How to Sell Your Semi Truck

A big rig isn’t your everyday sales item

It’s not like a piece of furniture that you can quickly transport from one place to the other. Nor is it a minor expense, especially when compared to other types of equipment or motor vehicles.

Plus, there are logistics to consider. Your buyer might not even reside in the same city or state that you do! Needless to say, there are several factors that come into play if you’re looking for a profitable sale.

So, what’s the best way to sell a semi truck?

While a big rig sale doesn’t have to be complicated, it’s always worth considering the different selling options at your disposal. Most big rig buyers have some specifics in mind when it comes to size, functionality, and budget. So regardless of how you sell, you’ll need to make sure that your prospective buyers are clear on all the details of your truck.

To that end, consider selling via one or more of the following avenues.

Selling on the street corner

This is the ultra-traditional method!

Historically, parking your truck at a busy intersection was how the majority of people sold cars and trucks. You simply cut out a rectangle of construction paper, used a Sharpie pen to write out the details, and taped the sign inside the windshield with hope people would call. If you wanted a professional look, you purchased a premade ‘For Sale’ sign at the drugstore and stuck it in the window.

Either way, this selling method was simple and inexpensive. And while you can certainly try and sell your truck this way today, there’s a big problem with it.

Pros of selling on the street corner

  • Costs next to nothing
  • Increased likelihood of a local sale
  • Takes little time or effort

Cons of selling on the street corner

  • Reaches a limited number of people
  • Can appear unprofessional or lacking legitimacy
  • Harder to sell if you need to use your truck day in and day out in the meantime

Nowadays, people want more information before they buy. Lots more.

Plus, everyone is going online to research their options. So even if someone sees your truck parked on the street with a sign announcing its availability, that alone is unlikely to motivate that person to pick up the phone and call.

Potential buyers want more background information about the truck before they come check it out. They also want to know about you, the seller. Background information on the vehicle can include the mileage, type of engine, price, financing options etc. They’d like to talk about cost and possible negotiations only after knowing what they’d be signing up for.

Basically, there’s a lot of information they need that a sign alone can’t provide. Before being persuaded by a sales pitch , they want to go online and research first.

Selling at a truck auction

If you ask a lot of people, “How to I sell my semi truck?” you’re bound to hear the word “auction.”

Selling big rigs at auctions has become popular, in large part due to Ritchie Brothers. Clean and professional, Ritchie Brothers sure have simplified what can be a complicated and time-consuming process. Today, auction houses have stepped up their game, making selling to the highest bidder an attractive alternative to liquidating your asset(s).

Ritche Brothers takes care of the legwork, including the listing, auction promotion, and day-of auction activities. The idea is that you’ll have less to worry about when it comes to selling.

Pros of selling at auction

  • If you catch lightning in a bottle, there is an incredible upside to auctions. Trucks have the potential to sell for $10,000, $20,000, or even $30,000 over retail price.
  • In non-reserved auctions, you are guaranteed to see your equipment leave with a level of anonymity and the confidence that it will never return again.
  • Considerably less liability than selling as a private party
  • Many auctions handle the transaction, so you don’t have to chase down your money.

Cons of selling at auction

  • While you can catch lightning in a bottle, there is also the possibility of getting struck by lightning… or at least feel like you have. At an unreserved auction, an auction where the right buyers aren’t present, or if there is an obviously deficient specification or flaw about your truck, you could find yourself losing thousands of dollars.
  • Time is money. When you factor in the cost of taking your truck to the auction, remember to include the time spent getting units to the auction (as well as bringing them home, if you are in an auction where the reserve is not met).
  • There will be fees. Some are reasonable, but others can be quite high. Either way, make sure you factor in the fees to make sure going to auction is the right choice.
  • Even if the auction takes care of the transaction, it may be weeks before you see your money. If you need that cash in a hurry, auctions can be a risky move.

Selling via truck websites or truck magazines

Back in the day, classified ads in magazines were a staple. Besides getting space to tout the benefits of your truck, you also received a photo so people could actually see what you were selling. Today, print magazine classifieds mainly exist to cue people into your listing on the web. With that said, there is an abundance of choices, including Truck Paper, Commercial Truck Trader, and My Little Salesman.

If you’re considering buying magazine ad space, ensure you have high quality images. Poor lighting, for example, will fail to show the details of the truck. Potential buyers will skim right over it and move along to the next thing.

Pros of selling in the classifieds

  • The cost of placing an ad is a fraction of the cost of bringing a truck to auction. Plus, if you choose to post an ad online, you can also choose when, where, and how long it runs. This can help you reach your target audience and make the most of your budget.
  • Some online classifieds are regional and others are national. Where you end up listing it depends on how many eyes you want to see your ad — and where you want your buyers to come from. Again, consider your audience and make sure your ad is being delivered to the right buyers.
  • Many of the top truck websites have a good selection in their truck listings because they have a reputation for moving iron.

Cons of selling in the classifieds

  • While the time to generate and upload a classified advertisement is not difficult, it does take time and a little skill to make sure you position your truck to receive quality views. Many of these sites have incredible viewership numbers. However, if they don’t reach your target audience, the numbers don’t mean much.
  • As busy as you already are, will you be prepared to handle the phone calls or emails your ad generates? Make sure you have someone available to oversee test drives or to bring the truck to a shop for a third party inspection.
  • You can list the truck for sale “as is,” but certain performance attributes live in a grey area that can cause you headaches during and after the sale. Carefully review every ad before posting so it doesn’t misrepresent your sale.

Selling your semi truck on Craigslist

We separate Craigslist from other classifieds and ads because it lives in a category of its own. This non-profit website changed the classifieds game and made many newspaper classifieds obsolete.

Nowadays, Craigslist remains a totally legitimate platform to sell a semi truck, commercial truck, tractor, and much more. For private party sellers, there is no cost and Craigslist can produce results. Make sure you include a detailed description of your big rig and categorize it under the right slot.

Additionally, depending on how competitive the market is, your ad can be quickly pushed to page three or four rather than being the first page people click on. Make sure to review your ad and update its publication date as necessary.

Pros of selling on Craigslist

  • It’s free to list your truck, which means all you have to do is post it and wait for the inquiries to come in.
  • If you price your truck correctly and craft a detailed, well-written ad, your phone will ring. You can also choose to make your contact information anonymous. Craigslist sets you up with your own privatized email link where buyers can reach you.
  • As soon as you confirm your post, you have the opportunity to sell your truck. Simple as that.
  • Craigslist started out as a community classified, so it is broken up into local regions. For the most part, your calls will come from people in your area. This can make it easier to show your truck and meet with potential buyers.

Cons of selling on Craigslist

  • There are lots of phishing scams on Craigslist. These scammers are out for your email address, passwords, and/or other personal information.
  • You’ll have to filter through unqualified leads. Because Craigslist is a free online space, there are many lurkers who aren’t serious about buying. For every legitimate potential buyer, you might get two or three who want to trade your truck for a goat, a speedboat, or a classic car. This is the craziness of Craigslist. Yes, it has proven to work before, but you might have to sift through a lot of unreasonable emails.
  • If your truck has a special application and you need to reach a broader market, there is no way to post it to the entire Craigslist community. Users must repost their ad in every Craigslist community they desire, which can take up time and effort. Start with a few cities and then branch out if you don’t have any luck.
  • Craigslist users are notorious for “no show” appointments. Since the buyer can be anonymous up until the sale, people don’t feel the need to tell you if their plans change. Try to get contact information ahead of time to confirm meetings and schedule several showings at once, whenever possible. This will save you wasted effort and frustration.

Selling your semi truck through a dealer

Dealers are experts at appraising, refurbishing and selling. They know exactly what they’re looking for and what will sell quickest on the market. Dealers know what their clientele will ask about and how much they’re willing to pay.

Having a dealer’s industry experience and insight in your corner can be an asset to you. Big time. You won’t have to worry about sifting through anonymous inquiries via an online form, prepping trucks for auction, and waiting around for payment. Instead, you get to do business with someone who already knows all the ins and outs of sales

Dealers like Charter Trucks write checks and/or wire money very quickly. If you need to sell fast and without a hassle, a reputable dealer like Charter is your best option.

Pros of selling through a dealer

  • Get paid fast. With auctions and classifieds, there’s a lot of waiting around involved — not just waiting for buyers to show up, but waiting for payment after a buyer has committed. A good dealer will pay you right away.
  • A good dealer will visit your location at your convenience to appraise your truck. This makes selling far easier because you won’t have to set multiple appointments for multiple would-be buyers.
  • There’s little need to have your truck all gussied up. Many dealers prefer to do that themselves — and make repairs in-house — after purchasing the truck from you.
  • A dealer will come retrieve your truck or equipment, so there’s no down time or expense in having to move it, running or not. This is a major advantage for sellers who are not currently using the truck.
  • Once the dealer buys your truck, it becomes their risk. Not yours. It can be a swift transaction and you won’t have to worry about any follow-up hassles.

Cons of selling through a dealer

  • Dealers buy what they know they can sell, so most dealers will not make an offer on something that doesn’t fit their sales focus. Although they are selective, they may also have insights about selling your used semi truck faster. Maybe you’re pricing it too high for the market. Maybe you’re in the wrong city to sell. Whatever reason there is, dealers know the business and can pass on a few tips.
  • Dealers are in the business to make money, so do not expect to receive retail pricing for your truck. Dealers spend considerable dollars repairing and refurbishing trucks before they put them up for sale.

The best way to sell a semi truck depends
on your goals and your sales capabilities

Do you want fast, guaranteed payment, or would you rather take a risk at an auction? Do you want to sell your truck to a knowledgeable dealer right away, or do you want to field lots of calls and emails from potential Craigslist buyers? It’s all up to you.

Thanks to the power of the Internet, you don’t necessarily have to commit to a single option. You can post on multiple websites and advertising mediums. You can take your truck to an auction even while you’re running an ad. Or you can call up a dealer at any time and sell through them instead.

Consider what your priorities are for selling. Do you need to get trucks off your books fast? Are you holding out for a certain profit? Do you need help transporting a truck? Decide what is most important to you as a seller and go from there.

Remember: You can save a lot of leg work, time, expense, and energy when you sell through a dealer or business that is reputable and trustworthy. But online isn’t a bad place to start either. Take time to plan out your next steps, and it will save you hassle down the road.

The good news is that with so many options for selling your used semi truck, you can always try a different method if your first effort doesn’t pay off.

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