Considering renting a trencher? Here’s what you need to know

If you find yourself debating between buying a trencher for the first time, adding another one to your fleet, hiring a sub-contractor or renting a machine, there are many factors to consider. With all these options, it can be overwhelming. Using one or a combination of these approaches could be a viable strategy to maximize productivity, expand into a new market or work on a wider variety of jobsites. 

Let’s look at how renting a trencher can be an option, even for current machine owners, and if a rental could work well for your business.

Types of jobs

There are several factors to consider if you are thinking of renting a trencher. The first is the frequency of use. Some questions you may want to ask yourself:

  • Will this work be performed frequently or irregularly? 
  • Is the job long term or short term?
  • Will a trencher be needed on future jobsites?

If you only need to utilize a trencher on occasion, renting may be a better option for your business. This is because the cost to rent is likely less than the cost to buy and maintain your own trencher. Knowing if you will be using a trencher on jobsites in the future will determine if renting or buying will make the most sense for your business. 

Another factor to consider is the size of the trench. For smaller jobs where you may only need to trench a few miles, it might make more sense to sub-contract that job out or rent a machine. 

Renting a trencher can maximize efficiency and productivity for a business, even if they already own a machine. For contractors who currently own a trencher, it could be beneficial to rent an additional machine if you are working on a tight time frame and need to maximize productivity. Renting can also allow you to bid on jobs that may need a smaller or bigger trencher than what you have. Renting short term for a bigger job than what your current trencher is equipped for can be an effective way to gain experience and expand into a new market.

Geographic location

Before you transport your trencher long distances to complete a job, compare the cost of transportation and the cost to rent a machine closer to the jobsite.

Renting is a viable option even if you own a machine, and that is due to the location of the jobsite. For example, if you own a machine and primarily use it in Iowa, but have a job in Maine, it may be more economical to rent a trencher in Maine due to transportation costs. This can be a beneficial strategy to practice, especially if you are looking to expand your business in new locations. 

Another consideration is the ground conditions encountered, and how that can affect the machine configuration. Applications Specialist Gregg Van Roekel says, “It may be more efficient to rent a machine that is already configured for the ground conditions in a new location, rather than transporting your current machine that is not properly configured to work in the varying ground conditions.”

Expansion into different markets

An effective way to expand into different markets is to rent equipment, and gauge how it works with your business. To do this, try and look for the types of jobsites the equipment fits and determine if this could be a long-term service you can offer. 

A common approach for business owners is to rent when first establishing your business in the market. Down the line, once there is a higher demand and you are finding consistent jobs, then it could be time to purchase a trencher of your own. 

If you are unsure of certain brands or models, renting a trencher can be a good way for your crew to test equipment on your jobsite. Especially if you are located near a dealership that has multiple models available, this could be a great option for your crew to gain some experience with the machine and determine what would be the best fit. Once the crew is confident and comfortable with the brand or model, it may be worth investing in a trencher.

Challenges with renting

Renting can work well for many businesses, but it can come with challenges. The biggest challenge tends to be the availability of rental machines. There is typically a lower inventory of trenchers in some rental fleets, which means contractors will need to plan well in advance to ensure a machine is available. 

If you are looking to only use a specific model, finding that could mean working with different dealerships who have one available. If you are open to a variety of models when it comes to renting, then this challenge may be less prevalent. 

Because trenchers contain parts that experience high wear, they require experienced technicians to perform maintenance if issues do arise. Getting a technician out to work on the machine, or being able to take it into a dealership, is not always simple. If there is a limited number of technicians near you, that could be a factor between renting and buying.

When to buy instead

The most obvious benefit to owning a trencher rather than renting, is eliminating the cost to rent. If you are consistently renting a machine, that cost can start to add up. 

Applications Engineer Tyler Sikora says, “Owning the machine gives operators the transparency of how much it costs them to run. Examples of ownership costs are fuel, parts and maintenance.”

With ownership, comes flexibility. Owning your own trencher means full control of that machine and how it is used. Additionally, you can decide when and where to run that machine. With ownership of a machine, you no longer need to worry about finding a machine available to rent, especially on short notice. 

Being able to optimize your machine for the jobsite ahead is another plus and allows you to work on a wider variety of jobsites. With that, means you can also optimize the chain that you need, making time on the jobsite productive.

“If you have multiple jobsites and crews, you might make more use of buying trenchers rather than renting,” Van Roekel says. “This is due to the flexibility of when and where you can use a machine, and you can move trenchers to jobsites where more than one could be used.”

Transportation

If you do not have a trailer to transport your trencher, renting will likely be a better option. Renting a trencher will eliminate the need to invest in additional transportation equipment, such as a truck and trailer. If transportation is a challenge, another option could be sub-contracting the work. If you decide to hire a contractor or rent a trencher, you must plan ahead to get the machine when needed. 

At the end of the day, renting a trencher could work well for many contractors. No solution is one size fits all, so be sure to weigh all options available to you and factor in the considerations listed above. For more information on trenchers or other Vermeer rental equipment, contact your local dealer

Vermeer Corporation reserves the right to make changes in product engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing or distribution at any time without notice or obligation. Equipment shown is for illustrative purposes only and may display optional accessories or components specific to their global region. Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specifications.

Vermeer and the Vermeer logo are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries. © 2023 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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