What are the key factors that distinguish equipment rental suppliers?
When you’re in the market to rent construction equipment, do you know what to look for from your supplier? While this may seem like a relatively simple choice, picking the wrong supplier can cost you a lot of money and delay your project by days or even weeks. Make sure you consider these factors as you compare.
- Rates, fees, and billing cycle. Construction contracting has become incredibly competitive, forcing many contractors to watch every penny when bidding for work. That often means that in order to make a profit, you need to watch expenses carefully. Pay close attention to not just the daily or weekly sticker price, but also the length of the billing cycle or contract period. Even the difference between a 28 day billing cycle (4 weeks) and a month-long cycle could cost you thousands of dollars if the project extends for several weeks or months.
- Equipment brands carried. There are quality equipment manufacturers of all sizes. Often, laborers have specific preferences, depending on which equipment they have been trained on and are most comfortable operating. Due to this, the national equipment manufacturers have an advantage over some of the smaller equipment manufacturers, since more operators are familiar with the more common national brands. This logic also applies to service technicians, making it easier to get small repairs and adjustments handled.
- Equipment fleet age. There are many suppliers with a reputation for taking great care of their equipment, but generally speaking, newer equipment will operate more efficiently and require less repair time than older equipment. Any equipment model exceeding ten years should be inspected with extra care to avoid costly breakdowns in the field. The better suppliers refresh inventory every 4-8 years to maximize performance and also to keep up with ever evolving machine standards (such as emissions).
- Service. All other factors being the same, service level is one of the most important things that can distinguish rental construction equipment suppliers. When you rent equipment, you need it to be delivered and set up on time and picked up as soon as the project is completed. Delays can cost thousands of dollars as staff waits at a construction site and other subcontractors are delayed. When equipment breaks down, it’s critical that a rental company sends a technician out to repair or replace it as soon as possible. Rental equipment suppliers with bad service reputations should be avoided. While they may have cheaper rental fees, the delays in service will cost a lot more than the money you save.
- Location. If you’re working on a small, local project this might not be a huge consideration, but it can be a big deal if you need equipment in multiple location over your construction timetable. If you need to have equipment in multiple locations, then you want to choose a company that has multiple service centers. Multiple locations can also be a good idea if you’re renting a hard to find piece of equipment. Often, it’s possible for larger chains to transfer equipment between shops to meetneed in one area, giving you access to more equipment if the project gets bigger.
- Expertise. Too often, contractors make the mistake of assuming that, as long as they know how a particular piece of equipment works, it doesn’t matter if their rental company has deep experience. The expertise of the rental equipment supplier should extend far beyond whether or not they can train you and your crew how to use a particular machine. Rental suppliers that really know their equipment are able to confidently diagnose and repair problems faster, ensure that the right accessories are delivered along with the equipment, reliably setup the equipment so that it’s ready to go as soon as the project starts, and answer any important questions you may have. Knowledgeable suppliers will save a lot of money by minimizing delays and preventing break-downs.
- Catalog breadth and depth. If you're taking on a large job with a variety of work, you’ll want a supplier that has access to a wide range of equipment. Some suppliers specialize in a single type of equipment -- such as aerial equipment -- so you'll want to decide whether you'd rather work with multiple specialists or fewer generalists. Depth of a supplier's inventory is equally important, depending on the size of your project. Larger suppliers are able to deal with changes in schedule and unexpected events better than smaller ones. If a dealer has several backhoes in stock, then they probably won’t have an issue with extending your contract by several days if bad weather prevents you from working. On the other hand, a smaller rental equipment supplier may have already promised that particular piece to another contractor, causing you further delays as you look for a new rental equipment supplier to complete your job.