SELLING YOUR MOBILE MEDICAL OR MOBILE DENTAL CLINIC
We know how you feel
For most programs, their mobile clinic is almost like a family member.
Such a big investment is usually a labor of love. It might have been purchased with donations or grants, and the vehicle has served the community faithfully.
But now it's time to go -- either the program has ended for whatever reason, or you've proven the value of your program to all the stakeholders and you're ready to upgrade to a new unit.
But in the transition to a new vehicle, you have some options for your old one:
Sell it or give it to an associated or local not-for-profit program to use
Sell it or give it to a random not-for-profit program to use
Trade it in on a new one to lower your up-front acquisition costs
Sell it outright
You'd probably think I'm advocating for selling it outright (to Mission Mobile) but you would be wrong. That's not always the best idea, and I'm here to help you decide what's right for you, not convince you any particular way is best. Every situation is different. Read on.
if you've already decided to sell your vehicle to the highest bidder, email me at and we'll tell you what to expect as a fair offer (usually above trade-in-value).
Then, we will either buy it (the fastest way to get it off your books) or with your approval, we will share your mobile clinic to our waiting list of non-profits and try to maximize your offer.
Here's the pros and cons of each way:
Once your new mobile medical clinic is delivered and permitted, you can always keep your old vehicle as a second unit for low-level use as a backup, for parts, or for future growth.
Not everyone has the operating budget for two active programs though. How much does it cost to maintain a spare mobile clinic?
Oddly enough, maintaining two vehicles is just about twice as expensive as maintaining one, with taxes, registration, inspections, insurance, and quarterly service.
Another aspect (although it's rarely part of the conversation) of keeping a spare vehicle is your stewardship responsibility. Your stakeholders allocated or donated their funds to serve your community, not sit unused.
Having their gift sit in your back parking lot rusting away might not be the best look on your stewardship of the resources they've dedicated to active service. Donors want to see their gifts put to work. You want to show them your results.
If you or your board is on the fence about this, my advice is to keep it for 6 months.
Keeping a vehicle for 6 months won't cost you much, you can easily keep track of
how much you use it, and see if it was worth it.
This is a practical and relatively cheap way to gather the data. Of course, if you don't use it during that period, you'll want to go ahead and find it a new home.
Want to see how much it's worth? Click here and email me the details and I'll tell you.
Sell it or give it away
to an affiliated organization
You may or may not have local or affiliated organizations that can afford to take over the vehicle and its associated costs.
They may even have grants or donor networks that allow them to pay you a stipend for the vehicle.
One good thing here: You're keeping with the original mission by keeping your investment in your community, in your network.
But you're taking a couple of risks (in my professional opinion) -
1) You're offloading a vehicle that could need major repairs within their period of ownership and they're 100% at risk for that outlay.
Most small non-profits wouldn't be able to afford $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 repair bills.
2) Another consideration is liability. Heaven forbid, but if there was a safety issue on a vehicle you sold that didn't get communicated or documented correctly, there could be a reach-back claim for improper disclosure.
Dealer laws are specifically designed to break this claim chain between owners. Private party sales don't typically have those safeguards, even when the paperwork (if any) is approved by corporate attorneys.
Want to learn how much you can write off as a donation? Click here to email me the details and I'll tell you.
Sell or give it away
to a random non-profit
Donate to an unaffiliated non-profit
You may also give the vehicle away to a random non-profit.
With a little legwork, you can always find someone with big aspirations for a mobile program who is willing to take a vehicle.
The downside here: you have no idea if they'll actually put it in service or keep it in service. This means your large investment (and the gifts of your donors) are not utilized for their intended purpose - that money is no longer helping people.
Not a very exciting story to tell your donor base.
Another downside is that pesky liability - if you're giving away a unit, you likely have deeper pockets than the recipient and not everyone is ethical. They may claim you gave them a bum vehicle if someone gets hurt.
Sell it on Consignment
To help with the legwork and paperwork, you can find someone who will help you sell the vehicle on consignment.
There are a handful of "brokers" in the industry -- some trustworthy, one not -- and manufacturers who are willing to help market your vehicle for a fee.
Be clear about the relationship - brokers simply facilitate private party sales. They are not your legal agent and have no legal responsibility to disclose defects or damage - they just say "as is - where is" and you take the risk.
One good thing here: if / when a buyer is found, you get some money (sales price minus the consignment fee) which you can re-deploy in service of your mission.
This risks with consignment:
1) It may take some time to sell - if you're using that money to pay for a new vehicle, there could be up to a year lag time between offering your old one for sale on consignment, selling it, placing your order, and actually getting your new vehicle delivered.
2) You pay the 5% or 10% consignment fee which is less money that goes back into your mission or to your new unit.
3) You're selling a vehicle with some damage or which needs some mechanical repairs. You may disclose that to the broker but they might not fully disclose that to the buyer.
4) As always - the liability. With a safety issue on a vehicle you sold that didn't get communicated or documented correctly, there could be a reach-back claim for improper disclosure.
Dealer laws are designed to break this claim chain between private parties, but private party sales don't typically have ANY safeguards.
Trade it in
Trade-in your vehicle to the manufacturer of your new vehicle
You may be able to trade in your used mobile medical unit to the manufacturer of your new vehicle -- but there are some pretty big ifs...
- Manufacturers typically don't like to take trade-ins, especially if your trade-in is a mobile clinic built by a competitor.
- This creates an odd situation where they don't want it, but want to make you happy, and the solution is to offer you wildly-low trade-in value. You take it because you don't want to hassle with it.
- A trade-in reduces their overall profit on the project because the trade-in value cannot (if they are a licensed dealer) be counted toward overall revenue.
- In addition, they now have carrying costs - insurance, maintenance, inspections, registration, cleaning, etc.
- In addition, having pre-owned inventory hurts their manufacturing business because when a client approaches them for a vehicle, they have to offer the used one in addition to the new one, and as you know, used is less expensive.
At the end of the day, no manufacturer really wants your trade. But they'll take it --if you'll take a cut-rate deal.
Sell it outright
Sell Your Vehicle on Facebook, Craiglist or a random dealer
You may be able to find someone to buy your vehicle who wants to re-sell it themselves.
A couple of things here - be careful.
Not everyone operates in integrity. Get full payment before you let the vehicle out of your control. Have your graphics removed before allowing the vehicle to leave.
Thoroughly document the existing condition and make sure you have an as-is-where-is document the buyer must sign before taking possession.
Sell Your Mobile Clinic to a Specialty Vehicle Dealer
Last but not least, another option is for you to sell your vehicle to a specialty vehicle dealer.
Find a licensed specialty dealer who is well-known in the industry, with a good reputation, who will do these five critical things -
1) guarantee your unit will continue its mission serving a vulnerable population
2) pay you fair market value (more than you could get trading it in)
3) take your mobile medical or dental clinic with all its warts (as-is-where-is)
4) fix all the overdue maintenance items to make sure the unit is clean and reliable for the next buyer
5) move quickly
If you would like to have some assistance in evaluating your options, my team will be happy to help you navigate the pros and cons of your particular situation.
Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll get you pointed in the right direction.
Travis A. LeFever, Pres
Mission Mobile Medical Group