What to Know Before Renting Equipment

know before you rent

If you’ve never rented a piece of equipment before, the process can be intimidating. Chances are you’re wondering what you need, what questions you should ask and how to go about renting the equipment. We’ve gathered the answers so that after reading this piece, you can be confident you have the inside scoop on how to rent equipment.

One of the first things to note about renting equipment is that rental companies solely provide the piece of equipment. If you don’t already have someone to operate it, the rental company may provide training for that particular piece of equipment. This is something you’ll want to ask before you rent.

Fortunately, renting equipment isn’t a daunting process if you know what information you need to gather and communicate, and what questions to ask. Working with a rental company should make the process easier, but sometimes finding the right partner can be challenging. That’s why we’ve provided a list of questions to ask before you rent – to help you get to know the company you’re considering and determine if they will be able to meet your needs. You should look for more more than just the piece of equipment you need.

equipment rental process

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What Do I Need to Know to Rent Equipment?

At MacAllister Rentals, we supply customers with rentals every day, and we’ve gathered a list of the types of information we use to match our customers with the best piece of equipment to get the job done. If you get a head start on having this information when you reach out to a rental company, the process is sure to go much quicker.

provide recommendations

If you don’t have an exact answer to some of these questions, don’t sweat it. A good rental company will be able to give recommendations as long as you have specific information about the type of project you’re going to be completing.

1. Project Environment

Make a note of the project environment. Providing details on whether the project is indoors or outdoors, on flat ground or a rocky hill, and any other information about the jobsite is a great idea. This information gives some context and allows the rental company to recommend the best piece of equipment for that environment. In many cases, there are different models of each piece of equipment available – some designed for indoor applications, which others were built for the rugged outdoors.

In addition to the immediate environment surrounding the piece of equipment on site, don’t forget to account for any areas it may be traversing while it’s there. While this doesn’t always impact the equipment recommendation, it’s better to provide these details just in case.

2. Type of Equipment

The first thing you need to establish is the type of equipment you need. Don’t over complicate things with specifications at this point, only think about function. What do you need it to do? Do you need to move a lot of dirt? Rent an earthmover. Reach a place up high? Get a lift. What is the job that you need this piece of equipment to accomplish?

know what you need

It may seem oversimplified, but there are lots of different pieces of equipment available for rent. Sometimes the key to getting the best value is being able to communicate what you need the equipment to do.

3. Size of Equipment

Once you’ve established what type of equipment you need, it’s time to get a little bit more specific. How much earth do you need it to move? What weight does it need to lift? How high does it need to lift? At this point, begin to come up with some specifications for the work that you’re doing. You don’t need an exact amount, but try to give at least a general range. Depending on your job, this could be the volume of dirt to be moved, the weight of something lifted, the height object needs to be lifted, or some other criteria.

4. Necessary Attachments

Now that you’ve quantified the size of equipment you need, it’s time to consider attachments. Is there a particular attachment for the piece of equipment that may make the job easier? If you don’t have extensive knowledge of what’s available, browse rental company websites to get a feel for what your options might be. You can also ask this question when you do talk to a rental company to find out if there could be a more efficient way to get the job done.

5. Length of Project

The length of project period seems pretty straightforward, but it can be tricky. First of all, you may not know how long it’s going to take you to complete the part of the project that requires the piece of equipment. The ultimate goal is to find the balance of making sure you have the equipment for the length of time you need it, but not so much time that it’s sitting around, taking up space and wasting money.

how long you need

For some projects, this length may be one day, for others, weeks or months. The good news is, rental contracts are available for both short-term and long-term rentals.

6. Pick Up or Delivery

While the tangible piece of equipment you’re renting should be your focus, there are a few other factors to consider. For example, how are you going to get the equipment from the rental company to your location? If you have no way of transporting the piece of equipment, don’t panic. Good rental companies almost always offer a delivery service. If you want to take advantage of that, make sure you’re only inquiring with rental companies that deliver in your area.

equipment delivery

7. Insurance and Protection Policies

Anytime you are working with equipment, insurance is something important to consider. What if an accident, theft, vandalism or other event happens while the equipment is on your site? On your end, the first step is to research any pre-existing insurance coverage you may have for this type of equipment with your current insurance company.

If you are a part of a construction company or use equipment on a farm or ranch, chances are you have a business insurance policy in place for using the equipment. If you own your own business, you might not have any insurance for this type of equipment. At this point, just make sure you know what coverage you do have.

8. Operator Training

As previously mentioned, the equipment you rent is not going to come with a trained operator, so you’re going to need to have a plan for how to operate the piece of equipment. That does not mean, however, that you or the worker who will be working on the project must already know how to use this specific piece equipment.

plan operations

In some cases, certain rental units require that the operator is certified to use that piece of equipment. If you don’t have the training necessary, or even if you need a refresher, a good rental company will be able to help. Many rental companies offer training to make sure that everyone who rents from them is trained and feels comfortable using the equipment.

9. Rental Consultation

If at any point you aren’t sure about exactly what you need, you may want to consider an initial inquiry call to a rental company. Ask to speak to a rental professional. If you describe the project or job you’re working on, the environment it’s in, and what result you’re hoping to accomplish, the rental experts should be able to point you in the right direction on some of the specifics.

Questions to Ask Before You Rent

Once you have established what you need to know before renting equipment, you’ll want to ask some questions before you agree to rent. While the piece of equipment you need may be the same regardless of which company you choose, company rental agreements vary – and these will have an impact on your rental and your liability.

rental agreements

Once you’ve discovered a few different companies that have the piece of equipment you think you need and have established through an initial quote or conversation they can meet your project timeline, then it’s important to consider these questions before you rent.

Many of the answers to these questions will likely be in the company’s rental agreement – you can always ask to see an example of a rental agreement, but many of them are tailored specifically to each client’s situation. If you’re serious about the company you’re talking to, it may be appropriate to ask some of these questions initially, and then look for answers to others in the rental agreement. Regardless of how you decide to approach it, these are questions you should have a clear answer to before you sign on the dotted line.

1. What Are Your Delivery and Pick Up Policies?

You’ve established the timeline you’ll need the piece of equipment, but what delivery and pick up timelines does the company offer? Are there only specific days you’re able to have the equipment dropped off or picked up? Will you need to adjust your timeline at all to fit within the delivery and pick up times the rental company has? Will their delivery schedule impact the amount you pay if you have to have it delivered before the day it’s needed?

Make sure you know how delivery and pick up are handled and what, if any, responsibilities or fees you will have in either of those processes.

2. Is the Equipment on a Maintenance Plan? Do You Have the Service Records?

It’s a myth that rental equipment is all ancient and in rough shape. In fact, to provide reliable and efficient equipment, many rental companies offer late models. Regardless of how old or new the equipment is, if it hasn’t been maintained properly, there’s a chance it could become a headache for you.

Make sure you inquire about the service that they have done on the piece of equipment and when the last date of service was, so you can be confident you’re getting a piece of equipment that isn’t a lemon. After all, you’re relying on it to complete a job and don’t want a poor maintenance record to get in the way.

In addition to asking about a maintenance record, it’s also important to know if you’re responsible for any daily maintenance while it’s in your possession.

3. What Happens if the Piece of Equipment Breaks Down? Are There Guidelines for What You Should Do?

Even with impeccable maintenance records, the reality is that sometimes equipment breaks down. To prepare for this situation, it’s always good to ask what rental policies and procedures are in place if a piece of equipment needs repairs while it’s on the job. Is there a specific phone number you should call? Are there any rules for investigating the breakdown yourself?

4. How Long Will I Wait for a Replacement or Repair?

On that same note, you want to be sure you know what to expect from the company if the piece of equipment does break down on the job. Will they send a field service crew member out to take a look at it? If so, how quickly will you be able to get someone on site? And, if the repair isn’t a quick fix, would you be able to get a replacement in a timely fashion? If you need to stick to a specific timeline, these details are especially important.

5. If I Determine That I’d Like to Extend the Rental Time, Can I Do That? If So, How?

What if your project takes longer than anticipated? If there’s a chance of this happening, it’s good to cover this situation. Will you need to proceed with pick up and then begin the rental process all over again to finish your job? Is there any chance you’d be able to extend the rental agreement without returning the equipment? If so, what are the costs associated with that and what guidelines should you follow if you find yourself in that situation?

project longer

6. What Is Your Billing Policy? When Is Payment Due?

Renting a piece of equipment is an investment, so it’s important to know the details of the billing policy. Is full or partial payment due upon pick up or delivery of the piece of equipment? Or is payment due upon return? Will the billing period begin the moment the piece of equipment leaves their facility, or upon its first day of work on site? If they are delivering the equipment, is there an additional fee for that service?

These are just a few of the questions you might consider asking. The bottom line is to make sure the billing and payment for your rental equipment are clear, so you know what amount is due and when.

7. What Is the Breakdown of Fees for the Cost of the Rental?

Rental companies likely have different pricing structures, so it’s important to know what you’re paying for – especially when you’re trying to decide between two or more rental companies. What fees are included in the cost of the rental? Are there additional fees that could be charged? What’s included in one area for one company may incur an extra fee at another, so make sure you understand how much you’re paying for each line item.

rental fees

8. Is There an Equipment Return Policy?

In an ideal world, all specifics are hashed out in advance, and you prevent any need to return a piece of equipment. But it’s better to be safe than sorry, so ask about the rental company’s return policy so you can have peace of mind knowing the ability to adjust is there if you need it.

9. Will Someone Be Available After Hours If I Have a Problem?

The work that you’re doing may not fall within the rental company’s business hours. If you have a problem or need to reach them for some reason while you’re working and the store is closed, you could be out of luck. Make sure you ask if someone is available outside of normal business hours and, if so, how to get in touch with them. You may also want to ask if there will be a fee for reaching out to them.

10. Do You Offer Operator Training for This Piece of Equipment?

As we mentioned in the previous section, one of the important things to consider as a part of what you need to know before renting equipment is operator training. If training is required, does the rental company offer the training you’ll need? If not, can they refer you to a resource that can help you get the operator training before renting the piece of equipment?

11. Are Protection Policies Included in Your Rental Agreements?

Knowing the coverage you have – or don’t have – is just the starting point. The next step is to make sure you understand what protection or insurance coverage the rental company provides. While all rental companies likely work a little bit different in this area, the most important thing is for you to know what coverage you have.

Here are a couple of common protection policies you may want to look for or inquire about:

  1. Rental Equipment Protection (REP): Sometimes called a Rental Protection Plan (RPP), this plan puts a limit on the amount you pay if something goes wrong with the equipment. If a rental agreement includes this plan, make sure you know the dollar limit.
  2. Loss-Damage Waivers or Limited Damage Waivers (LDWs): These waivers protect you from having to pay for the cost of equipment loss or damage. If your rental agreement includes one of these, make sure you inquire about what isn’t covered so you can plan accordingly.

rental protection

12. What Insurance Coverage, If Any, Is Included in Your Rental Agreements?

Protection policies are great to have, and they can provide peace of mind when it comes to the piece of equipment. However, it’s important to consider what isn’t covered under these policies and ask about additional insurance coverage.

To best understand rental equipment insurance, let’s compare it to auto insurance. When you purchase auto insurance, there are several different components to your policy – covering everything from the physical car itself and the people in it to the property around it and the lawsuits that may come as a result of an accident. Insurance coverages for rental equipment are very similar.

If you think about the coverage you have, learn what protection policies already exist and realize that there are holes in coverage, you should ask for recommendations of where to go to get a temporary insurance policy that can help.

Browse Rental Equipment from MacAllister Rentals

If you’re located in Indiana or Michigan, MacAllister Rentals has many convenient locations to choose from for your equipment rental needs. Our staff is here to help you find the best piece of equipment for your job. If you already have an idea of what you need, get started by browsing our inventory online. We have details for each piece of equipment to help you find the best match. You’ll find aerial lifts, backhoes, bulldozers, compactors and rollers, excavators, skid steers, forklifts, dump trucks and more. Contact us today to start your equipment rental process.

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