The future of rental can look different depending on who you ask. Since Point of Rental is always focused on building software that will support rental businesses of the future, we asked CEO Wayne Harris: What’s important now and in the near future, and what are we doing to help rental businesses handle those challenges?
If you’d like to hear his full answers, watch the recorded webinar here. We’ll paraphrase parts of the Q&A below:
Q: So what’s happening in the next five years or so with the rental industry?
Wayne: The rental industry in many ways mimics the retail industry. If you want to see what the rental environment’s gonna look like in five years, just look what’s happening to the retail environment.
If you say ‘I’m going to order something,’ that means you’re going to pick up your phone and you’re just going to order from Amazon. You don’t pay for shipping anymore; shipping is free. Social media is a place where you can connect businesses and consumers. Amazon has opened stores that don’t have any front-facing employees. Business is being done 24/7, whenever it’s most convenient for the consumer, and there’s less of an expectation of face-to-face interaction.
Q: That sounds like a pretty big change; I know people in this industry really pride themselves on that in-person customer experience. How are we helping support the future of the rental industry?
Wayne: Well, we’ve been seeing this move toward “mobile-first” for about a decade now, and it’s only getting easier to see the value of it. The computer that’s in somebody’s pocket is hundreds or maybe thousands of times more powerful than the mini-mainframes that we were selling when I started with Point of Rental 30 years ago.
So that’s one aspect. And kind of connected to that, when we talk mobile-first, it’s not just your employees, it’s customers as well. E-commerce is just huge; once upon a time we had to convince people they needed a web presence and now…well, now we have a team that’s entirely focused on e-commerce at Point of Rental.
On the back end, the cloud gives people access to their data anywhere at any time. Rental Essentials has been cloud-native since we added it in 2014. We’re talking Elite into the cloud as well, which will give rental stores all the functionality they expect from our software in a cloud experience that provides the benefits the cloud brings, particularly with integrations, data management, and more.
Q: Let’s start in with talking about mobile functionality; what are you excited about with POR One?
Wayne: We’ve been doing quite a bit of work on our development teams. We also have a mobile team that’s dedicated entirely to mobile. What they’ve done is create a platform that, as customers see it, it’s POR One, but it’s so much more than that. We’ve pulled together a global API that allows POR One to connect with all of our rental management systems.
So now, instead of having one person working on mobile functionality for Essentials, a couple of people working on it in Elite, more working on it in Syrinx…we’re able to bring everyone together and develop and implement features more efficiently.
Our team, for mobile alone, is bigger than 75% of our competitors’ entire development teams. That allows us to add features and make all of our RMSes more valuable. The GAPI makes it so information is available in realtime on mobile devices. Another thing we’ve added is offline capabilities; I’m from Oklahoma and I can tell you exactly where all the dead spots are in coverage from here to there. That’s what the real world is like; our mobile team is focusing on providing the features that handle those real-world problems.
Ed. Note: POR One has also recently introduced workflows, which are built around the processes each member of your team uses in their role – there are driver workflows, maintenance workflows, will call workflows, and inventory management workflows available now with more in the works.
Q: But customers want to be able to have better access and communication with your business through their devices as well; what are we doing to help companies there?
Wayne: When I think about web presence, I think of four levels. One, they just have a landing page. It says “I’m Wayne’s Wagon Rental,’ here’s my hours, here’s my location; call this number.” Level two would be where you list your items, specifications, pictures, and maybe prices. Level three is where you actually have an e-commerce site, you actually have a shopping cart where you can get prices and select dates and pay for it. Level four is all the above, plus you have a consumer portal interactive site so the consumer can see all their interactions and documents within the company, as well as contact the company.
That’s where you’re really allowing customers to connect with you when they want to connect with you.
About two years ago, we acquired a company called Rental Hosting. Any time you acquire a company, it takes time to merge teams and get everything aligned; now they’re a big part of our e-commerce team. We’re about to release the new form of our consumer portal, which is built on the GAPI, which will allow customers of our customers to access their realtime information. It allows for payments that’ll be accepted and reflected in realtime as well.
Q: If I’m running a rental business, why would I want to move my software to the cloud?
Wayne: Rental companies are in business to rent stuff. A lot of times when you host your own server, you’re spending time updating the server, updating the router, putting in security patches, keeping the software updated, making sure everything’s working together, etc. All those things add up to time, energy, emotional expense focused on something that they don’t want to be focusing on. They’d rather focus their energy on moving their business forward.
At Point of Rental, we have about 20 people on our team who are dedicated to ensuring all that stuff is getting taken care of. That’s the business we’re in! We have professionals with decades of experience doing exactly this. For economies of scale, it’s a heck of a lot better to put that burden on us.
It really allows companies to focus on what they want to do.
Q: I’ve heard some great reviews from a few people about our new business consultants. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Wayne: First, we definitely want to highlight that this isn’t training. Consulting really is about how to make your business more efficient and help that bottom line. I was pretty excited at the ARA Show that we talked to 2-3 people that have recently sold to national chains and those people are kinda figuring out what they want to do. And I said, “I have a great opportunity for you!”
So we’re looking to build that team out with people that can really have an impact on the industry and help people have better rental companies and better businesses in general.
In summary, the future of rental looks a lot like the retail of today: Online, ever-present, customer-focused, and in the cloud. And Point of Rental continues to be focused on building the tools rental companies will need to meet their customers there. If you’d like to start using tomorrow’s rental technology today, email us at [email protected].