MC Rental adds more than 100 trucks to its rental fleet

MC Rental

MC Rental has added more than 100 new vehicles to its truck range with the hope of expanding its short-term rentals for customers in the municipal and construction industries.

The vehicles are a mixture of skips, hook-loaders, beavertails, tippers, tipper grabs and builders merchant vehicles from Scania, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and DAF. They will be followed up with an additional order for more than 100 new units in the first six months of 2019.

Sales director Dave Hutchins said: “MC Rental’s proven expertise in supplying municipal and construction vehicles to customers through our long-term contract hire fleet has enabled us to expand our short-term rental fleet with an optimum range of similar vehicles.

“This investment in new chassis types has enabled us to supply this unique and complex market place with a range of specialised high-specification trucks that meet our customer’s short-term operational requirements.” 

“By offering a diverse range of municipal and construction vehicles on short-term rental, we believe this is a unique proposition for customers who have previously found it difficult to source such vehicles on a short-term basis.”

MC Rental has added tippers, beavertails, grab, hook and skip-loaders to its fleet this year, as well as waste specification tractor units and crane-mounted rigids. It operates more than 3,000 vehicles from 4x4s and vans, through to artics.

“MC Rental has expanded rapidly and over the past few years we have experienced an increase in demand for a wider range of trucks. The move to diversify into offering trucks for short-term hire for the building and construction industries for example has paid dividends as we have widened our customer base as a result.

“While we have had these types of trucks on our long-term hire fleet for a while, we have not had them available for our short-term hire fleet before,” said Hutchins.

Christmas rental deals: How to get the best price for your truck lease

rental christmas

Christmas is big business for the haulage and logistics sectors. A continued rise in digital sales means the inevitable spike over the festive season is alive and well, and more orders means more trucks.

Rental companies are accustomed to a peak in demand at the tail end of the year and stock their stores accordingly. According to Fraikin, orders typically increase by around 10%, and the industry is in the habit of timing the arrival of new vehicles shortly before the seasonal rush, only to defleet older stock once the flurry has subsided. 

As well oiled as that sounds, it doesn’t mean there is a surplus of vehicles waiting for last-minute punters. If anything, it is the absolute opposite; rental firms need their assets out and about if they are to make a profit, and they have become very adept at getting the orders sorted well in advance – which means their customers would be well advised to do the same.

“It’s a far more planned event than it was a few years ago,” says Fraikin commercial director James Walker, “we have a lot of customers who rent and lease from us and if, by summer, they haven’t started talking about the Christmas peak, we’ll say ‘by the way, what vehicles are you considering for Christmas?’ and we’ll secure them then so they can sort out their planning cycles.”

Asset Alliance Group MD Dave Potter says: “Really, by July/August you want to have made the bulk of your Christmas plans with your major customers, the stock of spare peak equipment is definitely diminishing and I think things are changing as rental companies realise that it’s no longer economically viable to hold big stocks in the expectation that it could peak for eight, 10 or 12 weeks.”

The length and nature of the Christmas rush has also altered over time. It’s no longer the mad, brief dash it once was, rather a steady increase over a prolonged period, which is again driven by changing shopping habits and the introduction of US-inspired sales tactics.

“Going back 10 or 15 years, the Christmas peak was very much pre-Christmas,” says Walker, “but because of internet shopping it starts at the end of October and into November and it also continues into January a bit now.”

“You used to get this massive peak for Christmas but now, it’s a lot flatter,” continues Potter, “it’s a bit like bank holidays in general. You always used to have these huge uplifts but, relatively, I think supply chains have got that much slicker at pre-managing stock within the cycle and equally, customers are becoming more sophisticated about how they buy.

“Black Friday has maybe pinched some of the Christmas volume and so that traditional pre-Christmas peak has moved a little bit. For our peak demand, we probably do no more than 150/200 vehicles at the absolute most [approximately 4% of Asset’s overall fleet].”

Yet another knock-on effect of online sales is a greater requirement for vehicles immediately after Christmas, as items that didn’t hit the spot first time around make their way back to the supplier.

“The Christmas period tends to run into the New Year, whereas before it didn’t, and that’s because of returns,” says Paul Bumford, sales director at LC Vehicle Hire, which specialises in utilitarian models, “because people buy so much online, far more is being returned than 10 years ago, when people bought stuff in the high street and physically
took it back.”

It’s a different story for industries other than haulage and logistics, though, where rental vehicles can become more abundant and even cheaper to hire than at other times of the year. The fair weather nature of certain construction projects means they are dialled back during the winter, which increases the chances of vehicle availability. Again, it is not recommended to leave booking until the last second, but time it right and you could bag a festive deal.

“Skip-loaders, hook-loaders, vehicles with brick grabs on and stuff like that will typically peak out in the middle of summer, but they’ll tail away as autumn starts to set in, and demand will then be dictated by the weather, rather than the month,” says Bumford, “if we get an early start to autumn, a lot of projects will start dying off. If we get an extended summer, then we tend to get an extended period of hire with those vehicles.

“For us, the only thing that changes in low season is that we would give people reduced rates for any type of vehicle [for which] we had more availability than we would like. If we’d got a yard full of hook-loaders in mid-October and somebody came along offering us a little bit less than we would like, would we take it? Yes, we probably would, depending on the length of the commitment, but if we were doing that, we would be looking at three months plus.”

Regardless of the vehicle or its associated industry, utilisation and length of hire are critical to rental firms’ business models. Even if the Christmas spike is exactly peaking. “They would end up having to rent for a longer period because that really wouldn’t be sustainable [for the vehicle provider] but the reality is they will only use those assets probably for four, six or eight days.”

“For most rental companies to make money, they’d need to be in the high 70% to 85% utilisation, so there isn’t a massive amount of equipment sat around waiting for Christmas all year; there isn’t the headroom,” adds Walker.

Conversely to that of utilitarian vehicles, the price of haulage and logistics rental tends to increase inline with demand over the season. Exact costs depend on the company, the customer and the requirements, but according to Potter, rates can rise within the region of a quarter to a third. “There is a premium for Christmas rental, and that can be a 25% to 35% increase depending on who your customer is and what else you do for that customer. If you looked at a tractor unit, you might be looking at a base price of, say, £400 [per week] and a 25% increase on that. If it was a trailer, it’d be £100 per week, so you’d be looking at £125 per week. It’s around that sort of ballpark depending on the product.”