Buying used: The good, the bad, and the ugly
The year is ending and you may be dreaming about replacing or adding equipment. Even with tax breaks, however, the cost of new equipment — especially an adjusting table — may be prohibitive: Next to x-ray equipment, tables are the largest purchase for most chiropractic clinics.
But that doesn’t mean your dreams can’t come true: Consider buying a used or reconditioned table.
USED VS. RECONDITIONED: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE
A used table is sold “as is” without warranties, generally from another doctor. Reconditioned equipment is refurbished to a near-original state. Generally, reconditioned equipment is sold through a dealer rather than a practitioner.
Buying a used table has a chief benefit: You can often get a great bargain. The downside? You have no financing options; you cannot modify the equipment to suit your needs; and you have no warranty — so it’s “buyer beware.”
Reconditioned equipment is similar to used equipment in that it has been used in practice. Reconditioned tables, however, are typically sold through table dealers who bring them up to “new” quality — all major components are tested and replaced wherever needed. Reconditioning is more than just giving the table a good cleaning and a new set of covers.
Dealers often offer financing options, can modify the equipment to suit your needs and may give you a warranty. But, because the equipment technically isn’t new, you get good savings.
HOW TO BUY "USED"
If you decide to walk down the used aisle, here are some tips to find the best bargains:
• Search the Web and publications. Magazines such as Chiropractic Economics have great want ads, in the publication and online (www.chiroeco.com/chiroshopper/ tables.html). You may also find ads for used equipment on Web sites from your college or association.
• Check the availability of parts. Before you purchase, ascertain if the table is in good working condition and check with the manufacturer to make sure you can get replacement parts. After you take receipt of a used table, you may find that it needs repair. If the table is out of production, parts may not be available.
• Discuss table transportation terms. Once you decide on the purchase of a used table, make sure the cost of
transportation is spelled out, as well as the method of transportation and who will pay for it.
• Shop around for comparables. Don’t pay a reconditioned price for a used table. The easiest way to find out reconditioned prices is to contact your local chiropractic table dealer.
AND IF YOU BUY RECONDITIONED...
If you decide that buying reconditioned is the most cost-effective way to purchase a table, go to a reputable dealer and ask these questions:
• ‘Do you specialize in tables?’ A dealer who specializes in tables will generally have both sales and service departments. These specialized dealers understand different chiropractic techniques and how they integrate with the various table features and available options.
• ‘Are financing options available?’ Most dealers provide leasing options for table purchases. Leasing allows you to minimize your initial cash outlay.
• ‘‘Do you have a service department?’ Look for a dealer who has a service department that will travel to your site to make repairs. If the dealer isn’t willing to do this, find out how you will service the table.
• ‘Does the table come with a warranty?’ Get the details on the length of the warranty and what is covered.
Warranties cover parts and/or labor. Find out if the dealer will cover both and if the warranty comes with any restrictions.
Finally, find out if an extended warranty is available for a nominal fee.
• ‘What kind of selection to do you have?’ The more brands the dealer carries, the more selection you will find. Ask about brands, exact features you want and when the tables will be available.
• ‘Are you an authorized dealer for a particular table brand?’ This is important when you buy a reconditioned table, because if the table is truly reconditioned, many of the parts are replaced. Manufacturers only allow authorized dealers to obtain genuine parts.
Ask the dealer exactly what has been done to the table in its reconditioning process.
Gerald (Jerry) R. Peterson is a regional sales manager of chiropractic equipment for HESSCO and is the co-owner of Practice Brokers, Inc. He has more than 20 years of experience in selling and servicing chiropractic equipment. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.