As the Founder and CEO of Used Equipment Guide, I wanted to clear up some confusion that seems to have arisen about how Used Equipment Guide operates and how we deliver value to buyers, sellers, and online listing sites.
Who We Are
Used Equipment Guide is a search engine for used heavy trucks and equipment. We are not a listing site, inventory management system, or a marketing agency, nor do we ever aspire to be.
Before I started Used Equipment Guide, I founded dieseljobs.com, the largest niche job board for the heavy truck and equipment industry. While growing dieseljobs, I noticed a gap in the heavy truck and equipment industry as virtually all existing websites were driven by what’s best for sellers, not buyers. As a result, Used Equipment Guide was designed from the ground up to be the most buyer-friendly website in the world.
After years of hard work crawling thousands of websites, normalizing mountains of data, and refining our search interface and capabilities, we caught the eye of some pretty big names in the industry. We added David Lilly, co-founder of Autotrader.com, as our COO to assist with fundraising and operations, which led to closing a multi-million dollar seed round from a consortium of the largest heavy truck and equipment dealers in the nation.
How Used Equipment Guide Works
Most sellers are confused when we first speak to them. For decades, printed magazines and online listing sites have been the norm. About five years ago, machinio.com was started in Chicago and touted as a “search engine for buying and selling new and used industrial equipment and machinery”. When we talk to industry professionals and say we are a search engine, Machinio is the first thing that comes to mind.
The issue is Machinio isn’t an internet search engine. The textbook definition of a search engine is a program that searches a database and returns results — in this context they are a search engine, but so is every single listing site that came before Machinio. Ultimately, Machinio operates no different than any other listing site on the internet where sellers pay to have their inventory hosted on a website.
Conversely, Used Equipment Guide is an internet search engine, just like Google or Bing. We crawl websites, process large amounts of data, and make it as intuitive as possible for users to find the information they’re seeking. We do not host any content and users are required to visit an external website to view copyrighted material such as images and full item descriptions.
Unbiased Search Results
Google and others have given us two decades of legal precedent that puts guardrails on what we can and cannot do as an internet search engine. The big one being search neutrality — we cannot alter our search results based on financial relationships. This means that HOLT CAT, the largest Caterpillar dealer in the United States and our lead investor, has their inventory indexed and displayed the exact same way as a small mom and pop dealer who doesn’t even know Used Equipment Guide exists.
We actively crawl thousands of websites every minute of every day to maintain high levels of data quality. This requires a massive amount of human and computing resources to keep updated for our users. When a seller adds, removes, or updates an item listed on a website, it could take our crawlers up to a week to update our index. To ensure new items are added, removed, and updated in a timely manner, we have established direct data feed partnerships with multiple listing sites and sellers. Since data feeds are considered higher quality, we prioritize these data sources over the websites we crawl to provide the most up to date content to users. This prioritization does not alter which items show up in search results, but does alter the primary data source and where the user is directed when they click to see the full listing when duplicate listings are found.
Unbiased Pricing Data
Our most popular feature is our publicly available pricing data and target prices. We operate in a high mix/low volume industry where pricing has historically been an art, not a science. Having one of the largest data sets in the world, we’re able to generate statistical pricing models for most makes and models with real time market pricing data. Using these statistical pricing models, we are able to objectively label items for sale as being low, high, or fairly priced based on each item’s age and usage.
The most common question we get is how do we account for condition and configuration? The answer is we can’t — sellers are not reporting this data in a standardized way and even if they were, one person’s “mint condition” is going to be another person’s “average condition”. These are highly subjective qualitative measures that are in the eye of the beholder. Taking these items in to consideration, a high priced item could actually be low priced and vice versa — it’s Used Equipment Guide, not Used Equipment Gospel :)
So How Does Used Equipment Guide Help Sellers?
In a word: Liquidity. Buyers can find items for sale easier and quicker than ever before using a single search. Our mission is to create liquidity in the marketplace, which means efficiently and effectively connecting buyers and sellers. We don’t replace any existing companies in the industry — we make them all work better by structuring previously unstructured data and making it searchable. It’s not easy, but it is simple.
We also believe in transparency. We want buyers to know market prices, dealer reputations, and know they’ve explored all of their options before buying their next excavator. We also want sellers to know who is seeing their branding and which channels are generating the best bang for their marketing buck. We provide various free reports and tools for sellers to better understand what they are doing, what buyers are seeing, and how they compare to their competitors.
I hope this information will help sellers better understand how we help sellers sell more inventory faster and create liquidity in the marketplace.