The following article from VP of Sales Greg Bennett was originally published in Pro Contractor Rentals‘ magazine, Pro Contractor Rentals Weekly.
A coworker of mine came into the office last Monday with a sore back and blisters on his hands. His lawn and weeds had been growing onto his sidewalk, but he didn’t want to spend the money on an appropriate trimming tool. Instead, he had edged his lawn using a branch trimmer in the middle of a Texas summer.
Obviously, that’s a terrible idea, but a lot of businesses out there are managing their rental fleets in a similar way – killing themselves without getting the results they’d like because they don’t have the proper tools.
If you have a rental fleet and you’re not using rental software for fleet management, you might as well be using a branch trimmer to trim your lawn. Here’s what a good rental software will do for you:
- It helps you determine the value each item has provided.
When you’re entering your data into rental software, you’re not just tracking where it is right now. You’re also creating a history of the item showing where it’s been, what kind of maintenance has been performed on it and when, what you’ve already earned renting it out, and how it compares with all the other units in your fleet in terms of return on investment.
- It tells you what you need now.
Just because your ROI on a unit is high doesn’t mean it’s time to acquire more of that unit. There are other things to be considered, like asset utilization and what your optimal number is. You may have 10 units in your fleet, but if your optimal number is five, you can sell off five units and you’ll rent more efficiently. You’ll also have more space on your lot for other items. Good inventory management software helps you drill in on all the data and determine the best times for acquisitions and sales.
- It helps you determine the value each item will provide.
When you’re considering the future of your business, it’s extremely helpful to look into your past to see trends both month-by-month and year-over-year. You’re able to see which equipment has longer-term increases in demand and you’re able to adjust to seasonal variations in advance. This allows you to not overreact to seasonal increases (or decreases) and adjust appropriately when increases in demand are sustained over time.
- It saves you money and increases your efficiency.
When you have all the data together in a place where it’s easy to see what the numbers would look like if you acquired or sold off inventory, it’s easier to make good decisions when determining whether to roll fleet or re-fleet without missing out on opportunities.
But like my coworker with his lawn, it’s not enough to just go out and get the right tool. You’ll need to comparison shop and ensure the product you’re buying can meet your needs. There are four more things to keep in mind when you’re looking for the right rental software to manage your fleet:
Rental software is at its best when everyone’s using it. If software is easy for the front office to handle, but difficult to use in the warehouse or on the road, your data is probably going to be missing valuable information from beyond the office. When software is easy to use and employees can see how it makes their work easier, you get more accurate data to base business decisions on.
The rental industry doesn’t operate Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; if an employee runs into an issue they’ve never seen before outside of those hours, you can’t just shut your business down and wait – you need a support staff that’s going to be there to help get you up and running again.
As you enter more data, your analytics and your reporting improve. If you’re putting that data into a system that isn’t keeping up with your business, then you’ll soon be facing a battle – transfer to a newer software and hoping your data all makes it into the new system, or risk being trapped on an ancient system that no longer has the features that advanced companies are using.
Specialized software products help you see into every nook and cranny of your business. Integrating their insight with your rental software fine-tunes details for you to analyze. Telematics applications will help you see fuel and hour usage – if a customer calls off rent early, you’ll be able to charge appropriately for excess usage because you’ll see the numbers when they called in and when you picked the equipment up. Other products simplify the maintenance process by making it much easier to find replacement parts to order and automating the entry of that information for tracking.
At the end of the day, using the right tools for your fleet allows you to spend more time where you want to be. Appropriate rental software and its analytics ensure you sweat less and get more done – no blisters or sore backs required.