Just about every homeowner can find a use for a pressure washer. They’re ideal for cleaning decks, siding, driveways and sidewalks, boats, vehicles and more. They are so useful, in fact, that many homeowners opt to buy a pressure washer to have on hand at all times. And since many retail outlets, particularly the big box chains, offer pressure washers for as low as $200, it can seem like a wise purchase.
The trouble is, the more home-owners who go out and buy a pressure washer, the fewer there will be in your rental center to rent them. What a lot of homeowners don’t realize is that renting a commercial-grade pressure washer is most often a more economical and sound decision than buying a consumer-grade unit. You know this, but how can you persuade the homeowners out there who are your potential customers?
Explain the difference
Seasoned rental professionals and contractors don’t need to be sold on the quality differences between commercial- and consumer-grade pressure washers. It’s like anything else... “you get what you pay for.” But the average homeowner sees his neighbor across the street using his pressure washer to do everything around the house short of washing the dog. That same homeowner asks his neighbor where he got his pressure washer and before you know it, another unsuspecting customer has gone to a big box retail outlet and plunked down a couple hundred bucks for a pressure washer to call his own.
The rest of the story is a well-kept secret. The $200 pressure washer works great for the first season. The homeowner is pleased with his seemingly savvy purchase until winter comes and this big machine is taking up a lot of space in the garage. Then, when spring rolls around again, the pressure washer doesn’t work because the homeowner didn’t know certain steps should have been taken to maintain the unit.
“If a pressure washer is being stored in a cold area, the operator should run antifreeze through the pump,” says Daniel Leiss, president of Steam Jenny. “Any water that is left in the pump can freeze and cause components to crack.”
In addition to the upkeep, consumer-grade pressure washers are simply not meant for long-term, intense usage.
“Some units on the market are practically disposable,” says Leiss. According to him, some manufacturers design their pressure washers for little to no routine maintenance. When something goes wrong, the machine must simply be replaced.
Keith Price, vice president and general manager at Shark Pressure Washers agrees, adding, “The life of a consumer-grade pressure washer is measured in hours while commercial-grade models, if properly maintained, will last for years. It’s little wonder that consumer-grade pressure washers are gaining a reputation for being disposable. It’s not easy to find parts or even someone to service them when they break down.”
One thing that tends to entice homeowners into buying is the relatively reasonable price of units found in retail outlets. According to Price, gas engine pressure washers can cost as little as $199 while a good commercial-grade machine starts at $500 and up.
“For a homeowner to purchase a pressure washer, they have to evaluate their utilization of the pressure washer,” says Kevin Anstoetter with Mi-T-M Corp. “Can they justify spending [the money] for an entry-level gas unit to be used once or twice a year? Renting affords the consumer the luxury of using a high-performance unit that’s well maintained, which eventually translates into less time and a better finished product.”
Price notes that rental businesses should also be sure to point out to their customers the relationship between pressure and water volume.
“There’s a major difference between commercial- and consumer-grade pressure washers in terms of what comes out the end of the nozzle,” he says. “Most consumer models are specified with high pressures and lower water volume (gpm). What they don’t tell you is that high water volume, balanced with high pressure, produces the most effective cleaning. That’s because water volume provides weight to the cleaning stream and creates more impact to a surface. Commercial-grade machines offer that ideal balance between volume and pressure to deliver faster, more effective cleaning.”