Does lending out your tools cost you money?

Borrowing tools is a great way to save a bit of money, particularly if you only need a specific tool for a one-off job. However, tradespeople need to be aware of the hidden costs of lending out their tools to other people, whether that’s friends, family or colleagues.

What are the hidden costs of lending out your tools?

While it’s a kind gesture, there are hidden impacts to lending out your tools. Direct Line Business Insurance has found that while 83% of tradespeople have lent out their tools, 41% said that they were returned late or not at all, and 39% had their ability to work impacted as a result.

Replacing tools

If your tools are lost, stolen or damaged as a result of being lent out, it will cost you money to replace them. This can be mitigated somewhat by making sure to insure your tools, but it can still have a negative impact on your cash flow if you need to pay up front and then claim back the cost later.

Lost earnings

If you don’t have access to an essential tool, this can hinder your ability to take on certain jobs. This can result in lost earnings, as well as potentially harming your reputation. This is especially true in cases where you’ve already agreed to do the work but have later found out that you’re not able to complete it because a certain tool hasn’t been returned.

Top tips for lending out your tools

If you do choose to lend out your tools, here are some top tips to help make sure they come back on time and in one piece.

Set a deadline

The most important thing to do when lending your tool to a friend, family member or colleague is to set a deadline of when you need it to be returned by. If you know you’ll need it for a particular job, make sure to give yourself a buffer of a few days just in case. Even if there’s no real rush from your side, make sure to set an arbitrary deadline to avoid either of you forgetting about it.

Set some ground rules

This might not be as necessary if you’re lending tools to colleagues with experience, but make sure to let friends and family members know exactly how to use the tool, what not to do with it, how to properly maintain it, and what condition you expect it to be in when it’s returned. While many of these things might seem like a given, setting clear expectations helps to ensure that your tool is ready to use as soon as you get it back.

Only lend to people you trust

Don’t feel pressured to lend your tools to people you don’t know, including friends of friends. While someone you know may be able to vouch for them, losing the tool will cost more than any negativity you might experience by refusing to let someone borrow it. It’s a good rule of thumb to use a single-strike system; if someone fails to meet your ground rules when borrowing a tool, don’t take the risk of lending to them again.

Track what you’ve lent

Keep track of what you’ve lent and to who. Make sure you also note down the deadline you set for it to be returned. This might feel like overkill, but it’s easy to forget who borrowed what, particularly if you frequently lend out your equipment.

Don’t be afraid to chase

Tools and equipment can be expensive, and they’re a tradesperson’s livelihood. Don’t be afraid to chase people if they’ve missed the deadline to return your tools. It might have simply slipped their mind, and a gentle reminder is often enough to solve the problem.

Don’t forget to insure your tools!

Taking out specific tools insurance is essential to avoid lost earnings in the event that they’re lost, stolen or damaged. Remember that your insurance will only pay out for what’s covered, so make sure to regularly inventory your tools, and update your insurance policy as needed when you get new equipment. Keep all your purchase receipts and invoices, and take photographs of your tools as additional proof that they are in your possession.

To help reduce your insurance premiums, avoid leaving your tools unattended, never store them in your van overnight and keep them in a secure garage with CCTV if possible. For more tips on how to keep your tools safe, take a look at our ‘How can technology help with tool protection’ blog.

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