Providing Value Through Truck or Trailer Appraisal

Karmak, Inc. | Adam Madsen | 10/14/2017

At first glance, it doesn’t appear that the appraisal process for a used truck or trailer would provide much value for a customer. If anything, a customer’s perception of how much “value” they received in the appraisal process would seem to be largely tied to how much you told them their equipment is worth.

There still might be some truth in that, but with a willingness to go the extra mile and meticulous attention to detail, the appraisal process can be an opportunity to provide real value. If you’re ready to capitalize on this opportunity, you can start with these five steps.

1. Provide clear and simple trade terms

This should be a well-formatted document that clearly states the condition a vehicle should be in at the time of trade in.

The form will not only help to make sure that you are getting the cleanest, most well-kept equipment possible, but that type of transparency in the process can also go a long way toward creating trust between the customer and your business.

2. Use an appraisal form

This is a form, to be used by the person responsible for the appraisal, which will dictate how the appraisal should be carried out. It’s important that this form be standardized, so that all vehicles are appraised to the same level of detail.

Few things can erode customer confidence and trust more quickly than if they suspect that their vehicle was not given a fair appraisal.

3. Show the details that you are looking for when you do your inspection on the appraisal form

The appraisal should allow for tracking details that are important in your market, like vehicle specifications and wear item condition, for example. It should also allow the appraiser to state more general things, such as visual appeal and general condition.

This goes back to being consistent in how each piece of equipment is appraised. If what you are looking for is defined ahead of time, consistency will be much easier to obtain.

4. Have the customer sign the appraisal form and provide them with a copy

This step has less to do with the physical act of having the customer sign the form and giving them a copy and more to do with the opportunity that presents itself while this is happening.

This is a good time to discuss the appraisal and point out how the value was determined. That way, even if the customer is disappointed in the appraised value, they will be able to see exactly where the unit might have fallen short. This practice builds trust, and in the case of the customer disappointed with the value, it gives them some specific goals to work toward should they want to invest in upgrades to raise the value of their equipment.

5. Be upfront with any reconditioning estimate

No customer is going to be thrilled to hear that the unit needs to be repaired before you can resell it. After all, these repair costs are chipping away at the appraisal value. But discussing the repairs that are going to be made and why they need to be done in order to resell the unit is good practice.

Doing so gives you another opportunity to build trust and transparency with your customer and it helps them to become better consumers if they are in the market for used equipment.


Always remember that any unit brought in is more than just equipment, it is also the customer’s money. Providing a good appraisal for their trade-in will provide the customer with many benefits.

First, it proves that you are a professional and take a professional approach to handling their money.

Second, it allows the customer to know up front what they can count on in the truck sale process.

Third, it shows them the level of detail and quality you look for in all of your products. If, for example, a customer trading in a truck is also buying another used truck, they know you put a lot of thought and work into the choosing and pricing of the unit.

The value of a well-rounded appraisal is something you should market to your customers. When a customer reaches out to you and would like to know how much you would offer for their trade-in over the phone or via email, you can actively market the fact that you have a “no charge and no obligation” multi-point appraisal process that allows them to get the most out of their trade.

About Adam Madsen

Raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Adam Madsen began his career in the heavy-duty industry as a young man working in a third-generation family-owned business: Drivetrain Distributors. He later went on to work for Transwest, located in Denver, before joining the Karmak team in 2010 as a Project Analyst in the Research & Design department. He is currently the VP of Business Solutions. Being a part of the process of building an ERP system has been a long-term goal of Adam’s, so seeing Karmak’s Fusion evolve into a premier product is exciting. Adam received an Associate’s degree in Communications, and is also a graduate of ATD Dealer Academy.

 About Karmak

Karmak, Inc. is a leading provider of business management solutions for the commercial transportation industry. With more than 30 years of heavy-duty experience, we offer a unique approach combining innovative technology, strategic advice and best practices. Our success programs produce measurable results by improving ROI, mitigating risks and achieving operational excellence.

Serving more than 1,800 locations across North America, Karmak is an employee-owned company with headquarters in Carlinville, Illinois.