Hello again; With past Monday being Labor Day in the United States it got me to thinking that at least in the northern hemisphere the 2013 operating season is just about over. I know there are amusement parks that will stay open on weekends, there are party rental companies that will hire out for indoor events; and most carnivals and fun fairs have to operate pretty much year round; but for all intents and purposes the season will be over in the next couple of months.
So, I thought now would be a good time to write a series of posts about selling amusement equipment online. As an equipment reseller the winter time is obviously my busiest time of year. As people start to think about what equipment they will want or need to sell this year I’m hoping that these posts will help them get prepared to be more successful.
The first piece of advice I would give anyone is that if you own heavy equipment eventually it will all need to be sold. Rides, trucks, trailers, generators, etc all get old. At some point their maintenance costs will exceed their income potential. Sometimes its just that a ride, game, inflatable has fallen out of favor. Sometimes, you just need to bring your event coordinators something different to keep your existing bookings. And sometimes the only way to purchase newer equipment is to sell the older pieces. So, you should have a plan for this long in advance, and you should update the plan regularly. I would say this to people in any business not just those in the amusement industry.
Regardless of how you plan to advertise your items when the time comes, you need to have files on each major item along with manuals, inspection reports, lists of major repairs or technical updates, photos, and in some cases videos. Some of this is made easier by the fact that most people have regulatory agencies or requirements from their insurers for the keeping of such records. So, when the time comes, you can take down any needed details from those files. And with the increased number of companies with websites along with the explosion of activity on social media; most people have lots of photos and videos. You just need to have a way of organizing the data so you can get at it when you do need it.
When it comes to used amusement equipment, there is a lot of competition out there. So, you need to be prepared to make your ad as comprehensive as possible to give you the best chance of making a sale. A friend of mine likes to say that if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand photos; but it takes a complete package of words, images, videos, and proper placement to be successful.
Next, I want to talk about the quality of your media. For the most part your cell phone or tablet has plenty of resolution for taking good photos and short videos. However, there are a few things you should remember. First, check the dimensions setting on your camera. You want the image dimensions to be large enough that people can actually tell what they are looking at when seeing them online while not being so large that they eat up a person’s data usage. I prefer to have photos that are 800 by 600 or 640 by 480 at the least. I find this to be a good workable size range.
Most cell phone cameras can also take short videos. I know that the video length is determined by the amount of storage space available on your device. You can improve this by reviewing your video settings. I personally advise against using high definition video. It is really unnecessary for videos of equipment. But if you have to use hi def video, I strongly suggest that you also record and upload a lower quality version of the same items. Again for dimensions I recommend 800 by 600 or 640 by 480.
I also suggest that instead of trying to email it to someone or trying to upload it to a given site; I would open a new youtube account or use an existing one for all videos. It is much simpler that way, and in the community of web masters it has become best practices to upload videos to youtube or another video sharing site and then embed that video into whatever website you want to include it in. I will have more suggestions about photos and videos as I discuss the various types of amusement equipment.
For now I want to leave you with a hard truth. Selling used amusement equipment in this market is not going to be easy. There is a lot of equipment for sale, and there is still enough uncertainty in the world that people are reluctant to spend their cash or credit. The sooner you get started, the better the chance will be that you can sell a given item by the time you want to.
I can honestly tell you that the quick sales I have had this year came because someone was already thinking about buying a given ride, game, inflatable, attraction or had actively been looking for one when they saw my listing. The resulting sale came from my having a large enough network that when the item came up for sale it was seen by the eventual buyer. So, you may want to consider listing a ride now even if you don’t want to sell it until the end of the year. I have a few items on the website now that are listed that way, and it is a very common practice in the industry.
I hope this post has been helpful. Like I said, there will be other posts specifically targeted to the wide variety of equipment used in carnivals, fun fairs, amusement parks, family entertainment centers, party rental companies, food and game concessionaires, etc. If you have items for sale, or if you have equipment that you are thinking of putting up for sale; I hope you will consider using the midway marketplace.
Yes, I work on commission, but it doesn’t cost you anything unless I am responsible for a completed sale. Feel free to email me or use the contact form The suggestions in this post and the ones to follow are applicable to anyone needing to sell heavy equipment not solely meant for people in the amusement industry; so I hope you will share it with your friends, family, and coworkers. I also hope you will leave comments. You don’t have to subscribe to leave a comment, and thanks to the new comment love, you now get a link to your twitter page and your most recent blog post every time you leave a comment. I look forward to hearing what you think of this. Thanks and take care, Max