As the years roll by, the number of people having one disability or the other keeps increasing. According to the 2010 US census, 54 million Americans have a disability, including 5.5 million disabled veterans. Five percent of children ages 5-17 have disabilities, 10% of people 19-64 have disabilities, and 38% of adults 65 and older have disabilities.

Of the total number, 11 million need personal assistance with everyday activities, 3.3 million 15 and older use a wheelchair, and thousands under 15 years of age use wheelchairs, too. For most of the 54 million with a disability, safe, comfortable transportation isn’t an issue, but transportation can be a serious matter for those who use wheelchairs or stretchers for transport.

While more 98% of transit buses in the United States and other developed economies are equipped with lifts and ramps, millions of wheelchair users live in locations without public transportation. This is why a medical transportation business would always be a necessity no matter where the business is located.

Medical transportation vehicles provide safe, reliable transportation for people with disabilities or people who are medically hampered in one way or the other. It gives them greater freedom to go about their everyday duties, even if its just honoring doctor’s appointments.

Getting in and out of a non-accessible vehicle can put both the wheelchair user and the caretaker at risk for injury. An accessible vehicle, especially equipped for transporting wheelchair users, is the safest, most convenient and comfortable way to get people with disabilities on the road to errands, appointments, etc.

And people in wheelchairs have the choice of driving or enjoying the ride as a passenger. Instead of starting a medical transportation business, you can start buying medical transportation vehicles and selling them to medical transport businesses around you. Here are tips to note when you are planning to get into this business.

Tips for Buying Medical Transportation Vehicles

  1. Start with Research

One of the first things to do when starting a business is to start from the vantage point of knowledge. First, you have to know all about the business of buying and selling cars, you should know the best brands that are usually demanded by medical transportation businesses, you should know where to source for the cars, and who you will be selling to. You should also know how to set up the business so you won’t get into trouble with the authorities.

On the other hand, if you are thinking about buying used medical transportation vehicles, research the recent resale prices for that specific car model. This data will give you major bargaining power. If you plan to trade in a car for it, research market values for your vehicle, too. Knowing the value of your trade-in can also be a powerful bargaining tool.

  1. Look into Pre-financing Options

Many people obtain financing from the car dealership, but this isn’t fiscally responsible. Dealership interest rates are typically much higher than loan rates obtained from banks and credit unions. Your bank or credit union is one of the best places to start researching car loan rates, and you can obtain “relationship discounts” that you won’t find anywhere else.

LendingTree is a favorite for many car buyers because they take the hassle out of the process. When you use LendingTree you will receive five competing quotes at once. Finally, once you obtain a quote from any financial institution, get the quote in writing. You can then present this quote to the dealership and use it as leverage to negotiate a lower interest rate.

If your credit score is lower than your like, you can sign up for Experian Boost. This is a free program that will help boost your credit score by factoring in your on-time utility payments. These typically have no impact on your credit scores.

  1. Look Around Before Settling

One way to get good bargains for your medical transport vehicles is to shop around before you settle for a particular vehicle or vehicles. Since you are going to make a business out of this, the lower prices you can get, the better for your profit margins.

You may have to strike a partnership with some medical transportation vehicle manufacturers. This way, you are guaranteed to get a much better deal. If that is not possible, then consider partnering with the bigger dealerships. You should know that dealerships price their vehicles differently depending upon their location.

  1. Decide if your customers need kneeling systems

Before you can decide if you will stock medical transport vehicles that have kneeling systems, you need to know what this system does. A kneeling system lowers the rear suspension of the vehicle to decrease the incline of a wheelchair ramp or to fall flush with a curb.

While kneeling systems are crucial to some wheelchair drivers and manual wheelchair users, they can be expensive and unreliable for people who do not need them. Another way to go around this is to buy vehicles that increase their wheelchair ramp length an additional 4 inches.

This decreases the incline of the wheelchair ramp itself, making it easier for a power wheelchair, scooter, or caregiver to guide a manual wheelchair up the ramp and into the wheelchair seating area of the handicap van.

Because of the decreased incline, there is no need for an expensive kneeling system installed in the van. The decreased incline also helps when exiting the accessible minivan, allowing more control of the chair when guiding it out of the van.

  1. Negotiate Terms

One of the areas you have to be careful when buying your medical transportation vehicles is when negotiating terms. Even though this a business for you, you will still need to negotiate terms with the sellers. Walk into the dealership with confidence, stick to your guns, and don’t feel bad about walking away from any offers. It might also be helpful to practice your negotiation strategies and tactics to prepare.

  1. Look at Both New and Used Medical Transportation Vehicles

In the past, buying a gently used car was the best way to save money when purchasing a vehicle. A big reason behind this logic is that new cars depreciate considerably the moment they are taken home from the dealership. Unfortunately, the supply of used cars has decreased dramatically after many were removed as part of the “Cash for Clunkers” program.

In addition, more people are holding onto their cars for longer periods of time before looking for a replacement. As a result, prices for used cars have increased significantly, making new cars a more realistic option. But for the sake of your business, you should not close you mind to any vehicle niche.

Be open to stocking both new and used medical transportation vehicles. Ultimately, make sure to go into the buying process with an open mind, considering both new and used cars and running the numbers before making your final decision.

  1. Buy Based on Purchase Price, Not on Monthly Payments

Car dealers are notorious for offering a very attractive monthly payment to potential buyers. But do not be misled. This is a business after-all, so everything has to be transparent enough for you to understand. Be sure to always negotiate based on the purchase price of the car, and not the monthly payment.

Also make sure that you know the full purchase price of any car that you buy. There could be many extra, hidden costs factored into the price including various taxes, car preparation and delivery fees, and dealership costs that you won’t know about unless you ask.

  1. Utilize the Internet

Purchasing a car online is definitely an option to consider. First, you completely avoid the hassle of dealing with annoying car salesmen. And second, you could end up with a much better price. Consider this:

A salesman on the showroom floor is trying to negotiate the highest price possible, since his commissions are based on a percentage of the sale price. On the other hand, an Internet sales manager typically makes a fixed salary and gets paid a bonus, based on volume.

Additionally, purchasing a car online is more convenient than visiting multiple dealerships. After all, many large dealerships put up their cars for sale online. If you do decide to buy a car online, you’ll still want to test drive the car and have it checked by a mechanic to make sure there are no issues or problems. You do not want to sell a defective car to your customers.

  1. Don’t Purchase the Add-ons

Buying a new car is a major purchase, and you may be paying it off over the next several years based on the agreement you made. If you finance the car, the overall costs for accessories will skyrocket, so keep the add-ons to a minimum. You don’t really need heated seats, and you can buy a portable GPS navigation unit online for much less than expensive built-in systems.

If your buyers want them, they can add them to the vehicle after they purchase them. Rust-proofing is another add-on you don’t need despite what the salesperson might tell you. VIN etching, a rear camera, and a dealership maintenance plan are more add-ons that you don’t really need.

  1. Don’t Buy the Extended Warranty

If you’re buying a new car, the car should come with a manufacturer’s warranty that provides ample coverage for the vehicle. If you’re looking at a used car, keep in mind that many of them will still have valid manufacturer’s warranties.

The extended car warranties offered by dealerships are expensive, and, even worse, the coverage is often very limited and doesn’t cover the costs of many types of mechanical failure in new or used cars. You would not want to stick your buyers with that.

  1. Always Test Drive the Car

90% of people who buy a new car test drive it first, since you plan to equally sell the medical transportation vehicle, you should equally test drive all your cars. You want to test drive the car for many reasons, but comfort should be foremost in your mind.

There are some cars that you just won’t feel comfortable driving. Stay away from such cars as you may not be able to sell them off that easily. The car should be smooth and quiet.

Make sure the view from each of the mirrors is acceptable, and you have a straight line view of all dashboard gauges. Flip on the air, locate the turn signals, and turn on the windshield wipers. Ensure that everything is easy to use. Some people find that their fingers are too big to handle certain switches, buttons, or levers in some cars.

Make sure the car responds when you push the accelerator or brakes. Cars vary significantly in terms of sensitivity, and you want to choose a car that best fits your preferences. If you like it, you can easily convince your customers to make a purchase.

  1. Visit the Mechanic When Buying Used Medical Transportation Vehicles

If you’re planning to buy a used vehicle, it’s important to have the car thoroughly checked out by a mechanic before you finalize the purchase. The mechanic will inspect the car and look for unusual signs of wear and tear as well as items of potential concern.

Mechanical problems or maintenance issues that the mechanic finds may determine whether or not you buy the car, and the mechanic’s report may provide you with the necessary leverage to negotiate a lower purchase price. Going with a mechanic is also beneficial because you will get to know what you are selling to your customers.

  1. Know the Car-Buying Process

Car-buying is one of the last arenas of free-wheeling price negotiation. While that can be intimidating to many buyers, you can level the playing field by learning about how to buy a car, how cars are priced, and how to negotiate a great deal.

Online tools have given buyers more information than ever before. That knowledge can be turned into confidence when you’re discussing a car deal. Understanding the car-buying process will also help you identify any tricks or tactics a salesperson is trying to use to get you into the deal they want you to agree to. You’ll know when to push back and when to walk away.

  1. Get a Preapproved Loan

One of the most important tips we can offer is to get a pre-approved auto loan before you get anywhere near an auto dealership. By applying to at least one local bank, credit union, online bank, or online lender, you can get an offer that a dealer will have to meet or beat to get your business.

Without an offer in hand, the seller will have no incentive to cut you a deal. Dealerships make a significant amount of their profit by acting as intermediaries between lender and buyers. They mark up financing costs from outside lenders and offer it to buyers as part of an overall car-buying deal.

  1. Avoid Long Loans

As medical transportation vehicles have become more expensive, the length of auto loans has grown longer. It’s easy to find lenders who will give buyers loans lasting six or more years, but it’s not a good idea to have one lasting that long.

You’ll typically pay a higher interest rate and a significantly higher amount of total interest over the life of the loan. The longer the loan, the more likely you will owe more on the car than it is worth. You’ll also have a greater chance of having costly out-of-warranty repairs while you are still making monthly car payments.

  1. Look for Deals

When a medical transportation vehicle is nearing the end of its product cycle or isn’t selling well, automakers offer special incentives to encourage sales. These offers usually include cash back, interest rates that are lower than you’ll find at outside lenders, or a combination of both.

Taking advantage of a car deal can save buyers thousands of dollars off MSRP up front or thousands of dollars off interest payments during the term of their car loan. The U.S. News Best Price Program can also help you identify deals by connecting you with local dealers with pre-negotiated prices. On average, buyers who use the program save more than $3,000 off MSRP.

  1. Consider Certified Pre-Owned Cars

New vehicles can be expensive, but used cars come with unknown histories and often no warranty coverage. There’s a third option, however, called a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) car. They’re relatively new, low-mileage vehicles that have been inspected and certified by dealers representing the automaker who built them.

They come with warranty coverage and other extras you wouldn’t get if you bought a non-certified used car. They typically cost more than other used cars, but far less than a new model. If you’re willing to give up the latest and greatest features, buying a CPO vehicle can save you a tremendous amount of money.

  1. Do Your Due Diligence on a Used Car

If you want to opt for a used car that is not certified, you have a couple of extra steps to take. First, you’ll want to get a vehicle history report from a site such as Carfax or AutoCheck. It will tell you about a vehicle’s accident history, title status, repair records, and more.

If you see red flags on the vehicle history report, it should either put the brakes on buying that car or point out issues that require further investigation by a mechanic before you think about buying the car. You will also want to get a thorough pre-purchase inspection by an independent mechanic.

They should do a general examination, look for issues that are common to the vehicle, and explorer areas that are identified in the vehicle history report, such as the repair of crash damage. If the seller will not make the vehicle available for a pre-purchase inspection by a mechanic of your choosing, you should not buy the car.

  1. Remember Sales are Usually Final

The reason you want to do so much due diligence is most vehicle sales are final. Once you sign the papers and leave the seller, the car is yours. Even if the vehicle’s condition has been misrepresented, you’ll likely still be stuck with the car and you will be forced to foot the bills for repairing it before you can sell it.

If it’s a new car or a CPO vehicle with a warranty, you’ll be able to get problems fixed through the dealer’s service department.

If it’s a used car without a warranty, you’ll have to pay the repair bill out of your own pocket. A few manufacturers and used car superstores have limited return policies, but most of them are loaded with fine print, which makes returning almost any car cost you money in the end.

  1. Get ready for modifications

Not all medical transportation vehicles have what every business owner wants; so as someone who sells these vehicles, you have to know the various kinds of modifications the vehicles can carry, and where that can be expertly done. You should be very helpful in this regard so you can make the sale and even retain the customer.