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February 6, 2017

It’s not rocket science: A small investment in better tools saves you money.

Profits come from keeping units full of renters, overhead low, and setting a competitive market price (which is why it’s essential to use information, like Rentometer’s Snapshots). The right tools and equipment help achieve both. Residents expect a well-maintained, attractive living environment, and one key is having quality tools and equipment on site to complete repairs, upkeep and maintenance quickly and without extra costs or headaches.

Here are some essentials. You may have one already, but you’re better off upgrading:

Upgrade to Lithium-Powered Drills and Multiple Tool Combos

Cordless tools save time and money. No more toting and untangling extension cords for minor repairs and tasks. If you upgrade to an easily tote-able drill for the odd-jobs on your properties, you’re able to move from job to job quickly.

Lithium-ion battery technology is one of the biggest innovations in decades. Although lithium batteries last much longer than the old NiCad, it’s still smart to have two batteries, so you never run out of power.

A set of compact battery-driven tools — drill, saws, sander, flashlight — can fit in a bag once reserved for extension cords of all lengths. Battery-powered tools are handy, light and versatile, and you’re prepared for most fixes without needing to swing back to the property with additional tools.

Prepare for the Eventual Snowstorm of the Century With a Plow

Once you have one, it’s hard to live without a snow plow. This is especially true if your apartment rental is in the Northeast.

Last year, one the biggest snowstorms in recent memory dumped about 1-3 feet in the Mid-Atlantic area. Chances are that you weren’t prepared, because, well, no one was. While it eases your budget in the short-term to contract out someone to come clean up your rental, in the long-term investing in a snow plow attachment makes sense.

Most snow plow attachments come in somewhere under $10,000, and you don’t necessarily even have to purchase the heavy equipment. You can rent or lease a backhoe loader when a big storm is coming up so you’re prepared, and stop paying out a huge amount for slow or unpredictable snow clearing by a contractor.

Save a Life With Non-Conducting Fiberglass Ladders

A ladder is obviously a must-have for property maintenance, and a good-quality, clean, fiberglass ladder is a must for worker safety. It’s non-conductive, which means it won’t carry an electrical current if the ladder should accidentally come into contact with overhead power lines or another electrical source on the property.

It’s highly unlikely you’d purposely put a ladder into an electrical source, but accidents happen. Avoid it altogether by following general safety tips.

Clean With a Pressure-Washer

In years past, you likely called an outside contractor for pressure washing job — cleaning concrete sidewalks and walkways, or even a heavy-duty storage shed with a layer of green from sitting in the shade.

Pressure washers are fun to use, but also efficient. Engines are quick to start, quieter and lighter to carry, and spray wands and nozzles and pressure improvements mean that even inexpensive power washers can keep sidewalks and sidings clean without much effort or skill.

Don’t settle for dinky electric models, which are too weak and require a long, wet extension cord — a risk and a hassle. Good gas models can be found on sale for about $300. If you’ve rented or outsourced the job in past, save yourself some future income by doing the job yourself.

Invest in a Workhorse Utility Vehicle

These workhorses go by brand names like “Mule” and “Gator” and they are not cheap — one could buy two used pickup trucks for the price of one crossover utility vehicle (CUV). But, they are versatile and even add a bush-hog-type mower to them for an alternative to a paid landscaper, and they can do things an ol’ truck can’t.

Their footprint is easier on lawns and sidewalks. With fat tires and lighter weight, they can handle terrain and tight spaces a truck cannot. Workers can hop in and out faster. Visibility is better, which helps workers inspect the property and catch problems. Electric versions are available when noise and fumes are a concern.

Justified Investments

Sure, buying everything on this wish list would stretch your budget. But the cost may be justifiable after factoring in tax-deductions, worker/resident safety, labor-time-savings, the number and type of properties you own — and a reduction in hiring outside sub-contractors for jobs you can do yourself with the right tool.