Six Niche Attachments to Help Expand Your Rental Fleet

Attachments for compact equipment, such as skid-steer loaders, compact track loaders and excavators, can help rental store owners expand their fleet, allowing them to cater to a variety of customers.

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Attachments for compact equipment, such as skid-steer loaders, compact track loaders and excavators, can help rental store owners expand their fleet, allowing them to cater to a variety of customers. In addition to stocking “core” attachments, such as augers, buckets, breakers, clamps and grapples, rental store owners should consider adding specialty compact attachments to their equipment fleets.

Rotary cutters, brush chippers, flail mowers, forestry cutters, soil conditioners and stump grinders are just a few niche attachments that have multi-functional capabilities. These attachments can help expand a rental fleet, help produce a higher ROI, and create working partnerships with local compact equipment dealerships.

Rotary cutters

Contractors, agriculture producers and buildings and grounds specialists can benefit from this attachment because it can easily handle tough brush-clearing jobs. In addition, utility contractors and companies may operate a rotary cutter to help maintain tall brush and small saplings near utility lines.

Rotary cutters are a good attachment because they can be used heavily by utility contractors for a few months at a time and then can be returned to the rental store,” says Katie Althoff, Bobcat attachments product specialist. “The attachment features dual offset blades, allowing it to easily turn small branches — up to 3 inches in diameter — into mulch and follows ground contours for an even cut.”

The attachment is available in standard and high-flow models and can be operated in forward and reverse. Its compact design allows operators to work in limited-access areas where larger mowing equipment cannot fit.


Chipper attachments can be used with Bobcat compact loaders and come in two sizes, which are available in standard and high-flow models.

  • The 5A chipper features a 5-inch feeder opening and chips material up to 3 inches in diameter.
  • The 8B chipper offers even more versatility, with a 9-inch feeder that chips materials up to 5 inches in diameter.

“Chippers reduce branch volume 10-to-1, which is a huge advantage when trying to reduce the amount of trees, limbs or branches on a jobsite,” Althoff says.

Chippers can easily reduce brush into small chips and discharge the chips through the discharge chute, which can be rotated 360 degrees for maximum angle positioning. In addition, the attachment has two mounting locations, the front and right side of the machine, to help fit in limited-access areas.

Flail mowers

Flail mowers are paired with compact excavators to complete one-off jobs such as clearing ditches, right-of-ways or hillsides; controlling overgrowth on trails; or preparing land for new construction.

“Flail mowers are great for clearing organic debris from hard-to-reach places because of the long reach of the excavator arm,” Althoff says. “Using the rotating triple-knife flails, operators can mulch small branches, thick grass and vegetation up to 4 inches in diameter. This is especially helpful for those working in utility applications.”

During winter, when contractors are typically not excavating dirt, they can prep land for new construction by renting a flail mower. The flail knives cut through materials while the operator controls the cutting height by adjusting the excavator’s arm. The direction of the knives can be reversed by switching the hydraulic hoses at the drive motor to extend the knife’s usage.

Side safety chains are included to help contain debris within the housing that could be thrown during operation. A rotor brake is another safety mechanism that helps stop the attachment in seven seconds or less after hydraulics are deactivated.

Forestry cutters

Utility and site preparation contractors wanting to clear large-diameter trees and hard-to-reach limbs can rent a forestry cutter attachment paired with a Bobcat compact loader. The tube-style drum and spiral tooth pattern allow one tooth to engage at a time for smooth operation and less horsepower required on the job. Additionally, the attachment’s compact size makes it versatile on any type of land-clearing job. 

According to Althoff, if a rental store adds a forestry cutter to its fleet, the store also needs to install the required forestry applications kit and an engine compartment seal kit to protect the operator and the machine. “The most proactive thing to do when adding a forestry cutter to your fleet is to add the forestry applications kit to protect the operator and the loader from flying debris or objects,” she says.

The forestry applications kit includes 3/4-inch laminated polycarbonate door, a Level II Falling Object Protective Structure (FOPS), fire extinguisher and debris guards for the muffler, lights and hydraulic components.

Soil conditioners

Soil conditioners are rented frequently, especially in landscape applications. The attachment uses carbide-tipped teeth on the drum to easily rip through clumps of dirt and hard-packed soil. A rubber flap above the drum keeps larger material from going over the drum while the fine materials are allowed through for a smooth finish.

“A homeowner may want to re-seed or re-sod their yard themselves,” Althoff says. “Instead of using a tiller, they can rent a soil conditioner,” Athoff says. “The attachment leaves a nice finish because it compacts the ground below the surface yet keeps the soil nice and fluffy on top, which is conducive to seeding or laying down sod.”

There are three types of soil conditioners homeowners or landscapers can use: manual, hydraulic and high-flow models.

  • Manual soil conditioners have a drum rotation powered by a hydraulic motor, but the angle and depth control changes are adjusted manually. Manual configuration is available on Bobcat 48 and 72-inch models.
  • Hydraulic soil conditioners allow the operator to make adjustments using fingertip controls from inside the cab. Depth control can be used to shave off high spots and fill in low spots. Hydraulics are available on Bobcat 72 and 84-inch models.
  • High-flow iterations of the attachment rip through packed soils, such as clay, and help deliver smooth jobsite performance with fewer passes. The high-flow option is available for 72 and 84-inch models.

Stump grinders

When paired with a mini track loader, skid-steer loader, or compact track loader, the stump grinder attachment easily grinds tree stumps into mulch. This attachment directly mounts to the front of the carrier at a 90-degree angle for better maneuverability in tight areas and provides increased visibility to the cutting area.

“This attachment gives operators improved access to smaller spaces, such as backyards, and easily travels through gate openings,” Althoff says, “making it an ideal attachment for landscape contractors, homeowners with acreage and rental contractors.”

Standard and high-flow models are available from Bobcat Company.

Expand your rental fleet

Adding specialty attachments to a rental store fleet is vital to growing and maintaining a one-stop shop. According to Althoff, contractors depend on rental stores for niche attachments to help supplement their current equipment fleet or to create a diversified portfolio. Specialty attachments can help complete an entire job and help expand contractors’ opportunities to break into other market segments.

Rental stores also profit by adding specialty attachments for compact loaders and compact excavators because it helps reduce the need for dedicated equipment, saving rental stores money.

“Renting attachments may be a more feasible option for customers who only need an attachment for certain projects,” Althoff says. “Rental stores can recover more revenue on an attachment than a dedicated piece of equipment. Attachments also take up less space than dedicated machines.”

A rental store owner’s ROI also may be higher by stocking specialty attachments rather than other “core” attachments because of high demand. “If you have the demand for a piece of specialty equipment, then as a rental store owner you can get a higher price for the rental,” Althoff says. “For instance, a stump grinder attachment is going to have a much higher ROI than a bucket.”

Safety 101

Maintaining good working relationships with local compact equipment dealerships is an important factor for rental store owners if they are looking to expand their rental fleets. Sales specialists at compact equipment dealerships are especially important because they help provide rental store owners with the necessary tools and safety information that they can relay back to their customers.

“Attachments such as the forestry cutter are gaining popularity because of growing vegetation management and the land-clearing opportunities,” Althoff says. “So it is important that rental store owners receive the proper training on how to use specialty attachments so their customers can operate in a safe and proper manner.”

Training materials, such as training DVDs and Operation & Maintenance Manuals are available for rental store employees to share with their customers to ensure that the renter understands how to properly operate and service the equipment before they leave the store.

Rental store owners looking to expand their attachment offerings should consider adding specialty attachments, such as rotary cutters, chippers, flail mowers, forestry cutters, soil conditioners and stump grinders because they have multi-functional capabilities. Not only can these attachments help expand a rental fleet, but they can produce a higher ROI and create working partnerships with local compact equipment dealerships for years to come.