Once you’ve identified a need to purchase heavy equipment for your construction business, how do you create an equipment shortlist and then apply evaluation criteria to make the right choice? This post will walk you through the process of buying heavy equipment for your construction business so that you can feel confident you’ve done your homework and signed the best deal.

Once you’ve identified a piece of heavy equipment your construction business needs, follow these ten steps to make the right choice.

1. Ask your network for advice

Your probably know someone who has purchased this exact type of equipment before. What brand did they buy? What dealer did they work with? What kind of deal did they get? Are they happy with their purchase? Surveying your industry contacts and vendors can help you understand what’s out there while getting a feel for general brand sentiment.

2. Do an online search

Google the equipment you want to buy. This will show you the overall landscape of available brands and dealers. Look at their websites—they should be full of resources including spec sheets and downloadable equipment information. This will give you the tech specs to compare some hard numbers. There might even be videos of the equipment so you can see it in action and get a 360-degree look at it.

Speaking of videos- search for the equipment on YouTube. In addition to manufacturer and dealer videos, you might also find some customer videos and first-hand reviews.

While you’re online, you can also do a search for used equipment to get an idea of potential resale value in the future. This might factor into your financing calculations later on.

3. Shortlist your key criteria

Once you have a general idea of what’s available in the market, make a list of your must-haves for this equipment. What’s important to you? Does your company care about brand reputation? (Or sometimes you’ll just want your fleet to match). What about a North American manufacturing location? List out what you’re looking for and potentially even weight the criteria according to what’s most important to you. If you want to get fancy, you can create an Excel spreadsheet of your criteria and weighting to see how your shortlist ranks against each other.

4. Visit a branch

You’ll probably want to see the equipment in person. A knowledgeable equipment sales specialist should also be able to give you advice about different models and how to optimize any potential customizations for your specific use case. You might even have a regular go-to sales specialist who knows your business and what you need to do next to grow it. Find a trusted partner who asks the right questions in order to understand what you need the equipment to do.

5. Demo the equipment

As you move along your decision-making path, you’ll want to try out the equipment. Usually, a dealer will have an area set up onsite for demos. You can also bring in your own equipment operators to give them a feel for it and get their opinions. For special use cases, you can even arrange for your own custom test, which may or may not be onsite. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to see how the equipment functions.

6. Discuss your timing

Timing can play a role in your decision making, although the right dealer should be able to help you meet your deadline. A dealer like Finning has a selection of equipment that is ready to go within a couple of hours of purchase. However, for rarer equipment or equipment that requires customizations that will take longer to deliver, a dealer like Finning should be able to work out a rental agreement in the meantime so you can still get to work while your order is being delivered.

7. Find out about the after-sale service and parts network

Your uptime will depend on the after-sale service and parts network of your dealer. What is their parts availability and network like? Is it limited to metro areas? What sort of drop boxes are available on the road so you can get your parts and keep going? Not to mention field service trucks. Finning has over 100 field service trucks to help get a technician out to see you right away to fix your equipment so you can keep working.

8. Understand your financing options

Heavy equipment purchases can be in the six-figures, so it’s common to use financing. After all, if you’re renting equipment, you could be using that money to pay off your own equipment and increase your profit margins over time. When seeking financing from a dealer, check what packages they offer and try to minimize your variability while getting the lowest payment per month. Now is the time to negotiate maintenance and service into your package as well. Keep in mind that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While 0% for 5 years sounds like a good deal, it’s not necessarily the best way to own equipment since you don’t build equity into the machine as quickly; this slows down future equipment purchases since you’re not in an equitable position.

9. Consider your options

Now that you know what’s out there and you’ve tried out the equipment for yourself, think critically to compare and contrast your options. Look back at your criteria shortlist and see how everything stacks up now that you have all the answers.

Compare things like:

·         Brand reputation

·         Performance stats

·         Quality reviews

·         Resale value

·         Pricing and financing packages

·         Equipment service and field service

·         Parts network and availability

10. Make the purchase

To close the deal, you may want to revisit your dealership in person to sign on the dotted line. Or, if you have a trusted partner, you might feel comfortable taking the last step over the phone. At Finning, our sales specialists have even finalized deals over text. The right dealer and sales specialist will help you make your purchase in the most convenient way possible.

What heavy equipment are you looking to buy for your construction business?

Talk to a Finning sales specialist about Cat®, performance, financing, service and parts—and more.

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Finning is the world's largest Caterpillar dealer, selling, renting and providing parts and service for equipment and engines to customers across diverse industries, including mining, construction, petroleum, forestry and a wide range of power systems applications. We operate in Western Canada, South America, and UK and Ireland.