Key Factors To Making Equipment Purchasing Decisions

The question of whether to rent vs. own professional cleaning equipment is one that many building service contractors think about. For some, owning their own equipment gives them the freedom to use it how they want, when they want. For others, rentals give them the flexibility to try the latest and greatest products without shelling out big bucks.

Steven McKeon, a strategic customer representative for Sunbelt Rentals, said the renting vs. owning debate is a tale as old as time. For those wondering what they should do when it comes to acquiring commercial cleaning equipment, McKeon said there isn’t one right answer.

“There are actually pages of answers to this one,” he said, during a recent interview.

The rent vs. own debate comes down to a business owner asking themselves some fundamental questions. Businesses need to explore whether there is an increase in demand for certain types of services over a long period of time to determine whether buying would be more cost effective.

“While payback period is certainly an important consideration, I think there are other questions to think about,” he said. Among them: “Are we seeing an increase in demand for these types of services?” “Will it be a long-term demand?” “Do we have/want the ability or obligation to store, maintain, and service the equipment?” And, “Do I have the best suited means for transporting the equipment?”

There are numerous scenarios where ownership makes sense. A large advantage to owning a piece of equipment is accessibility. You always have access to the equipment, you know where it is, and are not subject to availability constraints from a supplier. Then there is the condition of the equipment. Since it’s yours, you know it’s been maintained. Also owning is good from an operational standpoint. You acclimate yourself to your own equipment, you’re familiar with the quirks and know the limitations. Finally, there’s cost savings. For many, it’s cheaper in the long run to invest in your own equipment, as long as the cost of ownership is cheaper than the cost of a long-term rental.

McKeon acknowledges that the case for owning can be compelling. As a general rule of thumb, the cross-over zone between rental and purchase is the usage of the equipment 60 percent to 70 percent of the time.

“In other words,” McKeon said, “if the piece of equipment will be a staple in what you are offering and you will be putting it to use nearly every day, you may want to own it. If it is a mission critical piece of equipment, where any missed delivery time out of your control is too big of a risk to take, and if you already have the warehouse space to be storing it, a reliable means for transporting it, and a technician on staff that services that type of equipment, you will be in a better position owning it.”

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