How to Negotiate Scrap Prices

Get better scrap pricesTrying to get the most money for scrap is like looking for the cheapest gas prices…you search around and sometimes you can find someone to work with that fits both of your needs really well. At the end of the day it all boils down to relationships and doing what is best for you. The same is when you are looking to negotiate scrap prices with your local scrap yard.

How To Get Better Scrap Prices

Scrap prices are always negotiable…regardless of what a scrap yard owner or manager tells you. If you have the quantity then there is the opportunity to work together to get a better price, but you can’t expect that the first time that you show up to a scrap facility. We have talked to people on both sides of the scrap price spectrum.

The Scrap Yard Owner

The owner of the scrap yard is the decision maker. Period and end of subject.

While they may have managers and other people making day-to-day decisions for them, he or she will ultimately give the OK for raising prices or giving special rates. Reaching out to the owner ahead of time if you have a larger job going on can only benefit you and by trying to connect with them on a personal level through a mutual acquaintance would be even better.

Who’s Running The Scrap Yard?

Most scrap yards through the US and Canada are privately owned by 1-2 owners per facility and that means that wherever you go there are opportunities to make some extra money, but you have to ask correctly. We have heard stories from owners that a customer has come in with 12 pounds of brass, 7 pounds of copper, and 50 pounds of Sheet Aluminum for sale and they have asked for prices that are 20% over the board price and leave when they don’t get that number. That is not fair to the scrap yard because of the size of the transaction compared to the overhead and labor that will go into moving the metal and shipping it out.

Difference between copper cable vs. copper wire scrap metalIt’s About Consistency

Scrap yard owners will generally work with customers when they have a consistent flow of material, a large quantity from a job rip-out, or perhaps has a special price coupon at their scrap yard for a particular item. Just throwing money to people is generally not what owners do and you as the scrapper should know that before you go into your scrap yard asking for more.

The Scrapper

We all know that “scrapping ain’t easy,” but that does not deter you from becoming more alert of scrap prices, where to find scrap, and who pays the best.

There are certain scrap yards that pay more for ferrous or more for non-ferrous depending on what their specialty is, but finding out by trying a few places out will end up being your best best. Guessing which scrap yard is good at different metals is not the easiest thing to do, sometimes it is good to go online to read reviews as well as asking some industry friends what their opinions are for which scrap yard to go to.

The iScrap App allows scrappers to go online and find out a lot of information about prices, what things are worth, and how to make more money with their scrap metal…so when you show up to a scrap yard you have a few tips and ideas in your head for negotiating prices.

  • Market Conditions – By reading online articles, getting prices through the iScrap App, and asking the scrappers you will be able to really know what is going on with the market…there are some ideas like subscribing to online newsletters for advice on prices as well as talking to people through the iScrap Metal Forum to learn more.
  • Go Small…to Big – Visit the scrap yard a few times with smaller loads to get used to what they do, how they do it, and once you get comfortable with each other you will be able to really have a good idea on if you can ask for more money or not.
  • “No”– Be willing to hear them tell you that they cannot pay more money for certain scrap items. When times are tough on scrap yards they won’t have much room to move their prices. When this happens you have to be prepared to hear the answer no and allow the scrap yard their room for profit margins.

Negotiating is an art form, but trying to always win will not be the best answer in the long run. Working with a scrap yard, establishing a good working relationship, and knowing that they have employees to pay, insurance to cover, and that they need room to make money is very important.

Once you figure out these things you will be able to not only negotiate a higher price, but be more knowledgeable to the scrap metal world.


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