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Renting a Forklift Often Makes More Sense for Short-Term Jobs

Hybrid forklift.
(Courtesy: Forklift Driving School at flickr.com)

If you own a warehouse, manufacturing facility, or even a retail business that moves a lot of palletized loads, then purchasing a forklift makes a certain amount of sense.

But if your business only has the occasional job that requires the use of a vehicle to lift and transport loads weighing thousands of pounds, then renting a forklift only when you need it is often more practical.

The Ultimate Question: Rent or Buy?

Businesses make "rent or buy" decisions all the time. Forklifts are no different.

When you purchase a forklift, it costs more money in the short run but can offer a lot more value in the long run. A single forklift can be amortized over a decade or more of near-constant use. So the day to day costs are lower.

But if you aren't planning on using your forklift every day -- and for multiple shifts per day -- then you might want to consider simply leasing a forklift for the time that you need it.

Benefits of Renting

If you are working for a client, then the cost of leasing a forklift for the fixed period of the job can be included in your bid.

Generally, when you lease a forklift you also aren't responsible for routine maintenance or most repairs (unless you are responsible for causing the damage in the first place).

Plus, most forklift rental companies will drop off and pick up their forklift wherever you tell them to so you don't have to account for the costs of transporting the vehicle to the work site.

Changing Forklifts

Leasing a forklift for a short-term job also gives you more versatility.

Let's say that midway through the job you realize that the forklift you rented doesn't have the lifting capacity you need. Or the client suddenly requires you to lift heavier loads.

If you own the forklift, that's a real problem. You may have to either modify your existing vehicle or buy an entirely new one to meet the requirements of the job.

But with a leased vehicle, you may be able to simply call the company where you leased the forklift and have them pick up the lower capacity vehicle and drop off a higher capacity forklift so you can get back to work right away.

If the types of jobs you use your forklift for are pretty much the same all the time and there isn't a lot of downtime between jobs, then buying may be the way to go.

But if the jobs you do are constantly changing, renting may be a better solution.