What does your rental customer portfolio look like these days? Like an investment portfolio, your customer base needs to be reviewed frequently to determine if you have a good mix of high-growth areas and steady-performing markets that remain strong regardless of economic conditions. Rental companies with a balanced customer portfolio include a blend of growth opportunities that can be highly impacted by changes in the economy and industries that operate more independently. Expanding your business to including renting to tree care professionals is one way to drive rentals even in during less favorable economic conditions.
Meeting the equipment needs of this large group of tree care professionals includes investing in the right type of equipment, choosing quality machinery and stocking suitable model sizes.
Equipment for renting to tree care professionals
Before diving into what arborists and other tree care professionals are likely to rent, you first need to understand why they rent. According to Trevor Koolmees, environmental equipment sales manager at Vermeer, tree care professionals rent for many of the same reasons other contractors do — to supplement their fleet, and manage their working capital and growth. “Brush chippers, stump cutters and loaders are the tools of the tree care professional. While most tree care professionals own this type of equipment, that doesn’t eliminate their need to rent frequently. And when they do rent, it’s usually for multiple weeks at a time,” Koolmees said.
In some cases, tree care companies will rent chippers when traveling outside of their home area or providing emergency cleanup services after a storm. “While there is always tree care work that needs to be done, crews do rent chippers and loaders, like Vermeer mini skid steers and compact articulated loaders (ATX), when work piles up,” added Koolmees. “They use loaders to move wood waste to the chipper, which can help free up the number of workers needed on the crew. Those extra crew members can then form another crew and will run a rented chipper. Renting gives the flexibility to add crews at a moment’s notice. However, while most storm debris is removed from streets quickly, major storms can result in months of work for tree care companies, which means rentals can last for months at a time.”
In addition to renting chippers and loaders, many tree care professionals will rent stump cutters instead of investing in their own because of infrequent use. “There are a lot of tree care companies that spend the bulk of their time pruning or removing trees, but only grind stumps a few days a month,” Koolmees explained. “They will do several tree removal jobs, then circle back to these sites at a later date with a rented stump cutter. It’s a business model that helps small tree care companies maximize their time and equipment investment.”
Why build quality matters
The day-in and day-out demands of tree care professionals require robust equipment. Tree care equipment is being used to grind dense wood material, and the machines doing the work need to be built strong enough to do that job every day.
“Tree care professionals have no interest in trying to operate light-duty equipment,” explained Koolmees. “They know the brands of machinery that are designed to meet their productivity needs and can process the volume of material they need it to. The Vermeer tree care equipment line is designed for those needs. Vermeer is a brand professionals buy and what they look for when renting. So, for rental stores looking to expand into the tree care industry, adding Vermeer chippers, stump cutters, mini skid steers and compact articulated loaders is a great way to do it.”
To maximize the time your tree care equipment is out when renting to tree care professionals, you also need to make sure you’re choosing models sized appropriately for their needs. Luckily, most arborists and other professionals are not looking to rent uncommon sizes.
According to Koolmees, the Vermeer BC700XL and BC1000XL brush chippers are the most popular rental models and widely used by tree care professionals every day. “These units are efficient at chipping large limbs and sized right for working in residential areas,” he said. “They also have a wide appeal beyond tree care professionals. Often landscape contractors are trained for light tree trimming work, and these units work great for their needs.”
For stump cutters, Koolmees said rental stores should consider adding Vermeer SC30TX or SC362 stump cutters. “The SC30TX is a popular rental unit because of its compact frame that allows it to fit through standard-sized gates and its ease of operations. The SC362 is a belt-driven stump cutter that will efficiently grind medium-sized stumps, making it a great option for renting to tree care professionals who will be grinding several stumps throughout the day,” he explained.
In addition to dedicated tree care machinery, mini skid steers and ATXs are in high demand in the tree care industry. Professionals choose these types of machines over other loader types because they are compact and have a light footprint. “For several years now, tree care professionals have used mini skid steer loaders to assist with moving wood debris and in some cases feeding logs through chippers,” said Koolmees.
“More recently, compact articulated loaders, like the Vermeer ATX530, ATX720 and ATX850 have begun showing up on more tree care projects,” Koolmees added. “Contractors like these machines because they are still small and lightweight compared to skid steer loaders and other wheel loaders. And, they have fast travel speeds, making them an ideal equipment solution on projects where the chipper cannot be positioned near the trees being pruned or cut down.”
Of course, mini skid steers and ATXs have broad appeal beyond tree care professionals. Landscape contractors and other professionals also use these machines every day. So, it’s a good idea to keep a few of these machines on your rental yard.
Expanding your rental customer portfolio with the addition of equipment that appeals to tree care professionals is an excellent way to diversify your rental business. Also, Vermeer equipment often maintains a high resale value when it’s time to trade in or sell a machine on your yard. It is backed by a worldwide dealer network, so support is always just a phone call away.
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