Renting vs Buying a Forklift

rent or buy a forklift

Under certain conditions, renting a forklift offers a number of advantages over an outright purchase. But what all should you take into consideration before deciding on renting or purchasing a forklift? What are the deciding factors? Is this a cut-and-dry situation? To help you make your decision, what follows is an outline of the most important factors to consider when you’re looking to decide between buying and renting a forklift.

1. Time Frame: How long do you need the forklift? Is it a short-term need (a few days, weeks or months) or a long-term and on-going necessity (years)? Obviously, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to purchase a forklift to fill a short-term need, so rentals make most sense in these situations. With a rental forklift, you can return the equipment once your short-term need passes, minimizing the costs associated with that need.

It is also important to consider how urgent your equipment needs are – i.e., how soon do you need the equipment on-site? Unless the unit you require is already sitting in a dealer’s stock inventory, it typically takes a few weeks or more to receive a unit after an order is placed. Rentals, on the other hand, are often available for same-day delivery, particularly when a dealer maintains a large rental fleet of late-model forklifts such as Lucas Liftruck. The on-demand nature of rental forklifts make them an ideal solution to fill temporary increases in demand or for seasonal businesses without paying a premium in the off-season.

2. Budget Flexibility: How flexible is your equipment budget? Would you prefer a fixed monthly expense or can you handle variations from month-to-month if it benefits your bottom-line? With forklift rentals, whether on a short-term or long-term basis, you can determine a fixed monthly budget and stick to it regardless of equipment maintenance or breakdowns. Should a unit need some sort of maintenance or repair, the dealership will assume the costs and provide a replacement unit at no additional cost. On the other hand, if you own the forklift, you will be responsible for all the costs associated with the unit including maintenance/upkeep and repairs.

At the same time, you should also factor in the capital expenses involved in purchasing a forklift. When purchasing a forklift, upfront capital expenses can include a substantial down payment and/or interest-bearing loans. These capital expenses reduce your available credit and cannot be claimed as an operational expense in the same way as a forklift rental.

Electing to rent rather than purchase a forklift can also help to improve your overall productivity levels by providing well-maintained and modern equipment at all times. You’ll also deal with less downtime as equipment will be picked up and replaced by the rental company if it becomes inoperable.

3. Usage and Productivity: What are your operating conditions like? Are you in a high usage application? Do you operate forklifts in a high temperature or corrosive environment? In challenging work environments such as these the added wear and tear on a forklift significantly increases maintenance costs and leads to a reduction in the economic life of the forklift. As a result, renting a forklift is likely the most economical solution in these kinds of situations. For lower usage and less intense applications, where the economic life of such a forklift can extend up to 20 years, purchasing a forklift makes more sense and provides an excellent return on your investment.

Other reasons to rent a forklift include:

  • Trying equipment out before making a purchase;
  • Evaluating a dealer before committing to a long-term relationship; and
  • Handling odd loads that require specialized or high capacity equipment.

At the end of the day, the debate between renting or buying depends on your business’s unique needs and circumstances. It’s best if you discuss your opinions with a material handling professional to determine what your options are and how they fit into your business plans moving forward. For help making these decisions in the Niagara Region, contact Lucas Liftruck Services today! We maintain a large rental fleet of late-model forklifts available on short notice.

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