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Old 06-17-2016, 01:52 PM   #1
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Negiotiable Bus Pricing

I am curious to know if folks have been successful in negotiating prices on used buses for bus yards and dealers? I have been quoted from First Student and have been told that they don't negotiate.
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Old 06-17-2016, 02:31 PM   #2
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I got mine at an online auction (govdeals.com). Although the reserve was not met, I was the high bidder and they offered it to me at my last bid.

I created an excel spreadsheet (I know I'm a geek....). Listed stuff that was important to me: condition, size, mileage, year, price, etc. across the top. Then listed the buses I was interested in down the left. Once I had a few, I sorted it a few different ways, then the decision was clear!

I would include the First Student in the spreadsheet and see if they're competitive with other dealers and/or private sellers.
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Old 06-17-2016, 03:04 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by buddyvz View Post
I am curious to know if folks have been successful in negotiating prices on used buses for bus yards and dealers? I have been quoted from First Student and have been told that they don't negotiate.
I don't negotiate... with dealers.
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Old 06-17-2016, 03:33 PM   #4
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if you are buyign from an auction then the auction end price is it... if you are buying from an individual , a school system, or a dealer, then by all means negotiate on the price and / or any services you want performed.. Bus dealers are used car dealers selling busses instead of cars... and they typically have a decent markup on them ..

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Old 06-17-2016, 04:20 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by JoeyBigBlind View Post
I would include the First Student in the spreadsheet and see if they're competitive with other dealers and/or private sellers.
If I recall correctly, First Student generally runs their buses until they're beat.
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Old 06-17-2016, 04:50 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the input. I'll check the auction angle as well.
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Old 06-17-2016, 05:34 PM   #7
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If I recall correctly, First Student generally runs their buses until they're beat.
Yep, I agree. We looked at a couple from first student and they were higher priced than others in the same area and they were completely worn out. Engine, tranny, tires... Everything. I would recommend staying away from a first student bus if at all possible. We ended up buying from another busing company and talked them down a thousand bucks from the asking price and had them throw on a set of almost new tires for free. Negotiate away! I like to have a fat wad of cash to pull out of my pocket if negotiations hit a snag. It's amazing how many people will take less than half of their asking price when they see green...
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Old 06-17-2016, 06:05 PM   #8
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I often ask if someone would care to hear an offer, and then go from there.
If they say yes then i ask if they can accept $----?

I do my best to not try to bad mouth the item in hopes of them lowering the price, mostly because it is so transparent when people have tried to do that with me and it also makes me wonder why they would buy it if they have such low opinion of the item.

Oddly i find that the best deals are with people not too concerned with the money aspect of the sale but more with the feeling/ interaction side. I often let things go for less to the person i get a good feeling from.

Good luck!
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Old 06-17-2016, 07:09 PM   #9
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First Student is not a bus dealer, they're first and foremost a student transportation contractor... So if they have a price tag on a bus and no one's biting, they'll just keep it in service until it fails inspection or someone pays what they expect to get for it. I can't say that all of them are that way, but just keep that in mind if you look at companies like First Student, Durham, Miller or the likes. They contract to schools that don't want to own and operate their own buses. To them it's still a revenue-making asset until it begins costing more than it earns.
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Old 06-18-2016, 12:02 AM   #10
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Always negotiate. Just be prepared to walk away with your money still in your hand. Before you go in, know what you want and what you are willing to pay.
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Old 06-18-2016, 01:15 AM   #11
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I bought Millicent from First Student almost ten years ago. The asking price was $6,000, and I struggled to get it down to $5,500 by describing in gory detail some minor body damage.

I found it difficult to negotiate with a pro, and by e-mail at that.

Recently I inquired about a couple buses with them (by e-mail). I received a price, and that was it. When I asked for additional information, including arrangements to inspect the bus, I received no answer. And when I e-mailed the bus barn, they referred me back to FS.
They sell buses "by the case" to dealers who take them to Mexico. We're not worth their time.

The best way to buy a bus is surely to visit local bus barns in person. Look sharp. Drive a sharp car (borrow your Mom's). Read a lot first, so you can ask relevant questions. I never met a bus mechanic who wasn't friendly and helpful.
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Old 06-18-2016, 09:40 AM   #12
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Read before bidding.
1. Come prepared.

Never begin to negotiate on the price of an item that you haven't researched and understand the value of. In order to get the best deal, it's essential to know what the market supports for the item in your area. Ask yourself: is it a good deal to begin with? What have other items like it sold for recently? How is this one better or worse? What's my ideal price and what's my maximum price?

2. Be polite.

Negotiating should be less of a battle and more of a dance. Have a conversation with your seller, kick the dirt, and find some common ground. Realize that both parties have an investment in the outcome, and that a happy seller is as important as a happy buyer. Sellers who leave feeling like you drove a hard but fair deal will be more likely to "dance" with you again.

3. Don't make the first move.

This is where a bit of psychology comes in. If you're in a situation where the price of an item is not stated, let the seller toss out the first number. Whoever quotes this magic figure first takes the most risk in negotiation — is the price so outlandish that the seller has alienated the buyer? Is it so low that he could have gotten twice that amount? If you can't avoid naming the first price, opt for a fair, if slightly low-ball offer. Remember, you can always increase your offer, but decreasing it is like trying to unlay an egg.

4. Time it right.

Don't start haggling the minute you meet your seller...or worse, on the phone or in email. A few months ago, I was selling some antique furniture and advertised one piece online with the photo and price. I got three calls within an hour from folks asking me to come down on my price before they even went to the trouble of coming over to see it. This method is tactless and shows little skill and even less effort. (See also: 9 Secrets of Highly Successful Craigslist Sellers)

5. Get creative.

Negotiating on price is the most obvious way to employ your skills, but there are many other things that can tip the deal in your direction. Don't get stuck on dollars and forget other factors that can equal dollars. If the item is large and hard to move, ask the seller to include delivery. How about a few lessons on how to use that guitar instead of the $20 discount you're looking for? Maybe that cell phone carrier would include a free car charger and earbud to win your business.

6. Be able to walk away.

If you're working hard on a deal that you believe just isn't going your way, be prepared to politely wrap things up and walk away. Remember, in the game of negotiation, walking away is the ultimate card to play, so don't overplay it or play it before you're ready. Typically, seeing a potential buyer heading toward the door will motivate most sellers to make a deal.

7. Flash the cash.

If you've gone to all the trouble to close a sweet deal, don't spoil the moment by not having cash in-hand. Remember, cash is still king — showing up with the green is a huge bargaining chip in itself. Leaving to hit the ATM gives your seller time you don't want him to have — time to reconsider or get a better offer. Oh, and while we're on the topic, have exact change. There are few things that show worse form than explaining your tight financial circumstances to a seller and then sorting through your c-notes to pay for that $40 bicycle. Think in advance and expect success — have the money ready

The 7 Laws of Negotiation

PS. Always make a face when they give you the price. Make it look like they just hurt you.
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Old 06-18-2016, 10:34 AM   #13
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Very good post, Versatile!
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Old 06-18-2016, 12:41 PM   #14
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Buying buses from First Student is a waste of time, imo.

(1) Overpriced as hell

(2) They are JUNK. One of my managers ran a First Student terminal for a number of years and he's confirmed that FS only unloads buses when they can no longer pass inspection or have too many mechanical issues.

(3) First Student is a global corporation that makes profits by cutting costs wherever possible. This means they buy buses with NO options on them. Hydraulic brakes, cheap interiors, etc.

In general, school bus contractors will keep buses until they can no longer be used in service.
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