Industry sector:

Tool hire: Specialising in a particular sector

You may decide that your business needs to specialise in some way in order to distinguish it from others nearby. You could concentrate on a very specific section of the market, for example hiring out trailers or access equipment. You might decide to focus on plant hire. Alternatively, you could broaden the range of commonly used tools kept in stock to include some specialist items.

Before deciding whether to specialise, consider whether there will be sufficient demand. You don't want to spend lots of money on equipment that is rarely, if ever hired, so you must consider whether the investment will be worthwhile in terms of the extra business brought in.

To attract extra trade you might consider offering some or all of the following in addition to your standard tool hire range:

Garden tools

Interest in gardening has undergone a revival in recent years spurred on by the popularity of garden and home makeover programmes. These have encouraged people to redesign their gardens and have led to increased demand for garden tool hire. The kind of garden equipment you might consider stocking includes items such as mowers, rotavators, log splitters, chainsaws, hedge trimmers and rollers.

Mini diggers

Mini diggers are often in demand as they enable domestic customers to carry out large projects that would not have been feasible before, such as garden landscaping, or digging foundations for an extension. Large excavators and other plant such as loaders or dumper trucks are usually hired complete with an operator on an hourly basis by firms that specialise in larger plant hire.

Cleaning equipment

Commonly hired interior cleaning equipment includes carpet shampooers, floor polishers, industrial vacuum cleaners and steam cleaners, which might be required by private householders, shops, offices or other businesses. You might also consider stocking pressure washers and leaf blowers, pumps and dehumidifiers.

Event hire items

Event organisers often need to hire major items when putting on an event such as an exhibition, show or sports meeting. These items might include crowd control barriers and temporary fencing, portable outdoor lighting and power, large-scale space heating and climate control equipment, marquees and tents, portable toilets (perhaps including larger toilet trailers and smartly turned out 'posh toilets'), and outdoor catering equipment. You will need plenty of space to store these if you decide to hire them out, and the capital cost of stocking them can be fairly high.

Sales, repairs and servicing

Some tool hire shops also offer sales of new and ex-hire tools, consumables (such as sanding discs, dust masks, saw blades or cleaning fluids) and safety equipment (such as goggles, masks, gloves and overalls). You might also consider offering repairs or servicing of customers' own equipment. A workshop will be needed for servicing hire tools anyway, so there will be little, if any, additional cost involved in offering this service to customers.