Dealers’ Domain

Question: What is your loaner or rental policy when commercial cutters have an equipment breakdown?

We have no loaner policy for commercial users. With John Deere, we get the parts overnight, so their machine is never tied up long.
— Daniel J. D’Arcy, president
Granby, Mass.

Our policy for commercial cutters is that while their unit is under warranty, we will loan them a unit to use until theirs is repaired. We also loan units to commercial cutters who are good, loyal customers even after the warranty period has expired.
— Terry Coffin, president
Beard’s Outdoor Power Equipment
Crestwood, Ky.

Our commercial customers receive free loaners for breakdowns while that machine is still under warranty. Once the warranty has expired, the loaner charge is $40 per day, plus $10 per hour. This provides an incentive for the commercial customer to keep his machines updated rather than running older machines that are more prone to breakdown.
— Glenn Leid, service manager
Nolt’s Power Equipment LLC
Shippensburg, Pa.

We are in a rural area and it is tough for us to keep our commercial accounts, so it is important for us to keep them happy! When we can see the light with a 30-minute repair, they will normally wait. For longer times, we send them out with a loaner or rent them one, depending on the relationship with them.
— Art White
White’s Farm Supply Inc.
Waterville, N.Y.

We offer “back-up protection,” which guarantees 1-hour turnaround, or a free loaner until the unit is ready. This is a program cutters buy into for 2 years ($200 for commercial walk-behinds & $300 for zero-turn riders). It also guarantees common parts to be available — or they are free AND we next-day air them in. This program keeps both the shop and the parts department responsible to the cutter.
— Merna Rikard, manager
Art’s Lawn Mower Shop
Florissant, Mo.

As most people have two cars nowadays, our policy is, if you own two cars, you should own two trimmers or saws if you use it to make money! However, we explain that to them in a kinder way. And that may not apply to wide-area mowers or ride-on equipment. Having loaners always seems to cost money in the long run (for us) as they get beat to death. And having rentals while equipment is in for repair? They will claim that you held back their repair to get a few more days’ rental out of them. Just try not to sell them junk that will need repair more often.
— Ron Robinson, manager
Chain Saw Clinic Ltd.
Toronto, Ontario

Being in the equipment rental business, I have mowers in my inventory. Loaning equipment is another story. If the machine was purchased from us and is still under warranty, we do loan the customer a machine until theirs is fixed. This policy goes to homeowners and commercial cutters. We will sometimes loan equipment to a commercial cutter whose business we are trying to attract. However, on any other breakdown or repair, the customer would be required to rent the equipment.
— Rob Leiser
Leiser’s Sales and Rental
Easton, Pa.

When a commercial cutter breaks down, we have mowers we buy that are strictly called downtime units, and they are allowed to use them while we are fixing their unit. This works out very well and makes a happy customer. Then, we sell the units later on in the season, and they just have a few hours on them.
— Kay Annear, VP & secretary
Annear Equipment, Inc.
Adel, Iowa

We are happy to loan a unit while their unit is down with several conditions: The down unit must have been purchased from us and maintained by us, and the loaner must be returned clean and full of gas.
— Dean Davis
Dogwood Inc.
Carbondale, Ill.

We do not have a loaner/rental program.
We work with the landscapers to ensure they have adequate equipment to avoid this scenario with backups for common machines (e.g. string trimmers, 21-inch mowers, riders, etc.). We don’t have enough capital to maintain a zero-downtime fleet when 75 percent of our business is commercial. We also focus on getting the equipment repaired quickly, so we invest in maintaining a large parts inventory and more technicians instead.
— Paul Lasiter, operations manager
Mason’s Saw and Lawnmower Service, Inc.
El Cajon, Calif.

Our policy is we fix it while you wait. Because we only sell one brand (Scag), it is easy to do. We only have to stock one brand of parts and we know the machines inside out, so repair is quick and easy. Our customers like the minimized downtime and love the service. It also helps that they are a well-built machine, so breakdowns are not all that frequent. Scag also has a program called the “Velocity Plus Challenge,” where they let me have a machine and its sole purpose is to get as many customers as possible on it for a day to see the quality of the cut in a non-bagging situation. This can be used as a loaner, but it has become more of a sales tool.
— Matt Borden, owner
Ed & Matt Equipment
Greenville, R.I.

We have a zero-down program. This plan has been very successful for our dealership and relationship with building value and partnerships with our commercial customers.
— Dale W. Magie, general manager
West Chester Lawn and Garden
Liberty Township, Ohio

We have a zero-turn unit and a mid-size walk-behind unit we use as loaners, and we do not charge for the use of them. If they damage the unit, we do charge for repair. However, we do not charge for routine maintenance of the units.
— David Vassey
Vassey Lawn & Garden Centers
Cleveland, Tenn.

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