Experts from rental companies share the ins and outs of renting compact equipment

December 8, 2022 -  By

One of the more significant expenses a landscape contractor faces today is the price of equipment; that’s why it’s essential to consider every option available. Renting is one of those options.

Experts from Home Depot Rental, Cleveland Brothers in Murrysville, Pa., and American Rental in Peoria, Ill., share with LM the ins and outs of renting compact equipment.

Pete Quinn

Pete Quinn

Decisions, decisions

There are several reasons a landscape professional might need or want to rent a piece of compact equipment, according to Pete Quinn, operations manager with Cleveland Brothers.

“The vast majority of our rentals are unplanned where a customer had a machine break down, or they ran into something unexpected on their job,” he says. “Renting also gives you the flexibility to select the right machine for the job without the upfront cost of ownership. You get to try before you buy and don’t need to worry about repair costs or storage.”

Robert LeVar, outside sales manager at American Rental, says renting equipment makes sense for professionals who need equipment for a certain job they’re only doing once or twice a year.

“They might only need to use an excavator six times a year; does that justify owning one? Probably not,” he says. “It helps them expand into a market before without the upfront overhead costs.”

So, when should you consider a rental over a purchase? Quinn says that as a general rule of thumb if a pro utilizes a machine 60 to 70 percent year-round, it makes sense to purchase it instead of renting. 

A frequent specialized need for a machine or an attachment would also be a reason to own, as opposed to renting.

The price of business

Quinn says a rental can save pros money up front, especially when product availability in the supply chain can hold up the buying process.

“With the current supply chain issues, new equipment is not as readily available as it has been in the past,” he says. “You may need to wait months for a new machine to arrive. Rental can fill that gap when you need a machine right away.”

Tony English

Tony English

According to Tony English, senior director of merchandising for Home Depot Rental, rental rates have risen around 10 percent in the last two years. He also points out that the cost of purchasing an item has increased significantly.

“While our renter rates have increased a bit, it’s nothing compared to the out-of-pocket dollars that products have increased over the last three years,” English says. “The rental value proposition is even more attractive now, even if rental rates are a fraction higher; proportionately, they can be better than the cost of buying.”

Consider this

Landscape pros should consider several things in their search for the right rental partner. First, the age of the equipment, LeVar says. 

“We try to keep our equipment rotated in and out every three to five years, depending on utilization,” he says. “Look for an updated fleet. Look for dealers that have good availability and offer service. We have techs that will get out and fix a machine if it’s not running properly.”

A newer piece of equipment may come with a steeper rental rate, according to LeVar, but it also offers professionals the confidence that the machine will work properly. 

Convenience is something else to consider, English says. For example, equipment delivery and pickup, plus the ability to reserve machines online or through an app, are newer options that make the process easier for those looking to rent.

He says, “If you want to pick (the equipment) up at the store, you can; or for a fee, you could have it delivered directly to the home or job site that you’re working on and have it picked up afterward, for that matter.” 

Rob DiFranco

About the Author:

Rob DiFranco is Landscape Management's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Landscape Management, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio.

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