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How to Become a Trailer Dealer

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Trailer dealers need more than just inventory. You''ll need adequate real estate and a well paved parking lot. You'll need plenty of start-up capital to purchase your inventory, pay Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) fees and purchase dealer plates, Your first stop must be the local DMV office to see what fees will be required. Some states require that a trailer dealer pays quite a few fees to launch the business, plus fees to register sales people, and fees to do other trailer business like leasing, renting, distributing and re-manufacturing.

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Go to your local DMV office. Bring your checkbook. While DMV laws, regulations and fees vary among the states, you will certainly need to pay several fees to launch your dealership. In California, for example, new trailer dealers must pay an application fee, a fee for each location you plan to set up and dealer plates for the vehicles. You will also need to pay an Auto Broker Endorsement fee and a New Motor Vehicle Board Fee.

Contact Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) for a "DUNS number". Many powerful potential customers and organizations like the U.S. Government will only accept quotes on trailers from established companies with a verified DUNS number. D&B is a firm that monitors a company's credit history, as well as basic information.

Contact trailer manufacturers and distributors to start pricing your inventory and begin the paperwork to become a dealership for each brand you choose. Most trailer manufacturers will require you to fill out a dealer application. Note that manufacturers build trailers from the ground up, while distributors purchase trailers in bulk lots for a lower price. Manufacturers may require you to purchase a minimum number of trailers, while distributors are more likely to sell you just a few. Some manufacturers will only sell to distributors. Do not take it personally if they refuse to do business with you. The good news is that most trailer manufacturers happily sell to a new dealer. However, they may also own retail lots, making them your competitor as well as your supplier. Check your prices very carefully when planning your inventory. Note minimum purchase requirements, as well as fees or training requirements your staff must complete to become an authorized dealer. Contact as many trailer manufacturers as you can to compare pricing and dealer benefits before officially becoming a dealer. Check out each brands warranty information and cooperative advertising funds. Some trailer dealers are able to get free websites and national advertising from the manufacturer.


Be timely when checking prices and placing orders. Trailer inventory prices can change drastically in a matter of days, depending on the price of raw materials (especially steel).


Melissa Bajorek began writing professionally in 2001. Her work has appeared online, in daily newspapers and on websites owned by Gatehouse Media, in monthly periodicals and for local and regional radio. She writes about a variety of topics, from new technology to animal husbandry. Bajorek has an Associate of Arts in business management from the University of Phoenix and holds certifications in marketing and advertising.