Rent vs. Buy: Five Essential Tool Evaluation Criteria for Pros
When in the rent vs buy dilemma, many pros default to purchasing tools, believing they offer a superior long-term investment. Often, they are right. However, there are a variety of factors that can make renting a tool from a business like The Home Depot’s Tool Rental Center a better financial proposition.
Depending on project requirements, the most effective additions to your toolbox may be temporary rather than permanent. That is where tool rental comes into play.
So how can you gauge which tools are better to rent than buy? The following questions can help you resolve your rent vs buy dilemma and taking a more informed and effective decision.
- How long do you need the tool for?
When you’re looking at a new project and realize you will need additional equipment, the most basic considerations are the short- and long-term benefits of renting vs. buying. Tool rental centers can provide a great short-term value, but their costs add up over time. Conversely, purchasing tools requires a larger upfront expense, but can deliver a greater return on investment over the long haul. Basically, the shorter the time period that you need a tool to complete a job, the more attractive renting it typically is, with the shortest, least expensive rental durations lasting four hours.
- How often will you use the tool?
Aside from costs, frequency of use is the most important consideration in determining whether to buy or rent a tool. Equipment used only a few times per year generally is more efficient to rent than buy, whereas a tool that is used far more regularly typically is more economical to purchase.
Another factor to consider is how many tools you will need at one time. For instance, if your current project calls for a brief increase in the number of tools that you need to get the job done most efficiently, you can rent the ‘extra’ tools, and then return them as soon as this short-term spike in demand subsides.
- How complicated and costly is the tool to maintain?
In between busy projects, most contractors can’t afford to spend valuable time or money performing the required preventive maintenance on tools, let alone fixing them on the job. For example, while most landscaping teams would welcome a powerful chainsaw, such as Makita’s 20-inch gas-powered model, into their arsenal, the tool’s mechanical components and saw blades require dedicated care to ensure optimal performance every time it’s used. Meanwhile, for more complex tools, ongoing maintenance costs can exceed the costs of renting those same tools. In any case, when a contractor doesn’t have the time or expertise to properly maintain their tools, the rental proposition simply enables them to focus on getting the job done, not on taking care of the tools needed to do so.
- How much storage space is available for the tool?
Storage space availability, and its potential associated expenses, should be factored into your evaluation. Like many contractors, you may struggle to find extra space in a toolbox, shed or vehicle for larger, heavier equipment. Renting equipment takes this factor out of the equation, as it’s simply returned to the tool rental center after being used.
Generally, leasing and returning large, heavy equipment, such as Makita’s demolition 70 lb. breaker, makes good sense as it eliminates the need to find a permanent storage solution.
- How unpredictable are the project’s variables?
While it’s impossible to anticipate every complication that can delay a project or change its demands entirely, the flexibility of renting a tool provides a contractor with some level of insurance when a project doesn’t proceed as planned. For example, if a project’s requirements change unexpectedly, you’ll be able to optimally coordinate the pick-up and drop-off the tool, rather than be stuck with a purchased tool that will no longer be needed as long or as often as anticipated.
In reality, renting provides an ideal opportunity to test out new tools and see if their performance meets your expectations. This ‘try it before you buy it’ game plan is a prudent path to take prior to any significant tool purchase.
Answering the above questions will give you an evaluation criteria to identify which tools may be right to rent in order to complete your projects in the most efficient and economical manner.
By Tony English, Senior Merchant, Tool Rental
Tony has worked in the capital equipment manufacturing and equipment rental industries for nearly 20 years, with extensive experienced at Ingersoll-Rand, Sunbelt Rentals and The Home Depot.