“You can also rent specific pieces of equipment for specific jobs,” he says, noting you may have a once-a-year job calling for very high reach that requires a certain truck. But that job may not be repeated for the next 364 days.
In some geographic locations, renting rather than owning a bucket truck is preferable simply because you don’t have to find a place to store the unit, nor pay to store it. Newness is another factor. Rental companies will typically rent late-model equipment, so you are insured of having the latest bells and whistles.
Those renting crane and bucket trucks can readily ensure the cost of the equipment is absorbed into the price of the job they’re undertaking with the truck.
A final consideration is that, whether owning or renting, you will be exposed to liability given there are personnel working high in the air.
“Some of that liability may be taken on by the company renting out the equipment,” Wilkerson says. “But many do not offer that liability protection.”
Generally speaking, if you’re renting less than three or four times a month, don’t envision expanding your business in the next year, and your customers are not asking for additional services when you’re on the job site, renting costs will likely set you back less than purchasing the equipment, Wilkerson says.
What You Don’t Know
Those new to crane and bucket trucks often fail to seriously weigh several key considerations, Wilkerson says. The specifications of the truck itself is one. An ‘underspec-ed’ truck, one that’s not big and heavy enough for the equipment upon it, will have shorter life and poorer fuel economy,” Wilkerson says. “And you’ll have increased maintenance costs on the truck.”
It’s also important to consider the height at which the work will be done, and what type of work it is. There are thousands of ways the bucket truck might be used in the sign business, for example. “These are huge factors in determining what kind of truck you will need,” Wilkerson says.
“If someone was only going to hang banners or work on parking lot lights as a side business, they would not need as heavy a piece of equipment as they would if they were doing message-type billboards or heavy-lift installations.”
Elliott Equipment Company’s Phillips is just as adamant that it’s important to understand one’s work parameters before specifying a machine. For instance, if you need to reach something 30 feet high, but you can’t get within 20 feet of it horizontally, you’re going to need 50 or 60 feet of reach, not 30 feet, he says.
“Also consider what particular jobs you are going to do,” Phillips advises.
“In a banner installation where you need an extra pair of hands, a device like a jib winch or crane arm may be the perfect solution, allowing you to install heavy items with just one worker up in the basket. If you wanted more than one person up in the air, many of our baskets measure 40 by 60 inches or larger, allowing more tools and two or more people in the basket. We can install circuitry for them to use air tools, hydraulic tools, pressure washers, and electrical tools within the basket. That will let them do more jobs from that basket and increase their efficiency. You don’t have to go up and down to retrieve tools. Having all their tools in one place allows them to get to more sites in the course of a day.”
Another consideration for those who determine they want to own, rather than rent, the equipment is whether they should buy new or used. Many of those who utilize the equipment start with a used machine, Glazer says. Others may contact an Elliott dealer to purchase several brand new machines at one time.
The bottom line is there’s a certain element of positive brand awareness that is derived from having newer, shinier custom equipment.
“One of our clients ordered a half dozen aerial work platforms custom branded with their color scheme as they entered new work markets,” Phillips relates. “Their market share expanded and they were able to attract new customers.”