What you need to know before selling your ultrasound

Selling an ultrasound machine is complicated. From estimating a value to finding a buyer, the process is vague and it can be quite intimidating. Here I’ll help outline this tough process, give you your options, and provide you with the steps to get the best value on your return.

Start from the Beginning

Yes, I said that correctly. Go get your original paperwork from the sale. This will answer most of the questions that will be asked about your machine, namely the sale date, machine model, software revision, software options, transducers, peripherals, etc.

Next, hopefully you’ve kept all data on inspections, upgrades, purchases, replacements, preventative maintenance visits, service records, etc. You’ll want to keep those handy, especially if you’re selling it to a private party.

Determine an Initial Value

This is probably the hardest part. Unfortunately, there’s no Blue Book for ultrasound value. Trade-in and purchase value of an ultrasound is a moving target. Your goal here is narrow the delta between what you want, and what it’s actually worth.

So how do you determine its value? First, look at the initial sale price. Now, forget that number completely… or cry… whichever strikes your fancy. You see, technology has changed a lot in the last 15 years, and values slide fast before leveling off.

The most marketable ultrasound machines have a lot of features, are in good condition, and had regular preventative maintenance visits from an ultrasound professional engineer.

The features can be key here, because it will determine your field of potential buyers. Some manufacturers sell options A La Carte, which often reduces the resale market of your machine. Philips is one, and if you only bought a few clinical options (e.g. cardiac, vascular, ob/gyn), your resale market is limited. Other manufacturers, such as GE, include nearly all clinical options and charge extra only for advanced technologies (4D imaging, advanced cardiac functions, etc).

Next, what transducers do you have, and are they tested in good condition? It’s important not to discount the value of certain transducers. TEE transducers, if kept in excellent condition and can pass a full inspection, have a high value that may exceed the value of your ultrasound machine.

However, some niche transducers that are initially expensive but in low demand (some hockey-stick, microconvex, small footprint linear transducers, etc) have less value because there’s less demand.

While this still doesn’t determine your initial value, it gives you a starting point and a negotiation point. Next, you can always check eBay, Craigslist, or other such site to see what equipment costs are listed at, and it will give you somewhat of a ballpark figure. You’ll see that prices vary greatly, particularly with more recent equipment. And you can’t compare “similar” models, because there are many factors involved in determining the value. These include:

Selling to a Private Party

Private party sales theoretically offer the highest sell price. However, it’s also the riskiest. There are a lot of hidden costs in selling to a private party, and buyers are leery because of the risk involved in a non-refurbished system without a warranty. Additionally, shipping of an ultrasound can often be more expensive than you think, especially for console machines. And an improperly packaged machine will likely be damaged in transit.

You need to mitigate that risk and provide the buyer with assurances or some sort of warranty.

The best way to do this is to get an inspection from an ultrasound service company. There are plenty of them nationwide who will travel to your location. I can’t speak for other companies, but here at Providian, we can do the inspection and also offer your buyer a warranty or service contract on your system, taking all the risk off your shoulders. If the inspection goes well, you should probably have that tech do a preventative maintenance visit as well. This is the only way they’ll offer a warranty.

Selling to a Dealer

This is typically the most pain-free option. Things can move quickly if your machine is valued on the market. However, many systems older than, say, year 2000 and older, are considered “boat anchors” and they’re not worth the value of the inspection or shipping it. Here, you’ll want to try Craigslist, eBay, or a donation of some sort.

But if your system has value, selling to a dealer can be a quick, easy solution, and also provide you with a better value if you’re using it for a trade-in. To get the best value out of your system when selling to a dealer, you’ll want that list of features I outlined earlier in this post… These are the things that a dealer wants to know, and it will definitely give you the best return on your investment. Without them, you’ll get a lowball bid.

Regardless, when compared to a private party, you will receive a lower offer from a dealer. There’s a good reason for this.

First, dealers aren’t in the business of losing money. They need to make a profit, and they must also offer a competitive price for the resale of the system. Second, they must pay for testing, refurbishing, and a warranty for the system. While that’s less expensive than it would cost you, it’s still a costly process.

Dealers need to mitigate their risk too, and that risk includes not selling the system, which results in a big loss. This happens all the time and warehouses become graveyards for the “oops” buys. Dealers who have long memories of mistakes will often give you the lowest offer.

If you’d like Providian to make an offer on your ultrasound system, fill out the form below and one of our purchasing agents will contact you and make an offer on your ultrasound machine.