The question of whether you should own or rent a vacuum truck is not an easy one to decide. There are important questions you need to answer:
- Do you work seasonally or for the entire year?
- If you bought a truck, would you be able to use it enough to justify the cost?
- Are you happy with the workload you have now or would you like to expand your ability to bid for other contracts?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of rent versus buy and which is the best for you, here are some facts you should consider.
1. Your Financial Situation
What does your financial situation look like at the moment? Do you have enough capital to buy a new vacuum truck or would renting one make more financial sense? Look beyond your current financial position and consider what the costs of purchase or rental would be in the future.
Buying, of course, is a bigger expense up front but renting can also be costly if you do it over several months or even years. Renting can also be costly if you’re not using the rented vacuum truck throughout the year. Plus if you buy a vacuum truck and you sell it at some point in the future, it does offer some return on your initial investment.
2. How Much Will It Cost?
When you’re looking at whether to buy or rent, you also need to estimate how much it is going to cost. Look at the true costs of each option, not just the purchase price of a new truck compared to the one-time rental fee of another.
When you buy a brand new vacuum truck, there’s a large up-front cost, but over the life of the vehicle, it’s likely going to cost less than renting every time. A monthly payment will probably be less than the cost of renting a truck for a month. Additionally, it might be easier to budget for a consistent monthly payment than try to guess fluctuating rental prices. From the purchase point of view, a vacuum truck is like any vehicle — the moment you drive it off the lot, it’s not worth as much. You also need to budget for ongoing costs such as regular maintenance, insurance and registration fees.
When you rent a truck, these ongoing costs are included in the rental fee. So while the rental cost will likely be more than you might pay in a monthly payment on a vacuum truck that you have bought, you also get more than just a truck. You’ll have peace of mind knowing it’s well-maintained and insured. You may have to pay to move the vacuum truck to the location where you want to use it and then pay to return it as well. Despite this extra cost, renting will likely be more cost effective if you only need a vacuum truck for a short time or every once in a while. There’s no need to purchase an expensive piece of equipment that you’ll only use once.
Don’t forget to include fuel and operator costs, which apply to both renting and buying.
3. How Long Will You Use the Vacuum Truck?
This is an important question to consider. If you only need a truck for a relatively short job, then renting a vacuum truck is the best option. Here the concern is schedule changes. Jobs don’t always proceed as they are scheduled. Sometimes there are slowdowns or new priorities. The machine you rent could sit around for long periods of time which makes your decision to rent dicier.
If instead your project is a long-term one or you know you’re going to have similar work in the future, then perhaps buying makes more sense. Again you need to talk with your financial advisor about whether or not you have enough capital to purchase a new machine. You could always buy a used vacuum truck that’s in good condition as a way to keep your costs as low as possible.
4. How Are You Going to Use This Vacuum Truck?
When you own something, you can use it whenever you like. It’s always there for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. On the other hand, if you’re going to buy a new machine and it is just going to sit around for lengthy periods, renting may be the best option. If you are going to rent, however, you need to do some research beforehand and find a company that not only rents vacuum trucks but has them available when you need them. It can be extremely frustrating when you need a vacuum truck right now but can’t find a rental company that has one.
5. How Well Do You Do Inventory Control and Fleet Management?
To some degree this depends upon the size of your operation and if you or a member of your team has the time and the skills to manage the equipment properly. You will also need to pay attention to all those issues we mentioned above — insurance, fees, maintenance and similar costs. If your operation is smaller, it might make sense to pay a little more to rent than to buy.
But if you have the time to deal with all of these necessities, buying a piece of equipment can make sense even if it’s only for a short-term job. If the job ends up being extended for several more months, which happens frequently, you don’t have to worry about trying to lengthen the rental contract or even find a machine. If you discover at some point that you really didn’t need to buy a new machine, you can always sell it and recoup some of your initial investment.
Now that we’ve had to look at some of the more general questions that need to be answered before you either buy or rent, let’s drill down a bit on both options.
What Are the Benefits of Renting?
There are many benefits to renting a vacuum truck rather than purchasing one outright. Here are a few of them:
1. Say Goodbye to All Your Maintenance Costs
Companies that rent vacuum trucks take care of all of the regular maintenance for their customers. And if it’s a long-term rental, most companies will allow the customer to decide whether they want to do the regular maintenance themselves, and perhaps save some money from paying to return the truck to the company for work and then paying to bring it back, or continue to let the rental company do maintenance. Also, if the truck breaks down on the job, most rental companies will swap it out for a truck that works properly.
2. Your Rented Vacuum Truck Can Be Top-of-the-Line and Equipped With the
Most rental companies offer a large selection of truck types, such as the newest model Vac-Con industrial vacuum. Many of them have the accessories and additions that you want to have in vacuum truck. Most rental companies will have newer model vacuum trucks, probably no older than five or six years. You also have the option of just asking to rent a top-of-the-line model to ensure the truck is in top condition.
3. Trucks on Demand
Renting means that when you need a truck, you can get a truck. The kind of vacuum truck you’ll need is often a seasonal question. It’s also affected by where you’re doing the work and what kind of work you’re doing. Renting allows you to be more specific in your choice of vacuum trucks so that you can get the perfect truck for the job and only use it for as long as you need it.
4. No Long-Term Regular Payments
When you rent a truck, you only use it for a specific period. That means you won’t have to be looking for a way to find the funds for a monthly payment that could last five or six years. Renting means that you’re only paying for the time you’re actually using a vacuum truck. It’s a good option if you’re just getting started and you want to bid on contracts without actually making the kind of large investment needed when you buy a truck. And that rental cost can be included in the cost of the overall bid.
5. Renting Allows You to Try Before You Buy
If you are thinking about buying a truck, but you really want to see which is the best one available, it’s a good idea to rent so you can “kick the tires” on each kind. This will help you decide which truck will be the best one for a variety of jobs. It also allows your employees to give you some feedback on their experiences with different kinds of trucks.
Now let’s look at the benefits of buying a vacuum truck.
1. You Know You Will Have a Lot of Work Needing Vacuum Truck
It makes sense to buy if you know the vacuum truck you’re going to purchase will be constantly busy. This is particularly true if you live in an environment with a more temperate climate and the work is not so seasonal. When you know that a vacuum truck will not be used in winter, for instance, it means it will sit unused for several months.
2. You Have the Time Necessary to Train an Operator
It can often take several dozen hours to train an operator to properly use a vacuum truck. When you buy a truck, using this much time to train an operator who will use the truck makes sense. It’s a different situation when you rent, particularly if you’re only renting a vacuum truck for a specific job. Taking the time to train an employee to work the machine properly becomes a cost-prohibitive factor. Or you may have to hire a specialist for the job, which also drives up the overall rental price.
3. The Equipment Is Always Available
If you need a vacuum truck for a job but don’t have one, you’ll need to rent one. Sometimes it’s a hit or miss situation. If your go-to rental company doesn’t have the kind of vacuum truck you need, it can significantly slow you down while you look for a company that does. Buying a vacuum truck means that the equipment is always available for you to use whenever you need it.
4. It’s a Better Financial Choice Long-Term
If you are confident in your financial decisions and how you manage your books, buying equipment is a better long-term choice than renting. Over the long-term, it is definitely cheaper to buy than to rent. Plus, you can write off the purchase of the truck on your taxes in a way you can’t do when you rent a vacuum truck. Remember, even if you feel confident in your financial management, always talk to your financial advisor about how purchasing a truck will affect your taxes.
5. You’ll Get a Better Return on Investment
Buying a new vacuum truck costs more upfront, but when the day comes that you no longer need it, you can sell it. This means that at some point you can expect a return on your investment and if you’ve taken good care of the truck, that return can be significant.
The Decision Is Yours
Whether you decide to buy a new vacuum truck or even a used one or instead make the decision to rent, you need to do your homework. Determine which option fits your business the best. You need to look at your financial situation, think about what kind of work you’re going to use the vacuum truck for, and if you will you need it regularly or only occasionally.
In the end, the decision is yours, but also take some time to talk to people who’ve made this decision before you or with knowledgeable experts at the company you use to buy or to rent.
Whether You Want to Rent or to Buy, You Can Find the Machine You Need at Southern Vac
If you want some solid advice on whether to rent or to buy a vacuum truck, you can trust the experienced staff at Southern Vac to give you the kind of information you need to make this important decision.
Work with people who understand that if your company is successful, their company will be successful. At Southern Vac, we put your company’s needs first and foremost, so we can be the kind of company you’ll want to do business with again and again.
We pledge to be the trusted partner for all your equipment needs. Whether you want to buy or rent a vacuum truck, no job is too small or too big for our dedicated staff. You can learn more about us by joining our mailing list or by contacting us, requesting a demo or a quote and even applying for credit. A staff member will get back to you as soon as possible. You can also call us at 803-358-0221.