Mapping rental

25 March 2008

If growing the rental business is one of your prime aims, then it helps to know the size of the market in the first place. This is the main task of the ERA's Statistical Committee – to determine the size of the market by sector and geographically, and to establish the means by which changes in the market can be regularly tracked and monitored.

So far, the committee, which is chaired by IPAF managing director Tim Whiteman, has discussed in detail the kinds of information that should be collected and how to collect it.

If this sounds like a relatively straightforward task, then you have to remember that there are many markets in Europe for which rental statistics are not available at all (including most of eastern Europe, and even some major western European countries). Also, where data does exist (for example in the UK and Italy), it doesn't always cover the same sectors, or measure the same things.

There are also key questions as to how to measure the rental market, and what equipment types to include? For example, scaffolding is a big sector, but is it a true rental product? The answer could be yes for small access towers and other low-level non-powered access, but no for bigger scaffolding work, which would more properly be described as a sub-contracting business.

Likewise, how do you measure a rental market? Is it the so-called ‘rental penetration' figure – the proportion of equipment sold directly to rental companies? Or perhaps it is simply the total volume of rental revenues generated in year? You could also look at it on the basis of the proportion of all equipment on construction sites that are rented against equipment that is owned.

The statistical committee is now looking at employing some specialist market research companies to look in detail at these and other questions. This project is likely to be split into two phases – the first will look at what data is currently available; try to come up with a provisional market size estimate; and suggest what should be measured and how during the more detailed second phase.

The second phase will be a detailed report into the current rental market, quantifying the industry in Europe and establishing a set of data that will allow future benchmarking of the market.

The end result, ERA hopes, will be increased knowledge of the rental market that will both reveal opportunities for growth and allow rental companies to track the evolution of the industry, as well as being able to deliver investment forecasts much appreciated by the equipment manufacturers.

* Any ERA member who thinks that they have information that could help the statistical committee should contact the ERA secretariat (Email: era@erarental.org).

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