Jeff Jacobs wrote:
Would Peter C or anyone else be able to provide some guidance on negotiating trailer pricing? Obviously for used trailers from a private party you can haggle based on what a similarly equipped trailer lists for new, but for new trailers, when the trailer dealership quotes you a price, any rule of thumb as to what their margin likely is or how much negotiating room is built in?
I will share my secret. The dealer where I bought my trailer was also a distributor for several brands, and accidentally posted their wholesale inventory price sheet on their web site one day! Made the entire month that I spent before that doing an insane amount of online research about the trailer industry into a waste of time, well almost.
Although there are scattered factories all over the country, the two hotbeds of cargo trailer manufacturing are in south Georgia and Elkhart, Indiana. There are plenty of no-name and big manufacturers based out of these two areas, and the wholesale supply chains seem to be geared towards supplying axles, sheet metal, and stuff to these factories by having local operations there as well. If you go on eBay or racingjunk.com, you'll see all kinds of no-name trailers being sold with factory pickups at either one of these hubs. South Georgia seems to have the cheaper trailers, but Elkhart seems at least from pictures to make a little bit nicer trailers. If you're lucky enough to live near one of these places, you can shop for bargains galore. The factories seem to be clubbing each other over the head to make a sale in the bad economy, and it's a buyer's market for sure.
There are three expenses in any trailer purchase. First is the cost of the base trailer materials and labor. Look at the no-name bargain trailers on eBay or racingjunk.com to get an idea of the base cost. The second expense is in upgraded materials. Want a one-piece roof. Add $$$. 5,200-pound Dexter torsion axles with radial tires? Add $$$$. 16" on-center wall/floor tubing? Add $$. 0.040" walls? More $$. Many online web sites list the add-on costs, so you can figure it out. By the time that I got done, my planned $4,000 base trailer climbed to $7,000 with material upgrades. The third expense is delivery. My napkin math is at least $1.50 per loaded mile to deliver the trailer. From Elkhart to the northeast, figure at least a grand. If you want a name brand, mark up a little more for their stickers and add it up. If you wanted to take the chance of buying a trailer online sight unseen, this is how much it will cost. See how close your local trailer dealer can get to that price, and you'll have to make the judgement about whether it is worth the price difference (if there is one) to have a local dealer for support/repairs and be able to touch/see/tow what you're planning to buy.
Long story short, I was able to napkin math the prices on the leaked wholesale price list within about $300 on steel trailers by doing this. That was when I noticed that they had a leftover all aluminum Featherlite on the sheet priced lower than my ideal steel trailer, and it followed me home that night for $100 over the price on the leaked wholesale sheet.
I have to include a disclaimer that I have never worked in the trailer industry, and don't guarantee that everything that I have written or speculated is 100% correct.....