JPS explain the pros and cons when it comes to buying and hiring landscaping equipment for your business.
For today’s landscape gardener, having access to the right equipment is key. It isn’t enough to rock up at a client’s property with a spade, a hoe, a pair of secateurs and a wheelbarrow anymore. With modern power tools, jobs that used to take all day can now be breezed through in an hour or less. And your customers know it – if you don’t have the right equipment, they will find someone who does.
The plant equipment available these days is great for professional landscapers and their clients alike. There is a large range of companies that will help provide all kinds of rental services, such as JPS, who can help with tool and plant hire, but also scaffolding for trickier jobs. It means more can be done, faster, it takes the weight off the most physically laborious tasks, and it allows gardeners to be bolder in their designs.
At the same time, there is an awful lot to choose from. Rotavators and cultivators, turf cutters and scarifiers, chainsaws and pole saws, trimmers and stump grinders – it all comes at a cost. If you have your sights on assembling a decent collection of such power tools, you are probably going to have to upgrade your van to something approaching the size of a small truck to transport it all from job to job.
So, what is the best option for the modern professional gardener: buy outright or hire?
People like owning things for themselves rather than leasing or renting. Most of us want to own our own home and our own car. The same often applies to any specialist machinery we need for our business.
Owning plant equipment outright means you can do what you like with it. You don’t have to worry about incurring any eye-watering fees if you accidentally damage it, you can really take your time getting to know how the machine works best and even end up making little adjustments to it to customise it to the way you want to work.
At the same time, you’re never having to think about the length of your lease. No more rushing a job to finish it before you have to return the gear. Or even finding you don’t really need or like a piece of kit and wondering why you signed up for such a long-term deal. If you own it, you can sell it whenever you like, it counts as a business asset – and that can also have tax benefits.
On the other hand, to buy equipment outright you have to have the money available upfront, unless you want to opt for a finance deal, but then you are paying even more in interest over time which is not great for your bottom line. And as we’ve mentioned, how much equipment can you really carry around with you?
Overall, buying machinery probably makes sense for two or three pieces of the most essential gear for your business. The equipment you know you are going to get heavy use out of over an extended period, meaning you get full value for your investment.
By contrast, hiring equipment is a great option for those more specialised pieces of kit that you aren’t going to use on every job but which allow you to deliver an added-value service to your clients as and when required. For example, you might not find much call for preparing flower beds or reseeding lawns all year round, but when you start getting enquiries from late winter into early spring, the option to hire a rotavator or a scarifier as and when you need one means you can deliver those services on demand.
Overall, hiring machinery is easier on your cashflow – you pay for what you use and costs are spread out over the lease period. It means you can chop and change to choose the right equipment for each job without having to upgrade the capacity of your van. You also give yourself the opportunity to pick out the best gear currently available each time you need it, supplied to you fully cleaned and serviced in impeccable working order.
By contrast, if you buy your own equipment, you have to take charge of the maintenance yourself. Two or three years down the line, you could find you’re working with yesterday’s model.