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Mini Skid Steers Boost Rental Income

Posted on 27th Feb 2015 @ 9:33 AM

Most equipment rental centers include a mini skid steer among their fleet, along with a variety of core attachments for performing different tasks. Although attachment inventory will vary by operation, an auger, trencher, pallet fork, land leveler and tiller are usually the most common. Not surprisingly, attachment purchases are often driven by demand, resulting from repeated requests for a specific attachment from current customers.

While purchasing attachments with the greatest potential for economic return seems logical, it might also limit the rental center’s potential for expanding business and attracting new customers. The question a rental operator needs to answer honestly is, “Am I truly maximizing the rental opportunities and income return potential from the mini skid steer in my fleet?” 

Say no to status quo

Jon Kuyers, utility segment manager for Vermeer Corporation, cautions owners of rental operations to resist complacency, and encourages them to do some basic market research.

“Mini skid steers can assist a wide array of potential customers when matched with the right tools and marketed to the appropriate audiences,” explains Kuyers. “Rental operators might overlook several niche, yet highly profitable markets, simply by getting caught up in the status quo. It can be as easy as having casual discussions with customers as to what types of jobs they are doing and what their needs are.”

Mini skid steers are most often rented for landscaping, deck and patio projects, to auger post holes, excavate soil or level ground for foundations. There are additional tasks associated with these types of projects that Kuyers feels rental centers might want to consider suggesting to their customers.

“The increasing popularity of ‘hardscaping’ projects presents a number of new uses for mini skid steers,” he explains. “A mini skid steer can get into a backyard to do many things that wouldn’t be possible with a larger skid steer. And tasks that used to require manual, back-breaking labor can be done with the loader helping make the job more efficient. Jobs that used to take several days to finish manually may now be completed in hours.”

For example, a mini skid steer with two simple attachments — a bucket and vibratory roller — would eliminate the vast majority of manual labor associated with installing a brick patio, says Kuyers.

New attachments, new opportunities

An increasing number of rental centers are taking simple steps to delve a bit deeper into their market in an attempt to learn more about their customers and gain a better understanding of the types of projects and most common uses for mini skid steer rentals in their area. Often this knowledge has prompted them to add additional mini skid steer attachments to their rental fleets. 

“We just started asking our more frequent landscape customers about the projects they were doing and what equipment would help them better complete a job,” said Eddie Sharpe, general manager of All Seasons Rental in Conyers, GA. “Knowing this gave us more insight into their business and the rationale we needed to purchase additional attachments. Now we are able to recommend new attachments to make the jobs go quicker, using less manual labor. We’ve been able to help them operate more efficiently and offer more services while increasing our business at the same time.”

All Seasons Rental has one mini skid steer in its fleet, along with multiple attachments. Sharpe says this is appealing to contractors and landscapers because they can rent one piece of equipment and use it for multiple jobs by simply changing attachments.

“With mini skid steers, there is less variance because you’re not depending on several pieces of equipment,” explains Sharpe. “You’ve got one piece of equipment that’s going to knock out three or four different things instead of having to rent three or four different pieces of equipment. It saves time, money and return trips to a rental center. And with the unit we rent, we can change attachments in seconds and be on to the next job or project.”   

Adding new attachments also creates opportunities for rental operators to target new customers. With a boring attachment among their rental options, for example, operators could target irrigation contractors who would be interested in using a mini skid steer to bore irrigation lines under sidewalks and driveways. And in geographies such as the South and Northeast where there is a greater incidence of tree trimming and land clearing, purchasing a grapple attachment and targeting arborist contractors by suggesting they use the grapple to feed chippers would increase productivity and minimize manual labor.