Lello says he keeps an array of small demolition hammers, rotary hammers and combination hammers in stock. They can be used on a variety of home projects like taking up tile, drilling through concrete or other masonry and breaking up small areas of concrete. Lello says the Bosch Brute (he carries six of these for rental) is a hot rental item in his store because it can be used for larger DIY projects such as taking out a small sidewalk or concrete area, and smaller contractor projects.
Other items that many DIYers don't have at home and would be a versatile rental item are smaller rotary hammers and 18-volt and 14.4-volt cordless drills. They can be used for anything from wood and metal applications and assembly projects to light drilling in concrete for hanging address numbers or other similar projects around a house.
Dust containment systems are becoming an increasingly popular rental item. Some woodworking rental tools are equipped with a factory installed dust bag, while other tools require a separate system to control dust. Concrete grinding equipment is also available with dust containment systems, and should be recommended to a homeowner especially if dust suppression with water cannot be accomplished. DIYers are interested in these systems for health reasons and because of cleanliness.
"Dust containment is one of the growing areas that we've spent a lot of money on," Lello says. "Dust containment, especially when you're dealing with people who have an existing house and they're doing repair in it, don't want to get dust through the house and in their air ducts and everything, so they'll pay the extra $30 or $40 a day for the vac attachment for a grinder or saw."
Just as you would rent tools and sell the consumables to your contractor clients, plan to do the same for your DIY customers.
"Rental centers should provide an array of consumables for each unit offered," Brown says. "Popular accessories are determined by market according to home types, landscape environment and project materials."
Some of the basic consumables you should offer include fastening bits, drill bits, saw blades, sanding disks and sandpaper. Also keep in mind that your DIY market may not be as familiar with or have access to the safety accessories necessary for the projects they plan to take on. Have ear plugs, protective goggles, disposable dust masks, gloves and other necessary safety items on hand for your DIY customers.
Your DIY crowd might need extra attention when it comes to safety. Lello says insurance is his second highest cost after payroll expenses, but he says his store's prevention efforts have paid off in lowering his rates.
"If someone rents a chain saw, we have a video they watch and a kit that has earmuffs and chaps in it. We go over with them why they have to take the kit with them," he says.
Make sure your employees explain how each tool works and how to operate it safely.
"Proper safety and operation should always be explained to each renter," Brown says. "Additionally, related printed material should be made available for customer reference at the time of operation."
Since DIYers are not as familiar with construction tools or projects as your other customers are, or may feel intimidated at the thought of taking on a home remodeling project, they need support and encouragement. But patience and expertise on the part of your workers can lead to a strong and profitable relationship with your DIY customers.
"The DIYers take a lot more of our time than other customers do, but there also seems to be a lot of residual business with them," Lello says. "They'll use us from the beginning to the end of a job -they'll use the whole spectrum of tools from doing excavation work to painting, so they'll rent everything from a mini-backhoe to an airless sprayer to finish an addition."