands of machinery and equipment fare better at certain auctions. For example, canopy mini excavators sell very well at our Valencia auction in Spain, whilst ‘zero tail swing’ excavators sell well at Dormagen in Germany. Researching the market before selling your plant can prove invaluable.

2 – Think like a Buyer

It’s accepted that low hours machines are best and make the most money, but if that low hours machine has had a tough life, it may not be pretty. This need not be the case. Presenting your machine for sale as you would wish to buy it is the key. This should be your pre auction mantra. It has been proven from the sales record of Euro Auctions that a well presented machine will always make the best price. There are many simple things that one can do, but the important tip here is ”DO IT!”. A couple of simple things can make a whole heap of a difference to a buyer, which will generate a better profit.

3 – Documentation

Having a service history is a lucrative aid to getting best price when selling your machinery. This is not always possible, but if the servicing of the item has been carried out by a main dealer, that information will be on record and can be included in the sale catalogue of the auction.

If you can produce CE documentation it can make a significant difference to the value of an item, normally adding between five and ten per cent to the sale value. Also, make sure the machine has proper ID, ensuring the Serial Plate is visible and true.

Lastly, if selling commercial vehicles, vans, cars and 4x4’s, please always ensure the vehicle is sent to auction with the registration document, as the vehicle will not be bought by overseas buyers without it.

4 - Keep It Clean

We accept that earth moving equipment has a job to do and that is a dirty job.  However, if a machine looks tidy, the chances are it has been treated well. With scores of similar machines going over the auctioneer’s ramp, what is going to entice bidders to pay the best money for yours? A tidy machine that looks right!

A clean machine looks like a loved machine, one that the seller was proud to own. First tip - always clean out the cab, wash the floor, jet wash floor mats and clean the windows. A clean machine is a piece of plant a buyer would be proud to own and operate.

Muck and dirt may also be seen as a way of hiding something. This may make a buyer suspicious. If your machine is in good order and there is nothing to hide, clean off the muck. This simple action will increase the price.

5 – Bells & Whistles

Sometimes the little things can make the biggest difference. Broken or missing mirrors can be seen as an irritation or a nuisance, as can broken light casings or lenses. Make sure all light bulbs work and fuses are complete. Missing windscreen wiper blades shows a lack of love for the machine, as does cracked or damaged cab glass.

6 – Fuel, Filters & Battery

Always make sure that the battery is fully charged and the fuel tank is half full. This gives the prospective buyer a chance to ‘turn’ the machine over on his pre-auction inspection.  If a machine starts on the button first time, the prospective buyer feels good about bidding. It is also worth renewing fuel filters, as a blocked filter may hamper the starting of the engine.

7 – Touch Up

Ensuring a machine is tidy will grab the eye of the buyer. Repairing or covering knocks, bumps and scratches is fast, simple and effective and can make a great difference to the  overall look of the machine.

8 - Dry & Drip Free

No one likes to see a machine dripping in oil and fluid. Alarm bells sound immediately that rams and hoses may be damaged, pumps may be shot and seals may be worn. A cursory inspection of your piece of equipment and carrying out the necessary repairs before the sale will ensure its doesn’t sit in a puddle of oil spelling TROUBLE in capital letters. Buyers will not just mark the machine down by the estimated cost of the repairs, but will add in the ‘hassle’ factor as well.

9 – Tyres & Wheels

Like buying a car, a good set of tyres can clinch the deal.  Dump trucks, telehandlers, rubber ducks and wheeled loaders can be heavy on tyres, especially if the machine in question has been operating in a quarry.

Firstly, make sure tyres on each axle match. Better still; if possible, make sure tyres match all round. Don’t be tempted to put a mismatched set on just to make up the numbers. Try to fit a good branded set, such as Goodyear or Bridgestone. Don’t be tempted to fit cheap tyres, as this does not bode well.

One common mistake is to take off a set that has over 50% life left in them, replacing them with a fully worn set. Don’t, as this will reduce the sale price of the machine by the cost of a set of tyres and potential by the cost of a new set of tyres. Lastly, look out for punctures. A machine will sit badly with a puncture which will make for a bad photograph in the catalogue and on the internet.

Take care of wheels. Heavy work may damage the rims. Ensure wheels are clean and true. Painting wheels is an option, but a good clean set is acceptable and preferable.

10 - Attachments

The lack of good attachments can let a good machine down. This could make the difference between one or two last bids, which could amount to a couple of thousand £’s for the sake of a little bit of thought.

Ensure all machines have good attachments.  Ensure buckets are good and have good teeth. Where possible, present the machine with a full set of buckets. This will draw the eye of the bidder that is looking for a machine for his own use.


These are my top ten tips for getting the best price for your machine, however, if you don’t cover all of them, don’t worry.  At Euro Auctions we have services to help you achieve the best possible price for your equipment, including washing, painting and refurbishment.  We have seventeen major auctions in 2011 in Northern Ireland, the UK, Spain and Germany so there is plenty of time to get your earthmovers ready for auction!


Cathal Doherty
Territory Manager - Ireland
Euro Auctions
00353 (0) 86 217 6148
[email protected]