Given the state of the economy the last few years the popularity of laundry owners and managers considering the purchase of used equipment has risen dramatically. Not a week goes by without at least one inquiry for a used piece. The interest is industry wide. Laundromats, Hotels, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Commercial Laundries are all calling. Price is the main attraction. Sometimes due to finances. Sometimes due to lower capital budgets. Sometimes used equipment is a good investment. Sometimes it is a disaster. How should one proceed to investigate a piece of used equipment? Here are a few tips.
Buy from someone you trust. Many transactions occur between parties that have known each other for a long time. Maybe it is a distributor-customer relationship. Maybe it is a shared cost group. Maybe a manufacturer ‘s finance company is selling something. Maybe it is a repeat sale from a used equipment vendor. In any event, you are comfortable that the person from whom you are buying the unit will stand behind it, that the machine will perform as represented. You know you are getting what you bargained for.
Check out the machine if possible. Depending on the size of the investment having an experienced laundry service tech or plant engineer check out the unit makes sense. Certainly, high end commercial pieces like tunnel washers, larger flatwork ironers, large capacity boilers , and the like justify the investment of a plane ticket and a couple of days effort. Is it currently running or has it been sitting outside in harsh weather for a year? How is the wiring? Was it well maintained? You can learn a lot with a site visit.
Be prepared to replace some parts. No matter how good a realtionship you have with the seller or how detailed an exam you gave the machine there will be hidden parts and labor costs involved. You will by more parts and you will expend more labor to get the machined running and keep running. Wear items and electronic parts will fail even though the machine was running when you last saw it.
Treat your tech well. If you are not handy mechanically and do not have a talented tech on staff or have a relationship with one, do yourself a favor and pass on the used equipment. On the other hand if you have mechincal talent or employ that talent, take the leap after you do your homework. Keep in mind you are buying a machine that has been used by someone else for some time and it will need attention. The more you can do in house the better return you will enjoy.
Used equipment is not for everyone. If you take your time and have some talent it may be for you.