Barreto Manufacturing, Inc. is headquartered in Oregon and has a secondary manufacturing facility in neighboring Idaho. We had the opportunity to connect with local rental shop Pro Rentals & Sales in Boise, ID, to glean from their experience in the rental industry. So, we sat down with Branch Manager Blake Smith to discuss spring equipment rentals and his recommendations for industry professionals and rental customers. Here’s what he has to say about maximizing the rental experience during the spring season.
Smith has been with Pro Rentals since he first started at their Twin Falls, ID location in 2015. When asked about which Barreto units he runs and which units customers gravitate to this time of year, he says “all of them are pretty popular because you guys make a good product, but the most popular units are definitely the trenchers, rear-tine rototillers, and the 30SG stump grinders. People definitely prefer the tracked trenchers; we also have your chipper, and we just got in your mini track loaders that we are starting to rent out this week.”
The spring season brings projects, and Blake says that DIY homeowners and landscapers are in full swing, commonly renting stump grinders, trenchers, and tillers. “Trenchers are really popular with homeowners doing irrigation work or putting in new lines for electrical, really any type of construction they may be doing at their own home.
The 24” trenchers are probably the most popular with homeowners for irrigation work, the 36” trenchers go out more for our small contractors or landscapers specifically, and they really like the tracked Barreto units they can stand behind.
With rototillers, lots of gardens are being put in and a lot of lawns are being revamped, so we are renting to tear up existing lawn or prep new ground to get it ready for sod.”
Smith says there are always challenges with spring rentals that can cause hiccups, but that rentals can go smoothly with a little preparation and planning.
“Specifically with trenchers you have to pay attention to the weather. If it’s too wet or it’s been raining too much ahead of when it’s time to trench, that can create traction issues on the ground surface, which won’t trench as efficiently as you like. Obstacles like this create muddy terrain, possibly filling the sides of tracks with mud. This can be a problem if the operator isn’t paying attention and gets something wedged in the side of the tracks, potentially knocking a track off.”
“Homeowners are usually trying to operate Friday thru Sunday, and in the case of bad weather they may reschedule for the following weekend. We do offer weekend deals like one day rental deals – typically those are picked up Saturday, and we allow them to return Monday for a one-day rental. We don’t charge for Sunday because we aren’t open on Sundays. The deal for the customer is that on the machines that have an hour meter, we track the hour meter. In our industry, a one-day rental is typically 24 hours with the machine or up to 8 hours of use on the meter.”
When it comes to efficiency, there are a few things customers can do to get the most out of their rental. Blake says, “There’s definitely prep work that needs to be done for every type of rental. If it’s work they are doing in their own yard, obviously you will want to know if they are going to be trenching, and ensure they call 811 before they dig to map out where any utility lines may be.” This ensures a safe experience and keeps customers from tearing up existing lines and creating more costly work for themselves.
“There is prep work that needs to be done for renting stump grinders, too. Digging out a couple of inches around the existing stump can help free up room for the wheel to spin efficiently at max RPM and keep free from hitting the ground with potential rocks or buried concrete. We usually send a couple of those units out multiple times a day, so there’s some prep work we advise that can save the renter heartache and money as opposed to learning while they are going.”
Confidence through education is key, especially with heavy equipment. Smith says, “With homeowners, we try to educate our customer in advance of the rental. If they ask, we usually provide them with make and model of the unit or link them to a YouTube page to familiarize themselves with the equipment. We also tell them if they want to come in or call ahead, they are welcome to look at the equipment and we can give them a more detailed run through before the day of the rental. This way they can hit the ground running.”
When it comes time to rent, common errors are seen across the rental experience. Customers often struggle with “hauling equipment and shutting off the fuel – usually they forget to kick the fuel back on, and on the smaller equipment that has a Honda engine, they forget the On/Off switch located on the engine itself. We get those same phone calls a lot, and a lot of times they simply forget how we secured it when they left.”
The solution, he says, is repetition and to try and remind them as much as possible. “Usually, the person behind the counter who is writing up their contract will remind them of those same tips, and the yard employee instructs them again when the equipment is picked up.”
“Take advantage of our rental breaks,” he says. “Homeowners can maximize overnight rates, so if something is picked up the last hour of business and brought back the first hour the following day, they are just paying the minimum rental on the item as long as they don’t exceed the hour meter usage. The weekend deals give homeowners a lot of extra time with a piece of equipment if they need it. In the rental industry, you get your breaks the longer you have something, so if you have something for three days, you get the fourth day free, that kind of thing.”
Other ways for customers to get the most out of their rental is to come prepared with the proper towing vehicle, proper clothing, and protective gear. The better prepared you are, the better your rental experience is going to be.
Like taking up any task for the first time, it can be challenging for new operators to familiarize themselves with rental equipment. In the long run though, it’s a rewarding experience for both rental store employees and customers. Rental employees provide excellent guidance and service, and the customers leave feeling empowered with a DIY experience. That’s one of the great benefits of the equipment rental industry and all its potential. We asked if he had anything final to add, and Blake just laughed, saying “I mean it’s rental, so it’s controlled chaos.”