5 minute read

It’s a GREAT problem to have: you are on a large loss, and you realize that you are going to need much more equipment.  Maybe it’s a large multi-family loss that requires a ton of portables, more than you own; or, it’s a large commercial warehouse loss that’s going to need a desiccant and a generator.  Either way, it’s all good- as long as you can get that extra equipment, AND FAST!

When renting drying equipment, the trick is always to have those relationships developed BEFORE you have the need.  Proper planning and communication can keep you from the “desperate rent”, having to grab whatever you can get from whoever has it, paying through the nose for inferior quality and service. 

And as we stated, from large loss to large loss the specific need might be different, requiring different types or numbers of pieces of equipment.  Renting drying equipment from only one source might be a comforting plan, but the reality might not work out.  As with so many other parts of life, having a couple of choices will always pay dividends in the long run

Let’s discuss your sources for rental equipment.  Understanding the different ways to get your equipment can help you develop your relationships and plan for success.  There are a lot of ways to get equipment, each one having their positives and negatives.  No one choice is perfect for every situation, but some are far better than others.  I will try to explain each in a way that gives you all the info needed to make your own choice.

For portable equipment, let’s discuss your options.  The first place to start is with the “Big Box Stores”- Home Depot, Lowes and the like.  We will start here because they are everywhere.  That is a plus.  That may be the only plus.  As these stores are geared toward the homeowner, their inventory will not be sufficient for you if you need several dozen air movers or dehumidifiers.  If you only need a handful for a small job ands your shelves are empty, then it’s not a terrible choice. 

“And the good never is, they are your resource – never your competition!”

Renting drying equipment from the “Competitors in Your Neighborhood” sounds like a crazy thing, but more and more it is becoming a great resource for quick assistance.  Instead of considering them your sworn enemy, reach out to the ones that have a good reputation (not as good as yours, of course, but close) and suggest a “win-win” program that can help both of you out in a pinch.  Keep in mind, during regional events he will be as busy as you and won’t be able to help you… in fact, he will now be competing against you for the rental equipment available.

There are many “Regional Equipment Rental Companies” that may carry an inventory of portable drying equipment.  Chances are, if they are in your neighborhood, one of their sales reps has visited your office.  Go dig up that old business card or find that magnet on your fridge and reach out to get a feel for their stockpile.

For projects that may also require larger drying equipment, such as desiccants or chillers, or for projects that need significant power generation, it’s best to explore the larger providers.  Their ability to respond to your needs may be greater, and in the event of a regional event they can resource additional pieces from other locations around the country.  The logical targets for these relationships are the “National Corporate Locations”- companies like Sunbelt Rentals and United Rentals.  They specialize in the largest equipment rentals, and will also have trailers full of air movers, air scrubbers and dehu’s.  That’s the good part; there are several downsides to working with these companies.

Chief among the issues is cash flow.  As you already know, the cash flow on larger losses tends to be slower; the adjuster takes his time getting funds moving, and the normal invoice time of 30-45 days can get extended by months – or years.  Renting from your friends or from local companies can be accompanied by generous payment terms.  It’s not unheard of to be able to give your rental firm a small down payment and have them wait until you receive funds for them to be paid in full.  With the big boys, this is not an option.  Strict terms are enforced, with swift collections actions (and additional costs) following right behind.

Another issue with the large firms is that they are in essence a rental company and nothing more.  They will drop off the equipment and that’s it.  It’s all on you for the setup and operation.

Finally, keep in mind that these companies have long-term, stable relationships with the large national restoration companies and franchises.  Their first obligation will always be to them.  So, you could walk onto their lot and see several desiccants but could be told that they are “all out” because they are “holding” those units for companies like Belfor or ServPro, or another major company.

That brings us to our final choice for renting drying equipment.  There is one other area to examine, one that can be the greatest asset for your company, no matter the need or the size.  There are many “National Independent Rental Companies” out there that cater to the independent restorer, the guy that is making it happen every day but, from time to time, needs some assistance.  Maybe you’ve seen their ads or recognized their logo’s, but they are the best friend you can have when you need that extra trailer, machine or technician.  I’m referring to companies like DEI and The Drying Team.  Not only can they provide you with any equipment you need anywhere in the country, they can also give you technical support.  They will deliver, setup, monitor and document the equipment onsite for you.  Their “full-service” approach to handling your rental takes the pressure off you.  And, the good news is, they are your resource – never your competition!

Remember, no one source is the ONLY one you should have.  Even if you develop that special relationship with the national company, it’s still good to be able to grab a handful of pieces locally when needed.  Set up a couple of good resources, and when that big one comes in, you might actually get to sleep one of those nights!

Because neither The CREST Network, nor the owners of CREST are in anyway involved in equipment rental this was written as an objective and fair (hopefully) assessment of the equipment rental options for your restoration company.

By: Bill Giannone, Co-Founder The CREST Network, LLC.

Nationally recognized coach, consultant, trainer, and speaker