Field service has long been a big part of the construction business, and the trend has been growing in recent years. What has not been the norm, however, is field-service equipment for rent.
Contractors, rental operations and dealerships, to name a few, have been key clients of QT Equipment, of Akron, OH, ever since QT was founded in 1991. But the customers had to own service vehicles in order to maintain their fleets in the field. All of that changed when QT launched what it believes is the first nationwide service-truck rental program.
Many large contractors have come to realize the value of field service to their businesses. Having a good equipment-maintenance program, which often includes around-the-clock maintenance capabilities, should include at least one dedicated field-service vehicle.
"We help our clients understand that field service comes back to their bottom line in the end," says Doug Root, president of QT Equipment. "When a contractor is suffering downtime because of an equipment breakdown, the machine needs to be fixed immediately. Many contractors don’t realize how much money they are ultimately saving by having a service truck."
Until QT launched its rental program, contractors had two choices if they needed to do field service: buy their own service vehicles or contract with a third-party service provider to fix breakdowns and take care of preventive maintenance schedules. Now there is a third option.
QT Equipment, which has offices in Ohio and Florida, recently launched a nationwide rental program for service equipment, making it one of the country’s only locations to rent mechanics trucks, lube trucks and articulating cranes. QT is a Diamond Authority Distributor for Iowa Mold Tooling Co. Inc. (IMT), and QT’s fleet of rental service equipment consists of IMT Dominator® mechanics trucks, IMT SiteStar® lube trucks and IMT articulating cranes, as well as the QT Lube Trailer.
"Rentals are very popular with so many other types of equipment, but no rental company has tackled the service equipment business yet," Root says. "The rental option is great for our customers who want the benefits of field service but aren’t quite ready to purchase their own equipment or who need a temporary fill-in unit."
Reasons for renting
Contractors often depend on steady cash flow, and renting a service truck avoids the capital expenditure of purchasing, which is especially attractive considering the current credit situation. Also, companies on the fence about buying service trucks can rent a mechanics truck for a few months as a trial.
"Owning service trucks is generally a no-brainer for very large operations, and it usually makes good economic sense for mid-sized ones," Root said. "But small contractors might need help figuring out how to justify the expense."
Renting a service truck gives a company the chance to decide whether the benefits of significantly increased uptime on their equipment would outweigh the cost of buying a dedicated service truck. Many of these smaller operations still have to go through a very time-consuming process when equipment breaks down. A contractor can waste precious time hauling the equipment to the shop, fixing it, and getting it back to the job site. The other option, in the absence of an in-house service truck, is to contract with a third-party field mechanic. Smaller contractors that rent a service truck can begin to determine if buying one would end up saving money them in the long run.
The QT service-equipment rental program also offers advantages for contractors that already depend on service trucks in their daily operations.
"Service trucks break down, just like any other type of equipment, and many contractors cannot imagine going an hour, let alone days or weeks, if their mechanics truck breaks down or is in a wreck," Root says. "Our rental program can fill that void while they are waiting for their mechanics truck or lube truck to come back from the shop."
Sometimes it’s also difficult for contractors to determine exactly how many service trucks their operations need. Large contractors often need multiple service trucks to cover fleets. Renting an extra service truck and trying it out for a few months can help companies complete the cost-benefit analysis of adding a new truck to the fleet.
Having a service truck is just part of the equation; you need to have a mechanic as well. Renting is a good way to test out a new mechanic, and it’s also good for giving a shop mechanic a trial run in the field.
"Customers have been asking about rental options for years, so we’re very pleased to bring them this program as an alternative to purchasing service equipment," Root says. "We also have buyout options available if customers want to rent service trucks or articulating cranes on a trial basis and then decide that these units would make an excellent addition to their equipment fleet."
Root also predicts that service truck rental will continue to increase in popularity as we approach the 2010 emissions regulations and the addition of urea. Many contractors won’t want to be tied down to the long-term expense of these new trucks, and renting is an attractive alternative here.
One of QT’s customers, Miller Brothers Construction, turned to rental when their service truck was out of commission and they couldn’t wait for it to be fixed.
"We had a service truck involved in an accident. It wasn't totaled and the driver was not injured, but the truck had to be taken out of service for major repairs," says Sean Galliger, equipment supervisor for Miller Brothers. "Having access to a short-term rental saved us from a lot of downtime and headaches. I would recommend this to any company that needs to fulfill an immediate, short-term service need."
Seasonal work can be another reason companies might have a temporary service need. Fleet Maintenance and Repair in New York decided to rent an extra service truck for that very reason.
"During the winter, our business can spike 40 percent. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to have a truck payment and insurance for 12 months when we only have three to four months of heavy usage," says Bill Youngson, president and owner of Fleet Maintenance and Repair. "By renting a service truck from QT, we can capture as much business as possible without having to carry that burden all year long."
QT Equipment will rent service trucks nationwide. Because QT has offices in Ohio and Florida, rentals to far-flung locations might or might not incur a shipping charge, depending upon length of rental. For example, if a customer in Oregon rents a mechanics truck, a shipping charge might apply if the rental lasts four weeks, but shipping would not be charged for a long-term rental. QT requires a minimum rental of four weeks on its service equipment. For equipment buyouts, a percentage of the rental payment is applied to the purchase price, and this percentage is dependent on the type of equipment and length of rental. Rates are determined by type of equipment, length of rental and buyout option.
Jennifer Oredson is a technical writer with Two Rivers Marketing.
In addition to SiteStar lube trucks, IMT articulating cranes and QT Lube Trailers, QT also has the following IMT Dominator mechanics trucks available for rent anywhere in the United States:
2008 Ford F550 automatic outfitted with an 11-foot IMT Dominator I service body, an IMT 3820 telescopic crane (7500 lbs, more than 20-foot reach) and a 35 CFM hydraulic compressor
2008 Dodge 5500s outfitted with 11-foot IMT Dominator I service bodies, IMT 3820 telescopic cranes (7500 lbs, more than 20-foot reach) and 35 CFM hydraulic compressors
2008 Ford F750 automatic outfitted with an 11-foot IMT Dominator II service body, an IMT 6025 telescopic crane (10,500 lbs, 25-foot reach) and a 45 CFM hydraulic compressor
2008 Ford F750 automatic outfitted with a 16-foot IMT SiteStar body with five tanks for new products, two for salvage and one for grease