- Apr 13, 2018 -
Spring Forward Toward Profitable Outdoor Power Equipment Rentals
Whether you are currently offering lawn and garden equipment as part of your portfolio, or are considering doing so, landscape crews who do not normally own niche landscape products will be looking for clean-up solutions at their local rental store.
Work-saving edging tools are always in spring demand. Little Wonder BedShaper® cuts easy-to-remove stips of sod.
Harsh winter conditions often provide opportunities for increased spring rentals of outdoor power equipment and this year should be no exception. Whether you are currently offering lawn and garden equipment as part of your portfolio, or are considering doing so, landscape crews who do not normally own niche landscape products will be looking for clean-up solutions at their local rental store this spring.
A perfect example of this can be seen in Florida, where an unseasonably cold winter has resulted in an increase in rentals for sod cutters – a product not universally a part of landscaper fleets. Landscapers in the sunshine state have been replacing yards damaged by cold weather and using 12-inch sod cutters in the replacement of irrigation and sprinkler systems. As warmer weather comes to the rest of the country, rentals of sod-cutters will increase nationally, and offering sod-cutter units with multiple cutting blade options will give savvy dealers an advantage.
Pre-season clean up
Lawn damage from winter cold and storms will also result in more calls for pre-season turf preparation and maintenance that homeowners might not normally require annually. Landscapers that source equipment at rental in order to offer aeration and dethatching services will be looking for larger-scale solutions than they might after a milder winter. For example, the use of stand-on aerator technology is becoming more accepted (and requested) within the landscape community. The ability to get on and off large properties quickly will drive an increase in rentals of stand-on aeration equipment and present tremendous opportunities for quick paybacks on this product’s investment. Before investing in this type of equipment, do your homework. Look for units featuring zero-turn agility and generous speeds forward and reverse. Units pulling more cores per square foot will also be an important talking point when directing customers toward the most efficient rental solutions. Your service staff will also appreciate units featuring easy access points and jack stands that lift the unit allowing for speedier maintenance and clean up time.
Wet snow and winter winds have also led to higher volumes of refuse now littering landscapes and paved areas. Rentals of wheeled blowers and powerful vacuums will also be in-demand this spring. Most landscape crews feature backpack blowers, but heavier and more voluminous debris will require a more powerful and time-saving solution. Wheeled blowers provide the hurricane force air power that backpacks simply can’t and will be at work throughout the spring moving broken branches and matted leaves from various surfaces. Rental dealers should consider offering a selection of these powerful work-reducing blowers to their customers to assure the right tool is matched to the right application.
Walk-behind vacuums will also be in demand, as business and homeowners alike become anxious to clean-up winter’s mess and move-on to mulching and planting on their properties. Powerful vacuums that feature not only superior suction capability, but also offer high-load capacity will be a welcome solution to landscapers anxious to move efficiently from one property to the next.
Brush cutters are also important products to consider as the spring moves toward summer. Thick, nasty weeds and overgrowth that is currently dormant or covered beneath snow will begin to grow with a vengeance in less tended-to areas. Landscape crews and active homeowners will look to tame ragged and thorny areas with heavy duty brush cutters that can clear large swaths of weeds while going easy on the operator. Dealers should be aware that there are subtle but important differences between various brush cutters on the market. Models that feature solid linkage controls as opposed to cables will stay in the field longer. Cables often fall victim to the overgrowth the brush cutter is supposed to control. They become tangled, break and wear out causing downtime. Solid rod linkage keeps units in the field and requires less maintenance.
Not all remedies to winter damages require large equipment solutions either. As shrubs and bushes will require replacement on a larger scale, efficient digging tools to create planting holes will also be attractive rentals. Small tillers already feature some of the best and quickest paybacks in the industry; having sufficient inventory on-hand when landscapers seek them out for tree, shrub and bush planting will be key. Not only do these tools reduce the physical wear and tear of digging with a shovel, they improve soil conditions to the benefit of the plantings.
Small tillers that include optional attachments like aerators and dethatchers (rakes) are also great rental offerings for homeowners looking to repair the damages from winterkill, a general term used to describe various turf loss caused by various factors including snow mold, desiccation, low temperatures, ice sheets and other seasonal damage.
Demand for these simple yet indispensable products will come from both homeowners and professionals. Rental dealers that have units on the floor available to rent will profit from the foresight.
Make it pretty
Looking for product offerings that can set a dealer apart from his local competition is always a tactic worth exploring when looking for growth opportunities.For example, spring is when pre-existing flower and shrubbery beds at residences, commercial complexes and other large properties are being edged and sculpted. This is work usually done by hand using a flat-edged spade. While the results of such handwork are impressive, it is normally the only option, as traditional edging power tools were not as proficient in creating a deep, crisp edge. Products like the Little Wonder BedShaper have changed that dynamic by offering the ability to create immaculate edges at 100 feet per minute. Here too, do your homework. Some edging equipment actually grinds the turf in an effort to create the edge, leaving mounds of dirt, dead grass, old mulch and other debris. Look for a tool that cuts easy-to-remove strips of sod from the turf leaving a deep, clean border and edge.
As winter finally yields to spring, landscape crews and householders will also look to rebuild their lawns on larger scales with thorough seeding and overseeding. This is the process of embedding seed into the soil at a sufficient and appropriate depth. Consistent depth, lay of seed, seed proximity, moisture, and ground temperature are all crucial elements to the successful germination and establishment of new seed. Seeding should be done in a crisscross pattern and at a consistent depth for the lay of seed to germinate and root properly and evenly throughout the area planted. Inconsistent lay and depth can result in bald spots and a higher level of weeds. A powered turf seeder is the most efficient and effective way to achieve the consistent depth and lay of seed needed to achieve a healthy lawn with rich, thick turf.
For established turf with bare or weakened thinning areas, lawn care operators tend to dethatch and overseed at the same time. Dethatching first to remove matted thatch (dead grass) and then overseed. Doing both allows for the best possible penetration of seed and root establishment to quickly thicken-up the turf. For small to moderate sized lawns or larger flat areas, a standard overseeder is a fine choice as the unit will be lighter in weight and easier to control. For large areas or more hilly terrain, a self-propelled unit will limit user fatigue and get the job done quicker. An overseeder with a floating seed box will offer the best possible seed coverage. Again, the most important aspect of successful seeding is the lay and consistent depth of seed. An overseeder with a floating seeding seed box will hug the terrain and maintain consistent seed drop ensuring tight pattern seed coverage on hills, over undulating or chopping terrain.
Offering dethatching and overseeding equipment and having these units on-hand for spring rentals are a must. Some manufacturers offer turf rakes that can be easily be converted into seeders which only improves the speed of payback.
Leaving winter behind offers more to look forward to than ball games and the beach. Generating profits with the rentals your customers need is an investment in the long-term health of your business.