Written By: David Tosh, Grandville Trailer
After taking over an existing, 20-year-old dealership, I realized I needed to consider renting trailers. I received calls asking if we rented and I hated to answer, “No.” So, I talked to MBA Insurance and dealers at the NATDA Trade Show and went for it.
First, we set aside and serviced trade-in trailers. We re-packed the bearings, checked the lights, installed new tires as needed, installed a document holder for registration and insurance paperwork, installed D-Rings and rope rings on the floor and walls and added removable motorcycle wheel chocks. MBA helped with forms we needed. Then, I got them titled and licensed.
We started with two enclosed 5x8s, two enclosed 6x12s and one 5×8 open utility in mid-2012. By the end of the year, we had $3,117 in rental sales. In 2013, we did $11,400. We swapped out trailers over the years for newer models and added our logo. Now, the customer is paying me to drive around and advertise! Now, we have one 5×8, three 6x12s, one 7×16, one 8.5×20 – all enclosed, one open car hauler and one open 7×16 landscape style trailer. I project 2017 rental sales at $40,000.
All trailers are given a number. I used R-101 first. Now, our highest number is R-116. We take reservations on Google calendar, list the trailer number, customer name, phone number and block out dates. I don’t charge for cancellations or no shows. Rental income isn’t the focus for our dealership.
Customers fill out rental agreements while we make copies of their driver’s license, current proof of insurance, and credit card info. We watch the customer hook up the trailer and go through a check-out procedure.
The biggest concern we’ve had is inoperable lights. We attempt a quick fix and if that doesn’t work, the customer can’t take the trailer. We have $25 minimum for repairs but rarely charge the customer if it’s a quick fuse. The check-in procedure is simple: one lap around the trailer, a look inside, then the customer signs off and unhooks the trailer. Customers rent from us instead of chain companies because we make it easy.
We’ve had minimal damage and breakdowns. For most, customers have owned up and paid for repairs. We refuse rentals if we’re unsure of a customer or their history. We have customers we will not rent to because of past problems.
Renting has been great for us. It’s easy to create cash for little work. We took an old, used Haulmark on trade for $1,700. After 25 months of renting, it sold for $2,000. In 2+ years, it generated $9,053 in sales. With expenses, the net profit was over $8,000. Not a bad ROI!
INSIDER TIP – Ask manufacturers for discounts when buying a new trailer for rental. Often, they discount a trailer that will be used and kept up by a dealership. This is great advertising for the manufacturer, too.