New tractors add to higher hire demand
DEMAND for tractor hire has shot up over the past two or three years, says Roy Boreham of R C Boreham & Co whose hire business, based at his 243ha (600-acre) farm at Pleshey near Chelmsford, Essex, runs over 100 tractors.
One reason, he suspects, is that makers have been unable to fully satisfy demand for new tractors. But he also believes hire is being more widely recognised as a cost-effective way of acquiring a modern machine.
"Leasing and other forms of finance are not always the ideal answer; it might be better to pump some cash into a pension scheme, for example," says Mr Boreham.
"Hiring gives you a tractor in peak condition and all the performance and features that go with it, without the capital expenditure."
As with most hire concerns, prices are discounted for every fortnight, so it gets cheaper the longer the machine is hired.
A large proportion of the farm hire business covers a 12-week period during the autumn when farms need extra tractors in the 100hp to 150hp range for cultivation work. Increasingly, farms are coming to rely on hire, as opposed to simply taking on an additional machine to back-up existing resources in a difficult season.
The system works as long as the tractors can be hired out elsewhere at other times of the year; local authorities and the construction industry often provide that outlet. And fleet purchases bring favourable deals on new machines.
Good resale value is as important as features and reliability, because tractors enjoying strong second-hand demand are sold after a year. Some tractors are kept longer provided there is an acceptable hire demand for them. "On average, we manage to put our tractors out on hire for eight months of the year," Roy Boreham says.
His philosophy is simply to provide what the customer wants. There is always some discussion beforehand about the work the machine will be doing, to make sure that what the customer asks for is really what he needs.
"If a customer wants a particular make, model and specification, that is what well provide if the deal is right," says Mr Boreham.
As a result, there is a mixed fleet of John Deere, Ford and Case tractors, with Massey Fergusons being included for the first time this year.
Check the tractors age
He advises customers who shop around for hire arrangements to always check the age of the tractor being offered, as well as the horsepower and model.
"It is not unknown for people to quote very competitive rates for a 100hp tractor without necessarily disclosing that it is a five-year-old tractor or one that normally puts out 90hp but has had its engine tweaked," he warns.
Hirers are responsible for insuring the tractor and paying for any damage incurred. They may also carry out basic servicing if intervals fall within the hire period. Local dealers are normally willing to look after tractors in their area, either for warranty work or general repairs.
So how do hirers tend to treat tractors in which they have no financial interest? "Some treat them better than we do," says Mr Boreham. "If they get a good clean tractor to start with, most customers treat them very well." *