Negotiate Like a Pro
Research the cost of your preferred machine(s) through other vendors as well as from the manufacturer and then compare those prices to the quote from your potential rental partner. Be sure to also compare the cost of each machine based on its features, such as cool-touch wands or multiple group heads.
If your rental company offers you a machine with fewer features or an older model, you may be able to negotiate for a lower price.
Before committing to a supplier, review all your options and compare equipment features, costs, and any additional perks or requirements. Rental companies can differ widely by price as well as by their included services, maintenance charges, warranties, and contractual obligations. Rental contracts with some firms, for example, may require that you buy a certain amount of their other products, such as coffee, cups, or syrups. Review any additional requirements carefully to ensure they align with the needs of your specialty coffee shop.
Here are a few other tips to follow as you compare options:
- Ensure your contract includes machine maintenance — especially if you rent an older machine. Your rental company should cover this important service.
- If you’re not well-versed in espresso machine maintenance, hire an expert to inspect the rental machine and ensure it’s in good condition. When not properly maintained, espresso machines can rust and accumulate grime inside. An untrained eye can easily overlook both issues.
- Review your options if you need to break a rental contract for any reason. As a small business owner, you need to prepare for the unexpected. That includes ensuring you won’t owe large fees if you need to end an equipment rental contract.
Explore Lease-to-Own Options
Beyond a standard rental contract, explore options that enable you to lease, and eventually own, your espresso machine over a period of time. These contracts can last anywhere from one year to multiple years, depending on your payment amount. This can be a great choice if you ultimately want to own your machine, but lack the capital to buy it upfront.
The one major downside of this approach is the inability to change espresso machines if you want to try something new. That flexibility remains a key perk of renting vs. buying.
Keep up with Routine Maintenance
Regular maintenance is critical — whether you buy or rent your espresso machine. For renters, it’s especially important because you’re liable for any damages to your rented machine. So what does routine maintenance include?
- Cleaning each portafilter and group head every night with Puro® or another espresso machine cleaner.
- Cleaning milk wands every night with an approved cleanser.
- Backflushing your machine daily, typically around midday. You can either use water or Puro espresso machine cleaning powder, depending on your order volume and preference.
- Wiping steam wands after each use.
- Scheduling other regular maintenance required and provided by your rental company.
PRO TIP: If you are worried about maintenance not getting done, consider renting a machine with an automatic cleaning cycle. This can make backflushing and end of the day cleaning super easy which will decrease the likelihood of employees skipping these crucial steps.
Consider Buying After Renting
After a period of time, some business owners may wish they bought their espresso machine instead of renting. If you find yourself in a similar situation, rest easy. Many rental companies allow you to buy the machine you rent from them.
Recommended: When you're ready to explore options and consider making a purchase, check out our review of the top five commercial espresso machines for coffee shops.
Renting or leasing an espresso machine is a great choice for new business owners, especially if you don’t know which machine best suits your business. However, understanding hidden costs, contractual obligations, and potential perks can save you money and stress.