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29. Use refurbished spares

Don’t bin it – sell it

It’s in your interest to maximise the return you get on your network infrastructure investments. That’s simple business common sense. And it holds good even when devices reach the point at which they can no longer form a useful part of that infrastructure. How? Simple: sell them, for the best price possible.

Smaller companies tend to be better at this than larger ones. That’s possibly not surprising, as financial outlay on network and other IT infrastructure is typically a large proportion of a small business’ total overhead. When such businesses have serviceable network kit to retire that they can’t re-use elsewhere on their network, they don’t usually just dispose of it: they sell it on as second-user equipment.

Make your budget go further

New network devices aren’t cheap, and given the financial constraints under which many businesses are currently working, any net reduction in spend that can be achieved will be welcomed by owner, shareholders and bank manager alike. Every pound retrieved by selling used kit is one pound fewer that the company must find to run its network.

While many smaller businesses would view this as obvious, it’s surprising how many medium-sized and larger organisations do nothing to secure a return on retired network kit. When you consider that whereas a small business might spend several thousand on its network over the course of a year, a larger one could well be spending in the tens or hundreds of thousands – or even millions – this is all the more remarkable.

A formal sales process

Whatever the size of the business, the key to maximising sales revenues from retired network devices is to formalise the sales process and clearly identify who is responsible for it. Larger businesses can benefit from dedicated teams to handle the disposal of retired equipment, properly incentivised to secure the best possible price the kit they sell on. Even smaller ones should have at the very least a sales-oriented individual responsible for this area.

It might seem like a good idea to have the existing network management team handle the sale of surplus equipment, but while highly skilled and experienced technically, they are unlikely to be natural sales people. As a result, they won’t get the best prices and they’ll probably end up resenting having to handle this task as well as their day-to-day network management activities.

Plan it – and go for it

Looking at the practical issue of how to sell redundant kit, a number of alternatives present themselves, including private and public auctions, press or online advertising and even, for larger organisations, creating an in-house outlet. The key is to generate competition to purchase the retired devices, thus maximising the sale price.

There’s almost always a market for second user kit: a device that seems useless to you could well be exactly what the company down the road needs. So plan the best way for your business to sell its retired network kit, put the right people in place to execute that plan, and start getting value from your network hardware even after you’ve removed it from your network.