© Dmitry Kalinovsky | Thinkstock

Peer-to-peer rental companies offer a new way for landscape contractors to reduce the amount of time their equipment sits unused during the off season, all while padding their pockets. For the last year, David Lammers, president of Garden Grove Landscaping, has rented his equipment through Dozr, a peer-to-peer equipment rental company located in Kitchener, Ontario. Garden Grove Landscaping is a landscape management, snow and ice removal company serving commercial customers in Waterdown, Ontario. The company employs 60 people and has an annual revenue of roughly $6 million.

“Because of the nature of our projects, we have equipment that is sometimes sitting idle that we don’t need for a specific job,” Lammers says.

Dozr approached Lammers in 2015 about putting his equipment up for rent. Today, he lists basically every piece of equipment he owns from skid-steers to small excavators through Dozr. Pieces have been rented for a day or as long as a week. In August, Lammers said he earned an extra $4,000 from equipment rentals through Dozr.

“It added profit directly to our bottom line, so that’s money that we might not have had,” he says.

Real-time data available.

EquipmentShare, based in Columbia, Missouri, offers a similar setup. It serves about 600 active users in cities in Missouri, Florida, Texas and New Zealand. EquipmentShare was founded in 2014 and employs 75 people.

“We see a lot of rentals occur in peak season and they are usually renting skid-steers, mini excavators, sometimes large excavators and sometimes track loaders,” says Willy Schlacks, president and co-founder of EquipmentShare. “That’s an unpredictable workload and most contractors can’t own equipment to meet an unpredictable need like that.”

Each user has a private web portal that showcases available equipment along with relevant technical information – all delivered remotely in real time.

This information is gathered using a telematics box installed on the piece of equipment. Cell phone networks are used to transmit data from the box into the EquipmentShare marketplace.

Contractors pay a one-time hardware fee per piece of equipment for the installation of a telematics box. The box costs about $150, and installation is required to list equipment.

In addition, they pay a monthly fee on each piece of equipment rented, typically anywhere from $8 to $29 per piece. If the equipment is not rented there is no fee that month. These costs can be deducted from the rental profits once a piece is rented out, or the contractor can opt to pay the monthly fees and use EquipmentShare technology as an in-house fleet management tool.

The price is right.

Schlacks says smaller contractors can save anywhere from 10 to 30 percent by renting a piece of equipment through EquipmentShare rather than through a dealer. EquipmentShare sets the price of rentals for each market.

As of early December, Dozr listed a 2006 Case skid-steer with an 8-foot snow box in Ontario for $440 per week. EquipmentShare had a 7,000- to 8,000-pound skid-steer for $685 per week in the Missouri market.

From the contractor’s perspective, Dozr is free for them to use, says Erin Stephenson, co-founder. Dozr was founded in 2015 and has 12 employees. The company has just shy of 3,000 total users in Canada and select parts of the United States.

Contractors can set their own rental rate, however, Dozr will provide guidance on the going rate within the market. Dozr adds an internal markup to the rates, Stephenson says.

Renters with Dozr typically save about 40 percent by renting from a peer instead of renting from a dealer, Stephenson says.

Insurance Coverage.

Prior to working with Dozr, Lammers tried renting out his equipment on his own without success. It was challenging establishing procedures to cover every facet of the rental business and every possible hiccup, he says.

In one case, a dispute arose over damage and who would pay the bill.

Companies such as Dozr and EquipmentShare, which were founded by landscape and construction industry professionals, respectively, provide insurance to cover equipment damaged or broken during rental.

If needed, EquipmentShare arranges transportation of the equipment.

The company will deliver up to 3 hours away and delivery costs are stipulated up front and depend on size of machine and distance. Prices range from $45 to $300.

Each user of EquipmentShare has a portal that provides information such as location of the machine, how it’s being used, who is using it and more.
Photo courtesy of EquipmentShare

Stephenson said Dozr will arrange delivery and move equipment as far as the customer requires, but the person renting it will pay that cost, which can vary on a number of factors.

She says Dozr has moved equipment significant distances – up to 1,500 miles so far – and has moved Canadian equipment into the U.S. to help them take advantage of the dollar.

“Frequently, the savings the customer is getting on the rental of the equipment far outweighs the cost of delivery,” he says.

Lammers said he has delivered a piece of equipment to another contractor if the location was nearby, and in return he received a delivery stipend from Dozr.

Now, a year into the relationship, Lammers says he has experimented with renting equipment from other contractors, including tractors, other farm equipment and vehicles – and has found mutual success.

“This is a prime example of the industry coming up with ways to support the industry,” he says. “It’s really just so green, so grassroots.”

The author is a freelance writer based in Ohio.